"Fire on the Water, Second Edition"

"China, America, and the Future of the Pacific"

  • Subject: Fall 2022 Catalog | Society of Military History Conference
  • Format:
  • Pages:
  • Illustrations:
    19 illustrations, 15 b/w photos, 4 maps
  • Published:
    August 15, 2022
  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:
  • Product Dimensions:
    9 × 6 × 1 in
  • Product Weight:
    20 oz
Hardcover $39.95
Member Price $23.97 Save 40%
Book: Cover Type


When Robert Haddick wrote Fire on the Water, first published in 2014, most policy experts and the public underestimated the threat China’s military modernization posed to the U.S. strategic position in the Indo-Pacific region. Today, the rapid Chinese military buildup has many policy experts wondering whether the United States and its allies can maintain conventional military deterrence in the region, and the topic is central to defense planning in the United States.  

In this new edition, Haddick argues that the United States and its allies can sustain conventional deterrence in the face of China’s military buildup. However, doing so will require U.S. policymakers and planners to overcome institutional and cultural barriers to reforms necessary to implement a new strategy for the region.    

Fire on the Water, Second Edition also presents the sources of conflict in Asia and explains why America’s best option is to maintain its active forward presence in the region. Haddick relates the history of America’s military presence in the Indo-Pacific and shows why that presence is now vulnerable. The author details China’s military modernization program, how it is shrewdly exploiting the military-technical revolution, and why it now poses a grave threat to U.S. and allied interests. He considers the U.S. responses to China’s military modernization over the past decade and discusses why these responses fall short of a convincing competitive strategy.   

Detailing a new approach for sustaining conventional deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region, the author discusses the principles of strategy as they apply to the problems the United States faces in the region. He explains the critical role of aerospace power in the region and argues that the United States should urgently refashion its aerospace concepts if it is to deter aggression, focusing on Taiwan, the most difficult case. Haddick illustrates how the military-technical revolution has drastically changed the potential of naval forces in the Indo-Pacific region and why U.S. policymakers and planners need to adjust their expectations and planning for naval forces. Finally, he elucidates lessons U.S. policymakers can apply from past great-power competitions, examines long-term trends affecting the current competition, summarizes a new U.S. strategic approach to the region, describes how U.S. policymakers can overcome institutional barriers that stand in the way of a better strategy, and explains why U.S. policymakers and the public should have confidence about sustaining deterrence and peace in the region over the long term.

About the Author

Editorial Reviews

“Robert Haddick delivers an exceptional analysis of the approaching culmination of China’s 20-year plan to dominate the Western Pacific. Fire on the Water discusses the urgent need for a U.S. military strategy to deter China from executing its plan and if necessary, defeat any aggression against U.S. interests, our allies, and partners in the region.” —Gen. Kevin Chilton, USAF (Ret.), Explorer Chair, the Mitchell Institute Spacepower Advantage Research Center
“Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Ely Ratner, the Assistant Secretary for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, have both repeatedly called China the "pacing threat" for the future forces of the Defense Department. Yet Robert Haddick's new book reveals that what Austin and Ratner are calling for is not the path that our Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps are on at all. The Pentagon should be following the aspirations of Austin and Ratner by providing a clear answer to Haddick's specific proposals that take China as the pacing threat and actually match the strengths of America and its allies against the weaknesses of China.” —Michael Pillsbury, Senior Fellow and Director for China strategy at the Hudson Institute, author of The Hundred Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower
“In the first edition of Fire on the Water, Robert Haddick delivered a prescient warning about China’s military buildup, but almost all of America’s great, responsible leaders stared at his wise pages with vacant eyes. Some were plagued by disbelief, others stymied by bureaucratic inertia. Haddick was right a decade ago, and he is right today. Crisply written, rigorously researched, and soundly argued, this edition of Fire on the Water offers a roadmap for bolstering deterrence and averting catastrophe. It is a masterclass on defense strategy and should be required reading in Washington’s halls of power and on national security campuses across the nation.” —Ian Easton, Senior Director, Project 2049 Institute; author of The China Invasion Threat: Taiwan’s Defense and American Strategy in Asia
“Eight years ago, the first edition of Fire on the Water sounded the alarm over our lack of strategies, policies, and operational concepts needed to strengthen our alliances, enhance our conventional deterrence, and support the liberal international order. It proved prescient. Now comes the second edition, with even more compelling analysis and recommendations as the threat grows ever stronger, and more determined to subvert democracies and the rules-based international system that has prevented a third world war. We must stop admiring the problem and act now. This book shows the way.” —Lt. Gen. Wallace “Chip” Gregson, USMC (Ret.); Senior Director, China and the Pacific at the Center for the National Interest
“Robert Haddick is the first observer of China’s military modernization to focus on the crucial, historic shift in deterrent military power in the Indo-Pacific, from maritime to Aero-Space. This book is a must-read for all who are concerned about deterring war in the huge Indo-Pacific theater.” —Capt. Bernard D. Cole, USN (Ret.) and professor emeritus, National War College; author of China’s Quest for Great Power
“Robert Haddick has once again produced a superb study on the intensifying Sino-American rivalry. His unsparing judgments about outmoded U.S. military strategies are sure to stir debate while his urgent calls for defense reforms ought to jolt the policy community into action. For those looking for creative yet sensible ideas to meet China’s challenge, this is the go-to book.” —Toshi Yoshihara, senior fellow, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, and co-author of Red Star over the Pacific: China’s Challenge to U.S. Maritime Strategy, 2nd ed.