Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos [NOOK Book]


“The side that knows when to fight and when not will take the victory. There are roadways not to be traveled, armies not to be attacked, walled cities not to be assaulted.” —Sun-Tzu

We live in dangerous times, when a new kind of leadership is required. Visionary and ruthlessly strategic, Warrior Politics extracts the best of the wisdom of the ages for modern leaders who are faced with the complex life-and-death challenges of today’s world—and determined to win.
Sun-Tzu urges ...
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Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos

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“The side that knows when to fight and when not will take the victory. There are roadways not to be traveled, armies not to be attacked, walled cities not to be assaulted.” —Sun-Tzu

We live in dangerous times, when a new kind of leadership is required. Visionary and ruthlessly strategic, Warrior Politics extracts the best of the wisdom of the ages for modern leaders who are faced with the complex life-and-death challenges of today’s world—and determined to win.
Sun-Tzu urges leaders to “plan and calculate like a hungry man.” Machiavelli defines a policy not by its excellence but by its outcome. Churchill derives his greatness from his imagination of history. Livy shows that the vigor to face down adversaries must ultimately come from pride in our own past achievements. “Never mind if they call your caution timidity, your wisdom sloth, your generosity weakness,” he writes. “It is better that a wise enemy should fear you than that foolish friends should praise.” “Men often oppose a thing merely because they have no agency in planning it,” Alexander Hamilton says, “or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike.”
Replete with maxims, warnings, examples from history, and shrewd recommendations, Warrior Politics wrests from the past the lessons we need to arm ourselves for the present. It offers an invaluable template for any decision-maker—in foreign policy or in business—faced with high stakes and inadequate knowledge of a mine-filled terrain. As we gear ourselves up for a new kind of war, no book is more prescient, more shrewd, or more essential.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Editorial Reviews

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The Barnes & Noble Review
Almost every page of this persuasively argued, intellectually stimulating book by foreign affairs correspondent Robert D. Kaplan has a passage or two that's worth underlining, thinking about, and rereading. Unlike most leadership tomes, which tend to be largely focused on facilitating the acquisition of particular skills, Kaplan's work is suggestive, wide ranging, and deeply rooted in a passionate concern with military as well as economic history. In fact, one of the book's major themes is the impossibility of divorcing our current "modern" dilemmas from the realities that created our past. As Kaplan notes, in a passage critiquing the notion that progress is synonymous with reform, "The more 'modern' we and our technologies become -- the more our lives become mechanized and abstract -- the more our instincts are likely to rebel, and the more cunning and perverse we are likely to become, however subtly." If progress and technological advantages aren't the answers to our contemporary ills, then what remains? Our history -- which, in Kaplan's vision, is both behind and before us, both our origin and, if we don't attend to it, our destination.

After a brief introductory chapter, Kaplan presents a series of chapters that discuss texts critical to our understanding of war and social upheaval. Churchill's The River War, Livy's The War with Hannibal, Sun-tzu's The Art of War, and Thucydides' The Peloponnesian War are considered, along with the writings of Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Kant, among others. The book's broad range may sound daunting to readers who aren't familiar with all of these writings. Don't worry -- Kaplan, a veteran journalist with The Atlantic Monthly and author of Balkan Ghosts, uses situations and themes from these writings to illuminate the current global situation, rather than discussing the primary texts in exhaustive detail; the only hazard here is that Warrior Politics may interest you in going back and reading all the great books you missed in college.

Anyone interested in history, the art of leadership, the political scene, or the future of our increasingly global society will find themselves picking up this provocative book again and again; it's one of the best books available on what Kaplan himself refers to as the twinned human yearning for conflict and community. (Sunil Sharma)

