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The Global Village Myth: Distance, War, and the Limits of Power, Patrick Porter

Reviewed by James J. Wirtz

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In this beautifully crafted critique of globalism, American foreign policy, and much current thinking about the impact of modern military technology on security, Patrick Porter offers a compelling reassessment of the idea that the world is “shrinking,” especially when it comes to the use of force in international politics. In Porter’s view, contemporary strategists erroneously extrapolate from the peacetime world to the battlefield, confusing the “permissive” environment of civilian activities to the “contested” environment of conflict. Admittedly, the information revolution has given us the ability to transcend distance when it comes to virtually all forms of communication. Nevertheless, this newfound freedom only exists when systems are functioning and are not subjected to political or physical interference. Terminate just one connection in the multifaceted process known as international airline travel, and the plane will never leave the terminal.

At the heart of Porter’s analysis is a Clausewitzian view of conflict. Peacetime transportation and communications are largely a linear affair governed by efficiency, accessibility, and ease of operations. In wartime, however, results are determined by the interactions of opposing forces, which can produce decidedly different outcomes. This is why oceans, for inst

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