- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Times Books; 1 edition (November 13, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 080509430X
- ISBN-13: 978-0805094305
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 27 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,032,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics 1st Edition
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“Mr. Bracken's view is a powerful one. . . . The questions [he] raises about the sustainability of current American foreign policy thinking are particularly timely. Nuclear strategy must come out of its post-Cold War retirement. We are once again in a world where nuclear weapons count.” ―Walter Russell Mead, The Wall Street Journal
“Penetrating. . . . Bracken is an example of why fresh and fearless thinking is required when considering the near-term future of geopolitics. . . . Everyone interested in nuclear proliferation in the Middle East should read [this book].” ―Robert D. Kaplan, Stratfor, author of The Revenge of Geography
“This is an important book, necessary reading for anyone looking to understand nuclear weapons and how they might be used, directly or indirectly, in future conflicts around the world. Paul Bracken is a rigorous critic, convincing and unsentimental in his discussion of the strategic and political context of the subject. This is no simplistic vision of Armageddon.” ―George Friedman, author of The Next 100 Years, CEO of Stratfor
“Paul Bracken has written an alarming and compelling wake-up call. He argues that as new countries acquire nuclear capabilities, the cold war rules of the road no longer apply and we ignore the complexities of today’s environment at our peril. He provides an instructive history of how we got here and is practical and provocative in recommending possible solutions.
Read this book. We should not wait for the first nuclear crisis of this century to start thinking about what to do differently.” ―Admiral Mike Mullen, USN (ret.), former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
“Read this book. We should not wait for the first nuclear crisis of this century to start thinking about what to do differently.” ―Admiral Mike Mullen, USN (ret.), former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
“Challenging the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons, Paul Bracken argues that we have already entered a second nuclear weapons age -- and that the United States needs to face that reality. His book is well worth reading.” ―Graham Allison, director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University, and author of Essence of Decision and Nuclear Terrorism
“Put Paul Bracken in charge of our nuclear policy for the twenty-first century. The Second Nuclear Age is a superb analysis of why and how a continuation of our Cold War nuclear forces and doctrines will fail, and how we can make them safer and far more strategically useful.” ―R. James Woolsey, Former Director of Central Intelligence
“In this book--which could hardly be more timely--Paul Bracken dissects the dangerous and often neglected realities of 'the second nuclear age' and argues for bold, innovative, and often provocative ways to think about how to avert those dangers. Precisely because he challenges orthodox doctrines and practices and argues forcefully for his own strong views, he helps ensure that one of the most important, complex, and controversial issues of our time will get the hard-headed attention it deserves.” ―Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution and former U.S. deputy secretary of state
About the Author
Paul Bracken is the author of Fire in the East and The Command and Control of Nuclear Forces. He is a professor of management and political science at Yale University, and was previously a member of the senior staff of the Hudson Institute under Herman Kahn and a consultant to the Rand Corporation. He serves on several Department of Defense advisory boards and works with global multinational corporations on strategy and technology issues. He lives in Connecticut.
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The author tend to see the role of the United States through rose-colored glasses. He believes that U.S. is a benevolent observer of a spontaneous race. He dismisses the missile defense, he thinks the U.S. missile defense has no bearing whatsoever on the issue. I disagree -- I think the strategic missile defense seriously alarmed both Russians and Chinese who fear that the American missile defense will diminish their deterrence capabilities. The Russians have openly said so. Now they are furiously working on upgrading and improving the nuclear arsenals. The fear of U.S. by Iran and others may be a catalyst of the second nuclear age. Therefore the issue of spread of nuclear weapons is linked with the question of the U.S. global hegemony. It is a question of Grand Strategy, not merely of "management". What the book misses is an ejection of grand strategic and ethics-related probing. It is very visible in the case of Japan. He advocates Japan going nuclear, since it could be one of "legitimate" nuclear countries, "good guys". It will help the burden of the U.S. I think he is mistaken. I don't believe Japan going nuclear would bring a strategic benefit. Besides, many Japanese consider nuclear weapons to be unethical. But Bracken doesn't believe in the nuclear bomb as an ethical question. I also think his treating countries in terms of "good guys" or "legitimate" nuclear powers, and "bad guys" is contra-productive. In the end, it is very hard to agree that the "management" of the nuclear weapons in terms of scenarios is the right way ahead. It is the issue of diplomacy, foreign policy, and more broadly - grand strategy. This strategy must be comprehensive and based on assessment of interests, threats, and resources with the long-term objectives taken in consideration. It seems to be beyond his survey. Still, Bracken's book is a provocative, detailed and welcome examination of the emerged order, which he calls the second nuclear age. I recommend it.
More than that though, it occurred to me that the most insightful, creative thinkers about the future may well be nuclear strategists. In other fields, experts can make wild prognostications just to make headlines or a name for themselves. But in nuclear strategy, you had better be damned well sure you understand how the world might evolve because if you get it wrong, billions of people will die and civilization may come to an end.
This book is very crisp, hard-hitting, and fast-paced. Entire academic departments are sometimes eviscerated in three sentences. And the author knows what he is talking about. He's sat through the war games, lived in think tanks, seen the whole Cold War through to its end. We should all take pause that someone with this biography is now sounding the klaxon and asking everyone to wake up and pay attention.
Perhaps the most insightful part of the book was on the role Nationalism in strategy. Many countries are highly nationalistic - almost all are more so than the United States. At baseline many Americans have a poor understanding of how strategists in other countries view their adversaries (and their friends). This becomes somewhat more important when they have nuclear weapons.
Generals always prepare for the last war. So do politicians and bureaucracies. If history is any guide, I would wager that our next conflict will not involve terrorists and counterinsurgency. Perhaps it has been unwise to let our nuclear force atrophy - and to the author's point - to stop thinking about strategy in any meaningful way.