Kaplan uncovers a nation polarized along ethnic, economic, and political lines, where the uneven distribution of rapid technological advances allows some groups to surge forward, cultivating a radically different world-view than their poorer, less educated neighbors. Much of his report is bleak, but despite his insistence on documenting the worst, plenty of examples of prosperity and hope appear in these pages. What comes across most clearly is that there is still plenty of room for speculation on exactly how and where the new boundaries will be drawn. In this respect, America's future still carries the promise of the Wild West: equal parts opportunity, possibility, and uncertainty. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
-?Jack Forman, Mesa Coll. Lib., San Diego
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Kirkus Reviews
From the Back Cover
"An Empire Wilderness contains a very large number of new insights, startling observations, and provocative suggestions. The term 'fresh look' has become somewhat of a cliché, but even those who disagree with some of the conclusions in this book will find that it fully deserves this characterization. No rehashing here of yesterday's editorials. A true original."--Amitai Etzioni
"President Clinton cannot stop talking about Robert D. Kaplan's cover story in The Atlantic Monthly, White House aides say. . . . Clinton was so impressed he ordered an interagency study of the issues. Clinton also devoured Kaplan's recent book Balkan Ghosts."--U.S. News & World Report
"The finest foreign correspondent of his generation turns his eye and ear to his own country. Kaplan's tour of the American West is a tour de force of journalism and a provocation to anyone wondering where America's future is coming from and where it is going."--H.W. Brands
"When you look at the long-run trends that are going on around the world--you read articles like Robert Kaplan's article in the Atlantic a couple of months ago--you could visualize a world in which a few million of us live in such opulence we could be starring on nighttime soaps. And the rest of us look like we're in one of those Mel Gibson Road Warrior movies. I was so gripped by many things that were in that article . . . and I keep trying to imagine what it's going to be like to bring children into this world in this country."--President Clinton
"A brilliant and insightful writer whose ability to see the world as it is, not as he'd like it to be, has made him one of the most prescient chroniclers of our time."--Wade Davis --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
From 2009 to 2011, he served under Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as a member of the Defense Policy Board. Since 2008, he has been a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington. From 2006 to 2008, he was the Class of 1960 Distinguished Visiting Professor in National Security at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Whereas east coast monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Statue of Liberty speak specifically to ideals, the Protestant memorial chapel at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas-overlooking the Missouri River at the edge of the Great Plains, with the rails of the Union Pacific visible in the distance-invokes blood and soil. The chapel was built from local limestone in 1878, two years after the massacre of George Armstrong Custer's Seventh Cavalry. Six brass pack howitzers from the Indian Wars are embedded in the wall. In addition to plaques commemorating the U.S. Army dead at Little Big Horn and other frontier engagements, the walls are studded with the names of heroes of every war since; Colonel Ollie Reed (July 30, 1944) and First Lieutenant Ollie Reed Jr. (July 5, 1944), for example, a father and son killed weeks apart in France and Italy in the Second World War. In early May 1995, on the fiftieth anniversary of V-E Day, as I stood within this darkened holy of holies, my eyes struggling to read the names in the gloom, I felt as if I were within the core of nationhood.
The poignancy of the moment overwhelmed me, stretching beyond the deaths of those men. For after several weeks at Fort Leavenworth, freighted as it is with historical reference, and after heated discussions with army officers about the failure of ancient Greece and Rome, how could I not think about the future of the United States?
The officers and I did not assume that the United States was going to decline like those ancient empires. That is not the lesson of classical history. Rather, it is that change is inescapable and the more gradual and hidden the change, the more decisive: the great shifts in fortune for ancient empires were usually not apparent to those living at the time. At Fort Leavenworth I was intensely aware of such transformation-of history moving silently beneath our feet however much we deny it-and thus the memorial chapel affected me more intimately than any monumental ruin in Greece or Italy or Egypt.
The setting is fifteen miles northwest of Kansas City, where the Missouri flows swiftly, several hundred yards wide, encumbered with logs and other debris, the untamed signature of the New World. Here the river arcs before turning north. On July 2, 1804, the explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark camped nearby, en route to the Pacific. In May 1827, during the presidency of John Quincy Adams, Colonel Henry Leavenworth, sailing upriver from the direction of St. Louis, commenced construction here of what would become Fort Leavenworth: the advance post of European settlement within the western half of the American continent. Colonel Leavenworth's orders were to construct the fort on the east bank of the river. However, because the east bank was a floodplain, he built on the bluffs of the west bank, in what was officially "Indian territory" beyond the Union, in the future state of Kansas. By the time Washington bureaucrats learned of Leavenworth's decision, the colonel had already begun building.
As much as it is an army base or a war college, Fort Leavenworth is a living museum. French cannons, brought here before Thomas Jefferson purchased Louisiana from France, look out over the Missouri. Lining the parade ground are nineteenth-century redbrick Victorian houses, their facades framed by white porticoes. George Armstrong Custer lived in one, Douglas MacArthur in another. In 1926, when Fort Leavenworth was almost a hundred years old, Dwight D. Eisenhower lived with his family in nearby Otis Hall. It was at Fort Leavenworth that "Ike" learned to play golf. In another brick building, in the winter of 1917-1918, a young officer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, wrote the first draft of his first novel, This Side of Paradise. The post cemetery, designated by President Abraham Lincoln as one of our first twelve national military cemeteries, contains the graves of 19,000 soldiers who served from the War of 1812 through Desert Storm, including Shango Hango, an Indian soldier-guide, four officers from Little Big Horn, and a casualty from Fort Sumter. Fifteen hundred graves are unmarked.
