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The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World

BookWhy do we use military force to solve our political problems? And how is it that our armies can win battles but fail to solve the problems? General Sir Rupert Smith draws on his vast experience — commander of the UK Armoured Division in the 1991 Gulf War, commander of the UN forces in Bosnia in 1995, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, of NATO in the Kosovo campaign — to give us a probing analysis of these questions and a call for radically new military thinking.

From Iraq to the Balkans, Afghanistan to Chechnya, Smith charts a stream of military interventions that have failed to deliver on promises of resolution. He makes clear why today's conflicts must be understood as intertwined political and military events; and why the current one-size-fits-all model of total war must be abandoned in favor of new strategies that take into account the statelessness of our current enemies and the political context of each confrontation. "War no longer exists," General Smith writes, powerfully reminding us that the clash of mass national armies — the nature of warfare since Napoleon — will never occur again. Instead, he argues, we must be prepared to adapt our methods of warfare to each conflict, or lose our ability to protect ourselves and our way of life.

The Utility of Force will fundamentally change the way we understand war today.

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About the author

General Sir Rupert Smith spent forty years in the British Army and senior international commmand before retiring in 2002. He lives in London.


The Utility of Force by General Sir Rupert Smith, The Times, September 18, 2005.

First decommission the machete..., The Daily Telegraph, October 10, 2005.

What is it good for?, The Guardian, November 12, 2005.

Occupational hazards, The Financial Times, November 3, 2006.

Why the Strongest Armies May Lose the Newest Wars, The New York Times, January 18, 2007.

The End of War as We Know It, The Washington Post, January 21, 2007.

TV/Radio/Webcast appearences

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (Part 1 and Part 2), Comedy Central, January 22, 2007, 23:00 ET and January 23, 2007, 20:00 ET.

The Alex Bennett Program, Sirius Satellite Radio, channel 146, January 23, 10:00 ET.

A New Kind of War, The Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC Radio, January 24, 2007, 12:00 ET.

The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World, Carnegie Council, January 24, 2007.

General Sir Rupert Smith Interviewed by Jeffrey McCausland, Carnegie Council, January 24, 2007.

New War Tactics, Talk to America, Voice of America, January 26, 2007, 09:30 ET.

Richard French Live, Regional News Network Television, January 26, 2007, 19:00 ET.


washingtonpost.com live discussion, January 18, 2007, 13:30 ET.


The Utility of Force in Peace Operations: When and How? United States Institute of Peace, Washington, DC, January 25, 2007, 10:00-11:30 ET.

Book Forum at The Army & Navy Club, Washington, DC, January 25, 2007, 18:30 ET.


Confrontation Manager™ helps (military and civilian) planners to utilize many of the concepts presented in The Utility of Force.

Contact details

For further information, please contact Mary Crannell on +1 703 299 3480.