Review-War by Other Means: an excellent text about a new and ever-changing area of geopolitics

War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft Robert D Blackwill and Jennifer M Harris
Harvard university press, 2016

Throughout this marvellous work, Harris and Blackwill talk in great detail about the various areas of geoeconomics. They start by defining geoeconomics and discussing some of its key features, followed by discussing the role of geoeconomics in the foreign policies of many states including Russia and Saudi Arabia but with a special emphasis on China. They then move on to discuss the role of geoeconomics in US foreign policy and why there has been a reduction in the variety of methods and there effectiveness in US policy over the years and what could be done to improve the effectiveness. The book then discusses the US energy revolution before finally discussing how geoeconomics could be integrated into US grand strategy moving forward.

The chapters regarding the use of geoeconomics by China (4 and 5) in achieving its geopolitical aims were incredibly interesting and the entire book is filled with excellent examples of different methods of employing geoeconomics and what their effects may have been and what the future might look like both with regards to and as a result of geoeconomics.

It was also interesting to read the last chapter now that we live in the era of Donald Trump, who has fundamentally uprooted the international order and rendered some of the authors predictions about the future of US policy invalid but makes other resonate even more, in particular, those concerning the role of the US in East Asia as its influence declines-something which appears to be accelerating under Trump-and ways to counter such a decline. It shows clearly how the old-fashioned sledgehammer approach of using military force as anything other than the last resort is outdated and the US needs to update its approaches if it is to maintain its position as a world economic leader.

Overall I thought it was an excellent read with useful information albeit not for the casual reader, it provides a useful insight into an area which is rarely reported in the news.


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