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The Rise of China vs. the Logic of Strategy Hardcover – November 15, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


National security strategist Edward Luttwak's provocative and insightful analysis of the 'logic of strategy' provides a well-documented, contrarian assessment of whether China's 'rise' will be peaceful or polarizing. He stresses the paradox that China's economic strength and territorial aggrandizement are inciting opposition by a growing coalition of states determined to weaken Beijing's power and influence. Luttwak asserts that only by maintaining Deng Xiaoping's policy of 'low posture' development, and downplaying military modernization, can China avoid international 'geo-economic resistance' and attain the domestic growth and global stature it seeks. (Richard H. Solomon, former President of the U.S. Institute of Peace, Senior Fellow at the RAND Corporation)

Luttwak presents a rich, persuasive, and lucid analysis of the strategic implications of China's rise and of the anxieties it generates. China's foreign policy and military investments are raising concerns that require the sort of well-informed, precise argumentation that Luttwak delivers. Based on a long-term view of China's strategic inclinations and extensive research on current developments, this book offers medium-term predictions of the likely outcomes that the 'logic of strategy' may dictate, and thus explains with great clarity the issues at stake. Luttwak's work is a must-read for laymen and specialists alike, and an essential contribution to the political debate. (Nicola Di Cosmo, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton)

With muscular behavior and rhetoric on the uptick and China pouring money into its military, political strategists have begun to consider Chinese military dominance of the Pacific and a concurrent American decline as foregone conclusions. So it is refreshing to see Edward Luttwak take a different tack in The Rise of China vs. the Logic of Strategy and argue that Chinese military dominance in the Pacific is 'the least likely of outcomes.' China can't simultaneously enjoy a burgeoning economy and a rapidly growing military, he contends, because countries will band together to protect themselves, using military coalitions and trade protectionism to counter China's rise. (Mary Kissel Wall Street Journal 2012-11-05)

Most commentators on China focus on its seemingly inexorable rise and the threat that this poses to other world powers. In this well-argued book, Luttwak takes a different view. He questions whether China's rising power is sustainable. China's continued and rapid growth in economic capacity and military strength and regional and global influence cannot persist, he argues, because of the mounting opposition it is evoking. (Frank Dillon Irish Times 2012-11-12)

Luttwak detects a fundamental conflict between China's search for continuing economic growth, which the Communist Party has made its prime claim to rule, and its quest for military expansion combined with increased foreign policy assertiveness...Luttwak's book, which includes a refreshing put-down of the supposed superiority of traditional Chinese statecraft so admired by Henry Kissinger among others, is timely, coming as it does amid the current maritime confrontations in East Asia. (Jonathan Fenby Times Higher Education 2012-11-15)

The Rise of China vs. The Logic of Strategy is a sober book. Staying with the evidence, it avoids flights of fancy but grips readers' attention all the way through. Here, finally, is an expert on China who knows what he's talking about. (Caleb Nelson World 2012-11-03)

Luttwak's contribution to the China debate is to be welcomed. We need informed outsiders to weigh in with their views, and he has spent years visiting the country and talking to the Chinese, including the People's Liberation Army. Written with his customary panache, his vigorous and highly readable contribution will challenge congealed thinking. (George Walden 2012-12-10)

Over the past few decades, Edward Luttwak has gained a reputation as the bad boy of strategic theory and historical scholarship. This time, he has outdone himself. He has debunked Sun Tsu, the Clausewitz of the East and much beloved by teachers of military theory for decades...In The Rise of China vs. the Logic of Strategy, Luttwak goes beyond an attack on Sun Tsu. He argues that the dominant strategic and cultural arrogance of the Han people--the largest ethnic group in China--could undermine efforts to lift the Middle Kingdom to the ranks of true superpower status. Luttwak further argues that this assumption of cultural and intellectual superiority is driving China's neighbors into a camp of strategic containment similar to what Germany created for itself in the years leading up to World War I...It will be interesting to see whether the book is read with interest or banned once it is translated and made available on the Chinese mainland. It is a cautionary tale that deserves Chinese attention. (Gary Anderson Washington Times 2012-12-14)

[Luttwak's] thesis is sensible and not to be discounted lightly. (The Economist blog 2012-12-20)

Edward Luttwak's book on the limitations of China's ascent to power blends careful observation of recent events with an understanding of its past...The explanatory innovation that lifts Luttwak's book above the ruck of recent books on China's rise is his use of geo-economics--an expression he coined in 1980--to explain global resistance to Beijing's march. He argues that countries across the world, without explicit coordination, will resist China's export-oriented strategy to generate wealth and military power. This "invisible hand" explanation is in refreshing contrast to the usual containment and other political explanations about what may happen in East China in the coming years. (Siddharth Singh Mint 2012-12-28)

