From Parameters, Summer 2001, pp. 137-57.
Strange Victory: Hitler's Conquest of France. By Ernest R. May. New York: Hill and Wang, 2000. 594 pages. $30.00. Reviewed by Professor Eugenia C. Kiesling, author of Arming Against Hitler: France and the Limits to Military Planning and the Harold K. Johnson Visiting Professor at the Military History Institute, US Army War College.
Ernest May advertises Strange Victory as an effort finally to explain the mysterious defeat of a well-equipped, competently led, reasonably resolute French army by German forces in no obvious respect superior. His answer is twofold. First, France's defeat was military, a battlefield failure rather than one of political will. Second, military failure stemmed directly from the handling of military intelligence--efficient on the German side, incompetent on the French. May promises a study connecting the rival intelligence-gathering mechanisms with the decisionmaking processes in their respective governments and implies that he will tie that intelligence history to a campaign analysis.
Strange victory, strange book. First, Strange Victory is beautifully written, delightfully ironic, and replete with telling anecdote. To learn that General Beck kept a picture of General Gamelin in his office and that The Lives of a Bengal Lancer was Hitler's favorite film is worth the price of admission. One will never think of any of the major players in quite the same light as before. May's account of German, French, and British policy from January 1933 to the outbreak of war is captivating. It also fills almost half the book with material only occasionally involving intelligence and hardly relevant to May's thesis that the French army lost the war not in the interwar period but in May and June 1940.
Leaving the delightful diplomatic history to examine May's two theses in detail, we find that the book is not quite as advertised. Billed as the first comprehensive study of intelligence's role in the 1940 campaign, Strange Victory contains relatively few pages devoted to the subject. What is there, much of it based on new archival research, is fascinating, and May nicely demolishes the French army intelligence service's claim to have known all along what the Germans were going to do. But the material might have packed more punch as a focused article rather than a set of intelligence interludes in a long book often concerned with other matters.
May's lengthy detour into diplomatic history leaves only 55 pages for the actual campaign. But here, too, the book seems to lack focus. May's thesis that the Germans won because their plan capitalized on French weaknesses is compelling. The French army's move into Belgium left inadequate reserves in the Ardennes sector; French intelligence then failed to identify the true center of gravity of the German effort; nothing in the French military system promoted rapid response to an unexpected situation. But these are not new ideas. They are, moreover, strategic and operational failings, while May's narrative quickly shifts to the tactical level. But nothing in the previous chapters has prepared the reader to appraise French or German tactics.
However strong on personalities, diplomacy, and intelligence, the book is weak in military doctrine. May briefly alludes to Guderian's theory that armor supported by aircraft could operate independently of infantry, and the campaign narrative assumes this so-called "blitzkrieg" without actually depicting it. But tactical studies of the fall of France--Robert Doughty's The Breaking Point: Sedan in particular--suggest that German tanks did not operate independently of infantry. Moreover, close air support in 1940 was a far cry from what it would become later in the war.
May always demonstrates a laudable interest is using history to stimulate thought about the present and the future. His reminder about "lessons of history" is a precious nugget of wisdom. "All too often, unfortunately, the lessons taken from history are put in the form of precepts. (Don't appease dictators. Don't get into Vietnam-like wars.) But much more useful are lessons that take the form of questions or suggestions. (This happened once. Is there a chance that something of the sort might happen again? If not, why not?)" In drawing lessons from the French performance in 1940, however, the author comes perilously close to advancing the precept "Don't be stupid" ("importance of operational common sense") rather than asking why intelligent and patriotic leaders made decisions that seem to have been stupid.
May's criticisms of French intelligence handling are valid, but it would have done no good to have advised French soldiers to replace pernicious habits with efficient ones. The intractable problem is how to teach soldiers to recognize as pernicious, methods which are sanctioned by doctrine, tradition, and culture.
In May's account, France was too confident in her own strength to make necessary changes. She provides, therefore, a warning to other powerful nations (e.g., the post-Cold War United States), who may through their own carelessness or arrogance fall victim to the machinations of weaker states. I would offer an opposite interpretation of French behavior. French military leaders were painfully aware of shortcomings in training, leadership, and equipment. Knowing the impossibility of substantial reform and resolved not to publicize their weaknesses, they took refuge in confident platitudes. This is not a mode of operation to be recommended to others nor, perhaps, one irrelevant to contemporary America, but it is not the kind of mistake against which May warns.
Should one read this book? Yes, for the thought-provoking comments, the intelligence information, and the beautiful prose. The comprehensive battlefield explanation of France's strange defeat remains, however, to be written.
While America Sleeps. By Donald Kagan and Fredrick W. Kagan. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000. 483 pages. $32.50. Reviewed by Colonel Robert B. Killebrew, USA Ret., who served in Special Forces, mechanized, air assault, and airborne infantry units, and held a variety of planning and operational assignments, during his 30-year Army career.
This is a disquieting book with a disturbing message. Its fundamental point is that US post-Cold War security strategy is on the brink of failure. "Strategy is no good at all, if all it is designed to do is to respond militarily to the next crisis," writes the father-son team of Donald and Fredrick Kagan. "It serves an even more important purpose . . . to allow us to shape the future, to determine the outcome of history [and] to have an impact on whether or not threats even arise." US strategy, the authors believe, suffers from a failure of vision in a manner similar to the failure of British policy after World War I.
The Kagans, distinguished historians at Yale and West Point, reject the pundits who hopefully equate the post-Cold War period with the "long peace" following the Napoleonic wars. Instead, the Kagans say, the upheaval is only beginning. There has been no Congress of Vienna, no new mechanism to enforce a new order. Rather than a remade, more peaceful world, the more accurate comparison is with the world immediately following World War I, when a disarmed and timid British Empire allowed Europe to slide into World War II. In such a manner, they charge, the United States is fast losing its chance to shape the post-Cold War world.
Mixing history and current events is a tricky business, as Richard Neustadt and Earnest May warned us in Thinking in Time. But the Kagans make a convincing argument that in the case of Britain in the 1920s and the United States today, military weakness and political uncertainty act on one another to produce ineffective foreign policies that lead to disaster. Ultimately, they believe, a superpower's foreign policy must be backed by effective military force, and they note approvingly George Kennan's comment, "You have no idea how much it contributes to the general politeness and pleasantness of diplomacy when you have a quiet little armed force in the background. . . . [Its existence] is probably the most important instrumentality of foreign policy."
At the end of World War I, British politicians were determined to return Britain to prewar "normalcy." Although the empire's postwar military requirements were not yet apparent, the British army shrank from 3.5 million on Armistice Day to 370,000 two years later. "It is easy to sympathize with the feeling that it was time to `bring the boys home,'" write the Kagans, "but Britain demobilized at a dangerous pace, too rapidly and too fully. The peacetime armed forces that it ultimately decided to maintain were too small to accomplish its declared aims and to meet its real needs," among which were not only its accustomed imperial policing chores, but also its key contribution to the Anglo-French-American occupation on the Rhine, to settling unrest in eastern Europe, and to Britain's new commitment to collective security as a member of the League of Nations.
