A number of nations, conspicuously Israel and the United States,
have been increasingly attracted to the use of strategic barriers
to promote national defense. In Do Good Fences Make Good
Neighbors?, defense analyst Brent Sterling examines the
historical use of strategic defenses such as walls or
fortifications to evaluate their effectiveness and consider their
implications for modern security.
Sterling studies six famous defenses spanning 2,500 years,
representing both democratic and authoritarian regimes: the Long
Walls of Athens, Hadrian's Wall in Roman Britain, the Ming Great
Wall of China, Louis XIV's Pré Carré, France's Maginot Line, and
Israel's Bar Lev Line. Although many of these barriers were
effective in the short term, they also affected the states that
created them in terms of cost, strategic outlook, military
readiness, and relations with neighbors. Sterling assesses how
modern barriers against ground and air threats could influence
threat perceptions, alter the military balance, and influence the
builder's subsequent policy choices.
Advocates and critics of strategic defenses often bolster their
arguments by selectively distorting history. Sterling emphasizes
the need for an impartial examination of what past experience can
teach us. His study yields nuanced lessons about strategic barriers
and international security and yields findings that are relevant
for security scholars and compelling to general readers.
Subjects: Political Science
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