War by Other Means

War by Other Means Today, Nations Increasingly Carry Out Geopolitical Combat Through Economic Means Policies Governing Everything From Trade And Investment To Energy And Exchange Rates Are Wielded As Tools To Win Diplomatic Allies, Punish Adversaries, And Coerce Those In Between Not So In The United States, However America Still Too Often Reaches For The Gun Over The Purse To Advance Its Interests Abroad The Result Is A Playing Field Sharply Tilting Against The United StatesIn A Cogent Analysis Of Why The United States Is Losing Ground As A World Power And What It Can Do To Reverse The Trend, War By Other Means Describes The Statecraft Of Geoeconomics The Use Of Economic Instruments To Achieve Geopolitical Goals Geoeconomics Has Long Been A Lever Of America S Foreign Policy But Factors Ranging From US Bureaucratic Politics To Theories Separating Economics From Foreign Policy Leave America Ill Prepared For This New Era Of Geoeconomic Contest, While Rising Powers, Especially China, Are Adapting Rapidly The Rules Based System Americans Set In Place After World War II Benefited The United States For Decades, But Now, As The System Frays And Global Competitors Take Advantage, America Is Uniquely Self Constrained Its Geoeconomic Policies Are Hampered By Neglect And Resistance, Leaving The United States Overly Reliant On Traditional Military ForceDrawing On Immense Scholarship And Government Experience, Robert Blackwill And Jennifer Harris Show That If America S Policies Are Left Uncorrected, The Price In American Blood And Treasure Will Only Grow What Geoeconomic Warfare Requires Is A New Vision Of US Statecraft

Robert D Blackwill is Henry A Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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  • Hardcover
  • 384 pages
  • War by Other Means
  • Robert D. Blackwill
  • English
  • 24 August 2017
  • 9780674737211

10 thoughts on “War by Other Means

  1. says:

    Geoeconomics, in this book s definition, is the use of economic instruments to accomplish geopolitical objectives This is a woefully understated area in my brief search, the other book length treatment on the topic is from 1985.Each chapter provides an overview of the geoeconomic landscape since the end of the Cold War This includes, but is not limited to, the benefits of increased domestic oil and gas production, Chinese geoeconomics, and other instruments of geoeconomic policy Tariffs and trade barriers are of course one method, as are sanctions to punish wrongdoers, but so is state capitalism, with a greater governmental control over specific industries Further, the book makes the case that economics and foreign policy have long been linked in American history the start is from Thomas Paine s justifications for independence and Alexander Hamilton s Report on Manufactures The Marshall Plan is for them one of the major foundations of American diplomacy, and led to the creation of international financial institutions and the establishment of the dollar as a reserve currency Blackwill and Harris note the relative disuse of geoeconomics in recent times There are some policy thrusts, but they are reactive and often justified through preserving the international legal order, not just as ends in themselves The recent administration s use of sanctions and advocacy of trade deals are useful and important, but not a cohesive whole Even Donald Trump, in his own way, understands that geoeconomics is vital for American policy, even if few would agree on their future successes dissolving NATO, hitting up allies for protection money, and encouraging nuclear proliferation are most dangerous The authors make a forceful case for what can and should be done, and this book is a useful primer for any policy maker, economist, or diplomat.

  2. says:

    I approached this book as someone who has worked in and now teaches international security who wants information about how states are using economic tools to achieve strategic ends Ultimately, I got what I wanted out of this book and with some caveats below, would recommend it Looking around the world Blackwill and Harris argue that major actors are increasingly using economic leverage and not military force to achieve state ends Yet, frustratingly, the United States continues to think of solutions to problems primarily in military and not economic terms As such, this book is an argument for geoeconomics or the systematic use of economic instruments to accomplish geopolitical objectives They note that while the US founding fathers eagerly embraced economic statecraft and that it was a feature of US foreign policy for most of US history, it has begun to wane They attribute this to a number of factors that had emerged by the late 1970s an increasing unwillingness to subvert profit for state interests partially due to the emergence of capitalism as a moral virtue that could not be violated by state interference, rising domestic economic insecurity, and a rise in Cold War tensions seen as requiring military and not economic solutions something also emphasized by 9 11 Therefore, while states such as China and Russia use economic leverage to achieve their ends, the US remains unwilling to do so well.Blackwill and Harris identify seven tools of geoeconomics trade policy, investment policy, economic and financial sanctions, cyber, aid, financial and monetary policy, energy and commodities In chapter three they go in detail as to how other states are currently using these instruments to achieve their ends Chapter four and five detail, specifically, how China is using them to slowly undermine US global leadership and to achieve its own ends This framework is very useful for thinking about how major powers use their strengths to achieve geopolitical goals beyond military force Indeed, given how much we hear about the need for a military response to a rising China or cyber threats, it is interesting to approach these problems from a non military perspective while noting that military force will still obviously be needed In this sense, the book is useful It is clearly written and they authors make their points and policy prescriptions easy to follow.However, there are four things that American and non American readers should know if they are going to pick War By Other Means up First, sadly, this book is written for a world that no longer exists US foreign policy is in complete disarray at best and global leaders are beginning to recognize that the willingness of the United States to maintain its mantle of global leadership is on the wane The 2016 election made that clear and Americans voted in a man with a strictly anti global agenda They will not go away in 2020 Trumpism will not end with Trump This means many of the prescriptions put out there are largely moot The authors praise Secretary Clinton s paper on a geoeconomic strategy for the US unsurprising as it was actually written by one of the authors Harris But the idea that the US would be able to conduct such a strategy under Trump is now unthinkable Rather than challenging US leadership rivals, the US is willingly withdrawing Trump has left the TPP, TTIP and may withdraw from Trump s crude transactional view of the world means that the necessity to offer US support for certain geopolitical ends is basically non existent Increasingly, other countries increasingly see China as the next major global leader whatever new challenge this many bring The authors hardly could have predicted this, of course, but it made for a depressing read to remember the world that was Second, unlike the last book I read on this topic, Chinese Economic Statecraft , the authors treat China as a lump entity that acts in unity This largely reflects the kind of realist program the authors are advocating the geoeconomic strategies of countries except the United States are seen as directed from the top, without much nuance, not unlike a billiard ball However, we know that Chinese SOEs and Chinese leadership do not always agree and sometimes SOEs act in ways that can harm long term Chinese goals More nuance here would have lessened this sometimes cartoonish view of China Although to be fair, this was not the central aim of the book Third this book is directed at a certain kind of American reader ie Council on Foreign Relations member This isn t a bad thing but it does restrict the usefulness that non Americans will get from it For example, while Canadian readers will get much out of the diagnosis of the problems that the authors identify the willingness of international actors to subvert economic ends to state interest and challenges for recognizing and deal with it the solutions are all directed towards the United States Again, I do not think this is entirely a bad thing, but non American readers should go in realizing this The subtitle Geoeconomics and Statecraft should read Geoeconomics and American Statecraft.Finally, while we re on the topic, it s interesting to note how little attention Canada gets in the book We are the United States second largest trading partner 20% , representing 35 states and a major source of energy, and an ideological ally at least pre Trump There is a suggestion that NAFTA should be updated and revitalized but no real plan on how to do this The emphasis in the book is almost entirely on how to deal with rivals and not empower or work with allies, other than the now sans US TPP or TPP 11 Overall, however, I did learn from this book and I am actively considering using the chapter on the history of US geoeconomics in my International Security class It s a fast read and although it can sometimes be repetitive, the authors have made it very clear about what their key points and policy prescriptions are.

