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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press (Dec 15 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674066421
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674066427
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #233,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 22 reviews
41 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Lutt-whacking China Feb. 23 2013
By Igor Biryukov - Published on
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. In addition to a persona of public intellectual, Mr. Luttwak is an intelligence operative, at least according to Wiki: Eastern Europe-born, well-travelled, well-connected, and multilingual. I believe he thinks of himself -- in a Machiavellian sense - as a kind of a thinker-scholar-practitioner who can advise 'the Prince'. So far so good. The problem is this: not sure who 'the Prince" might be. It's not clear to whom the advice could be given.

Surely the Chinese will not be patronized. If the White House is `the Prince', it doesn't need the advice that China's rise threatens only China itself by way of stiffening the opposition of its neighbours. Mr. Luttwak would have done better service by offering a fair criticism of his own adopted country's policies. For example, by pointing out that the costly military commitments abroad are eroding the foundations of the American power. Instead he delivers a sop: he sees no flaws in American sprawling commitments or the U.S. policies. All the faults are Chinese: it's really a 'Blame China First' strategy. The book is lecturing the Japanese and Russians how to make an anti-Chinese coalition (pages 142-3). It is all a little strange.

The book reflects a self-righteous and mildly arrogant attitude which infected the American elites [fortunately with some exceptions, otherwise we would have been in deep trouble]. According to Mr. Luttwak China is `autistic' - i.e. China is unable to see itself through other peoples' eyes, to relate to others. Not only that, it doesn't really have `strategy', only `stratagems'. But the truth is nearly the opposite - it's the U.S. today who is unable perceive itself through the foreigners' eyes. The American long-term strategy is vacillating, especially vis-a-vis China and Russia. The US has become the house divided and the largest nation debtor. The mighty U.S. dollar is the world's reserve currency and so far the printing press had hid many problems. But if something to happen to the mighty dollar, there will be a precipitous and sudden decline of the American power, we can be sure of that.

The Master-idea of the book is semi-revealed: China presents a challenge to hegemonic stability established and maintained by America. Unlike Luttwak I think the hegemonic stability is an illusion. It is a fleeting delusion which has bankrupted America already. I think it isn't China, but America who needs to choose a different strategy -- the strategy of `offshore balancer', not the multi-regional hegemonic strategy. It doesn't mean America should submit to China - the U.S. needs to choose the Grand Strategy which corresponds to America's strengths and weaknesses.

As a native Russian I believe a misguided U.S. policy vis-a-vis Russia during the last 20 years -- especially when the US spearheaded NATO expansion up to the Russian borders -- has become today a factor blocking an effective U.S. policy vis-a-vis China. It turned out it's all connected. An effective strategy is impossible without Russia which is engaged by the U.S., at least not painted black gratuitously. But this is exactly what he does. I disagree with his image of Russia. For him the Russians are always perverted or at least like the little children: they `always evaluate the motives of others in exclusively Russian terms'. The Russians ostensibly mirror-image the foreign motives negatively. So does China. For Mr. Luttwak China even more so.

Luttwak writes that for the Americans the goal of NATO expansion was to `stabilize fragile new democracies' in the Eastern Europe, but the Russians viewed NATO's enlargement as `a calculatedly hostile American move'. I disagree with this caricature. The Russians were disappointed, yes, but also some American realists and neo-realists who disapproved the U.S. policies to maintain the forward-deployed military power which would guarantee to make enemies of the Russians and complicate things for the Americans. For example, George Kennan considered NATO expansion a big mistake. The Russians, like Kennan and other old-school conservative realists and even skeptical liberals, thought America should pursue the strategy of `offshore balancer'. But the U.S. chose the preponderance of power and the strategy of multi-regional hegemony. The result is suspicious Russia and disarray in the U.S. Chinese policy. This strategy is wrong. Even more to the point, America cannot afford it. I don't recommend the book, I think it is a sop to those in power who are unwilling or unable to re-think American strategy today.
18 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Action-Reaction; the Keys to the Kingdom (Middle) Nov. 20 2012
By Dr.Charles Dusenbury - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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. Luttwak points out, a "logical" strategy would be for that growing nation to have "adequate" military force for self-preservation but not keep expanding its expenditures on forces to a point that other nations feel threatened. Likewise, it might be "logical" strategy to not throw one's weight around too much on the world's geopolitical stage.

China's manipulation of its currency and WTO commerce rules, its rapidly increasing expenditure and development of military technologies, and its intimidation of its South China Sea neighbors over a few remote islands may strategically not be too logical, but insteasd all too human.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A rare chance to learn! April 23 2014
By S. Ferguson - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The best strategic thinker alive today March 15 2014
By Edward M. Roche Esq - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
weak outing by a great thinker Feb. 23 2013
By madmicah - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.