The Global Village Myth

Distance, War, and the Limits of Power

Patrick Porter

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According to security elites, revolutions in information, transport, and weapons technologies have shrunk the world, leaving the United States and its allies more vulnerable than ever to violent threats like terrorism or cyberwar. As a result, they practice responses driven by fear: theories of falling dominoes, hysteria in place of sober debate, and an embrace of preemptive war to tame a chaotic world.

Patrick Porter challenges these ideas. In The Global Village Myth, he disputes globalism's claims and the outcomes that so often waste blood and treasure in the pursuit of an unattainable "total" security. Porter reexamines the notion of the endangered global village by examining Al-Qaeda's global guerilla movement, military tensions in the Taiwan Strait, and drones and cyberwar, two technologies often used by globalists to support their views. His critique exposes the folly of disastrous wars and the loss of civil liberties resulting from the globalist enterprise. Showing that technology expands rather than shrinks strategic space, Porter offers an alternative outlook to lead policymakers toward more sensible responses—and a wiser, more sustainable grand strategy.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Strife in the Village

1. So Near, So Far: Physical and Strategic Distance

2. Wars for the World: The Rise of Globalism: 1941, 1950, 2001

3. Lost in Space: Al Qaeda and the Limits of Netwar

4. Access Denied: Technology, Terrain, and the Barriers to Conquest

5. Wide of the Mark: Drones, Cyber, and the Tyrannies of Distance

Conclusion: The Geopolitics of Hubris



"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." . . . An important work that offers insight into a strategic setting that will only grow more complex as the information revolution plays out in the decades ahead."—Political Science Quarterly

"Earns a place on the mantelpiece because it challenges orthodox wisdom regarding the globalist rhetoric that is pervasive in both U.S. national security policy and the 24-hour news cycle. . . . Porter's work is significant."—MCU Journal

"Patrick Porter’s new book offers a cogently argued, smoothly written, exhaustively sourced, and desperately needed counter to this normally unquestioned narrative. . . . Where this book has its greatest strength: the questions it poses and by extension the ones it forces its readers to ask."—Proceedings

"Thought-provoking"—Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

"This fascinating and well-researched book demolishes the widespread belief that modern technology both exposes the United States to unprecedented dangers and enables it to control distant lands at little or no cost. With clear-eyed logic, Patrick Porter explains why distance, borders, and other key elements of geopolitics remain highly relevant in the era of drones, cyber-technology, and decentralized terror networks. His arguments are nuanced and clear, his criticisms of the conventional wisdom are compelling, and the implications for national security policy are profound."—Stephen Walt, Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs, Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government

"In an era when Russia warns us that it is a 'minority stakeholder in globalization' and China warns that global civil society is a 'moral threat to the values of Chinese society ' Patrick Porter has produced a disturbing and timely wake-up call. A masterful refutation of the moral fantasies about global politics that have gone unchallenged for far too long."—Christopher Coker, professor, London School of Economics

"In an era when foreign policy is too often driven by cliches, Patrick Porter reminds us in The Global Village Myth of the enduring limits to military power and geopolitical influence. This timely analysis by one of the world's leading strategic thinkers deserves to be read by policymakers, scholars and citizens alike."—Michael Lind, author of The American Way of Strategy

"Patrick Porter has written a brilliant book about projecting military power in the modern world. In particular, he shatters the widely held belief that globalization has shrunk the planet, making it easy for bad guys everywhere to strike at the United States and its allies. One hopes that at least some of the many threat inflaters who populate the West will take the time to read The Global Village Myth. They would learn a lot."—John Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago

"With good empirical data and conceptual sophistication, Patrick Porter convincingly debunks the related claims that the world is now a more threatening place because of technology's ability to overcome physical distance, but that paradoxically, the same technology allows wars to be fought in an increasingly stand-off manner. In line with classical realist thinking, he contends that great powers become their own worst enemies when they exaggerate threats, minimize their costs of dealing with them, but at the same time demand that success requires suspension of the rules governing domestic and foreign relations. For this reason, globalism is possibly more threatening than anti-communism and deterrence were during the Cold War."—Richard Lebow, Professor of International Political Theory, King's College London


Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Patrick Porter is Professor of Strategic Studies, University of Exeter (UK) and the author of Military Orientalism: Eastern War through Western Eyes.

256 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-1-62616-193-1
Feb 2015
Not for sale in the UK, the British Commonwealth (excluding Canada), Europe, and Africa.

256 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-1-62616-192-4
Feb 2015
Not for sale in the UK, the British Commonwealth (excluding Canada), Europe, and Africa.

256 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-62616-194-8
Feb 2015
Not for sale in the UK, the British Commonwealth (excluding Canada), Europe, and Africa.

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