The Kagans see the same hesitant pattern in recent American history. "The collapse of the Soviet Union," they write, "and the end of the Cold War demonstrated the soundness of the policy and strategy adopted by the United States, . . . [whose] leaders . . . resisted isolation and irresponsibility" after World War II. But when the Cold War ended, America's leaders began to demobilize even while searching for a "new world order" to fill the policy vacuum caused by the disappearance of the Soviets.
The new order, of course, was tested almost immediately by Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. The initial American response almost exactly paralleled British reactions of 70 years before: cautious military advice ("There's nothing we can do," said one senior officer), political leaders reluctant to take their case to the public, and political foot-dragging in the Congress. In the end, the United States and its coalition partners went to war against Saddam's aggression largely because of the determination of President Bush, who even then ran a six-month gauntlet of peace feelers, political opposition, and dire predictions by pundits and his military advisors.
This theme continues as the Kagans dissect the US handling of other post-Cold War crises, from the nuclear weapons program of North Korea to the Somalia debacle and the twists and turns of American involvement in the Balkans, including Kosovo. In the case of the Balkans, American leadership, when exercised at all, is shown to be belated and sporadic. Throughout, the British pattern of reluctant participation seems to suffuse American policy: reliance on international instruments--particularly in the Clinton era--to diffuse responsibility, a belated recognition of the necessity for US leadership, reluctance to use force decisively, and, finally, a rush to declare victory after an insubstantial and uncertain outcome, a policy the Kagans call "pseudoengagement." They are particularly scornful of the idea that missions can or should be precisely defined beforehand. "The notion that a state can enter a war with a clearly defined mission and `end state' and pursue that war without changing either . . . is absurd and impossible in the real world," they assert. "There is no escape from the responsibility of judgment and no reason to believe that inaction is safer than action."
Interwoven with the discussion of foreign policy is the recent history of US arms reductions since the end of the Cold War. Like the British in 1919, the United States began sharp cutbacks in military forces after the disappearance of the Soviet Union, though the speed of reductions was not as precipitate. The Kagans trace the several postwar US attempts to refocus force structure, including then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney and General Colin Powell's Base Force plan, the Bottom Up Review (BUR) of Secretary of Defense Les Aspin, and the resulting debates that produced the Two Major Regional Contingency (MRC) force-sizing model in current use. The Kagans assert that the BUR and the Two-MRC force-sizing strategy have effectively truncated strategic planning.
In the Kagans' view, current "transformation" programs like the Revolution in Military Affairs and the Army After Next are reminiscent of the British "ten year plans" after World War I. By deferring real investment on the theory that no significant threats are possible within a decade, real improvements to US capabilities are being shortchanged, almost exactly as were British forces in the interwar years. "The systems that America will need to fight the war of 2010 or 2020 are not now in place or are being developed too slowly or not at all," they say. Unfortunately, as many observers have noted, the defense deficit has grown so huge that closing the gap between current and projected capabilities is unlikely; the incoming Bush Administration has certainly not signaled any intention to ante up significant increases in defense spending. "The military deficit is probably already too great for any `reasonable' politician to contemplate," say the Kagans, "and it will only get worse." As a result, if there ever was a period of "strategic pause," it is gone.
While America Sleeps will have its critics, but the Kagans have succeeded in elevating the strategic debate that should be going on in the post-election United States and in the new Administration. To support that debate, the authors have done excellent service in drawing parallels between a critical period that not many soldiers study--the interwar years--and today. Their review of British and American defense planning is scholarly, and their commentary is succinct and pithy. As mentioned previously, objectivity is difficult when linking recent history to current events, and the authors' biases are not as neutral as might be expected of historians. But this is a book about strategy, not history, and the authors' viewpoint, indeed, their passion, is one of the ingredients that makes the work thoughtful reading for soldiers and students of defense issues.
American Generalship. Character is Everything: The Art of Command. By Edgar F. Puryear, Jr. Novato, Calif.: Presidio Press, 2000. 374 pages. $34.95. Reviewed by Colonel Joseph N.G. LeBoeuf, Director, Organizational Studies, Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership, US Military Academy.
Since you are reading the book review section of Parameters, it is probably because you are interested in finding something worthwhile to read out of the overwhelming number of books published regularly. That is not an easy task, and often quite frustrating. You rely on reviewers to help you make an informed decision whether to spend your time and treasure (your money) on a book. So, bottom line up front--if you are interested in leadership and military history, Edgar Puryear's book is definitely worth your consideration. It is not a great book, but it certainly is a good, engaging book. It will increase your knowledge and understanding of the topic of leadership, expose you to some of the time-tested characteristics of effective leaders, broaden your historical perspective, and be a great reference book for your personal leadership library. If you are a leadership practitioner at any level, this book has something worthwhile for you. Now, if that recommendation is not sufficiently convincing, then read on. Let me describe to you, more specifically, several reasons why you ought to consider reading this book.
Leadership is the sine qua non of an effective military. Any book that can enhance the understanding and leadership competence of the military professional is worth reading. If you are truly committed to your own personal self-development as a leader, then this book has a lot to contribute to that developmental process. The book's perspective that leadership can be learned through exposure to the experiences of others comes through loud and clear.
Edgar Puryear is an author and historian of note. He has published several other books, including the well-received Nineteen Stars: A Study in Military Leadership and Character, a comparative study of four of the greatest generals who served during World War II. Puryear's integrity as a scholar and admiration as a storyteller has given him access for personal interviews with more than a thousand officers of flag rank. Additionally, he has amassed some 10,000 pieces of official correspondence, diary entries, and personal letters in the course of his 35 years of research. As one might expect, then, this is an expertly researched and well-documented work, liberally sprinkled with quotes, stories, and anecdotes that enrich the reading experience.
This book is about effective leadership and leader development. It is particularly relevant to the military professionals, across all ranks, who are actively engaged in leadership self-development. General Eric Shinseki, the Chief of Staff of the Army, made it clear in his vision statement that the "Army is people, and the soldier remains the centerpiece of our formation." He further stated it is imperative, in meeting the demands of the emerging strategic environment, that we focus on our leadership development programs to ensure we are building the leaders we need in order to be effective. Puryear distills what he feels are the key dimensions of effective leadership that have characterized the great leaders in the military profession, and which ought to be the foundation of any leadership development program, either personal or institutional.
This is not a book on leadership theory, but is focused on the effective practice of leadership. The book's premise, which is consistent with the current beliefs about leadership development, is that leaders are not born, they are made. Although Puryear suggests there are certain innate qualities that all great leaders share, training and education are the critical aspects in the development of effective leaders. This book provides detailed descriptions of how past leaders learned to be successful.
This is an interesting history book, as well as a detailed study of leadership. With American Generalship, you really get two books in one. You will learn a tremendous amount about military history through the recorded thoughts and ruminations of great generals, focusing on those who served during the world wars, Korea, and Vietnam. The book is rich with insights into some of the greatest military minds our country has ever produced. Puryear deftly weaves reflections, quotes, and anecdotes into an interesting story about leadership and the character and qualities of greatness that have stood the test of time.
Puryear's leadership principles are remarkably consistent with the service values, particularly the Army values, and with our emerging leadership doctrine as specified in FM 22-100. Puryear builds his narrative around what his research suggests are the key leadership principles that link all great leaders. These principles include selflessness, decisionmaking, the character to challenge, reading and learning, mentoring, consideration, and delegation. Puryear's principles provide an effective bridge to a better understanding of the integration of our values into our emerging leadership doctrine.
