In This Review

Three Dangerous Men: Russia, China, Iran, and the Rise of Irregular Warfare
Three Dangerous Men: Russia, China, Iran, and the Rise of Irregular Warfare
By Seth Jones
Norton, 2021, 288 pp.

Jones takes an unusual and helpful approach to the security challenges facing the United States by exploring how three men shaped the strategies of some of the country’s most troublesome rivals. They are General Valery Gerasimov, chief of Russia’s general staff; the late Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani, who was blown up on U.S. President Donald Trump’s order in early 2020; and General Zhang Youxia, vice chair of China’s Central Military Commission. Using Russian, Farsi, and Mandarin materials, Jones shows how they all turned to irregular forms of warfare, including information campaigns on social media, as well as espionage and special operations, to weaken the United States. All three assumed a constant struggle with the West. Whereas Soleimani had a certain swagger, Gerasimov and Zhang appear as somewhat two-dimensional characters: competent, professional, and loyal to their countries’ presidents. Jones does not quite make clear whether or how these men created policy, as opposed to just articulating and implementing it. Still, he shows how menacing and disruptive their efforts can be and proposes ways to fight back. He is less convincing in arguing that these efforts are more important than building up conventional forces, at least for China and Russia.