A favoured line of David Kilcullen’s, which I’ve shamelessly recycled, is that economists deal with pessimism while strategists deal in cataclysm. Kilcullen is a highly appropriate sherpa for these cataclysmic times. Pandemic has seemingly turned globalisation on its head, economic power is being rapidly disrupted, strategic faultlines are on display and “the West” is in paroxysms of self-doubt and grief over a slipping geopolitical order.
The importance of Kilcullen’s work to Western military thought is clear. There would be very few Australian Army officers serving this century who haven’t had their thinking informed and more likely shaped by Kilcullen’s insights. As a scholar-practitioner, he has fluently translated military art and science for public debate, particularly through his writing on Afghanistan, Iraq and Islamic State. He can both stalk the halls of power and understand what happens when bullet meets flesh.