In This Review

Future War and the Defense of Europe
Future War and the Defense of Europe
By John R. Allen, Frederick Ben Hodges, and Julian Lindley-French
Oxford University Press, 2021, 352 pp.

The authors begin with a 20-page hypothetical scenario in which Russia attacks and defeats Europe, despite U.S. military support. The rest of the book recommends a policy to head off such a calamity: the Western allies, led by the Europeans, need to “sharpen NATO’s spear tip” by spending more—much more, clearly, although exactly how much remains a mystery—on high-tech military development and the procurement of weapons compatible with U.S. systems. As the authors note in the preface, some may view such scenarios as scaremongering by defense planners and military contractors—an assessment with which I have considerable sympathy. Others may wonder why the authors do not stop to ask how this plan would be funded—and whether the backlash against such an immense outlay would actually undermine Western security. Yet everyone concerned about transatlantic relations should read this book, because the authors are neither obscure extremists nor writers of alternative history. Instead, they are pillars of the transatlantic foreign policy establishment: two distinguished retired U.S. generals, one who now heads the centrist Brookings Institution, and a British academic prominent in NATO circles. This is how many, perhaps most, Western military planners think—particularly those in the United States.