In This Review

Measuring National Power in the Postindustrial Age
Measuring National Power in the Postindustrial Age
By Ashley J. Tellis, Janice L. Bially, Christopher Layne, Melis
RAND Corporation, 2000, 54 pp

It was easier in the old days. Scholars could put together statistics on a country's population, its steel and coal output, and the size of its armed forces -- and one could then roughly measure its place in the hierarchy of nations. This think-tank monograph represents an interesting way of coming up with more sophisticated measures. Riddled with charts, taxonomies, and diagrams, the book concludes with the perennial call for further research while getting to some useful points. The authors' premise that the postindustrial world requires new ways to assess national power is surely correct; their approach is quantitative enough to include measures for "ideational resources" and "diffusion of innovation." This study is useful but merits some caution: power is so contextual that all-encompassing indices and the hubris they may breed can mislead as much as they inform.