Orget the long war against jihadist terrorist organisations ie snakes the author exposes and transcends that false choice His ideas about how to fight for peace in a dangerous world should be read and discussed not only by diplomats defense officials and military officers but also by citizens concerned about securing a better future for their childrenHR McMaster author of Dereliction of Duty and the forthcoming Battlegrounds To absorb Kilcullen s insights is to be forced to rethink national and international security in this new century and to adjust military and nonmilitary institutions to a host of new realities Senior policymakers have no choice but to do soGary Hart member of United States Senate Armed Services and Intelligence Committees An eye opening look at the state of strategic balance between the United States and its rivals large and small The author delivers a detailed and nsettling analysis of how America s rivals have adapted to the modern strategic landscape and how they hope to defeat Kings of Paradise (Ash and Sand us Essential reading for anyone concerned with America s future on the world stage STARRED REVIEW Kirkus Reviews This book should be read by everyone inniform The Times An impressive expos on how terrorists and non state actors outmanoeuvre conventional militaries At the heart of The Dragons and the Snakes is a Darwinian dialectic between the mighty dragons and the snakes that seek to subvert and outflank them The Dragons and the Snakes is based on a formidable array of military and political sourcesMalise Ruthven The Financial Times Interesting and provocative The Sunday Times Kilcullen is a welcome guide offering a neat summation of how both nation states and terrorist groups alike learned to cope with America s conventional military primacy Kilcullen s approach offers readers accessible insights into what are complex and dynamic trends Diplomatic Courier David Kilcullen offers a wide ranging analysis of the strategic environment since 1993 compellingWill Leben Australian Outlook A dazzling performance This is a book that will keep you on your toes It paints a breathtaking danger laden picture of a world perennially at war and of the strange and mesmerising process by which a snake eventually rears Brothers up as fire filled as a dragonPeter Craven The Saturday Paper Kilcullen argues persuasively that while the United States has been mired down in forever wars in Afghanistan and Ira our current and potential adversaries have gotten the jump ons His book offers readers a skilfully annotated road map of contemporary conflict describing in clear measured prose how and why the days of American strategic and military preeminence are now behind s Daily Beast Kilcullen s The Dragons and the Snakes is a timely invitation for the West to get its strategic house in order with some new thinking The Bridge A compelling and insightful argument about modern warfare Kilcullen whose book the Accidental Guerrilla I absolutely loved ses evolutionary theory to explain how non state actors and states have adapted to an environment defined by US military dominance This book really starts with the end of the CW and the Gulf War where American conventional military superiority was demonstrated in a stunning way This prompted America s various foes and rivals to adapt to this environment in large part through convergent evolution in short we saw non state actors and states like RU and CH start gravitating to very similar tools and strategies information operations political interference Leaders Eat Last unconventionalasymmetrical attacks cyberwarfare and capabilities like China s development of anti carrier missiles that offset American strengths These s This book is a must read David does an amazing job of synthesizing the surprising effects of Western battlefield dominance in a book that straddles evolutionary biology and geopolitical strategyIt includes deep dives on Russia China Iran and North Korea as well as shorter case studies on non state actors I personally loved the case study on Hezbollah completely fascinatingThe book is really a three for one deal it s a short survey of conflict since the Cold War it s a primer on the competitive landscape for the West and it s a piece of guidance for forward looking policy with regard to both the metaphorical snakes smaller non state adversaries and the dragons larger state adversaries including Russia China Iran and North Korea and with regard to the United States general military purposeDavid recently was kind enough to join my podcast where we explore the content of the book After you hear him talk about it I guarantee you ll want to read the whole thing Here s the podcast link If you want tonderstand the geopolitical landscape definitely check this book out Always insightful writing from David Kilcullen An easy read with very interesting concepts that are very germane to the current security environment the west find itself operating in Military AdaptationGreat read on how societiesmilitaries take steps to defend themselves but freuently adapt from stress or observations Without stress they become complacent and risk being outclassed Too much stress and they risk organizational collapseTake the model and observe how the United States Russia and China perceive each other and attempt to adapt The primary national security challenge for the United States in the coming decades will be to manage its relative decline Applying a combination of evolutionary theory and detailed field observation he explains what happened to the snakes non state threats including terrorists and guerrillas and the dragons state based competitors such as Russia and China He explores how enemies learn nder conditions of conflict and examines how Western dominance over a very particular narrowly defined form of warfare since the Cold War has created a fitness landscape that forces adversaries to adapt in ways that present serious new challenges to America and its allies.
