Unclear and Present Danger

The simple geo-economic idea of the relentlessly adversarial state is a threadbare concept, badly in need of overhauling. And Mr. Luttwak's book is not the first step in that process

Issue: Winter 1993-1994

Edward N. Luttwak, The Endangered American Dream (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993) 365 pages, $24.

With the USSR acronym already fading out of memory, governments are turning to the dangerous, dirty, and unglamorous task of pulling apart their nukes and reprocessing the components. But that is not the only adjustment that marks the passage of the Soviet empire. Geo-politicians, having for so long occupied center stage among the foreign affairs elite, find their audiences dissipated, their status challenged.

But all is not yet lost. Nation states are still the principal players in the international game and show no signs of relinquishing that role. And geo-politicians can count on one basic verity as they face the future: In the words of Mr. Luttwak, "states are relentlessly adversarial." So we can expect the continuation of warfare, even if it takes the form of economic rivalry. In such a world, the state that wishes to emerge triumphant needs the services of the geo-economist. And where best to find the well-prepared geo-economist than from the ranks of the underemployed geo-politicians?

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