  3. says:

    In the introduction to this book the authors identify the biggest challenge for the US if it is to flex geoeconomic muscle America is the champion of the rules based international order, which forswears the type of arbitrariness relied upon by Russia and China in their pursuit of geoeconomic leverage So how can the US respond to these adversaries in kind, without undermining the international order which it has maintained at great benefit to itself for the last seventy years Unfortunately the book doesn t really get around to answering this question Instead the authors go into great detail about Chinese geoeconomic practices, then complain that US policymakers aren t even engaging with options to respond on the same level, having decided a couple of decades ago that economics must be practiced according to its own logic and not subjected to external and therefore distortionary factors like foreign policy objectives.I don t know whether that s a fair critique or not I m not American But I thought the book would have been much stronger if it had grappled in detail with how the US can practice geoeconomics while remaining loyal to the principles of the liberal international order.

  4. says:

    War By Other Means is high on concept and short on reality While the authors spend a lot of time describing how China and Russia impact the rules based multilateral Bretton Woods institutions, they do not specifically outline a different logic or strategy that the US could offer as a substitute Instead, the authors focus, vaguely, on how to redirect the function of existing trade finance mechanisms in order to punish, and this will ultimately result in the subversion or abandonment of the institutions that employ those mechanisms Examples SWIFT lockout of Russia, subverting WTO arbitration rules, weaponizing USD as the reserve currency Unfortunately, if the US is at the point of fighting BRI Eurasia as the authors suggest, then it is already behind, and the momentum of the geoeconomic reality across Asia exceeds the US capacity to redirect it.

  5. says:

    Blackwill outlines a pressing case for re evaluating and updating the American foreign relations toolkit New geopolitical realities and increasingly challenging powers such as China and Russia represent a critical threat to American national interests in Eurasia and Asia They, and other challengers to American global primacy, have become adept at projecting power by means other than military, primarily through geoeconomics American statesmen were once adepts at using both military and geoeconomic tools to project, reinforce, and promote the American interest Unfortunately, a philosophical shift and American domestic politics have both cause US policy makers to sour on the potential of geoeconomics Meanwhile, through state capitalist and neo mercantilist policies, the challengers to a liberal, democratic, capitalists order have developed geoeconomic tools that do not play by rule based paradigms If the US is to continue lead the international order, it must re adopt geoeconomic strategies, re assess the prevalence of military based strategies, and reaffirm and aggressively pursue the national interest.

  6. says:

    When we think of traditional instruments of power diplomatic, information, military and economic it s often the military we think while giving short shrift to the others Yet in a multipolar world of rising powers, and although the US arguably exercises the strongest military muscle, it s economic specifically geoeconomic muscle is uniquely positioned in currency and potential to outpace all competitions At least that s the thesis, and a compelling one at that, which Blackwill and Harris bring to the conversation Drawing on extensive government experience and strong scholarship, they make a compelling case of strong US geoeconomy supported by other strong instruments A great read needed in times such as these.

  7. says:

    The authors mesh geopolitics and economics in a useful, practical way that is never too heady Their concept of geoeconomics seems to be a much timely framework for understanding state aggression than traditional models of geopolitics might be, although their geoeconomics is itself not a top down framework like, say, defensive or offensive realism A great book for those wanting to learn a way to interpret daily international news, which today almost always exists in an economic context and with economic vocabulary.

  8. says:

    It is worth the read for the amount of information and insights However, it becomes a dry read with lots of jargon and repetition The authors also insist on using the term geoeconomics at least 4 times per page which can be annoying.

  9. says:

    Geoeconomics is the use of economic tools to achieve geopolitical advantages A major part of this book talks about the geoeconomics of China and the US However, it also briefly talks about the geoeconomics of Russia, the Gulf states, India, E.U, Iran and Israel.

  10. says:

    Indeed it is nteresting to see how economic maneuvering by nation states interacts with their geo political goals.

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