"Stunning. Sean McFate is a new Sun Tzu." -Admiral James Stavridis (retired), former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO
An Economist Book of the Year 2019
Some of the principles of warfare are ancient, others are new, but all described in The New Rules of War will permanently shape war now and in the future. By following them Sean McFate argues, we can prevail. But if we do not, terrorists, rogue states, and others who do not fight conventionally will succeed—and rule the world.
The New Rules of War is an urgent, fascinating exploration of war—past, present and future—and what we must do if we want to win today from an 82nd Airborne veteran, former private military contractor, and professor of war studies at the National Defense University.
War is timeless. Some things change—weapons, tactics, technology, leadership, objectives—but our desire to go into battle does not. We are living in the age of Durable Disorder—a period of unrest created by numerous factors: China’s rise, Russia’s resurgence, America’s retreat, global terrorism, international criminal empires, climate change, dwindling natural resources, and bloody civil wars. Sean McFate has been on the front lines of deep state conflicts and has studied and taught the history and practice of war. He’s seen firsthand the horrors of battle and understands the depth and complexity of the current global military situation.
This devastating turmoil has given rise to difficult questions. What is the future of war? How can we survive? If Americans are drawn into major armed conflict, can we win? McFate calls upon the legends of military study Carl von Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, and others, as well as his own experience, and carefully constructs the new rules for the future of military engagement, the ways we can fight and win in an age of entropy: one where corporations, mercenaries, and rogue states have more power and ‘nation states’ have less. With examples from the Roman conquest, World War II, Vietnam, Afghanistan and others, he tackles the differences between conventional and future war, the danger in believing that technology will save us, the genuine leverage of psychological and ‘shadow’ warfare, and much more. McFate’s new rules distill the essence of war today, describing what it is in the real world, not what we believe or wish it to be.
McFate's experience as professor of strategy at the National Defense University and Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, plus time spent in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division and as a private military contractor in Africa, inform this standout work of military science. McFate defines the present global condition as one of "durable disorder," the principal feature of which is persistent and perpetual armed conflict. Entities like China, Iran, terrorist organizations, and drug cartels, all of whom have less money and firepower than the U.S., are more effective in the new forms of warfare, such as strategic subversion and information campaigns, covert proxy or "shadow" wars that may include private mercenaries, economic warfare, terrorist attacks, and strategic manipulation of laws to further their agendas. He predicts that, unless America thinks its way out of its present "strategic incompetence," it will continue to lose conflicts, and others who do not fight conventionally will "inherit the world." McFate backs up his theories with examples drawn from history, both recent and ancient, and his own personal experience. For example, he looks at British Maj.-Gen. John Fuller, who wrote in 1928 about how tanks and aircraft could be used in concert to invade a country quickly; while his compatriots called him a crackpot, Germans read his books and created the blitzkrieg. This is an authoritative and skillful analysis of the state of war today.
A good read. Information shifts perspective and teaches to view and think in a different light. However the author seems to take the Mueller report and Russia meddling in election at face value. He never questions it. This does give me pause. He seems like he accepts it without ever skipping a beat. I considered that in that regard he became a victim of all that he was speaking of specific to Russia meddling and the Mueller report.