Donald Kagan
Robert D. Kaplan's Warrior Politics praises the wisdom of previous ages, their historians and political philosophers, and recommends their study to modern statesmen as a basis for making good decisions on the great problems of our day.
New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Years of reporting from combat zones in Bosnia, Uganda, the Sudan, Sierra Leone, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Eritrea have convinced Kaplan (Balkan Ghosts, The Coming Anarchy) that Thucydides and Sun-Tzu are still right on the money when they wrote that war is not an aberration and that civilization can repress barbarism but cannot eradicate it. Reminding readers that "The greater the disregard of history, the greater the delusions regarding the future," Kaplan conducts a brisk tour through the works of Machiavelli, Malthus and Hobbes, among others, to support his advocacy of foreign policy based on the morality of results rather than good intentions. From those classics, he extracts historical models and rationales for exploiting military might, stealth, cunning and what he dubs "anxious foresight" (which some may regard as pessimism based on disasters past) in order to lead, fight and bring adversaries to their knees should they challenge the prevailing balance of power. He also adapts this model to business, exploring the ways modern-day CEOs can benefit from history's lessons. Kaplan's discussion of the world's breeding grounds for rogue warriors out to disrupt daily life in bizarre new ways will strike a chord with most readers, as will his recounting of the brilliant statesmanship of Churchill and Roosevelt during World War II. Some readers, however, may take exception to the potshots Kaplan aims at (unnamed) media personalities and human rights advocates. This is a provocative, smart and polemical work that will stimulate lively discussion. Agents, Brandt and Brandt. (Jan.) Forecast: Kaplan's credentials, combined with his call for a strong and unambiguous foreign policy, should draw attention. Blurbs from Henry Kissinger and former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry will help. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Aiming to advise foreign policymakers confronting global capitalism in a politically fragmenting world, Balkan Ghosts author Kaplan surveys the literature of leadership from Herodotus to Gen. George Marshall. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Just in time for the post-World Trade Center era, a hardheaded, eerily prescient view of American geopolitics in a dangerous century. Journalist Kaplan (Eastward to Tartary, 2000, etc.) is unapologetically conservative in his diagnosis of what has, since he wrote, turned into the country's foreign-policy nightmare: the rise of media-amplified populism, premature and thus unstable democratic movements around the world, and concentrations of citizens in urban areas and economic power in regimes whose abundant targets are an open invitation to the terrorists and cybercriminals our soldiers have never been trained to fight. Looking as far back as Sun-Tzu and Thucydides for parallels and advice, he urges "power politics in the service of patriotic virtue"-a pragmatic choice of Churchill's "moral priorities" over absolutist idealism and of Machiavelli's "anxious foresight" over Marxist or fundamentalist determinism. The main ingredients of this internationalist realism are an old-fashioned sense of national patriotism, an "evolution from religious virtue to secular self-interest," and an acknowledgment that "international relations are governed by different moral principles than domestic politics." Hence, successful geopolitical strategies may require leaders, insulated from the assaults of a powerful multi-media press whose "moral perfectionism is possible only because it is politically unaccountable," to deceive even their own citizenry, as FDR did in piloting the Lend-Lease Act through a reluctant Congress and easing the nation closer to the Grand Alliance. Calling on such thinkers as Livy, Hobbes, Malthus, Kant, and Isaiah Berlin, Kaplan counsels a selective internationalism that neverforgets that "even the most dire situations can have better and worse outcomes." A timely brave-new-world primer almost impossibly rich in quotable maxims. Even readers who recoil from Kaplan's prescription for global governance based on a new American imperium will find this empowering instant classic essential ammunition for any debate about what to do next. Author tour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781588360809
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/16/2011
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 359
  • Sales rank: 307,113
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Robert D. Kaplan is chief geopolitical analyst for Stratfor, a private global intelligence firm, and the author of fourteen books on foreign affairs and travel translated into many languages, including The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate; Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power; Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History; and Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos. He has been a foreign correspondent for The Atlantic for more than a quarter-century. In 2011 and 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named Kaplan among the world’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers.”
From 2009 to 2011, he served under Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as a member of the Defense Policy Board. Since 2008, he has been a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington. From 2006 to 2008, he was the Class of 1960 Distinguished Visiting Professor in National Security at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter I
There Is No "Modern" World

The evils of the twentieth century arose from populist movements that were monstrously exploited in the name of utopian ideals, and had their power amplified by new technologies. The Nazi party began as a crusade for workers' rights organized by a Munich locksmith, Anton Drexler, in 1919, before Hitler took it over the following year. The Bolsheviks also emerged amid emancipating political upheaval and, like the Nazis, exploited the dream of social renewal. Once the Nazis and Bolsheviks were in power, the inventions of the Industrial Age became crucial to their crimes. As for Mao Zedong, his push for labor-intensive industrialization, through the establishment of utopian communes, led to the deaths of at least 20 million Chinese during the Great Leap Forward from 1958 to 1962.

The twentieth century may be a poor guide to the twenty-first, but only fools would discount it, particularly because populist movements now permeate the world, provoking disorder and demanding political and economic transformation. Asia is a specific cause for concern. India, Pakistan, China, and other emerging powers pulse with new technologies, nationalistic zeal, and disintegrative forces within. Recall the words of Alexander Hamilton:

To look for a continuation of harmony between a number of independent, unconnected sovereignties situated in the same neighborhood would be to disregard the uniform course of human events, and to set at defiance the accumulated experience of ages.

Thus, the evils of the twenty-first century may also arise from populist movements, taking advantage of democratization, motivated this time by religious and sectarian beliefs, and empowered by a post-Industrial Revolution: particularly information technology. Hindu extremists who burned down mosques in India in the early 1990s and attacked Christians in the late 1990s belong to a working-class movement within India's democracy that uses videocassettes and the Internet to spread its message. Similar phenomena have occurred in Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, Algeria, Mexico, Fiji, Egypt, Pakistan, the West Bank, and Arab Nazareth, to name but a few places where religious and ethnic groups, predominantly working-class and inspired by democratization, use modern communications technology to stir unrest.

