Cornell University Press

Michael O’Hanlon on American Military Power

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We asked author Michael O’Hanlon three questions about his new book, Defense 101: Understanding the Military of Today and Tomorrow, and his research on American military power.

1. What’s your favorite anecdote from your research for this book? 

I think my visit to Ukraine. Seeing how remote, and how close to Russia, and how beautiful yet how strategically off the beaten path it was made me think that we Americans really had stretched our ambitions too far in wanting to bring it into NATO—even as I also didn’t want us to abandon Ukraine or consign it to the status of Russian vassal.

2. What do you wish you had known when you started writing your book, that you know now? 

Nothing, really. Of course, I always wish I were smarter! But I had thirty-forty years to think about this book and it’s now only about a year since I started it, so that’s not so salient a matter for me. I am glad that Biden beat Trump!, but I had the chance to incorporate that into the text before it went final.

3. How do you wish you could change your field of study?

I always want more technical skills—language, science, area studies. It’s not so much about changing my field as about broadening it. But luckily I have a job where I can always try to do that even into adulthood (and now, old age!). I am beginning a project on military history for the modern strategist, in fact, which will be challenging for me, but in a good and new way.

*Featured photo: The US military outside of the Lincoln Memorial. Credit: Clay Banks.

Defense 101
Cover image of Defense 101. Read more about this book.

Michael E. O’Hanlon is Senior Fellow and Director of Research in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution. He is author of numerous books, including The Senkaku ParadoxBeyond NATO, and The Future of Land Warfare.

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