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The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict

The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict

by Elbridge A. Colby


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Why and how America’s defense strategy must change in light of China’s power and ambition—A Wall Street Journal best book of 2021

“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

“Colby’s well-crafted and insightful Strategy of Denial provides a superb and, one suspects, essential departure point for an urgent and much-needed debate over U.S. defense strategy.”—Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr., Foreign Affairs

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 on 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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300256437
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 09/14/2021
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 88,651
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Elbridge A. Colby is cofounder 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.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xix

1 The Purposes of American Strategy 1

2 The Favorable Regional Balance of Power 16

3 Alliances and Their Effective, Credible Defense 38

4 Defining the Defense Perimeter 65

5 Military Strategy in Limited Wars 79

6 The Importance of Focusing on an Opponent's Best Strategies 97

7 Beijing's Best Strategy 110

8 A Denial Defense 147

9 Limited War after an Effective Denial Defense 171

10 The Binding Strategy 191

11 Implications 235

12 A Decent Peace 282

Notes 285

Index 345

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