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Welcome to War in the 21st Century


Austi Bay, Cocktails from Hell: Five Complex Wars Shaping the 21stCentury (NewYork: Bombardier, 2018), 208 pp., $24.00.


Ifyou’re looking forward to a good night’s rest, don’t even think about crackingopen Cocktails from Hell, by military veteran and columnistAustin Bay. If you can get to sleep at all, it’s bound to give you nightmares.

如果你想好好休息一晚,千万不要想着喝上一杯由退伍军人、专栏作家奥斯汀·贝(Austin Bay)写/调制的鸡尾酒。如果你能睡着,那肯定会让你做噩梦。

Those selections reflect Bay’s realism, nota lack of imagination. Little noticed in the our daily outrage over Trumpianforeign policy is that the current president’s list of bad guys is virtually acarbon copy of that held by his two predecessors. That’s not coincidence.Rather, it’s the emerging post–Cold War consensus that these are the powerswith the method, opportunity and means to seriously disrupt the globalinternational order.


Though the United States is not the world’spoliceman, it is a global power with global interests and globalresponsibilities. And that means it is as likely to bump heads with any powerwith serious ambitions to upset the global status quo. Hence, only the mostnaïve or obtuse analyst would suggest anything other than paying a lot ofattention of what a conflict with these powers might look like.
Hats off to Bay for delivering aclear-headed, accessible primer on the forces and factors that might impact ashooting war. Bay is no optimist. That’s because he reasons that the UnitedStates does not hold all the cards when it comes to conventional conflict.


It’s aview backed up by realistic assessments of U.S. military power. Even thoughTrump has invested in bumping up readiness during the first two years of hisadministration, America still doesn’t have an adequate force to do everythingthat needs doing. That assessment, articulated earlier this year in TheHeritage Foundation’s Index of U.S. Military Strength , was recentlyvalidated by a bipartisan Congressional commission assessing U.S. defensestrategy .


But before you dash to the bomb shelterwith Cocktails from Hell in hand, it is worth rememberingthat Bay is not arguing that war is inevitable. Indeed, if there is one commonelement of strategy shared by Beijing, Pyongyang, Moscow and Tehran, it’s thateach of these four would-be horsemen of America’s apocalypse would like to winwithout fighting.


They realize that wars aren’t healthy forthem, either. Each would prefer to accomplish its goals without coming in todirect conflict with the United States. Nobody wants World War III.


A Heritage Foundation vice president, James Jay Carafano directs thethink tank’s research on issues of national security and foreign relations.