From Parameters, Spring 2002, pp. 121-46.
April 1865: The Month That Saved America. By Jay Winik. New York: HarperCollins, 2001. 461 pages. $32.50. Reviewed by Russell F. Weigley, author of A Great Civil War and Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy, Temple University.
Jay Winik skillfully employs all the insights he has gained as a governmental, journalistic, and scholarly observer of modern crises of civil war and disorder to write dramatically about the closing events of the American Civil War. April 1865 will grip the reader's attention with a series of expertly detailed set-piece depictions of the most critical moments among those events: the fears and pathos of the Confederate evacuation of Richmond, the quick transition to a mood of rejoicing among the city's African Americans as Abraham Lincoln himself walked among them, another rapid transition to a night of horror when John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln down, and Vice-President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William H. Seward escaping assassination, Seward surviving only with terrible wounds. Winik adds well-drawn biographical and character sketches of the principal actors. For the military reader he also offers crisp narratives of the final campaigns, not only in Virginia but wherever the war still smoldered on, and challenging appraisals of generalship.
For all the pleasures that its best features offer, nevertheless, April 1865 is a deeply disappointing book. Winik was not satisfied to allow the considerable drama inherent in the climactic events of the Civil War to speak for itself. Instead, he succumbed to one of the most troublesome temptations of the writer of popular history, to convert every semblance of a turning point in the course of events into a full-blown crisis on which he can claim the whole future of the United States depended. The book is emotionally overwrought.
The thesis is summed up by the subtitle, The Month That Saved America. "April 1865," Winik says, "is a month that could have unraveled the American nation. Instead it saved it." This reviewer simply cannot accept such a judgment. With Abraham Lincoln and his party safely reelected, and his Republican Party firmly in power in Washington even if an alternative course of history had also included his assassination, there was no way in which the badly defeated Confederacy could have held out for another four years in hopes of the arrival of a more friendly Union government, not even by Winik's favorite scenario of guerrilla war. Even if one does not accept this reviewer's doubts about the Confederate will to win in the first place, by April 1865 the Confederacy was beaten. Winik makes much of the idea of historical contingency, that history unfolds in an open process because subsequent events are always contingent upon how any one critical incident turns out. But history is not that open. The Confederacy was probably foredoomed at its birth. It was certainly beyond hope by April 1865.
And there was little possibility that its demise might have been accompanied by a larger chaos encompassing the North as well, however much Winik tries to frighten us with such a prospect. Throughout his book he continually makes every flaw in the American fabric of self-government seem as stark and threatening as possible. He leads up to his portrayal of April 1865 as a time of possibilities for chaos by reciting all the tremors that had wracked the American Republic at one time or another since the Revolution--the Whiskey Rebellion, the Virginia and Kentucky Resolves, the nullification uproar, and all the rest. Significantly, however, he has nothing to say about the election of 1800, the truly critical moment for American self-government, when the Federalists, having lost to the Jeffersonian Republicans whom they loathed, despised, and thoroughly distrusted, nevertheless acquiesced and allowed a peaceful transition of power. That event, based moreover on the long tradition of peaceful political change drawn by America from England, was much more the defining moment of American political history than any of Winik's litany of political flaws, and its profound reach forward into subsequent American history assured that even the Civil War would end pretty much as it did and not in the protracted convulsions that Winik enjoys reminding us he has seen with his own eyes in the Balkans and Third World countries. The election of 1800 established compromise as the essence of the American political genius. Slavery became an issue so intractable as not to be susceptible to compromise. Once the South became reconciled to the end of slavery, as even Winik acknowledges had largely happened by 1865, then the genius for compromise reasserted itself.
Unfortunately, dubious judgments extend also into Winik's military history. He uses the earlier prowess of the Army of Northern Virginia to imply that a real chance for success still attended General Robert E. Lee's assault on Fort Stedman on 25 March 1865, or the defense of Five Forks on 1 April. He conjures up phantoms of prolonged Southern resistance out of the always remote possibility that the remnants of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia might have linked up with the similar shards of General Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee. He treats us to disquisitions on guerrilla warfare to shake us into believing that the prospect of extended Southern resistance in that vein was real, in spite of the disapproval of Lee and Johnston that he acknowledges, and without reckoning what the role of Southern African Americans would have been.