Finally, this book reinforces the notion of reliable continuity in great leadership, in a time of dramatic change. The Army is undergoing a tremendous transformation, arguably some of the most significant and rapid changes in its history. But the one thing that will remain constant is that the transformed Army will still rely on leadership and the development of leaders as the ultimate sources of its effectiveness. Puryear's book reminds us that rapid change is nothing new, and that certain fundamental principles of leadership will remain relevant no matter what the future holds. These principles have proven their lasting value, and will continue to do so.
Leadership is best learned, of course, through experience. General Matthew Ridgway said that "experiences are the great teachers," but noted that "even the most privileged can crowd but a few personal experiences into a lifetime." So how does one gain all the experience needed to really be an effective leader? Ridgway suggested the best way is "to draw on the boundless experiences of others" and that "the opportunities to learn from such experiences are unlimited. They lie in the pages of histories, biographies, and the records of those who have gone before you." In American Generalship, Edgar Puryear gives us an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the rich experiences of others. It is a book worth reading.
Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century. By Jonathan Glover. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2000. $29.95. Reviewed by Dr. Martin L. Cook, Elihu Root Chair of Military Studies and Professor of Ethics, US Army War College.
This is an eminently readable yet profound book. It should be required reading for anyone interested in the scope and limits of human ethical behavior.
Jonathan Glover is a philosopher and professor of ethics on the faculty of King's College, London. Predictably, therefore, the underlying questions of his analysis are philosophical and ethical. But unlike much philosophical literature, Glover's is not an abstract treatment of issues but instead one deeply grounded in historical and political realities.
Much of the book is descriptive of how people can be motivated to behave well and badly in specific historical events. Although one "knows" these things, there is a great power in reading detailed descriptions of some of the major military and political events of the 20th century back to back. It was, after all, a century in which more than a hundred people died from war alone on average every single hour of the century. When one is reminded within the scope of a single volume of My Lai, Hiroshima, the stupidity that allowed the slide into World War I, the Killing Fields of Cambodia, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Stalin's deliberate and almost casual destruction of millions of his own citizens, the moral horrors of Nazism, and the attempted genocide in Rwanda, one is tempted to despair of the species capable of so many such things in a single century.
But Glover's interest in this litany of horror is far deeper than a simple reminder of the depths of human depravity. His philosophical questions are: "How can human beings be convinced to do such things?" "What levers of the human mind and heart must leaders manipulate to convince ordinary human beings to cooperate in such endeavors?" To his great credit, Glover delves into each of these events in depth, avoiding at all cost simplicity and reductionism to a single overarching explanation. How was Stalin able to sustain his purges for year after year, depending as it did on the cooperation of tens of thousands for its execution? How can Chinese teenagers be persuaded of the necessity and propriety of torturing and killing even their own most beloved teachers and elders?
Glover's treatment of each event is subtle, and the resulting analyses provide a kind of moral map of the human psyche--Where are its blindspots? How can leaders and societies use them to move ordinary people to commit acts that we'd like to believe ordinary and sane people would never be willing to do?
The analysis is not only of glaring moral failure and atrocity, however. Glover analyzes the Cuban Missile Crisis as an example where moral imagination and historical reflection allowed Kennedy and his advisors to resist the pressures of military advice--to begin bombing missile sites immediately or prepare an invasion--and instead finesse a face-saving climb-down from nuclear Armageddon. What factors made that possible?
Glover's interest is finally not descriptive, however, but normative and ethical. What "moral resources" does humanity have? What capabilities do we have to motivate moral behavior? The descriptive analyses are all cast in the frame of how those resources come to be overridden and what might be done to resist that overriding.
Glover's intellectual dialogue partner throughout the book is the 19th-century German philosopher, Nietzsche. It was Nietzsche who most famously declared "God is dead," and then attempted to build a philosophy on the consequences of that fact. Nietzsche's pronouncement of God's death is, of course, often trivialized or dismissed by those who lack the intellectual patience or depth to understand what he meant. But that is a serious mistake, and Glover is well aware that it is.
What Nietzsche meant was that the rationalism of the Enlightenment, the rise of science, and rational criticism of conventional revealed religion had removed the linchpin of Western civilization: the ability to rely on authority for moral guidance. "God said it," or "the priest says it," or "the ruler said it," will no longer be a sufficient reason why things must be done a particular way--at least not at a societal level. In the sphere of ethics, Nietzsche asserted, we must become our own gods. We must develop our own morality from our own resources.
For Nietzsche, these were hard and unpleasant truths--truths so painful that only the strongest would be willing to face them. And much of the horrors of the 20th century which Glover reviews are, in fact, consequences of human efforts to "become their own gods" and to build new human worlds in the absence of divine sanction and order.
Glover agrees with Nietzsche's premise that there are no moral truths given us by authority. But unlike Nietzsche, he rejects the conclusion that moral nihilism follows. We derive morality from introspection into the moral resources we find in the human heart. We reflect on what those resources are, on how they get overwhelmed and manipulated to our horror, and on how we might better sustain and enhance them. In the end, Glover answers Nietzsche, but not by reaffirming morality from authority. Instead, he harkens back to Plato's fundamental ethical argument: the just person is better off than the unjust because only the just are at peace with themselves. The solution is not in the stars, but in ourselves.
Herding Cats: Multiparty Mediation in a Complex World. Edited by Chester A. Crocker, Fen Osler Hampson, and Pamela Aall. Washington: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1999. 735 pages. $55.00 ($29.95 paper). Reviewed by Colonel James S. McCallum, USA Ret., Professor of National and International Security Affairs, US Army Peacekeeping Institute, Center for Strategic Leadership, US Army War College.
Herding Cats captures the experiences of 20 mediators involved in 16 conflicts or pre-conflict situations over the past 12 years. The case studies range from Canada's efforts to address the 1996 crisis in eastern Zaire, to UN and others attempts at preventing or ending conflicts in numerous areas around the globe, whether in Burundi, the South China Sea, Tajikistan, and the Middle East, or in Mozambique, Cambodia, Haiti, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, and Angola. The editors are George Crocker, Assistant US Secretary of State for African Affairs from 1981 to 1989; Fen Osler Hampson, academic scholar at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada; and Pamela Aall, director of the Education Program at the United States Institute of Peace. They have succeeded in bringing together the diverse experiences of these crises in a volume that can serve as an essential reference for practitioners, academics, and educators concerned with mediation and peace operations.
For the practitioner, the book may appear imposing at first glance, but the organization of this massive volume makes it extremely manageable as a reference book. The initial three chapters introduce the subject of multiparty mediation and contrast the scholarly literature on approaches to this subject with the authors' views as practitioners. What follows are 21 chapters describing the experiences of mediators in one of three situations: preventing or managing a conflict, ending a conflict, or reaching and implementing a settlement. Each of these chapters is preceded by a two-page summary of what happened, who the major actors were, the key dates in the conflict, key agreements reached, and principal outcomes. The last chapter offers a broad synthesis by the editors of these 21 mediations that has general applicability for multiparty efforts in the field.
