The Strategy of Denial American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict Elbridge A. Colby

Publication date:
09 Nov 2021
Yale University Press
384 pages: 235 x 156mm
6 b-w illus.
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Why and how America’s defense strategy must change in light of China’s power and ambition

“This is a realist’s book, laser-focused on China’s bid for mastery in Asia as the 21st century’s most important threat.”—Ross Douthat, New York Times

Elbridge A. Colby was the lead architect of the 2018 National Defense Strategy, the most significant revision of U.S. defense strategy in a generation. Here he lays out how America’s defense must change to address China’s growing power and ambition. Based firmly in the realist tradition but deeply engaged in current policy, this book offers a clear framework for what America’s goals in confronting China must be, how its military strategy must change, and how it must prioritize these goals over its lesser interests.
The most informed and in‑depth reappraisal of America’s defense strategy in decades, this book outlines a rigorous but practical approach, showing how the United States can prepare to win a war with China that we cannot afford to lose—precisely in order to deter that war from happening.

Elbridge A. Colby is co‑founder and principal of The Marathon Initiative. He served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development from 2017 through 2018, during which he led the development of the 2018 National Defense Strategy.

“This is a realist’s book, laser-focused on China’s bid for mastery in Asia as the 21st century’s most important threat.”—Ross Douthat, New York Times

"What to do about China’s rising might and territorial ambition? Brilliant strategist Elbridge Colby takes on this vexing and increasingly urgent challenge with a clear-eyed, forceful but carefully thought-out approach. Cogently, lucidly, he uses the lessons of history to show that the best way to avoid war is to prepare for war."—Evan Thomas, co-author of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made

“An exceptional book. Elbridge Colby has written a book on defense strategy that reaches a level of theoretical mastery akin to Hans Morgenthau’s Politics Among Nations. There is no better guidebook to how we should think about war and peace in this new age of great power competition.”—Robert D. Kaplan, author of Asia’s Cauldron

"Anyone interested in US strategy should read this tour de force from the primary author of the celebrated 2018 U.S. National Defense Strategy. This well-written, masterfully constructed, logically compelling book conveys the essence of strategy from one of the best current practitioners of the trade. Highly recommended!"—Robert O. Work, former Deputy Secretary of Defense

“There are many ways to lose wars or win them, but only one way to avoid them: to envision closely enough the dangers to be averted by deterrence or defense. This book brings together pure intellect, wide knowledge, and practical experience to show how U.S. defense strategy must change—and fast.”—Edward Luttwak, author of The Rise of China vs. the Logic of Strategy

"Colby gives us an original and provocative approach to containing adversaries, especially China...distinguished by its moving seamlessly from international relations theory to detailed questions of diplomacy and force deployment."—Robert Jervis, author of How Statesmen Think