Regarding Lee, the opponent of guerrilla warfare, Winik offers the remarkable conclusion: "Nor was he cruel enough. In contrast to a Sherman or a Sheridan he refused to burn or plunder, or engage in selective assassination." Presumably it was because William Tecumseh Sherman in contrast was cruel enough that Sherman was "the first truly modern strategist in history." Where do such judgments leave Ulysses S. Grant, the true master strategist of the war, but not a plunderer or an assassin? What indeed are we to make of Jay Winik's apparent calls for cruelty and assassination as favored ingredients of war?
What finally can we make of them, except to repeat that, alas, this in some ways appealing book is too overwrought to be good history, or to offer sound guidance to the military professional.
Yanks: The Epic Story of the American Army in World War I. By John S. D. Eisenhower, with Joanne Thompson Eisenhower. New York: The Free Press, 2001. 353 pages. $35.00. Reviewed by Lieutenant General Richard G. Trefry, USA Ret., Inspector General of the Army, 1978-83, and Military Assistant to the President, 1989-92.
This latest offering by acclaimed historian John S. D. Eisenhower, with his wife Joanne Thompson Eisenhower, is a notable contribution to the increasing interest in World War I. Although World War I has had literally thousands of books written about it, relatively few are available at the present time, even in libraries, and even fewer have been read by present generations. This book provides readers and historians with a wealth of information logically presented with scholarship and integrity.
The purpose of the book, in the words of the author, "is to strike a balance, to examine how the American Expeditionary Force came about; to describe the gargantuan efforts needed to create it, supply it, train it, and fight it; and in so doing to show how the modern Army was born."
The book is divided into three main parts. Book One is entitled "Creating the AEF." It develops the international scene that found a small US Army on the Mexican border pursuing Pancho Villa, augmented by a militia force. The Army that fought on the border was woefully unprepared for participation in a struggle as colossal as the one ongoing in Europe. The story of how America entered World War I is succinctly presented. Of particular interest is the genesis both here and in France of the American Expeditionary Force.
The selection of General Pershing and the Army politics of the time make for a fascinating story. The trials and tribulations experienced by General Pershing in creating an Army, as well as his problems in relationships with the Allied commanders at home and in Europe, provide lessons for any officer aspiring to high command and staff. Joint and combined operations, coalitions, politics, and statesmanship were but a few of the challenges presented to a comparatively innocent American high command. Of particular interest were Pershing's efforts to establish a logistical base and a training command that would mold the amateur American force into an efficient and sustained fighting machine.
Book Two, entitled "Apprenticeship: The Opening Battles," is a story that closely parallels the problems faced by the Army at the start of World War II and Korea. One cannot help but be reminded that history repeats itself. This book is a primer on the responsibilities and the relationships between the Army Secretariat, the Army Staff, and the forces in the field.
The first fights at Cantigny and Belleau Wood baptized the AEF in the brutal combat of World War I. These experiences translated into the fight for the reduction of the Soissons salient in July and August of 1918, followed by the battles of St. Mihiel in September and the Meuse-Argonne in October and November of that year. Book Three describes these battles in great detail, including the personalities of the leaders who participated. Although the tactics and techniques of combat in those days are not necessarily similar to those of today, they do provide valuable leadership lessons. The employment of combined arms, the tenets of leadership, and the indomitable courage of American soldiers are portrayed in a manner that would be of great benefit to any serious student of the military profession.
The maps in this book are probably the best maps of the battles and campaigns at the operational level that this reviewer has seen. They provide an especially clear understanding of the campaigns and their development during the war.
The American soldier of today, who experienced the wars in Vietnam, Panama, and the Gulf, may find it difficult to understand that the battle tactics and techniques of World War I were patterned on those of our own Civil War that occurred a half century before. Even more revealing is the realization that we started World War II with basically the same arms and equipment that we acquired in World War I.
The gigantic logistics organization that supported American forces during the Cold War also had its genesis in World War I. The Army school system set up by General Pershing in France to serve the leaders of the AEF was moved to the United States after World War I, and was instrumental in our winning World War II and the Cold War. And the system, with few exceptions, still provides the backbone of professional education and development within the Army.
This book provides the basis for an understanding of where our Army has been, where it currently is, and what it will take to influence the Army of tomorrow. The professional development of the officers and NCOs in today's Army is the legacy of the American Expeditionary Force of 1917 and 1918. This heritage has served us well in the past and has every indication of preserving us in the future. The Eisenhowers have provided a service, particularly for the soldiers of today, by writing an understandable exposition of how the United States became a military power on the world stage.