Populist rage is fueled by social and economic tensions, aggravated often by population growth and resource scarcity in an increasingly urbanized planet. In the coming decades, 2 or 3 billion more people will live in the vast, impoverished cities of the developing world.

Global capitalism will contribute to this peril, smashing traditions and dynamically spawning new ones. The benefits of cap-italism are not distributed equitably, so the more dynamic the capitalist expansion, the more unequal the distribution of wealth that usually results. Thus, two dynamic classes will emerge under globalization-the entrepreneurial nouveaux riches and, more ominously, the new subproletariat: the billions of working poor, recently arrived from the countryside, inhabiting the expanding squatters' settlements that surround big cities in Africa, Eurasia, and South America.
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Table of Contents

Ch. I There is no "Modern" World 3
Ch. II Churchill's River War 17
Ch. III Livy's Punic War 28
Ch. IV Sun-Tzu and Thucydides 38
Ch. V Machiavellian Virtue 52
Ch. VI Fate and Intervention 65
Ch. VII The Great Disturbers: Hobbes and Malthus 78
Ch. VIII The Holocaust, Realism, and Kant 96
Ch. IX The World of Achilles: Ancient Soldiers, Modern Warriors 116
Ch. X Warring States China and Global Governance 134
Ch. XI Tiberius 150
Selected Bibliography 157
Notes 165
Index 187
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2007

    a remedy for the world

    skip all the gobly-gook in politics and get to the meat. that's what this book says in short. the world is made more unsafe by the double talk and chaotic dancing in politics.call a spade a spade, and then smash it. then the world is controllable and safe.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2002

    Brilliant But Wrong-Headed Exploration Of World At Large!

    Over the last decade or so Robert Kaplan has become a kind of neo-conservative cottage industry, churning out interesting and well-written tomes that challenged conventional wisdom by using a kind of realpolitick approach to foreign policy issues in a way that often showed the illusory nature of more ordinary thinking on the specific subject matter. Yet he has also refused to abandon such self-serving notions as the silly and patently absurd idea that international politics is somehow surrealistically above and beyond the crass and commercial influence wielded by special interest groups and corporate pressures within a nation's power elite. Yet if anything, we have all come to rrecognize just how down and dirty such powerful such upper class influences have been when applied to the United States in the last twenty years of the 20th century. Other reviewers have described Mr. Kaplan as having a "well-deserved reputation as one of the advocates of a "realist foreign policy", and indeed, to the extent he uses his keen intellect and personal experience to offer the reader insight, he is obviously a man well worth reading and listening to. Yet one must take Mr. Kaplan's advice and observations in rather small and homeopathic doses, lest one neglect to notice his rather conventional and neo-conservative bias showing through. I fear the author is a wolf hiding in a fox's clothing. He's just another apologist for a do-nothing bunch of politicians who continue to try to play hide the flag from the public. For example, he often uses the nations of the so-called Third World as examples of chaos and self-destruction, without ever mentioning the degree to which corporate fingerprints and the legacy of self-serving actions by the World bank have left these same countries trapped into a self-defeating cycle, teetering on bankruptcy and forced to export many indigenous crops rather than feed their own in order to stave off the wolves in wool-blended suits. Yet here in this new effort he finally begins to recognize and admit that mere nation states lack the power to restrain the corporate entities that operate on a world scale as virtually untouchable and unstoppable titans, beyond the ken and laws of any single nation-state. Welcome to the real world, Robert. I am also a bit disappointed in his deliberate ignorance regarding placement of blame for social and political indifference in the so-called social democracies of the west. He waxes philosophically about the shocking degree of political apathy without recognizing the efforts by corporate entities (who own the mass electronic media) to dissuade, defuse, and dislocate the concerns, issues, and realities of contemporary life, making news into vehicles for entertainment, and sidelining our real and urgent concerns with exercises in tawdry entertainment, such as the sad spectacle of the Bill Clinton-and that Monica person affair, which so saturated and dominated the media for well over a year, and about which the average citizens was almost completely indifferent. Yet in that time frame that was the only subject discussed in any detail or with any regularity. The rest of the complicated world faded to some altered plain of existence for the duration, I guess. Nothing else was happening Also, Mr. Kaplan's solipsistic attempt to try to blame public indifference on materialism and self-absorption is like complaining the kids we are giving Prozac to are too zonked to be intense competitors anymore. After all, in the last year George Bush has become more a salesman for boosted consumerism as a form of patriotic duty than a genuine leader of his people. Give us all a break, Bob. We're too busy trying to figure out why this mysterious bunch of nitwits within the Executive Branch of Government wants to invade Iraq to go buy any more books pandering to some new version of conventional wisdom. I finally tired of Mr. Kaplan's literary and historical allusions, as when he claims there is

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