With this organization, the practitioner can gain insights from a selected review of these case studies. For example, political elites of countries who might consider leading a multinational military force to a crisis area should read the chapter on eastern Zaire that describes the efforts by Canada's deputy minister of foreign affairs to have his country lead such a force into Zaire in 1996. Senior members of peace operations should read the two chapters on Mozambique for insights on how peace agreements are reached and what constitutes the multiparty mediating efforts that must continue for successful implementation. Each case study contributes to the overall theme of the book. Case studies that are particularly strong are the chapters on Burundi, Namibia, Cambodia, El Salvador, Haiti, the Madrid-Middle East peace conference, and the Bosnia Federation. Readers may choose to skip the case study on the Dayton peace accords for Bosnia, since it is a reprint of Richard Holbrooke's article published in The New Yorker in 1996.
For the academic, the book offers a wealth of firsthand experiences to use in refining the literature on mediation as well as on areas that need more research. The book's organization facilitates this academic perspective in its opening and closing chapters. In particular, the editors identify three factors deserving more study to explain why multiparty mediation is effective or ineffective. To begin with, does the mediator have the assets in terms of political support and resources from leaders and organizations domestically and internationally? And what is the context of the personal relationship between the mediator and the parties to the conflict? Finally, what is the context of the larger policy that the mediation supports?
For the educator, Herding Cats provides a diverse set of rich case studies for courses in conflict analysis and management, mediation, diplomacy, peace operations, and strategic leadership. In particular, many of the chapters will be excellent additions to courses on peace operations that examine case studies. For example, no analysis of the Mozambique UN mission would be complete without including Special Representative of the Secretary-General Aldo Ajello's chapter on implementing the 1992 peace agreement. In addition, instructors teaching strategic leadership at military colleges, business schools, or schools of public policy will find Herding Cats a valuable addition to their readings. Mediators working in the complex world of multiparty mediation must lead to be successful; the type of leadership skills used by mediators in the course of their efforts are applicable in peace operations, government, and business.
In the end, as the editors conclude, effective leadership in multiparty mediations depends on relationships, commitment, vision, credibility, thoughtfulness, and cross-cultural sensitivity. Equally important, it has to do with a rich understanding of the pertinent histories and cultures; an ability to inspire all interested parties, not just those in conflict; creativity in sharing the work with others; and agility to let others lead.
Ripcord: Screaming Eagles Under Siege, Vietnam 1970. By Keith W. Nolan. Novato, Calif.: Presidio, 2000. 447 pages. $29.95. Reviewed by Dr. Henry G. Gole (Colonel, USA Ret.), a combat infantryman in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Ripcord is a well-written and thoroughly researched account of ferocious close combat in the context of tactics, strategy, and policy. It evokes admiration for American and North Vietnamese infantry soldiers engaged in intense fighting and contempt for what passed for American higher military and political leadership. Nolan writes, "The men who did their best at Ripcord won a personal victory inside a larger defeat; the circumstances of that defeat--the indecision, the restraints, the limited effort against the enemy's total commitment--make Ripcord something of a tragic metaphor for the entire Vietnam War."
The author takes us through tactical decisions made at division, brigade, and battalion levels, decisions made as senior officers divined national political intent while brave soldiers fought and died. His focus is primarily on the grunts who exchanged hand grenades and satchel charges with a determined and skillful enemy, but he is attentive to American leaders equivocating in limited war as the men in Hanoi conducted total war.
Perhaps it is impossible for the comfortable civilian to empathize with the veteran of close combat. Indeed, a fraternal organization of old fighters asserts: "You have never lived until you have almost died. For those who have fought for it, life has a special flavor the protected will never know." Perhaps. But to approximate deadly combat in a bad place and to experience the tension between the individual soldier's hope for survival and his willing self-sacrifice for others--the men in his squad--read Ripcord side-by-side with John M. Del Vecchio's, The 13th Valley, a fictional treatment of the same battle in the A Shau Valley from April to July 1970.
The objective of the American operation was to destroy enemy supply installations and the two regiments that protected them in the mountains where several branches of the multi-veined Ho Chi Minh Trail from North to South Vietnam crossed from Laos into Vietnam. The concept was to establish a fire support base--with Ripcord as headquarters--from which patrols would fan out to find, fix, and fight the enemy, supported by readily available and abundant artillery and air firepower. The American combat role was winding down. Once the 101st Airborne--the Screaming Eagles--had the battle in hand, it would be turned over to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, a step toward "Vietnamization." That's not how it turned out.
Those familiar with "search and destroy" missions--US troops hunting for an enemy who faded away, leaving booby traps and snapping off sniper shots--will find another kind of war at Ripcord. That place had become "an invisible fortress, the most elaborate and well-defended enemy staging area in all of South Vietnam." The enemy dug firing pits for mortars that constantly menaced friendly troops and anti-aircraft positions that took helicopters under fire as they approached Ripcord. On the 21st day (the battle for Ripcord began on 1 July 1970), "the 1-506th company--surrounded, under mortar fire and ground attack--was forced to leave its dead behind as it straggled to another hill for extraction." It had engaged yet another hidden bunker complex by walking into it. Six North Vietnamese army (NVA) battalions were massed around the firebase. The decision to withdraw was made on the 22d day: "Before Ripcord could become an American Dien Bien Phu, the 101st Airborne Division did what the US Army did not do in Vietnam: It backed away from a major engagement, ordering the evacuation and destruction by air strikes of Firebase Ripcord."
This is powerful stuff. How did it happen? Why the 30-year wait to get the whole story?
Part of the answer is that a primitive enemy intelligently used geography, weather, tactics, courage, and skill to defeat American infantry supported by brave aviators and tenacious artillerymen. The A Shau was a place where on previous incursions into this enemy sanctuary disease significantly reduced American combat strength before a shot was fired. Steep hills and dense jungle favored those who would rely on stealth. Ground haze further concealed NVA troops. High winds challenged pilots who risked smashing into mountaintops as they sought holes in the clouds to support comrades on the ground. Enemy tactics, learned in the Ia Drang Valley in November 1965 and rehearsed for five years, instructed NVA troops to get belly-to-belly with the Americans, thus neutralizing air and artillery firepower. The pure guts of NVA soldiers--most particularly the sappers, who wormed their way into American night defensive perimeters from which there was no escape--earned respect. The grunts didn't have to hunt for the usually elusive enemy. He was right there, spoiling for a fight and determined to defend his base.
US soldiers knew what to do. They fought and died. But American senior commanders were indecisive, even petty. They were torn between doing what was necessary to win the battle--commit more combat strength--and an awareness that a bloodbath like that on Hamburger Hill two years earlier was unacceptable in 1970. Political leadership wanted out, "with honor." No one told the generals that they could not be kind of engaged in decisive battle nor a little pregnant. So while one brigade duked it out, the Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division went on leave to the United States to attend his daughter's wedding. He got another star. His deputy, a one-star destined for great things, ran the division, constantly prepared to relieve the brigade commander fighting the battle. (He had been trained by a general whose World War II experience had taught him to relieve commanders at the drop of a hat.) The brigadier general got two more stars. The brigade commander was treated like a leper and retired as a colonel. The battalion commander was killed in the last moments of the evacuation of Ripcord.
