Fire in the East: The Rise of Asian Military Power and the Second Nuclear Age

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by fears of a nuclear Pearl Harbor or an atomic Munich, the United States is entering the twenty-first century with an outdated mind-set drawn from the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Gulf War.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.

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