David Kilcullen

The Dragons and the Snakes

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Just a few years ago, people spoke of the US as a hyperpower—a titan stalking the world stage with more 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 snakes.” In The Dragons and the Snakes, the eminent soldier-scholar David Kilcullen asks how, and what, opponents of the West have learned during the last quarter-century of conflict. 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 under conditions of conflict, and examines how Western dominance over a very particular, narrowly-defined form of warfare since…
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469 printed pages

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