The last great battle of the Vietnam War ended ignominiously as the 101st handed the mess over to the South Vietnamese army. Those who buy the tired mantra, "We never lost a battle," need to consider two facts. Every day that a US rifle company took casualties while failing to find the enemy, a battle was lost. At Ripcord, gutsy American soldiers were let down by senior leaders, just as the Republic of Vietnam was let down by the United States. In both cases, when the going got tough, the blusterers got out. This reviewer thinks Nolan got it right and tells it well.
The End of the Past: Ancient Rome and the Modern West. By Aldo Schiavone. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000. 267 pages. $45.00. Reviewed by Dr. J. Boone Bartholomees, Jr., Professor of Military History, US Army War College.
Aldo Schiavone, an Italian professor and expert on Roman law, asks why the economic and political systems of Rome were incapable of transforming and evolving into modern systems. Why did Roman society, after reaching a peak in the second century, not progress directly to modernity--or, if direct transition to modernity was too much to ask, why did it not at least find some path forward which avoided the catastrophe of the Dark Ages that followed the demise of the empire? Schiavone provides a sophisticated Marxist answer based on the structure of the economy, peculiarities of the Roman class system, and specific cultural biases of upper-class Romans.
The argument is as follows: Rome made its wealth the old fashioned way; it exploited the most profitable activity of the ancient world--warfare. The Roman soldier-farmers that fought the wars to build the empire invested their wealth in the two primary products of expansive warfare--land and slaves. The result was predictable. Over time large estates run entirely by slave labor displaced small farms as the primary non-military economic unit. Culturally, the upper classes that owned large estates adopted a norm that de-emphasized the value of work, especially manual labor. The epitome of success was to own enough land and slaves that one could concentrate on politics or leisure activities. The lower and middle classes bought into the concept, so as people made wealth through other activities they habitually invested it in land and slaves; in other words, they joined the upper class and invested in agricultural rather than urban industry. The cultural fixation on large estates made merchants, artisans, and craftsmen socially inferior; trade with the empire for the goods the middle class might have provided made them economically unnecessary. Dependence on slave labor discouraged mechanization and technological innovation--a trait that became a social norm of its own. The basic argument is supplemented by a complex and unconvincing discussion of the Roman tendency to transcend rather than transform nature and their belief in the permanence of limits. In summary, with no vibrant middle class, minimal technological innovation, and an economy that depended on trade with the empire for much of its non-agricultural goods, the Roman system was improperly structured and too inflexible to transform into a modern, urban, industrial economy. The Romans thought they had achieved the pinnacle of economic and political perfection and could conceive of no better world.
Although he does not believe that Rome could have progressed into a modern society, Schiavone does see one brief instance when the Romans might have transformed their society into something that might have avoided its eventual collapse. A brief (about two generations) period in the fourth century B.C. witnessed a combination of circumstances that Schiavone thinks offered a rare opportunity for the Romans to radically change their eventual history. The opportunity came with the convergence of political and economic crises and a liberalization of slave laws. Cicero recognized the moment and offered a prescription for change, but the opportunity passed unexploited. This should not be surprising, since Schiavone acknowledges that the evidence he cites for some of the most hopeful elements of the opportunity (like the liberalization of slave laws) was both isolated and transitory.
Schiavone's thesis has merit but is strangely unsatisfying. It certainly would have been difficult for the Romans to transform their economy into a modern industrial structure--for all the reasons he correctly points out--but did they necessarily have to? He essentially asks that question but recognizes only a slim possibility. Can one not imagine Roman society persisting almost unchanged (as the Romans themselves believed it would) had Rome been able to stave off the various barbarian invasions that eventually overwhelmed the empire? It seems logical that the reason the Roman system did not survive had as much to do with the attitudes, cultures, political organizations, and economic inclinations of the barbarians as it had to do with the Romans. A complete answer to Schiavone's question would require additional investigation of military policies, political relations with the empire, and the cultures and societies of the barbarians. Problems are seldom single-faceted; solutions, even complex and sophisticated ones, based on single-faceted approaches are seldom satisfying.
Haig: A Reappraisal 70 Years On. Edited by Brian Bond and Nigel Cave. South Yorkshire, Eng.: Leo Cooper, 1999. 271 pages. $45.00. Reviewed by Dr. Douglas V. Johnson II (LTC, USA Ret.), a research professor with the Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.
If you have always held Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig up to scorn as the archetype of the bumbling World War I generals, if you have intoned his name as the model of the insensitive and bullheaded general, if you have ever read C. S. Forester's The General and fingered Haig as the man behind the story, read this book. While I remain personally ambivalent about the Field Marshal, I am delighted with the relative objectivity of this book not only for the balanced appreciation of the man and his system, but for the broader subject of generalship in World War I.
Acknowledging that controversy will remain, the editors have assembled a first-class group of essays by a highly respectable group of historians which makes for delightful reading, whatever your opinions of the man.
Despite the diversity and number of contributors to this book, several threads of continuity emerge. The first is the tacit recognition that a person's upbringing has a great deal to do with his behavior in later life. Haig was raised by devout Church of Scotland--hence Calvinist--women to whom propriety mattered greatly. The result was Haig's sensitivity to people's conduct. He tended to disdain and to suspect the motives of people who could not properly govern themselves. With the cultured and civil of speech, coordination and conversation were welcomed--regardless of nationality--affecting directly his relations with allies and political superiors.
Another theme is Haig's deep grasp of army administration developed during his junior and middle years, an understanding that stood him in particularly good stead as the British Expeditionary Force expanded. He was apparently unique among his peers for his understanding of the administration of large forces and handled the logistical support of the BEF far better, for example, than General John J. Pershing did for the American Expeditionary Force. This depth of understanding of the basics of logistics supported his willingness to accept technological innovation. Despite his fixation on the continued utility of horse cavalry, the BEF's other arms ended the war with quality equipment appropriate for their tasks. For more on this subject, see Hubert C. Johnson's Breakthrough: Tactics, Technology, and the Search for Victory on the Western Front in World War I, and Paddy Griffith's edited work, British Fighting Methods in the Great War, as well as his Battle Tactics on the Western Front.
Gerard DeGroot's essay on "Ambition, Duty, and Doctrine," is particularly good for stage-setting as it walks the reader through Haig's formative years. The evidence is solid that what officers learn en route to and during their captaincy carries greater weight than any but the most traumatic experiences thereafter. In this vein, Nigel Cave's piece on "Haig and Religion" suggests that his formative years in the Church of Scotland, with its Calvinist emphasis on predestination and election, shaped Haig in rather direct ways. Predestination became enmeshed with the call to duty and preservation of the Empire.
Michael Crawshaw's "The Impact of Technology on the BEF and it's Commander" is worth every American professional soldier's reading as the US Army struggles with transformation. First, this was an age of explosive technological growth; second, the author contrasts the technological needs of the "living" aspects of the BEF with its operational requirements; third, the state of development of many of the most promising technologies was infant, making their proliferation through the force both wasteful and potentially hazardous. When taken together with J. P. Harris's essay, "Haig and the Tank," a picture emerges of a leader who was both enthusiastic about new technologies and simultaneously cautious about overblown promises. Haig's deep knowledge of how an army runs provided him with a full appreciation of the rather basic fact, often forgotten by armchair tacticians, that modern armies and systems have to be provisioned in ways that cannot be readily improvised. If the old adage is true that amateurs talk tactics and professionals talk logistics, Haig was a thoroughgoing professional.
