Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Summer 2009 Parameters

The Summer 2009 issue of Parameters came out back in August.

This issue includes a pair of two-article sections.

The first, on Chinese security and foreign policy, is comprised of "Is There a Civil-Military Gap in China’s Peaceful Rise?" by Andrew Scobell (of particular interest to those wondering about the contradictions between China's rational realpolitik and the more provocative actions and rhetoric coming from inside its policy establishment), and "China’s New Security Strategy for Africa" by Jonathan Holslag.

The second, presented under the heading of "A Paradigm for Future War," offers a pair of pieces addressing the networked world we live in, "Caught in the Net: Lessons from the Financial Crisis for a Networked Future" by Gautam Mukunda and William J. Troy; and "An Ever-Expanding War: Legal Aspects of Online Strategic Communication" by Daniel Silverberg and Joseph Heimann.

John W. Bauer also offers his analysis of Russian policy toward Korea in "Unlocking Russian Interests on the Korean Peninsula" by John W. Bauer (with a focus on the potentials of an enhanced economic relationship between Russia and South Korea), while John A. Wahlquist offers a robust critique of torture-by-any-other name in "Enhancing Interrogation: Advancing a New Agenda."

Finally, P. Michael Phillips deconstructs our dark age future in "Deconstructing Our Dark Age Future." Phillips attributes such views to an irrational response to the decline of U.S. hegemony, and a simplistic view of the post-Westphalia international order which makes non-state actors loom larger than they should in the view of analysts. (In my view he's right about both factors, and his attempt to provide some perspective, particularly in regard to the second factor, is welcome, but much else is at work besides-the mediocre economic performance of most of the world since the 1970s, the scale of the present ecological challenges, and the "resurgence" of the irrational in politics, while the depth of cultural and technological changes worries onlookers across the ideological spectrum, albeit in different ways.)

This issue also offers the customary rich collection of reviews of recent security-related literature, both in the "Editor's Shelf" section, and in the pages devoted to the "Book Reviews". Much of it adds to already considerable bodies of literature on well-established subjects-there are four books on various aspects of World War II, three on the Iraq war, two concerning al-Qaida and the struggle against it, and one volume each about the Civil War and the Korean War.

However, a good many also address less frequently essayed matters, the more intriguing of which (at least to me, given my interests) include Zoltan Barany's Democratic Breakdown and the Decline of the Russian Military and Brendan Simms's intriguing "revisionist" study of British policy From The War of the Spanish Succession to the American Revolution, Three Victories and a Defeat.

There are also two highly publicized books (e.g., works you're likely to see promoted on the current affairs-oriented talk shows) about the place of the U.S. in a changing world, Andrew Bacevich's inward-looking The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, and Fareed Zakaria's outward-looking The Post-American World, both of which are about what you'd expect if you're familiar with these authors.

The New (Spring 2009) Issue of Parameters

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