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The Unquiet Frontier: Rising Rivals, Vulnerable Allies, and the Crisis of American Power Hardcover – February 23, 2016
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"The authors . . . paint a stark and compelling picture of the emerging geopolitical landscape. They remind us that, in the post-Cold War era, geopolitics matters."--H.R. McMaster, Wall Street Journal Book Review
"Well-argued and incisive."--Kirkus
"A persuasive case."--Publishers Weekly
"[I]mportant."--Francis P Sempa, Asian Review of Books
"A useful and thoughtful contribution to the most important debate in U.S. foreign policy and will be read with great care by President Barack Obama's supporters and critics alike."--Walter Russell Mead, Foreign Affairs
"[Grygiel and Mitchell] have a number of useful suggestions that deserve serious consideration."--Aram Bakshian Jr., Washington Times
"Insightful new study."--Jack Caravelli, Washington Free Beacon
"An important, optimally informed, non-partisan, and cogent book."--Colonel John C. McKay (USMC, Ret), American Conservative
"The book offers a realist critique of American grand strategy in the contemporary geopolitical landscape. Grygiel and Mitchell lay out a highly readable if grim assessment of US alliance relationships , especially with NATO, Central Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia, and why they are so important for managing the dangers posed by rising rivals, namely Russia, Iran, and China. . . . Timely and provocative."--Choice
"In The Unquiet Frontier, Jakub Grygiel and A. Wess Mitchell have articulated a provocative justification for a revitalized strategy of containment focused on China, Iran, and Russia."--Brad Stapleton, Cato Journal
From the Back Cover
"The Unquiet Frontier is the most lucid and penetrating analysis I've read about the Obama administration's most signal weakness--its failure to inspire and reassure allies. Geography and history, the two key elements of any classic text on the subject, dominate the narrative. This is a short book with an epic thesis."--Robert D. Kaplan, author of In Europe's Shadow: Two Cold Wars and a Thirty-Year Journey through Romania and Beyond
"In the looming debate about America's global strategy, the security of central Europe is likely to be one of the key issues. Grygiel and Mitchell's incisive and wide-ranging book provides a vital tool for rethinking the fundamentals of what is strategically necessary."--Zbigniew Brzezinski, Center for Strategic and International Studies
"An incisive analysis of the threats that face the frontier states of the Western liberal democratic order. This is an important book for anyone concerned about the defense of the hard-won stability and liberty that we enjoy, as well as about the toxic strategic dangers threatening us now that the post-Cold War era is over."--Toomas Hendrik Ilves, president of Estonia
"In an era when so many decisions are made at the spur of the moment, it's refreshing to read Grygiel and Mitchell's call for a new grand strategy, for a new attitude to allies and alliances, and above all for deeper, longer-term thinking about America's role in the world."--Anne Applebaum, author of Gulag: A History
"Grygiel and Mitchell join the ongoing debate over the future of American grand strategy and offer a compelling refutation of the idea that the United States can safely draw back from the positions it currently maintains around the world. They make the case that, far from being a burden with which Washington might be wise to dispense, America's alliances are actually critical to its continued security and prosperity."--Aaron L. Friedberg, author of A Contest for Supremacy: China, America, and the Struggle for Mastery in Asia
"Grygiel and Mitchell argue with convincing force and eloquence that America's alliance system is valuable, underappreciated, and increasingly vulnerable to pressure from revisionist states. Their book is a powerful rebuttal to those who contend that overseas alliances today are no longer relevant to American security. A brilliant, original, and timely reminder of why the United States has allies in the first place."--Colin Dueck, author of The Obama Doctrine: American Grand Strategy Today
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A good introduction to the book is "World According to H. R. McMaster" article in the recent issue of the Atlantic. There are parallel's with it in Thomas Shelling's "Arms and Influence" which treats the same set of issues from a more theoretical game theory perspective. Henry Kissinger's "World Order" touches on related issues and possible ways of addressing them.
One thing that I am surprised is that I have not seen anyone connecting the US spending on entitlements (60% of the Federal budget) and another 6% interest on debt to the Unquiet Frontier. They are closely related.
Grygiel's argument is well written and supported. His description of the role of strategic alliances as a force multiplier is well-taken. Perhaps the most valuable contribution to the discussion is Grygiel's trenchant description of smaller states' range of behaviors when support from a stronger ally (the United States) is called into question. Grygiel's argument is driven, however, by a specific political perspective--one which calls for greater U.S. military engagement abroad. While he allows that this engagement should be targeted, rather than a blanket commitment to all, there remains significant questions of the cost of greater engagement with governments with (in the Saudi case) significant differences in long-term goal for their regions. That said, Grygiel's argument is well-crafted and certainly deserves consideration.