Every soldier and every person at all interested in national security and strategy should read not only The Dragons and the Snakes How the Rest Learned to Fight the West by David Kilcullen but they should read everything that he writes from his regular contributions to The Australian and his earlier books Accidental Guerrilla Out of the Mountains and Blood Year In his latest book which has been many years in the writing Kilcullen posits a thesis that adversaries especially those that have recently been defeated adapt their warfare to improve their chance of success in the next battle This is not a new or revolutionary idea Whilst reading the book I was reminded of the aphorism of Don t fight the last war and Surfaces and gaps from manoeuverist warfare theory He ses examples from the fall of the Soviet Union through to the present day to support his argument The title Dragons and Snakes makes reference to a metaphor that former CIA Director James Woolsey described in Senate confirmation hearings in 1993 The Dragons are the great power adversaries such as Russia and China and to a lesser extent Iran Ira and North Korea While the snakes are typically non state actors such as Al aeda ISIS and Hezbollah According to the metaphor both dragons and snakes are dangerous but they will do you harm in different ways Kilcullen describes how the dragons have looked at the US military successes in the 1991 Gulf War and the initial invasion of Ira in 2003 and have concluded that they have neither the hardware nor the expertise to defeat the US in a head to head battle On the other hand they have observed how the US and its allies have struggled in warfare where the overmatch in technology is less effective such as in Afghanistan and during the post 2003 phases of the Ira War The key message that I took away is the need to constantly adapt and that counter intuitively success doesn t necessarily breed success but it can in fact breed failure Success in this war is punished in the next if the enemy adapts and you fail to adapt As with all Kilcullen s work the clarity and flow of the writing make for easy reading and a ready comprehension of the argument being put forward He does not shy away from criticism of politicians and political decisions war is after all an extension of politics but he has a brilliant capacity to avoid perceptions of partisanship and this is well managed in The Dragons and the Snakes Even in the bipolar world that we occupy I challenge anyone to read this and label it liberal or conservative David Kilcullen is smart he did a PhD in anthropology whilst serving as an infantry officer in the Australian Army he is experienced he has seen warfare as a participant or observer in Timor Ira Afghanistan Somalia amongst others and he is educated he applies the historical context to contemporary events In my view David Kilcullen is emerging as one of the superior thinkers on strategy and warfare in the early 21st century Very well written a must read in my humble opinion I give it 5 stars Where Kilcullen wrote an excellent analysis on the rise of ISIS in 2014 and 15 this work provides an even interesting framework The New Competition understanding state and non state actors and the changing geo political scene He intertwines key historical lessons with annderstanding of strategy which is amazingly insightful borderline humourous at points and Domestic Slavery Considered as a Scriptural Institution by Francis Wayland and Richard Fuller unpacks these with ease Worth a read for both these frameworks which can be broadened to look at wider society and for the examination of the idea Just because we see something one way does it mean it is true An engaging and enlightening read from Australia s own warrior scholar Typical of his other books it s the small but significant details which makes this so valuable His personal connection to the people doing the fighting is on display as is his access to those in the high seats of power It s a rare combinationKilcullen puts three decades of military and political history into an interesting context we see the USA as the dominant world power but he argues that they are only dominant in a very narrow military space Adversaries have either by direct conflict or observation sought to compete in different spaces rendering the military advantage less importantThe climax of the book is worth waiting for andnderscores the danger of assigning your assumptions to those of your adversary We are at war we just don t know it A perceptive work that is rather worrying and alarming for our current world Indeed the chapter on non state actors adapting akin to species Mini Habits for Weight Loss: Stop Dieting. Form New Habits. Change Your Lifestyle Without Suffering. under threat was fascinating as were the chapters on Sino Russian moves to adapt and cherry pick the most effective methods employed by non state actors coming into contact with the West Incredibly well written and accessible even if there was a fairndercurrent of foreboding with the conclusions made Disturbingly brilliant David Kilcullen ever the thoughtful observer of wars and the people who wage them captures the changes in warfare that already confound and threaten to overwhelm Children of the New World us He correctly shows that we are mentally and physicallynprepared for the new nature of conflict and will likely pay dearly for itStan McChrystal partner at McChrystal Group David Kilcullen has produced another thoughtful important book At a time when some believe that the return of competition with great powers ie dragons might serve as an emotional cathartic to help Just a few years ago people spoke of the US as a hyperpower a titan stalking the world stage with relative power than any empire in history Yet as early as 1993 newly appointed CIA director James Woolsey pointed out that although Western powers had slain a large dragon by defeating the Soviet Union in the Cold War they now faced a bewildering variety of poisonous snakesIn The Dragons and the Snakes the eminent soldier scholar David Kilcullen asks how and what opponents of the West have learned during the last arter century of conflict.
