Cover image for Fire in the East : the rise of Asian military power and the second nuclear age
Fire in the East : the rise of Asian military power and the second nuclear age
Bracken, Paul J.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : HarperCollins, [1999]

Physical Description:
xxix, 186 pages : maps ; 25 cm
No room on the chessboard -- Disruptive technologies -- Reshaping the Asian military -- The second nuclear age -- Is there an Eastern way of war? -- Across the strategic divide: new power and the old order.
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UA830 .B63 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The world changed forever on May 11, 1998. That was the day India defied the rest of the world by testing nuclear weapons. The Indian test of five atomic bombs, and the Pakistani tests that answered a few weeks later, marked the end of an arms control system that has kept the world from nuclear was for half a century. But much more important, as Paul Bracken, professor of management and political science at Yale University, explains in this landmark study, they signal the re-emergence of something the world hasn't seen since the sixteenth century--modern, technologically adept military powers on the mainland of Asia. In an unbroken crescent stretching six thousand miles from Israel to North Korea, Asian countries are building missiles and topping them with atomic, biological, or chemical warheads. This is a development that cannot help but concern anyone who plans to live in the twenty-first century.

In this book, Professor Bracken:

reveals new details about the Iraqi missile and biological warfare program, showing how close Israel actually came to a germ attack during the Gulf War. explodes the comforting Western belief that "globalization" will inevitably lead Asian nations into peaceful economic competition. In fact, he says, it works the other way: economic progress both spurs and makes possible the development of weapons of mass destruction. shows how American bases, allies, and interests are increasingly endangered by Asian nationalism. teaches us how to navigate not the post-cold war era, but what he names The Second Nuclear Age.

Generals, it said, are always preparing to fight the last war. Equally true, policy makers, academics, and journalists draw their metaphors from limited historical experience and use them to debate the future. Just as cold war thinking was dominated by fears of a nuclear Pearl Harbor or an atomic Munich, the United States is entering the twenty-first century with an outdated mind-set drawn from the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Gulf War. Professor Bracken provides a new intellectual framework for a world in which being the only superpower poses as many dangers as it does opportunities. Fire in the East is a template for thinking about the future in the new global order.

Author Notes

Paul Bracken is a professor of management and political science at Yale University and a well-established expert in the field of international politics. He has served as a consultant to nearly all of the post-cold war government reassessments of national security, including those for the Department of Defense and the CIA. He is the author of Command and Control of Nuclear Forces.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

"A multipolar balance of terror stretches over a six-thousand-mile arc, comprising some of the most unstable countries on earth." Such ominous phrases abound in this alarming vision of the post-Cold War geopolitical landscape. Yale political scientist Bracken (Command and Control of Nuclear Forces) takes the 1998 nuclear tests by India and Pakistan as his cue to make an argument that the nuclear genie is out of the bottle. Increased cash reserves brought about by the global economy enable governments to buy nuclear technology; therefore, in the 21st century, Asian nations will be able to achieve a measure of military parity with the West not seen for half a millennium. Parts of the book get rather technical, as Bracken addresses military strategy and takes interesting digressions into Asian military history. However, whether he's writing about the oil-rich but politically unstable Central Asian countries of the former Soviet Union or more traditional Asian powers such as China and India, Bracken always returns to his theme that the days when the West was the dominant military power in Asia (a period that stretches from the beginning of European colonialism to today's American military hegemony) are numbered. While very clear and persuasive in making his case that the availability of nuclear weapons will change the Asian geopolitical landscape and the relationship between the West and Asia, Bracken is less clear about what the West should do to manage this inevitable shift. He does clearly outline the options (arms control, balance-of-power diplomacy among them), and his book stands as a sobering reminder that economic globalization is as likely to give rise to geopolitical tension as it is to peace and prosperity. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Bracken (political science, Yale) argues convincingly in this book-length essay that when Pakistan and India engaged in their 1998 series of nuclear tests, the power balance of the world radically changed. The Eurocentric model of the last 400 years has given way to one in which Asian countries with border problems or grandiose ideas and access to new generations of small nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons can attempt to upset the power balance in Asia, with disastrous consequences. At a time when our morning papers report on Iraq and anthrax, China and purloined American nuclear secrets, and North Korea and a ballistic missile program, this is thought-provoking reading. For general-interest and foreign-policy collections, this essay merits careful perusal along with the front pages of the news.ÄMel D. Lane, Sacramento, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. xi
Mapsp. xxx
Eurasiap. xxx
The Middle Eastp. xxxii
Central Asiap. xxxiii
South Asiap. xxxiv
East Asiap. xxxv
Southeast Asiap. xxxvi
U.S. Military Presence in Asiap. xxxvii
1 No Room on the Chessboardp. 1
2 Disruptive Technologiesp. 37
3 Reshaping the Asian Militaryp. 71
4 The Second Nuclear Agep. 95
5 Is There an Eastern Way of War?p. 125
6 Across the Strategic Divide: New Powers and the Old Orderp. 149
Bibliographyp. 171
Indexp. 173