The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-First Century

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9780802141644: The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-First Century

Based on an essay that has been hailed as one of the most influential policy pieces published in the last decade, Robert Cooper sets out a radical new interpretation of the shape of the world in this path-breaking book The Breaking of Nations.

Cooper argues that there are three types of states in the world that deal with each other in different ways: 'pre-modern' parts of the world, without fully functioning states, 'modern' nation states, concerned with territorial sovereignty and national interests, and 'post-modern' states in which foreign and domestic policy are inextricably intertwined, tools of governance are shared and security is no longer based on control over territory or the balance of power. Among first world nations, societies may operate on the basis of laws, openness and cooperative security. But when dealing with a hostile outside enemy, civilized countries need to revert to tougher methods from an earlier era force, pre-emptive attack, deception if we are to safeguard peaceful co-existence throughout the civilized world

Like Robert Kagan’s best-selling Of Paradise and Power, The Breaking of Nations is essential reading for a dangerous age, a cautionary tale for superpowers, and a prescient examination of international relations in the twenty-first century.

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Review:

Folks who like their global political analysis presented in snippy sound bite form can hurry along to the Carvilles and Coulters and find plenty of reading material. But for those who appreciate the complex tapestry of security issues and international affairs, Robert Cooper offers plenty to think about. The present-day world, posits Cooper, is divided into three types of nations: premodern (often third world and politically unstable), modern, and postmodern. While the present-day Europe Union exists as a postmodern model, with each country relying on others to facilitate prosperity, most other large nations, including, for the moment, the United States, are stuck in a merely modern capacity, still viewing foreign policy as essentially a way of keeping enemies at bay and maintaining the status quo. As terrorism grows more powerful and the "premodern" world more unstable, sophisticated weaponry becomes more readily available to terrorist organizations. It then falls t! o the enlightened "postmodern" countries to intervene militarily, taking a pre-emptive approach when necessary, to contain threats, root out bad guys, and defend the world. With this scenario in mind, Cooper urges EU members to increase their military capability to better measure up to the status and power of the American military forces. But as technology makes weapons of mass destruction more readily available around the planet, a more aggressive diplomatic strategy, Cooper says, is crucial to effectively dealing with the build up of weaponry and he presents five "maxims" to illustrate how such a diplomacy should be organized. While Cooper cogently presents his vision of where the world is and where the powerful nations need to take it, he also acknowledges the vagaries of a shifting world and as such presents The Breaking of Nations more as a rumination on complex issues than a ready-made solution. --John Moe

About the Author:

Robert Cooper is one of Britain’s most senior diplomats. He is Head of the Defense and Overseas Secretariat in the Cabinet Office and former British ambassador to Bonn. He is also Tony Blair’s special advisor of foreign affairs.

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