Finally, there is an interesting paragraph in Peter Simpkins' essay, "Haig and the Army Commanders," that bears consideration. While Haig was sometimes accused of meddling in the details of his subordinates' plans, Haig himself is quoted as saying, "Close supervision by higher commanders is not only possible but is their duty, to such extent as they find it necessary to ensure everything is done that can be done to ensure success." Haig stated that once the forces prove efficient, however, in "actual execution of plans, when control by higher headquarters is impossible, subordinates . . . must act on their own initiative, and they must be trained to do so." If this is an accurate report of the man's thinking on generalship, this reader can find little fault with it.
The Challenge of Change: Military Institutions and New Realities, 1918-1941. Edited by Harold R. Winton and David R. Mets. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000. 304 pages. $50.00. Reviewed by Colonel Cole C. Kingseed, author of Eisenhower and the Suez Crisis of 1956 and Chief of Military History, US Military Academy.
Few periods in military history have attracted as much scholarly attention in recent years as the interwar period between World War I and World War II. From Allan R. Millett and Williamson Murray's masterful analysis of military effectiveness to William Odom's After the Trenches: The Transformation of U.S. Army Doctrine, 1918-1939, numerous authors have sought to examine how various countries' military establishments faced the challenge of modernizing organization and doctrine in peacetime. In this latest effort to analyze the dynamics of military reform, editors Harold R. Winton and David R. Mets provide a superb anthology designed to meet the needs of military professionals and defense analysts. What makes this particular volume so illuminating is the wide array of talent the editors assembled to explore the factors underlying the attempts to adapt to the realities of military change in a world of evolving strategic requirements and technology.
To editor Winton the endemic uncertainty of the environment, the external forces imposed by the political and social structure within which the army exists, and the characteristics and values of the institution itself determine the relative success of military change. Individual contributors then assess the reform process of the military institutions of France, Germany, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States as their military institutions endeavored to develop both the material capacity and the conceptual framework for the conduct of modern industrialized warfare on a continental scale. All contributors are distinguished historians with a solid record of publications to their credit.
Eugenia C. Kiesling begins this study with her analysis of the army of interwar France. Kiesling views the atrophy of French reform as a result of tensions caused by an army pulled in various directions--confidence in the doctrines that had won the Great War, awareness of changing technological and political conditions, and adherence to the principle that both its missions and its resources could be determined only in the political arena. She concludes that the absence of military reform in France between the world wars was because French planners believed their doctrines would be able to deal with the existing threat satisfactorily. Kiesling also offers a scathing indictment of French military leaders who acted "soberly, cautiously, and in accordance with their interpretation of professional subordination to the state."
James S. Corum and Harold Winton analyze the reform movements in Germany and Great Britain, respectively. Corum opines that the German army's approach to change was far more comprehensive in nature than that in France. German victories in the early part of World War II were not achieved by numerical superiority, but rather by a more effective operational doctrine and a more effective training program to implement that doctrine. German adaptation included doctrinal reform, but also extensive reforms in the army's organization and in its training and military education. A political hierarchy determined to reverse the verdict of Versailles also lent its wholehearted support to German military reforms, unlike that in Great Britain.
In England, Winton argues, the ability of persons outside the army to bring about reform was limited. In spite of possessing two of the Western World's most prominent military theorists on armored and mechanized warfare, J. F. C. Fuller and Basil Liddell Hart, the desire of the reformers was frequently at loggerheads with the strategic preference of political leaders for limited liability. Moreover, the preference military conservatives had for mechanization over armored warfare was directly at odds with their realization of the necessity for a firm continental commitment. In short, Winton opines that few British leaders possessed the "felicitous blend of human insight, intelligence, and determination" to modernize Great Britain's armed forces.
Jacob Kipp's analysis of the interwar Soviet army takes umbrage with the assessment that military success in World War II was prima facie evidence that Soviet military reform in the interwar period must have been a success. In contrast to Winton's analysis of British civil-military relations, Kipp asserts that external political influence was decisive in the case of the Soviet Union. The central legacy of Stalinism on the eve of the German invasion was contradictory in nature. True, Stalin had created a modern industrial state, militarized the society, and created powerful instruments of mobilization and control. Stalin also nullified the successful military reforms and set the stage for initial military disasters, however, by "decapitating its own elite and leaving insufficient numbers of middle and senior grade officers" to oversee the vast expansion of the Red Army on the eve of the war.
In his analysis of the US Army, David E. Johnson challenges the convention of history by presenting a different perspective from the traditional interpretation that American unpreparedness was solely the result of constraining budgets and congressional reluctance to support a modern professional force. Johnson asserts that the War Department had internal problems which contributed significantly to its lack of preparedness. In spite of the best efforts of General George C. Marshall, branch parochialism, a largely powerless War Department general staff, tension between air and ground officers, a conservative culture, and disparate views about technology all conspired to inhibit innovation and intraservice cooperation.
Following these national case studies, noted military historian Dennis Showalter provides a concluding essay in which he places the factors affecting military reform in a historiographical perspective. According to Showalter, four general conclusions emerge from any study of the interwar period. First, change in military affairs is contextual, with no hard and fast rules. Second, armies reflect the core dynamics--and the core anxieties--of their societies and their governments. Next is the nature of internal interest groups, what Harold Winton calls "service cultures," which are inherently limited in their flexibility. And finally, there exists a difficulty of testing innovations.
In short, The Challenge of Change should be mandatory reading for senior military officers and defense analysts as the United States redesigns its military forces and doctrine to face the challenges of the 21st century. Military innovation in peacetime is a complex process that defies easy categorization, but it is the inherent responsibility of a new series of reformers to direct the evolution of American military institutions to enhance the security of the state and the society they serve.
Hammer and Rifle: The Militarization of the Soviet Union, 1926-1933. By David R. Stone. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2000. 287 pages. $39.95. Reviewed by Richard W. Harrison, an independent researcher living in Moscow and author of the forthcoming book The Russian Way of War: Operational Art, 1904-1940 (University Press of Kansas, 2001).
David R. Stone's Hammer and Rifle: The Militarization of the Soviet Union, 1926-1933, as the title suggests, is a history of the rapid growth of the military's role in Soviet life during the First Five-Year Plan and the period immediately preceding it. The author has marshaled an impressive array of archival and secondary-source information in order to support his thesis of the Soviet Union's rapid descent into a garrison state under Stalin and beyond.
Stone painstakingly chronicles the bureaucratic infighting among the various military-related agencies during the latter half of the 1920s, the Red Army's perennial dissatisfaction with its relatively modest station, and its woefully inadequate degree of technical sophistication. In many respects the post-civil war Red Army was even weaker than the Tsarist Army, an intolerable situation in a society that believed in the inevitability of a final clash with the capitalist world. However, given the inherent weaknesses of the Soviet Union's economy, there was little chance the situation could be remedied over the short term.