Ollowing the brief moment of superpower primacy it enjoyed at the end of the Cold War To manage a new reality first of all reuires a realistic accounting of threats and capabilities This is something that is surprisingly hard to find as there are great political benefits to exaggerating both This book is a refreshingly sober and informed overview of the national security environment that has emerged since the end of the nipolar moment What makes it especially The Rabbit Who Wants to Go to Harvard uniue however is that this analysis is done from the perspective of someone who is both a military expert and an anthropologist applying tools from the latter field tonderstand the formerIt Quantum (Captain Chase used to be that non state actors and states fought in ways that were clearly different Over the past three decades however there has been a convergence Today states often fight asymmetricallytilizing stealth deniability pinpoint operations and various ambiguously violent means of shaping the environment as opposed to marching large columns onto a battlefield Meanwhile militant groups have been adapting many of the tactics and practices of states learning from fighting the United States and other countries and copying some of their tactics and even aesthetics In some cases these groups have even overreached by declaring themselves states themselves as seen in the disastrous example of the Islamic State in Ira and SyriaWhere effective these changes on both sides have largely come as an adaptive response to a security environment defined by the United States During the US wars in Ira and Afghanistan local militant groups were forced into a Darwinian battle for survival in which only the fittest and brutal actors survived Militants who behaved in a way that got themselves killed ended Introduction to Mythology up teaching their surviving comrades a lesson that they d never forget The USickly and effectively wiped out weaker and sometimes conciliatory actors But this often meant that the ruthless intelligent and capable counterparts could rise in their wake The violent Darwinian competition imposed by the US military in the theaters that it operates has often been terrible for the local people living there But it has also forged powerful and adaptive militant groups who have been shaped by their battles with the United States The most notable extant example at the moment is probably the Afghan Taliban which has been significantly transformed over 19 years of intense conflict and is now negotiating a peace deal likely to grant it an Perilous Love (Sinful Souls MC unprecedented degree of legitimacyOne that I ve often admired about analyses of sociological phenomena emanating from military sources is that they often exhibit a degree of precision lacking in other fields This is because each death that takes place on a battlefield effectively serves as a painful lesson learned Both armies and militant groups have learned many painful lessons over the past three decades They ve been honing their behavior accordingly Following the Gulf War the United States solidified itself as the master of one particular style of war direct confrontation with air power and armor In response its rivals changed their own behavior to ensure that they never faced the US military on turf that was so favorable to it They have worked to fight on an asymmetric basis instead moving the battle to terrain where the United States has been weaker like guerrilla insurgency fightingsing proxies cyber warfare and legal and political measures In this they have achieved considerable success as evidenced by a string of strategic defeats suffered by the United States and a visible reduction in its power and influenceThis book condenses a lot of analysis of the military fitness and adaptation of Russia Iran North Korea and China as well as non state groups like al aeda Hezbollah Islamic State and Hayat Tahrir al Sham Like all of Kilcullen s work it is refreshingly free of the politics and ideology that too often clouds the analysis that goes out to the general public As an anthropological work this book leans heavily on biological metaphor to explain human behavior but does so self consciously and still nods towards ethical and moral considerations I think it is Children of Blood and Bone useful to think at times about politics and military competition in Darwinian terms The harsh truth is that humans learn and adapt in response to predatory environments and the experience of pain So long as the stress that individuals and organizations experience does not take them past a point of collapse it very often turns out to be constructive andltimately makes them stronger and adaptiveAs a powerful country the United States has inflicted a lot of harm on its enemies In doing so it has often wound Laird of Shadows (MacDougall Legacy Book 1) up making them tougher and ruthless as a result But the same evolutionary logic also works in reverse fighting weaker enemies has also made the United States weaker If it is to hold onto its relative civilizational primacy in the coming century it will have to rise to the challenge of combating enemies that have been watching learning and developing means of fighting that are precisely calculated to avoid its strengths and hit it where it is weakest Doing so will reuire a flexible method of warfare that keeps others distracted and off balance while giving the United States the greatest possible space to develop its own strengths at home This book is an excellent starting point to think about how one might accomplish that. Within the world's contemporary conflict zones Kilcullen argues state and non state threats have increasingly come to resemble each other with states adopting non state techniues and non state actors now able to access levels of precision and lethal weapon systems once only available to governmentsA counterintuitive look at this new vastly complex environment The Dragons and the Snakes will not only reshape ournderstanding of the West's enemies' capabilities but will also show how we can respond given the increasing limits on US powe.