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The Shield of Achilles

War, Peace, and the Course of History

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Description

"We are at a moment in world affairs when the essential ideas that govern statecraft must change. For five centuries it has taken the resources of a state to destroy another state . . . This is no longer true, owing to advances in international telecommunications, rapid computation, and weapons of mass destruction. The change in statecraft that will accompany these developments will be as profound as any that the State has thus far undergone."
—from the Prologue

The Shield of Achilles is a classic inquiry into the nature of the State, its origin in war, and its drive for peace and legitimacy. Philip Bobbitt, a professor of constitutional law and a historian of nuclear strategy, has served in the White House, the Senate, the State Department, and the National Security Council in both Democratic and Republican administrations, and here he brings his formidable experience and analytical gifts to bear on our changing world. Many have observed that the nation-state is dying, yet others have noted that the power of the State has never been greater. Bobbitt reconciles this paradox and introduces the idea of the market-state, which is already replacing its predecessor. Along the way he treats such themes as the Long War (which began in 1914 and ended in 1990). He explains the relation of violence to legitimacy, and the role of key individuals in fates that are partially—but only partially—determined.

This book anticipates the coalitional war against terrorism and lays out alternative futures for the world. Bobbitt shows how nations might avoid the great power confrontations that have a potential for limitless destruction, and he traces the origin and evolution of the State to such wars and the peace conferences that forged their outcomes into law, from Augsburg to Westphalia to Utrecht to Vienna to Versailles.

The author paints a powerful portrait of the ever-changing interrelatedness of our world, and he uses his expertise in law and strategy to discern the paths that statehood will follow in the coming years and decades. Timely and perceptive, The Shield of Achilles will change the way we think about the world.

From the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Mar 25, 2002 – The world is at a pivotal point, argues Bobbitt, as the nation-state, developed over six centuries as the optimal institution for waging war and organizing peace, gives way to the market-state. Nation-states derive legitimacy from promising to improve the material welfare of their citizens, specifically by providing security and order. Market-states offer to maximize the opportunity of their people. Nation-states use force and law to bring about desired results. Market-states use various forms of market relationships. Bobbitt, who has an endowed chair at the University of Texas and has written five previous books on constitutional law and on nuclear strategy, argues in sprawling fashion that this paradigm shift is essentially a consequence of the "Long War" of 1914 1990, a struggle among communism, fascism and parliamentarism that, through innovation and mimicry, generated a fundamentally new constitutional and strategic dynamic that in turn generated a fundamentally new "society of states." Central to Bobbitt's thesis is the postulate that international order is a consequence of domestic order. In the work's most stimulating section, Bobbitt discusses three possible ways of reorganizing the latter. The "Meadow," essentially an extrapolation of socio-political patterns currently dominant in the U.S., features high levels of individualism around the world at the expense of collective behavior at any level. The "Park," based on a European alternate, emphasizes regionalism. The "Garden" predicates successful market states disengaging from international affairs and emphasizing renewed internal community. None of these systems will eliminate war, but the nation-state is declining, Bobbitt argues, essentially because nonstate actors confront the nation-state with threats it cannot effectively respond to. This big book is provocative and richly textured, but too often Bobbitt's arguments are obscured by his historically digressive presentation.
The Shield of Achilles
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  • $5.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Military
  • Published: May 14, 2002
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 960 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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