After Clausewitz, German Military Thinkers Before the Great War. By Antulio J. Echevarria II. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2000. 360 pages. $39.95. Reviewed by Dr. Williamson Murray, a senior fellow at the Institute for Defense Analyses in Arlington, Va.
Over the past decade a number of military historians have looked to the period between World War I and World War II as offering significant insights into why some military institutions are able to innovate and transform themselves during periods of considerable technological change, and why some are not. Those historical studies have yielded significant results. And yet there remain problems. As we move into the 21st century, our current interwar period is beginning to look less and less like the 20-year period between the two world wars.
The latter period came after a terrible conflict, which had, nevertheless, pointed the way toward the future. Virtually all of the major revolutions in military affairs that were to mark World War II--combined-arms mechanized warfare, carrier war, amphibious war, strategic bombing, air defense--appeared in World War I. Some of these capabilities were only beginning to emerge, but the initial impetus toward change had already occurred in the last war. Because the second great war came within two decades, most of the military leaders and innovators in the interwar period had experienced combat. And throughout the period innovators for the most part perceived clear and discernible opponents and threats against whom they could work out the changes and transformations that would affect so significantly the coming war.
Our current interwar period, however, is emerging from a relatively minor conflict, the Gulf War, which pitted the coalition forces of the first world against Iraq's rag-tag collection of conscripts, a military force that focused more on protecting the regime and executing dissidents in basements rather than on warfighting skills. The Soviet Union's collapse in the late 1980s left the United States and its military forces with no discernible major opponent against whom it can size, develop, and train its military forces. Our current interwar period could last three or four decades. And the world is going through a major period of revolutionary technological change, with profound implications not only for military forces, but for the supporting social and political framework.
Indeed, the current interwar period is beginning to resemble the interwar period from 1871 to 1914. During those years, European and American societies underwent massive technological change. Electricity, telephones, the internal combustion engine, huge advances in chemistry, and the arrival of powered flight caused revolutionary transformations in societies. The implications for military organizations were equally profound and disturbing. In fact this period brought together the industrial revolution of the late 18th and 19th centuries with the mass politics of the French Revolution.
Thus, the arrival of Antulio Echevarria's After Clausewitz, German Military Thinkers before the Great War is particularly timely. As with all good history, and this is first-class military history, Echevarria suggests patterns of human and organizational behavior that should be of considerable utility in confronting the challenges of the 21st century. The substance of the book addresses how European and American military theorists and pundits (with emphasis on the Germans) addressed the knotty problems raised by the rapid changes in military technology as well as a number of the larger issues raised by the rapid transformation of society and economic power.
The traditional historical view has been that pre-World War I military theorists entirely missed the profound implications of the changes in weaponry that were taking place. Thus, by supposedly missing the exponential increases in firepower that the machine gun and rapid-firing, long-range artillery represented, Europe's military organizations made inevitable the terrible slaughter in the trenches that was to take place between August 1914 and November 1918. Some historians have even depicted Europe's military leaders as actually believing that with sufficient motivation their soldiers would prove impervious to the bullet.
Echevarria presents a quite different picture of what was occurring in the writings and debates that took place between 1872 and 1914. The emphasis on the offensive that so marked military writings reflected a number of complex factors and ambiguities. On one hand, so-called economic and political experts suggested that modern early 20th-century societies and economies were so fragile that they could not sustain either the financial or the political cost of modern war. Thus, a defensive approach to a major war between the powers offered no possibility of strategic success.
On the other hand, there was a general consensus that the offensive was going to prove even more costly than it had during the Franco-Prussian War. As Echevarria suggests:
The spirit of the offensive served as a balance to the era's infatuation with technology, with machines of all types, as evidence of progress and the cure for humanity's ills. A solution to the infantry attack that relied on technology--firepower--alone would ultimately prove too one-dimensional to succeed. Therefore, the spirit of the offensive and the revitalization of the warrior spirit went hand in hand. Each endeavored to create an army with a moral force sufficient to complement the power of modern technology. The emphasis they placed on moral factors and on the importance of the offensive spirit was matched by an equally strong accent on the destructive potential of new technologies and on the newfound strength of the defensive.By the eve of the First World War, German military theorists had largely worked out the tactical principles that would underlie fire and maneuver and even to a certain extent the problems that would emerge in combined-arms warfare. What then went so catastrophically wrong, when the theorists of war had a considerable grasp of what armies would confront in the coming war? In his conclusion Echevarria presents a depressing picture. In the largest sense, the sheer magnitude of technological changes that had been occurring throughout society made it difficult for theorists to understand the full implications of what was occurring: "The rate of technological change itself exceeded anything Western society had hitherto experienced. . . . Few, if any, of these changes took place in an autonomous, linear, or predictable manner."
