Power and Complacency


Power and Complacency

American Survival in an Age of International Competition

Phillip T. Lohaus

416 pages


July 2021


$36.95 Pre-order

About the Book

The United States is at a crossroads. Despite a defense budget that dwarfs that of any of the nation’s rivals, the marginal return on this investment has decreased dramatically since the end of World War II. Why? Why have America’s rivals, despite inferior resources, increasingly set the terms of international competition? How might America’s leaders reconsider the application of power to ensure a favorable place on an increasingly crowded global stage?

By tracing the geographic and historical development of four global actors—China, Russia, Iran, and the United States—Phillip T. Lohaus illuminates four equally distinct approaches to competition outside of warfare. He argues that while America’s actions may have birthed information as a currency of power, the nation’s failure to fully grasp the implications of this transition has created critical opportunities for its rivals to increase their power at the expense of the United States. The American way of competition, rooted in a scientific understanding of warfare, may impede effectiveness in the amorphous and unscientific landscape of twenty-first-century competition.

From Rome to Britain, complacency has contributed to the downfall of many empires. Yet the slow bleed of American power may still be stanched by an approach to competition that emphasizes subtlety, diffusion, and ubiquity. America has developed and used these tools in the past—its very survival may hinge on returning to them. Power and Complacency defines the differing perspectives of America’s international conflicts and offers possible solutions for reformulating its superpower strengths.


Author Bio

Phillip T. Lohaus is a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he focuses on special operations forces and intelligence policy issues. He previously worked for the U.S. Department of Defense as an intelligence analyst. His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including The Hill, PBSNewsHour.com, RealClearDefense.com, and U.S. News & World Report.


Power and Complacency provides the reader with new ways to think about the current global security environment and the future. Most important, it provides a warning about U.S. strategic complacency. Anyone who seeks to understand U.S. national strategies would benefit from this book.”—David Maxwell, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies

“The current international environment is characterized by competition in a way that is perhaps unique in human history. In this environment the binary of war/not war is increasingly useless. In this landmark study Phillip Lohaus uses the idea of strategic culture as a conceptual lens for conceiving of international competition. By illuminating the different ways great powers define war and actions short of war, Lohaus shows how strategic culture is a useful concept for analyzing the different tools that powers bring to bear in great-power competition.”—Christopher Marsh, director of research for Joint Special Operations University

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Russia
Chapter 2: Iran
Chapter 3: China
Chapter 4: The United States

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