On Being A Superpower: And Not Knowing What To Do About It

On Being A Superpower: And Not Knowing What To Do About It

by Seymour J Deitchman


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As the sole remaining superpower, shouldn't the United States be able to call the tune on establishing a secure world to our liking? While most international strategists conjure up history and theory of international relations from the past to examine such a question, Sy Deitchman, in On Being a Superpower, focuses on today's changing conditions and attitudes. He starts by addressing hypothetical situations that keep US international security experts awake at night. What would the United States do, he asks, if, in Saudi Arabia, an armed rebellion by Islamic fundamentalists were about to topple the House of Saud while demanding that the US get out of the Middle East? Would the United States go to war to try stop China's invasion of a democratic Taiwan that declares its independence? Could the US really win such a war against a determined country that has over a billion people and nuclear weapons? If a Central American drug cartel gained de facto control of the Panama canal and turned it into a smuggling lynchpin, what would the United States do? Deitchman examines these and other scenarios and then pictures how the US would likely respond, based on our society's current moral concerns, political rhetoric, and overall world view. After reviewing the challenges the world will present to us and examining the current state of our nation and its armed forces, Deitchman describes the strategy for preserving US security that appears to be emerging without explicit planning. He shows how trends in the armed forces parallel the trends in society, and how our argumentative political system is affecting our ability to build and use military power to support our strategy. Deitchman's synthesis of all these themes shows that the existing trends in the nation and the world are not favorable for our future security. Can they be changed? And if so, how? That's the conundrum readers of this book are invited to ponder.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813367750
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 12/31/1999
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.13(w) x 9.14(h) x 0.87(d)
Lexile: 1510L (what's this?)

About the Author

An aeronautical engineer by training, Seymour J. Deitchman was responsible at the Defense Department for research and development support of U. S. efforts in Southeast Asia in the 1960s. He was vice president for programs at the Institute for Defense Analysis until 1988. Currently he is a member of the Naval Studies Board of the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council. He is author of more than fifty open publications on national security. His prior books include Beyond the Thaw and Military Power and the Advance of Technology. He lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Table of Contents

Part 1Fantasy
The State of the World5
A Far East Scenario10
A Middle East Scenario17
A Caribbean Scenario25
2The Evaporation of the U.S.A.35
Where the World Has Gone35
The Evolution of USCAN42
Part 2Reality: the Background to National Security
3Where Does the World Seem to Be Going?63
Homogenizing the World63
New Regional Powers Within Old Geopolitical Contexts74
Beyond National Boundaries91
4Where Does the Nation Seem to Be Going?106
The Twentieth-Century American Social Revolution108
Inside the United States167
Beyond Our Borders177
Part 3The Core of National Security
6The Armed Forces191
The Armed Forces as Society191
U.S. Armed Forces in the Twentieth Century198
The Armed Forces Today and Tomorrow225
7A National Strategy?268
A Strategy Emerging270
Implementing the Strategy280
Crafting Armed Forces to Match283
Using the Armed Forces301
8The Real World312
Linkages: Implementing Our Strategy316
Linkages: The Armed Forces324
The Real World328

What People are Saying About This

David Acheson

Seymour Deitchman thinks big. His book, On Being a Superpower: And Not Knowing What to Do About It has a large perspective both in time and scope. He tells where America is at with its foreign policy, how it got there and what direction we may be following. Some of his not-so-hypothetical scenarios are pretty chilling. He deals with America's short term and self-centered approach to foreign relations, tolerance versus evangelism as an unresolved issue, and the challenges facing us in various parts of the world. A must read for those aspiring to be well informed.
—(David Acheson President of the Atlantic Council of the United) States, 1993-1999

Robert B. Oakley

Sy Deitchman has revolutionized strategic theory both by writing an eminently readable book and by poking holes in the prevalent pretension that the U.S. can successfully plan for and deal with the future simply by use of superior hi-tech military might to protect our grip on the world economy. The opening chapters show how easy it is to upset conventional thinking about world security scenarios for the 21st Century. Succeeding chapters show how difficult it would be to contain, much less resolve conflicts ensuing from current strategies. The final chapter provides some common sense ideas about a better approach to potential threats: combining insights into the cultures and needs of others with early diplomatic, economic, and non-combat military operations, backed up by flexible, powerful military forces.

Andrew J. Goodpastor

A true master effort in its field--a mind-stretching suggestion of possible future security challenges, a sobering examination of our domestic society and the world around us in the difficulties they would bring to bear, and finally, the author's assessment of military fundamentals, grounded in his extraordinary depth of experience and critical insight...
— (Andrew J. Goodpastor General, US Army (Ret.))

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