Part of the difficulty was a matter of scale. It was one matter to work out the problems involved in coordinating the indirect fire of a battery of guns against a small number of targets. It was another matter to coordinate thousands of guns against thousands of targets, as was to occur by 1916. Similarly the principles of fire and maneuver for a platoon could be worked with relative ease. The problems involved in coordinating fire and maneuver for a division or a corps were a whole order of magnitude more complex.
But it was more than just the rate of technological exchange that explains the extent of the failure. Unfortunately, while the field manuals and the debates in the journals presented a considerable grasp as to the possible impact of the new weapons on the conduct of war in the early 20th century, the great majority of officers were delighted to concentrate on the more serious aspects of the military profession: inspections, bureaucratic minutia, polishing brass, unrealistic maneuvers, speculation about their career prospects.
A very few were ready for the war. The German Army's 43d Infantry Brigade attacked into the teeth of Russian defenses on 9 September 1914. By skillful use of artillery, open order, and the utilization of fire and maneuver, the brigade suffered less than two percent casualties in taking the Russian positions. On the other hand, most of the brigades that fought in the armies assaulted in massed formations, ignored the lessons of the recent past, paid no attention to the scribblings of theorists or even to what was in the field manuals, and suffered catastrophic casualties. The sheer unpreparedness of officers at every rank was a major contributor to the catastrophe.
Echevarria notes grimly in his concluding paragraph:
[The comments of a number of observers] that most young soldiers were "utterly disinterested in military theory" seems to ring true. The "reckless spirit of the offensive" that was practiced in 1914 was, in fact, embraced largely by young officers with little or no combat experience who chose to ignore the admonitions in the various training regulations and other military literature regarding the importance of reconnaissance and preparation. On the whole, military theorists of the turn of the century, though not without their faults and shortcomings, appear to have been exceptional in many ways. No more than a few score existed in each army, and they were more reflective and usually more well read than their colleagues. However, such attributes could work against them in a culture that placed more value on action than deliberation.As we stand at the start of a new century, almost 100 years later, we would do well to pay attention to the bottom line of Echevarria's splendid examination of military thinking before World War I: "The military profession is not only the most demanding physically of all the professions, it is also the most demanding intellectually." As one watches the innumerable contentless briefings and papers that the current US military gins out every day, this is a lesson we appear to be in danger of forgetting.
Empire and Revolution: The United States and the Third World since 1945. Edited by Peter L. Hahn and Mary Ann Heiss. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2001. 312 pages. $22.95 (paper). Reviewed by William P. Kiehl, Diplomat in Residence, Center for Strategic Leadership and Senior Fellow, US Army Peacekeeping Institute, US Army War College.
In the decade following the Cold War, it has become commonplace among many American intellectuals and in much of the scholarship on American foreign policy to focus on the extreme anti-communism of US leaders in the 1950s and early 1960s, and to ascribe to this anti-communistic motivation all acts great and small by the United States, especially in the so-called "third world." This volume, edited by Peter L. Hahn and Mary Ann Heiss, brings together ten rather diverse essays by authors of different academic backgrounds and succeeds in presenting a richly diverse portrait of US foreign policy toward developing countries during the period of the Cold War. The work also points out the diversity in the quality of scholarship and degree of subtlety exercised in presenting ideologically-influenced scholarly work.
Many of the authors draw upon a rich lode of primary source material recently declassified and made available to the public through the State Department's Foreign Relations of the United States series, the presidential papers of Presidents Truman and Eisenhower, and the private and public papers of other actors on the public stage at the time. The careful footnoting and scrupulous quotations can bring an air of authenticity and credibility to the degree that readers may not notice the use of language to convey impressions not necessarily supported by fact. Consider one such curious use of an adverb. In writing of the murders of an American aviator and a Spanish scholar at Columbia University, allegedly by Dominican dictator Trujillo's henchmen, Stephen Rabe notes, "Responding to public outrage, the State Department reluctantly investigated the murders" (italics added). Why reluctantly? We are given no proof, only the author's supposition that "the administration wanted amicable relations with a dictator." The same author betrays a lack of basic understanding of how diplomacy and intelligence work in the field when he labels a US Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) as a later Consul General and the "de facto CIA chief of station." A diplomatic historian should know that DCMs are not demoted to Consul General, nor are they running intelligence operations for the CIA.
Two other essays delve into the murky territory of gender politics in attempting to explore new ground. Coeditor Heiss and Andrew J. Rotter, in separate essays, posit that American policymakers were nothing more than a group of middle-aged white guys in suits who had very definite ideas about what constituted "manhood" and based US foreign policy on their perceptions of how foreign leaders measured up to this standard. In this bog of political correctness, neither was able to keep his or her head above water.
Other essays in the volume, however, are more traditional accounts of foreign policy and diplomacy. They examine policymakers in Washington, practitioners in the field, and the many other actors in the drama of international affairs without putting them through an ideological or gender-based screening. One advantage to this hodgepodge of diversity is that several of the articles, particularly those with economics as a sub-theme, stand out in positive contrast. Nick Cullather's article on Taiwan's industrial "miracle" and Darlene Rivas's piece on Nelson Rockefeller's involvement in Venezuela in the postwar period were welcome reading, although one has to slog through to the end to meet up with them.
The period of the Cold War and the United States' complex relationships with countries undergoing development, whether in Latin America, South Asia, or the Far East, are important chapters in the history of American diplomacy. They are too important to be trivialized by what appears to be--on the part of some authors--ideologically biased scholarship or personal fixations with gender. Even the title, Empire and Revolution: The United States and the Third World since 1945, carries this heavy-handed baggage.
How Effective Is Strategic Bombing? Lessons Learned from World War II to Kosovo. By Gian P. Gentile. New York: New York University Press, 2001. 280 pages. $36.00. Reviewed by Colonel Douglas P. Yurovich, USMC, Deputy Director, Marine Aviation Plans, Programs, and Budgets, Headquarters USMC, the Pentagon.
Does one airplane, one bomb, one target represent strategic air power or tactical employment of aviation? One could argue that the Enola Gay with its atomic payload had a strategic effect. An F-16 Viper with a conventional 500-pound bomb "plinking" a tank on the plain of Kosovo is not an example of strategic air power, but rather tactical bombing. Ask yourself what you expect of strategic bombing, or more specifically, what is strategic bombing? Today the term strategic bombing is seemingly used as a reference for anything that flies in conflict. Get your frame of reference, and then read this book. How Effective is Strategic Bombing is a thought-provoking analysis on the subject of air power and bombing and the use of surveys to explain the effects of air power on the enemy in conflict.
Gentile, an active-duty Army officer and educated historian, presents a thorough study of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS) following World War II and the Gulf War Air Power Survey (GWAPS) after the Gulf War of 1991. The last section of the book takes a quick look at the Kosovo conflict of 1999 and the use of air power in Operation Allied Force.
The airplane and air power had a profound effect on the conduct and outcome of World War II--or did it? The USSBS was commissioned to measure the effect of air power in that conflict. Gentile discusses the politics behind the formation of the charter for the survey and the people responsible for its execution. In the end, the USSBS proved to be an advocate for air power and was used to shape the future rather than to assess the past. Gentile presents the thesis that the USSBS formed the framework of today's air power doctrine and spawned the need for an independent air force. He concludes that a truly impartial and unbiased report was never a possibility in this case, or in any case, because of the established political agenda for a survey. In reading this book, I could not divorce myself from the thought that the author also had a political agenda in his assessment of air power and the independent air force.
In comparison, the GWAPS did not have so much of a focused political agenda, but represented a shift from air power advocacy to more air power assessment. In the Gulf War, air power was not used as an end unto itself, but rather to bring specific effects to the enemy. Full utilization of air power affects the enemy across the spectrum of conflict, tactically and strategically. Measuring those effects causes difficulty in quantifying them, and in evaluating the true contribution of air power in conflict.
The section on Kosovo and Operation Allied Force, presented in the few pages of the Afterword, was disappointing and lacking. While the historical ink on Kosovo is not yet dry and the analysis is just beginning, more effort could have been spent on the subject. In the end, Gentile calls for another survey to study the effects of air power in Kosovo. That's a surprising conclusion, since the book establishes that a truly objective survey is not really possible. That is the true lesson learned here. Your professional frame of reference with respect to air power and its effects will establish a professional bias for evaluating post-conflict data.
How Effective is Strategic Bombing offers another input into the debate over the contribution of air power as a means of waging war. Philosophically, airmen view this debate differently than ground officers. For example, Marine air exists to be a supporting asset for the ground combat element--"flying artillery" to many. This view of air power employment is much too restrictive for Air Force doctrine. The Air Force tends to envision the strategic battle being won through superior air power, maybe negating the ground war. The Army, I believe, would love to have the Marines' type of flying artillery, so they would be assured that their tactical targets will be serviced when the time comes. The Army seems unsure, in this day and age, that tactical targets will be serviced by the Air Force, and hence the debate over air power effectiveness rages. This debate hearkens back to the USSBS and the formation of the US Air Force.
America's Overseas Garrisons: The Leasehold Empire. By Christopher Sandars. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. 331 pages. $65.00. Reviewed by Dr. William J. Gregor, professor of social sciences at the School of Advanced Military Studies, US Army Command and General Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.
At the end of World War II, the hitherto isolationist and anti-colonial government of the United States possessed an extensive network of military bases around the world. The threat of communism and the diminished capacity of the United Kingdom obliged the United States to abandon its wartime plans for four-power collective security arrangements and to develop a global security system of its own. The history of those military base agreements is the topic of America's Overseas Garrisons.
Christopher Sandars, a career civil servant at the British Ministry of Defence, states that it was his purpose to illustrate the varying political environments in which the United States sought to build up elements of the global security system. He also observed that the arrangements by which these bases were obtained were novel, in that US access and use were obtained through negotiations, rather than the exercise of sovereign rights by an imperial power. In this task, he has certainly succeeded. America's Overseas Garrisons provides a well-organized discussion of the establishment of US bases prior to the Second World War, arrangements concluded incident to the war, and a region-by-region discussion of bases from the outset of the Cold War to its end.
However, the scope of the project is partially the book's undoing. While the individual chapters are very readable, the larger theme, The Leasehold Empire, does not bind the chapters together. The author's focus is firmly fixed on the negotiations for military bases, lease terms, and provisions for base use. His presentation of the host governments' domestic political concerns, the international security situation, and US domestic politics are less detailed and not altogether convincing. The best chapters are those related to his career experiences in the British Ministry of Defence and thus are those chapters dealing with US use of British possessions. Hence, the book is best read as a collection of essays on various basing arrangements.
The larger theme, The Leasehold Empire, never comes through. The author's interest in the details of negotiations and the terms of the agreements left him little room to develop his larger theme. When he attempts to tie the details to the larger theme, he frequently relies upon secondary sources to cite the text of speeches, treaties, and diplomatic documents. This practice undermines confidence in his interpretation. When Sandars does finally present his comparison between imperialism and leasehold empires in the final chapter, it is too late. The reader long before decided that distinction was unimportant.
America's Overseas Garrisons: The Leasehold Empire provides a reasonably interesting survey of perhaps every basing agreement the United States has entered into since World War II. As such, it is a good starting point for research into the politics of US security arrangements.
Sherman: A Soldier's Life. By Lee Kennett. New York: HarperCollins, 2001. 432 pages. $35.00. Reviewed by Colonel Len Fullenkamp, USA Ret., Professor of Military History, US Army War College.
Lee Kennett's book on the life of William Tecumseh Sherman is brimming with details about Sherman's relationship with his wife, the state of his mental health at various times in his life, his hostility for the press and politicians, his racist attitudes, his self-promotion and manipulation of superiors, and a host of other subjects. About important issues such as the traits and characteristics that made Sherman successful as a general, however, we learn very little. Of Sherman's relationship with Grant, we learn even less.
Kennett gives readers fair warning in his introduction, saying, "With few exceptions I have forsaken traditional campaign history, the direction of battles and the chronicling of campaigns; these matters merit books of their own, and in many cases have them. . . . [M]ore importantly, the man himself has claimed almost all the pages available, and I think rightly so." Many will disagree with that assessment. Those familiar with Sherman are likely to feel that what Kennett has left out is of greater interest than what he has retained.
Kennett's Sherman is a much smaller man than the Sherman one usually finds in the history of the American Civil War. Many students of the war rank William Tecumseh Sherman, along with Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, as among the best generals produced by the war. The noted British military theorist and historian Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart considered Sherman as the first truly modern soldier, both for his sophisticated use of the indirect approach and the way he used military operations to break the will of the Southern people. Yet not all consider Sherman in a favorable light. Even today in many southern states a mention of Sherman's march through Georgia will bring instant and intense condemnation. Whereas Lee and Grant are considered by most biographers to be "good" generals, with Sherman there is a hesitation. This "war on the people thing" still makes people uncomfortable. Perhaps the best one can say is that in this book Kennett attempts to explain what it is about Sherman that makes these people uncomfortable after all these years. To this end he marshals considerable evidence. Unfortunately, by placing so much emphasis on the negative aspects of Sherman's character, there is little room left to comment on his more attractive qualities.
Reading this book one is at a loss as to how to explain Sherman's greatness, least of all his competence as a soldier. What was it that made the team of Grant and Sherman so effective? What did Grant see in Sherman and why did he place so much confidence in him, especially when, as Kennett tells us, Sherman seems to have had so little confidence in himself? Regardless of one's views about Grant as a general, at least he proved to be a good judge of generals, and he considered Sherman one of the best.
In one of the most troubling sections of the book, Kennett turns to a questionable application of psychology to get a better understanding of Sherman's psyche. He refers to the journal Psychohistory Review, wherein Sherman was recently diagnosed, long after death, as a "victim of personality disorder, most likely some form of manic depression." Kennett readily admits that "a posthumous diagnosis of mental illness based largely on epistolary evidence more than a century old is at best tentative," but then concludes, "still, the line of inquiry is a valid one and should be pursued." The most likely diagnosis, we are told, is that Sherman had a "narcissistic personality disorder," and further that "the general's behavior patterns" suggest that he suffered from what today would be characterized as "manic depression." Kennett later uses this diagnosis to dissect Sherman's conduct at various times during the war and in later life. While some may find this line of inquiry and analysis useful and interesting, many others will not.
Setting aside the posthumous diagnosis of mental illness, what the reader really wants to know is this: What is it about Sherman that made him come alive on the battlefield? Grant knew Sherman casually before the war, but during the war they forged a relationship that is remarkable by any account. It is as though lightning struck them on the battlefield at Shiloh and in that instant both men were forever changed by the experience. The trust between them was mutual and deep. In his memoirs, Sherman included a letter to Grant in which he congratulated his friend on being selected as general-in-chief of the Union armies. In this letter Sherman wrote to Grant that he had unqualified confidence in him and "I knew wherever I was [on the battlefield] that you thought of me, and if I got in a tight place you would come--if alive." Kennett makes no mention of this letter. Instead, he puts a different spin on the relationship between the two men. Kennett's Sherman chafes at being under Grant's immediate command and longs for the freedom of an independent command. The biographer acknowledges that Grant's selection for high command is good news for Sherman, but couches it in these words: "The much-touted comradeship and collaboration between Grant and Sherman did have a basis in fact, but it would function best after Grant went East early in 1864 and left Sherman largely his own master in the West."
Kennett's Sherman is not much of a fighter and indeed is a general who seeks to avoid battle wherever and whenever possible. Apparently, what Liddell Hart viewed as a positive trait--the indirect approach--Kennett considers a deficiency. To Kennett, Sherman's infamous "March to the Sea" was actually a series of excuses to avoid direct combat with Southern forces.
The author lightly addresses Sherman's postwar career. He uses the flimsiest of evidence to suggest that Sherman in his later years became something of a lecherous old man who liked to pinch the cheeks of attractive young women, and worse.
Indeed, Kennett's narration of the facts of Sherman's life has a gossipy tone. One gets the impression that all the bad in Sherman's life is captured in this book, while whatever good he accomplished was of too little value to be included. In Kennett's analysis of Sherman's hostility toward the press, he relates the story of a newspaper reporter who explained the bad press Sherman was getting by confiding to him, "I have no feeling against you personally, but you are regarded as the enemy of our set [the media], and we must in self-defense write you down." Perhaps a similar tendency helps to explain this unflattering biography of Sherman. Certainly there are some historians today who are not content to let the reputations of great men rest easy and thus feel compelled to write them down. It would be unfair to suggest that this author was so motivated, so let us focus on the book itself. What may be said in summary is that those who think highly of Sherman will find little in this book to support their views and that others, for whom the name of William Tecumseh Sherman is even today an epithet, will find much here to their liking.