The piece de resistance is the Buffalo Soldier Monument, a sixteen-foot bronze statue of a black trooper mounted on his horse, rearing up before two reflecting pools. The "buffalo soldiers" were two African-American regiments, the Ninth and Tenth Cavalries, which, from the end of the Civil War through the closing of the western frontier, escorted cattle drives and wagon trains, installed telegraph lines, and fought Indians and Mexican revolutionaries. The monument was dedicated in 1992 and was the idea of Colin Powell when he was deputy commander here, in 1981-1982. The magnificent bronze horse and rider could have leapt out of a painting by Frederic Remington: a binding myth, true and necessary.
Inside the post buildings, the theatricality demanded by tradition deepens. The pictures lining the corridors range from a painting of Revolutionary War General Nathanael Greene to a giant photo of MacArthur striding ashore in the Philippines in 1944. For several days, army officials let me visit the varnished meeting rooms with plush red carpets, where I listened to officers in black boots and battle fatigues discuss future war scenarios in the Balkans, Central America, and Africa. The battle fatigues express the difference between Leavenworth and other war colleges, where dress greens and jackets and ties are required: Leavenworth is a frontier post still, and a nostalgic view of the United States is deliberately cultivated here, as if to bind the uncertain future to a reliable past.
Fort Leavenworth symbolizes the frontier. As the most important fort in the West, the place from which the first group of white settlers moved into Indian country, it was the starting point for what would one day be called Manifest Destiny. It was the main base for the exploration of the Great Salt Lake in Utah and of the Columbia River in Oregon. Eight miles west of Fort Leavenworth, the newly opened Oregon and Santa Fe Trails separated. Here a young man from Illinois, James "Wild Bill" Hickok, experienced the West for the first time, amid wagon trains as far as his eye could see. Fort Leavenworth was the base camp for building the transcontinental railroad. From here, troops marched off to the Mexican War and Custer's Seventh Cavalry trekked to the Little Big Horn. In 1881, General William Tecumseh Sherman established a staff college at Fort Leavenworth, and when the frontier closed in1890, Leavenworth began to train officers for fighting overseas-another territorial threshold-which they did in 1898, when U.S. troops carried the flag to Cuba and the Philippines. This has always been the place where the army prepares its commanders "to fight the next war." "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell, MacArthur, Eisenhower, and Powell, to name only a few generals, were indelibly marked by Leavenworth.
Almost every member of the army's top brass has spent at least several months, if not longer, at Fort Leavenworth. More than 90 percent of Army captains take a nine-week course here. More than 50 percent of all majors spend a year at Leavenworth before they are eligible for promotion to lieutenant colonel; of those majors who eventually make it to general, the percentage is much higher. Leavenworth is where military warfare doctrine is written. It was Leavenworth's School of Advanced Military Studies that, in 1990, outlined
the strategy for Operation Desert Storm. When the United States intervenes overseas, the phones and computers at Leavenworth work overtime.
Leavenworth's Battle Command Training Program runs simulated war games-for example, "Prairie Warrior," an annual exercise in which computers link Leavenworth with other U.S. military installations around the world in a "virtual" war situation, with isolated command headquarters, battlefield observers, and so forth. During my visit, Prairie Warrior featured a scenario in an "imaginary Europe" menaced by a failing nation-state in the "north-central" sector near present-day Berlin. The state is both threatened by its neighbors and tearing itself apart through civil unrest and guerrilla insurgencies in densely populated urban areas. Because this scenario was set fifteen years in the future, the weaponry for the war game included "intelligent mines" that can distinguish among trucks, tanks, and people and identify the enemy. While other military institutions look "strategically" and thus more abstractly at the future, Leavenworth, because it concentrates on training captains and majors, the "middle ranks," is "where the rubber meets the road," explained Major Chris Devens.
Another exercise I looked in on involved a humanitarian emergency in Memphis and St. Louis after a major earthquake along the Mississippi Valley's "New Madrid" fault line, where a series of big quakes did in fact occur in 1811 and 1812. More earthquakes are expected, and buildings in Memphis and St. Louis have not generally been constructed to withstand major tremors. This exercise tested the army's ability to work with NGOs (nongovernmental organizations, or private relief agencies), as it has had to do in the Third World.
It was assumed that there would be civil disorder after the quake. "Martial law has rarely been declared in the United States," noted Lieutenant Colonel Marvin Chandler. "That's another thing we look at." Many times in the course of my visit to Leavenworth I heard discussion of the Posse Comitatus Act, which forbids the National Guard to act as a local police force once it has been federalized by the army in a civil emergency. The implication was that turbulence within the United States might one day require the act to be repealed. "The future is icky," said Lieutenant Colonel Chandler, showing me a cartoon of a cow, representing an awkward, slow-moving army, trying to negotiate a ser...