Three Dangerous Men: Russia, China, Iran and the Rise of Irregular Warfare

Norton. Sept 2021. 288p. ISBN 9781324006206. $27.95. Tr. HIST
The latest work by Jones (director, International Security Program, Ctr. for Strategic and International Studies; A Covert Action) argues that the principal opponents of the United States (Russia, Iran, and China, per Jones) have adopted a strategy of "irregular" or "asymmetrical" warfare, for which the U.S. is ill-prepared and vulnerable. Jones explains the three nations' policies through short biographies of major strategic thinkers: Russian general Valery Gerasimov, Iranian general Qassim Soleimani (who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2020), and Chinese general Zhang Youxia. His evidence that these figures are de-emphasizing conventional warfare is weaker, but Jones's case that they advocate asymmetrical tactics (e.g., proxy forces, cyberwar, and special operations) is most convincing. Ironically, he writes, earlier American operations (the First Gulf War, Kosovo, Libya) became critical sources of change for each country's strategy. His use of open-sourced evidence and interviews makes it especially persuasive, and the strength of the book lies in clear expression and accomplished sourcing. Jones's analysis of decision-making by his subjects and the top leadership (Vladimir Putin, Ali Khamenei, Xi Jinping) occasionally falls short. Jones offers a prescriptive agenda to meet the challenges, including greater allied cooperation, informational technology, and counterintelligence. 
VERDICT  Overall, this is a highly recommended look at modern warfare campaigns.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing