Book Launch and Discussion of The Heart of War
The Heart of War
On power, conflict and obligation in the twenty-first century By Gwyn Prins
Published by Routledge August 2002: 216x138: 336pp and Dual Paperback/Hardback Hb: 0-415-36960-6: £55.00 Pb: 0-415-36961-4: £14.99
The Heart of War provides a highly readable, authoritative and astringent look at the changing face of war and the role of the military in the twenty-first century.
'In this book, Gwyn Prins develops his themes of power, conflict and
human rights, and projects them into the future ... His many and varied considerations are drawn together in a conclusion which provides guidance
for the navigator of these somewhat unknown and turbulent waters' -
General Sir Mike Jackson, Chief of the General Staff.
Open the papers, turn on the radio - the story's War….
And the most pressing and perplexing question we need to address right now is 'how can, should and will military power be used in the twenty-first century?' For this we badly need a reliable guide.
In The Heart of War Gwyn Prins uses his extraordinary familiarity with the detail of military command, tactics and weaponry to offer a glimpse into the future. Professor Prins is one of the most highly regarded international experts on global security. He has a rare sense of strategic challenges and their wider historical significance. And it is this mix of scholarship and inside information, combined with an unusually accessible writing style, tempered by wit and irony, that will have commentators and policy makers quoting this work for some time to come.
The attacks of September 11 certainly propelled security issues to centre stage in global politics. Military forces are now confronted not only with the non-conventional threats of terrorism but also with the moral dilemmas of humanitarian intervention and human rights. Gwyn Prins explores these sometimes conflicting impulses using a variety of absorbing examples: 9/11 and the history of 'spectacular' terrorism; intervention in Bosnia, Kosovo, West Africa and elsewhere; the extradition of General Pinochet for human rights abuses; and the nuclear issue, in the light of the ongoing conflict between India and Pakistan and surrounding Israel.
If you need to know where we're heading post September 11, you'll want to read this book.
Gwyn Prins is Alliance Professor jointly at the London School of Economics and Political Science and at Columbia University, New York. He has published extensively on global security issues for over two decades. He is an adviser on security policy to several governments, as well as NATO, the BRITISH Ministry of Defence and the Hadley Centre for Climate Research and Predictions at the Met Office. He is also a member of the Strategy Advisory Board of Friends of the Earth. He is a regular commentator for Sky News and was ITN's principal advisor in the immediate wake of the September 11 attacks. Professor Prins writes regularly for several newspapers, including the Guardian, and the Evening Standard.
In The Heart of War, Internationally renowned Professor Prins reveals that
-Objectively, International terrorism has not changed or been changed very much by the events of 11 September 2001. The situation continues to be as it was before: one of continuing decline. But 11 September did produce substantial subjective changes in American attitude. All the signs are that the so-called "war" on terrorism is mis-conceived and directed towards the wrong targets and therefore can never succeed in its objectives
-Of all the advanced industrial nations, Great Britain is psychologically and materially best equipped to lead and refine the type of military forces needed for the dominant form of military operation likely in coming years: strategic raiding (such as has occurred in Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan in the immediate past)
-The conventional wisdom about nuclear weapons risks during the Cold War is wrong. There was probably a moment of much greater danger than the Cuban missile crisis in 1983, which is virtually unknown to the public, but is explained in the book
-Mounting evidence is that the most important aspects of 'globalisation' are not its ability to unite, but its power to alienate and divide people
-The Kyoto Treaty on Climate Change is indeed fatally flawed as American criticisms suggest. The EU policy is not sustainable
-There is every likelihood that there will be much more local terrorist activity in the early 21st century being conducted by frustrated minorities, such as 'Deep Green' environmentalists
-The First World War was accurately predicted in its nature and in detail before it broke out, but the predictions were ignored. The book explains what they were, and why.
-Wars are old and new in nature, now it's back to the future: 21st century wars will be old - "savage wars of peace". In contrast, 20th century wars were new, but now (mercifully) passing
-More people in the 20th century were killed by their own governments than in wars; 'democide', not warfare, has been the dominant form of political violence during that century. And democide is the pointer towards future wars
-An ironic consequence of the new interventionism to exercise the responsibility to protect individuals whose human rights are threatened, is to increase the likelihood of nuclear next use. But nuclear next use will not lead to general world catastrophe. The most likely site for nuclear next use is the Indian subcontinent or the Taiwan Straits or (much less likely) in the context of the fifth Arab-Israeli war.