All this changed dramatically with the introduction of the First Five-Year Plan in 1928, which projected the economic transformation of the USSR almost overnight, with predictable benefits for the military. Military orders to industry increased dramatically, particular in the vital areas of artillery, tank, and aircraft production, although the infrastructure for such a leap barely existed. All this placed inevitable strains on the Soviet economy, which was quickly reflected in the actual worsening of the average citizen's lot, particularly that of the peasantry, which starved to death in the millions as a direct result of government policy. The heated rush to industrialize at any cost also led to a climate in which failure to achieve the plan's outlandish goals was seen as "wrecking" and in which "moderation became criminal," in Stone's excellent phrasing.
As if these and other excesses were not enough, the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 increased the pressure to rearm severalfold, as the plan's previous targets were raised to new heights. For example, as opposed to the planned production of 2,000 tanks in 1931, the target for 1932 was dramatically upped to 10,000 units; and this on the basis of an almost nonexistent tank industry. The inevitable production shortfalls and quality problems that followed are described in hair-raising detail by Stone. And although the Soviet leadership soon realized its mistake and scaled back these outlandish goals, the damage had been done. After this, the Soviet military economy never looked back, and indeed would continue to grow. In Stone's words, by 1933 "the militarization of the Soviet Union was essentially complete and would endure through World War II and, ultimately, until the final collapse of the Soviet Union."
The book is surprisingly free of factual errors, despite the plethora of statistical and other information. One of the few I noticed was the author's insistence that I. P. Uborevich, the Red Army's first director of armaments, was a candidate member of the Politburo. Stone also states incorrectly that Uborevich left the armaments post in 1930 to take up his new tasks as commander of the Belorussian Military District, although he later uses the correct date of 1931.
However, if these are merely questions of detail, much more serious are questions of the author's interpretation of his data. Easily the most controversial of these is Stone's contention that "the Soviet Union rearmed for World War II six or seven years too early. By producing so much ordnance during the early and mid-1930s, the Soviet Union began the Great Fatherland War burdened with tens of thousands of obsolete tanks and planes." Stone continues in this vein to the extent that he blames the Red Army's early defeats in 1941 on this enormous amount of weaponry which the Soviets had on hand. This view is incorrect for several reasons.
Stone's view begs the question of when exactly the Soviets were to have started their massive rearmament program, given the vagaries of the prewar political situation. Given Stone's own well-documented account of the Stalinist regime's paranoia vis-à-vis the outside world, it was imperative from the Soviet point of view to begin the rearmament program as soon as possible, lest the Red Army suffer the same fate as its tsarist predecessor did at the hands of a technically more-proficient enemy.
Stone is on somewhat firmer ground in stating that the Soviets entered World War II with an enormous mass of obsolete weapons, although he is only half right. To be sure, the Red Army's aircraft park was decidedly out of date, especially in fighters. This obsolescence, particularly when coupled with the Luftwaffe's decided edge in combat experience, led to disaster in the first months of war and beyond. However, this argument falls flat when speaking of the Red Army's armored forces, whose thousands of BT-series and T-26 tanks were qualitatively at least a match for the Germans' tank force in 1941. And while it is certainly true that the huge number of tanks added to the Red Army's problems of supply and maintenance when the war broke out, to lay the blame on the number of vehicles is to confuse result with cause. It was ultimately the paralyzing effects of the Germans' surprise attack, coupled with the criminal incompetence of the Red Army's employment of its armored forces against the more experienced Germans, which led to disaster. The latter factor, in particular, would have rendered ineffective even a more modern tank force made up of follow-on T-34s and KV-series tanks.
However, to dwell upon these shortcomings is to criticize the author for his interpretation of subsequent military events, which was clearly not his intent. As regards its main thesis, Hammer and Rifle is a fine example of scholarly detective work in the often labyrinthine world of the Russian archives in order to produce a valuable study of the prewar Soviet military-industrial complex. Stone, perhaps inadvertently, also has produced a damning indictment of the entire approach to central planning favored by the Soviets. This system, with its overwhelmingly military-oriented production biases, was one of the central reasons behind the Soviet Union's economic collapse. Hammer and Rifle may easily be read with profit by military and economic historians alike.
Terrorism Today. By Christopher C. Harmon. Portland, Ore.: Frank Cass Publishers, 2000. 288 pages. $26.50.
The Future of Terrorism. Edited by Max Taylor and John Horgan. Portland, Ore.: Frank Cass Publishers, 2000. 234 pages. $24.50.
Reviewed by Colonel Richard S. Friedman, USA Ret., who served in a variety of intelligence assignments in the Army and subsequently with the Central Intelligence Agency.
It takes minimal resources, money, or manpower to mount a terrorist operation, although even a single terrorist "engagement" can be as costly and dangerous as a major conventional military operation. Consequently, terrorism is a highly leveraged endeavor. While there are studies of terrorism covering a broad spectrum of literature, with new books being published every month, this review focuses on two of the most recent works addressing the contemporary problem and new threats appearing on the horizon.
Asymmetry is the key to the effectiveness of terrorism. Terrorism provides a small group the mechanism to successfully attack a larger force or a government which it could not take on in direct combat. The bomb used in the 1993 attack on the New York World Trade Center, for example, cost about $400 to manufacture from ordinary commercially available materials, but caused more than $550 million in damages and lost revenue. Realistically, as the recent "Unabomber" case demonstrates, one man with sufficient resources can comprise a terrorist group. Terrorists select the time, place, and targets for their attacks. Terrorist actions are generally of short duration, which does not allow authorities sufficient time to respond effectively. Military forces alone do not deter terrorism--historically, terrorism has developed mainly as a response to strong governmental powers. Doctrine, equipment, and the advanced technologies of a modern army do not provide any advantages in confronting or preventing terrorist action.
Christopher Harmon, author of Terrorism Today, has been Professor of International Relations at the US Marine Corps University since 1993. Dr. Harmon served four years as a foreign policy advisor at the House of Representatives, and his educational specialties are revolutionary warfare, terrorism, and counterinsurgency. He joins the expanding ranks of scholars writing about terrorism. In the late 1960s through the 1980s, students of terrorism concluded that terrorist organizations, mainly secular, Marxist-type groups, were comprised of a hierarchical structure functionally oriented to provide the organization with planning, operations, command, control, logistics, recruitment, and propaganda. Organizations of this type proved to be relatively vulnerable to penetration by police and intelligence organizations.
The trend today, according to the author, particularly in the Islamic groups, seems to be toward cellular structures that are fairly small, ad hoc, quasi-independent, self-contained organizations with very high levels of cohesion. This cellular-type structure provides safeguards against penetration or compromise by governmental authorities in that any one member captured could not identify more than a few of his colleagues. Security is a primary organizing principle. Realistically these terrorist cells can consist of four or fewer individuals. In many cases, these groups are composed of members of a single family or very close friends. The organization of these groups is fairly amorphous. There may be no explicit leader. These groups may be constituted to attack specific types of targets or conceivably only one target. Confounding the problem of group identification further, many of the smaller terrorist groups may subscribe to the objectives of a larger, more well-known terrorist organization, although they do not have direct membership. Thus they may attribute their attacks to this larger group even though there were no direct operational connections. The claim of membership bolsters the prestige, credibility, and self-esteem of the small group. Since the larger organizations perceive a benefit in the practice, they do not discourage it.
