In the years after the 9/11 attacks, terrorism became the zoom-like focus of our government and military. Hoehn and Shanker make a powerful case that our national security leadership requires a more panoramic definition of what is a threat to the United States. Russia and China are back in view but other problems less so. National security has to include food security, climate security, disease security. They clearly define a new outlook, and the new set of institutional tools to manage the Age of Danger in which we find ourselves today.” —Chuck Hagel, former Secretary of Defense, former U.S. Senator, Vietnam veteran
“Age of Danger makes a compelling case that we need to re-architect our national security processes and institutions to deal with the challenges of this new era, from great power competition to climate change and pandemics. Creative and thought-provoking, this book is a must read for students, policy practitioners and concerned citizens alike.”—Michele Flournoy, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
“Tomorrow’s threats are likely to include Great Power competition, cyber, disease, and climate – and we are far from prepared to meet them. In this timely volume, two leading experts help us think through new approaches to tune up the vast machine of national security to make ourselves more secure. Time is of the essence!”—Admiral James Stavridis, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander and author of 2034: A Novel of the Next World War
“Age of Danger leaves us with no excuses. The new, serious threats it describes demand our attention and, more importantly, our action. We are out of time for delay. This is a clear, direct, and understandable must-read for anyone concerned about the nation’s security.”—William “Mac” Thornberry, former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee
“Admiral Bill Crowe used to say ‘At times like this, it’s important to remember there have always been times like this.’ That might have been true in the Admiral’s day, but, as Hoehn and Shanker point out in their gripping and persuasive book, we are now living in unprecedented times. Age of Danger makes a clear, rational, and urgent case for a significant reevaluation of our national security strategy.”—Admiral Timothy J. Keating, former Commander, US Pacific Command and US Northern Command
“Our national security structures were built more than seventy years ago. They served us well over time, but, like an old car, there is only so much tinkering you can do. It’s time to put the old Chevy in the garage and build a modern national security machine. Hoehn and Shanker offer solutions on how to do it.”—Nadia Schadlow, former Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy
“Andy Hoehn and Thom Shanker provide an urgent wake-up call that the range of national security challenges facing the United States is both expanding and growing ever-more dangerous—and that we are not adequately prepared to address them. Until the US national security apparatus recognizes that “the future needs a seat at the table,” the United States and its people will face increasingly grave dangers from these new and deeply underestimated threats.”—Nora Bensahel, Visiting Professor of Strategic Studies, The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and coauthor of Adaptation Under Fire: How Militaries Change in Wartime
"An instructive deep dive into a system that requires vast improvement efforts."—Kirkus
"A knowledgeable and convincing tour of where and how America’s safeguards should be strengthened."—Publishers Weekly
A detailed examination of the flawed U.S. national security apparatus, which costs more than $1 trillion per year to operate.
Hoehn, research director at the RAND Corporation, and Shanker, the director of the Project for Media and National Security, bring great expertise to their subject, knowledge they bolster with further wisdom from a small army of Beltway experts and former officials. Despite massive expenditures, the last few presidential administrations have often been stunned by events at home and abroad. The authors divide the system into “the warning machine,” aimed at identifying emerging threats, and “the action machine,” tasked with dealing with those threats. Much of the problem is that these two parts have different mindsets, and debate often degenerates into interagency conflict. A related issue is that the national security agencies were initially designed for the Cold War environment, and they have been slow to adapt to a nonbipolar world. After 9/11, the pendulum swung toward terrorism. As that threat receded, China emerged as the central security concern. Hoehn and Shanker identify a parade of new-generation threats, from cyberwarfare to climate change to biological attacks on the food supply. But therein lies the problem: There are so many things to worry about that information overload is a systemic danger. The authors are clearly aware of the many pitfalls involved, and they propose the creation of a series of standing joint task forces to work across agencies. It’s a worthy idea but one that could lead to deeper layers of bureaucracy. Nevertheless, the authors’ forceful message about the necessity of meaningful action is significant. “If recent decades have taught us anything,” they write, “it is that the seemingly urgent has a way of displacing the quietly important. The immediate overshadows the pending. Not always, but often enough.”
An instructive deep dive into a system that requires vast improvement efforts.