My own review of the book is written and forthcoming at The Examiner, so I won’t go into much detail here. Essentially, Robb contends that modern global guerrillas have morphed into something much more elusive and immune to traditional counterinsurgency tactics because of the force multipliers of modern information technology and an organic, “open source” structure.
Indeed, Brooks’ basic summary is right. His conclusion, however, is an odd one to draw from Brave New War:
If the Iraqi insurgents defeat the U.S. then every bad guy on earth will study and learn their techniques. The people now running for president will find themselves in bigger heaps of trouble than the current one now is — trouble that this presidential campaign hasn’t even dealt with.
Robb opposes the war and thinks it’s unwinnable. Further, he would argue that every bad guy on earth will study and learn their techniques anyway and that, in the unlikely event we figure out how to beat them, they’ll simply evolve into something else entirely and we’ll have to figure it out all over again.
Now, I’m less fatalistic than Robb about the inevitability of guerrilla victory, since societies ultimately adjust to systems disruptions and the guerrillas thus have to constantly escalate their attacks to have an impact. Militaries adapt, too, especially at the small unit level. But I agree that the advantage is with the guerrillas, simply because breaking things is easier than building them.
At any rate, Thomas Barnett is right: Brooks’ review should provide a nice publicity boost for an important book. Of course, if the geniuses who run the NYT just did away with their idiotic subscription wall so that people could actually read their columnists, that would be much more true.