Dr. Harmon treats seriously the ideas and writings of terrorists, not just their acts, and disagrees with those who use the word "mindless" when describing terrorists, many of whom are calculating, clever, and well-educated. He argues that what is new deserves analysis and what seems familiar deserves a fresh look. The author holds that "terrorism is the deliberate and systematic murder, maiming, and menacing of the innocent to inspire fear for political ends." In six chapters with an accompanying select bibliography, glossary of terms, and a detailed index, Terrorism Today provides a current study to remind the reader that while there are few instances of terrorism alone accomplishing strategic goals, it often succeeds at the tactical level. Dr. Harmon's translations of the primary published thoughts of various terrorists is a major supplement to this book. The author's discussions of using military force against terrorism as well as the potential use by terrorists of weapons of mass destruction will be particularly instructive to military professionals.
The Future of Terrorism, edited by two scholars--Max Taylor, Professor at the Department of Applied Psychology at University College, Cork, Ireland, and John Horgan, a researcher and lecturer in the Department of Applied Psychology, also at University College, Cork--takes a different approach to the subject. This work reports details from a three-day meeting at University College during March 1999 at which experts on terrorism, principally from academia and law enforcement, presented and discussed their views on future developments in terrorism. Each of the chapters addresses what the contributor perceives as the next step or steps that terrorist acts may take in the future. Because this book originates in the academic world and each of the authors represents a somewhat different aspect, the abstracts of the articles at the end of the book will be particularly helpful to a reader who may not be interested in "Terrorism and Organized Crime--The Romanian Perspective," or "Terrorism in the Name of Animal Rights." The reader will then be able to study other items such as: "Terrorism and the Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction: From Where the Risk?" or, "Exploding the Myths of Superterrorism." Because so many of the participants in the colloquium which produced this book came from the field of law enforcement, it is not surprising that a considerable amount of the content deals with terrorism and its relationship to organized crime.
Both of these works provide thought-provoking material on a subject that increasingly intrudes into our daily lives and threatens to continue to do so. Christopher Harmon's book offers a well-balanced and reasoned discussion of developments in terrorism during the past with a glimpse into the future. Messrs. Taylor and Horgan have done a good job working with the material at hand from their conference; however, overall their book may not be as helpful to the general reader or military professional as that of Dr. Harmon.
Economic Strategy and National Security: A Next Generation Approach. Edited by Patrick J. DeSouza. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2000. 416 pages. $35.00. Reviewed by Michael J. Fratantuono, Associate Professor of International Studies, Dickinson College, and Adjunct Professor, US Army War College.
Over the past decade, we have witnessed an acceleration of both the revolution in information technology and the process of globalization. In light of these developments, the authors marshaled by Mr. DeSouza take us far beyond the standard treatment of aid and sanctions as instruments of power, and provide a holistic view of economics as a crucial component of US national security strategy.
The first cluster of essays, titled "conceptual underpinnings," points out that the United States is in transition, moving from a post-industrial economy, dominated by services, to one driven by knowledge. That is good news for the country, since the ability to disseminate knowledge will be the basis of economic power in the 21st century. However, information technology will also flatten organizations, spur network societies, and empower the private sector at the expense of the state. This poses two domestic challenges. First, Americans must rediscover the virtues of locally based, active, responsible, purposeful participation in the democratic process, and must articulate a new political ideology that incorporates those virtues. Second, leaders must convince the American public that the lines between domestic and foreign issues are becoming increasingly blurred. These steps are necessary before the United States can persuasively advocate democracy and capitalism to the global community. Such ideas provide a nice starting point, for they remind us that core values are fundamental to any conception of national interests.
The second cluster, "responses to globalization," begins with themes that are sweet music to economic liberals--trade has been an enormous boon to economic growth and prosperity throughout the world. But the tune quickly turns somber--in order to further liberalize the global trading system, US policymakers must make progress on two fronts. Domestically, they must defuse concerns expressed by a wide array of anti-traders, including environmentalists, labor activists, populists, and nationalists. Internationally, they must square global free trade with the movement toward regionalization already underway around the world. Immediately following, we encounter a provocative piece which warns that "legal bribery" of the political process by large corporations, via lobbying and campaign contributions, is a threat to our civil society and, as such, is also a threat to our national interests. The section closes with an obligatory essay that makes the by-now-obvious observation that unilateral US sanctions cannot work and that, in the future, multilateral sanctions will be effective only under special circumstances.
The third set of essays deals with "capital markets," and for this Mr. DeSouza deserves kudos, for this somewhat technical arena is often conveniently overlooked in discussions of national security. The authors argue that while trade is the most obvious symbol of globalization, international finance, facilitated by the revolution in information technology, is the driving force behind economic interdependence. They recommend that the United States reconfigure the highly compartmentalized lines of functional responsibility that currently characterize the Washington bureaucracy. While they advocate a multilateral--read this as collective security--orientation on these matters, they also acknowledge that with the world's most demanding standards for corporate governance and accounting practices, as well as the world's most liquid financial markets, the United States has superior leverage for shaping the international financial system. Next, an essay that is a gem explains that in the near future, many countries will be confronted with aging populations and social security crises; that the necessary reallocation of resources within various countries will dramatically affect national economies and alter global savings patterns; and that the United States will be better prepared to meet its obligations than any other industrialized country. Aside from the reassuring punch line, the analysis reinforces a previous point, that there is a strong interplay between domestic and international issues. (It also makes us wonder why this thread did not surface during the presidential election campaign of 2000.) A final essay, a bit of an outlier at that, proposes "dollarization"--an arrangement whereby a country's monetary authorities substitute dollars for their national currency in the hope of controlling inflation--in many emerging countries. While economists are still debating the merits of dollarization, the essay does help us understand that the leaders of non-hegemonic countries have their hands full as they attempt to accommodate globalization.
The essays about "information technology" also take us to new terrain. US firms have an enormous competitive advantage in the global telecommunications industry. US households and firms are far ahead of all others in terms of Internet use. And the United States has the world's largest and most dynamic market for venture capital, which, when coupled with the country's entrepreneurial culture, top-notch management skills, and pressure-cooker environment, propels homegrown high-tech start-ups to world-class status. Given these advantages, the US government should work with various private-sector stakeholders to establish guiding principles for the information technology sector. It should also negotiate rules governing international competition in multilateral arenas such as the World Trade Organization. All is not rosy, however. The pervasiveness of information technology will present a wide range of potential new targets--power grids, financial networks, and communication links--to a new type of antagonist, individual "cyber attackers," and may leave the United States relatively more vulnerable than other states.
The final cluster of essays deals with "emerging markets." Under an economic lens, Russia appears as a desperate country, one that confronts social problems of immense magnitude which can be addressed only via a protracted process of state-building. While China's full-scale entry into the global economy will take at least another 20 years, that will be a singularly important historical development. In the meantime, the United States must patiently recognize that China's top strategic priority is to ensure employment for hundreds of millions of people, and should promote commercial relations between midsize private-sector firms of each country. Finally, the United States should concentrate efforts on Canada and the countries of Latin America. They are our most important trade partners, share our concerns about many gray-area domestic-international problems, and have the potential to emerge as our strongest allies in many international initiatives.
Reviewed 7 May 2001. Please send comments or corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org