Brave New War – Review and Interview

My review of John Robb’s important new book, Brave New War, is up at The Examiner.

Brave New War CoverJohn Robb has spent his career studying terrorism, computer systems and risk management. He has brought these experiences to bear in this vital study of global terrorism. The view is bleak.

The terrorists are not only winning, they are unstoppable. We’re wasting trillions on defense and homeland security in a futile attempt to fight an enemy we don’t understand.


After laying out such a horrible scenario, the custom is for the author to lay out a simple solution for fixing the problem that could have been done years ago if only the people in power were not so incompetent. Robb offers no such magic bullet.

Instead, he explains that we must simply “learn to live with the threat they present” and adopt a “philosophy of resilience that ensures that when these events do occur (and they will), we can more easily survive their impact.”

I also conducted an email interview with the author, parts of which appear as a sidebar article. Robb argues that the lack of major attacks in the United States since 9/11 have more to do with the terrorists than anything we’ve done. And he thinks Thomas Barnett is far too optimistic about our ability to eventually prevail.

FILED UNDER: Books, Published Elsewhere, Terrorism,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Wayne says:

    You both made some valid points. I especially agreed that much of the Homeland security spending has been an especially waste of money and more of a feel good deal than anything else. Some of the conclusions I disagree with. Can we stop all terrorism? No. Can we stop all wars, poverty, murder, etc? No. However, we can limit them.

    The question is how to limit them within reason. I have my ideas on how to best to do that but will try to stay on subject. Side note, the terrorist I will be referring to is the Islamic terrorist that most think of when talking about terrorist today.

    Terrorist today are not trying for a significant economic impact but for press. Yes taking out a major refinery has economical impact but they tried to destroy it for the headlines more than anything else. The MSM is giving the terrorist what they need most, propaganda. Yes if we accept these things and not play them up or spend a great deal of feel good money, it would hurt the terrorist cause. As in any counter-insurgency, one most be careful not to overact.

    For security agencies to ignore these threats would cause great harm to our country. To not gather Intel, go after their infrastructure (much of which does exist although not in the traditional state sense), personnel, training camps, and state sponsorship would allow them to get stronger. At some point they would be able to take significant swipe at our infrastructure and possibly overthrow our government.

    Small-unorganized unit can cause damage but seldom cause significant damage. Only when they are allowed to flourish do they cause great harm. Like the Britains in WWII, we must learn how to continue on even with the bombing but we must continue the fight and not raise the white flag.