Entertaining and provocative...A bold book that flatly predicts that China won't successfully rise as a superpower, indeed that it cannot in its current incarnation...If accurate, Luttwak's theory means Americans don't have to worry too much. China will essentially self-destruct, at least diplomatically. And the list of problems facing China make it seem that this could well be happening right now. (Ian Johnson New York Review of Books 2013-04-04)

[A] though-provoking book. (Jonathan Mirsky Prospect 2013-06-01)

About the Author

Edward N. Luttwak is a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press (November 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674066421
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674066427
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #745,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Edward N. Luttwak is senior associate (non-resident) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He has served as a consultant to numerous government offices including: the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force. He is the author of numerous books and articles including Strategy and Politics, The Endangered American Dream, and Turbo-Capitalism: Winners and Losers in the Global Economy.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Igor Biryukov on February 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I disagree with the author's definition of strategy and his method. He writes of `strategy' in deterministic terms, almost like a Marxist. At best, he is a structuralist without acknowledging it. For him, the Great Powers are `trapped by the logic of strategy'. I think to the opposite: 'Strategy' is an Art practiced by people at the apex of state power. Also, I think the leitmotif through the book `strategy is stronger than politics' doesn't make sense. One does not put the cart before the horse. Strategy is the way you carry out your policy. You got to have a policy first which is a function of politics.

I find it odd that the author almost sounds joyful writing about the military competition in Asia and emerging strategic cooperation in response to the China's rise, especially between countries like Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. It makes me worried, because the U.S. will likely be sucked-in if the conflict flares up. There is no mention in the book that Russia and China are the allies in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Will the conflict with China be one with Russia also?

America needs a strategy vis-a-vis China to 'dissuade it'? Perhaps. The U.S. must come to terms with its own financial situation first. Then, the U.S. needs to look into the policies concerning several centers of power which are in turn are trying to hedge against America: Europe, China and Russia, India, Brazil, not least Iran. North Korea is a wild card. If strategy vis-a-vis China means a more 'activist' foreign policy, it could hurt America more than benefit. Deterrent moves by the U.S. might be interpreted in China as encirclement.

Is it a clever book? Very much so, but it offers an ersatz-strategy. I think it's a clever stratagem from a man who is not lacking in intelligence.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Edward M. Roche Esq on March 15, 2014
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This remarkable book is yet another in the long series of studies on strategy by the author. It should be read by military leaders, economic strategists, politicians, historians, and anyone interested in the rise of China and its opportunities and threats for the West and for its neighbors and East Asia. One of the most enduring and interesting ideas in this book concerns the logic of strategy and the amazing paradoxes that it reveals.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By madmicah on February 23, 2013
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Luttwak has written some brilliant stuff over the years but this is not one of those books. he makes a basic argument -- that china's rise will drive the region and states around the world to seek to balance beijing's expanding power -- and then spends the rest of the book making the same point over and over. Luttwak is not a China expert -- which he freely admits up front -- but that doesn't stop him from analyzing in detail the behavior of Chinese leaders, China's military, and its economy. unfortunately, he just gets a lot of the China analysis wrong.
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18 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Dr.Charles Dusenbury on November 20, 2012
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Like a wave building unseen beneath the ocean's surface, the incredibly fast rise of the Chinese economy, along with a concomitant growth in its military strength and a rapidly expanding geopolitical clout has suddenly risen like a tsunami upon the receding economic shores of nations around the globe.

International leaders and pundits seem to be scratching their heads in confusion as to why the obvious mutual benefits of China's increasing prosperity to the global community is now causing increased consternation and mistrust. The book's author, Edward Luttwak, offers a very clear framework with which to evaluate China's actions and other nations' reactions.

So what is "The Logic of Strategy"? It is to this reviewer another way of describing self-preservation. Actions taken by an individual or a nation are, up to a point, necessary and beneficial. Indeed, other nations benefit by the increased wealth, production, and trade as the subject nation grows and prospers. With that economic growth comes a perceived need to have increased military protection. And, with that increased strength comes increased political clout. At some point, the simultaneous expansion of the wealth, the military, and the political influence transitions from increased mutual benefit to perceived increased threat. "Hubris" is a term often used in this book to describe the ultimately counterproductive attitudes and actions of a nation with new-found wealth and influence. It is a word that seems to fit well when viewing China's words and deeds since the global economic crisis beginning in 2007.

As Mr.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Ferguson on April 23, 2014
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Luttwak explains that the "highest echelon" of the U.S. Treasury "is staffed almost entirely by former or future employees of the leading financial firms" that are sensitive to Chinese enterprises as future clients, for example Timothy Franz Geithner. According to Luttwak, these financial power elites have no responsibility for or indeed any intellectual interest in the condition of the U.S. manufacturing sector and the subsequent loss of jobs, which they regarded as "uncompetitive and not worth having" — and their willingness to bend to Chinese demands for the sake of making cheap capital available to private finance, has also allowed a tsunami of technology, including aerospace technology, innovated by American enterprise to be given to the Chinese.

Every American should read this book! This man is brilliant and he knows what most do not or will not say. We have much to learn.
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