Grant. By Jean Edward Smith. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001. 706 pages. $35.00. Reviewed by Dr. J. Boone Bartholomees, Jr., Professor of Military History, US Army War College.
The latest biography of Ulysses S. Grant is an ambitious project by Jean Edward Smith. The author, a longtime political science professor at the University of Toronto now at Marshall University, is best known for his biographies of Chief Justice John Marshall and General Lucius D. Clay. His biography of Grant arrives on the heels of Brooks Simpson's military biography of the general (see review in Parameters, Spring 2001). Smith takes a different approach from Simpson in terms of format. Grant is a one-volume (albeit necessarily a large one-volume) biography of Grant's personal life, military career, and presidential administration, while Simpson's work is the first of two planned volumes. In another sense, however, the two biographies are remarkably similar. Smith joins Simpson and others in the recent positive reevaluation of Ulysses Grant's career--both military and political. The military reevaluation has been going on for some time. Smith is a leader in interpreting Grant, whose administration habitually lands near the bottom of ranked lists of presidencies, as a successful politician.
The book's strengths are legion. Smith is a skillful storyteller who delivers an engrossing tale about a fascinating individual. The research behind the story is exhaustive--the 39-page bibliography alone is worth the price of the book. Smith somehow persuaded his publisher to include both endnotes and footnotes. The endnotes are primarily scholarly citations of sources, while the footnotes amplify, explain, or illuminate details or side stories. They often are as interesting as the text. Smith handles Grant's military campaigns competently and in as much detail as one can expect. He is equally deft with the political career and manages to adroitly sort out the morass of 19th-century politics. The picture of Ulysses Grant that emerges from Smith's work is one of a very competent, perhaps even brilliant, general and a principled politician who stood up to tough issues. In both aspects of his career Grant faced tremendous challenges.
Smith portrays Grant as "reading from different pages in the military hymnal" than other officers of his day--those pages were hymns of battle rather than occupation of places. Thus, while Henry Halleck and others of his ilk maneuvered cautiously to capture cities and other geographic points, Grant fixed his gaze firmly on the destruction of enemy armies. Only over time did both the validity of Grant's combative approach and his true value as a leader become apparent. That, of course, is a matter of emphasis and interpretation, since three of Grant's most famous victories (Henry-Donelson, Vicksburg, and Appomattox--the result of the siege of Richmond and Petersburg) were the product of location-oriented operations. Nevertheless, Smith is correct about the general's willingness to fight and his belief that victory would result from battles, not the occupation of places. Grant's instructions to George G. Meade for the 1864 campaign that he should make the Army of Northern Virginia his objective and maneuver accordingly best illustrate that attitude.
Smith's positive political evaluation of Grant rests on three pillars: an effective foreign policy, correct positions on important domestic policy issues, and total lack of personal involvement in or blame for the various scandals that rocked his administration. Because Grant did not face dramatic foreign policy challenges, the least significant of these pillars is the foreign policy arena. Smith does, however, point out that Grant's restraint during the Cuban insurrection in 1869 avoided war with Spain or intervention on the island, and his settlement of the Alabama reparations issue with Great Britain, expanded beyond the initial issue to include virtually every disagreement between the two nations, patched up relations with that country. Both represented significant foreign policy victories; the resolution with the British in particular signaled a new and very friendly era in US-British relations.
In the domestic policy arena, Smith lauds Grant's handling of several issues. Thus, we find pronouncements like: "Grant's 1874 veto of the inflation bill is a seminal event in American history." However, the two primary policy issues that Smith proposes as the basis for rehabilitating Grant's political record are his policies toward the American Indian and Reconstruction. Grant believed in the rule of law; he also believed in the humanity and equality of all men. He thus approached Native- and African-American issues with a progressive point of view. He tried to conclude and enforce just treaties with the Indians, and he worked diligently to suppress the Ku Klux Klan. Those efforts, combined with several other issues, outweigh the various political defeats Grant suffered. Finally, Smith explains in some detail the various scandals that beset the Grant Administration. In each case, however, he finds that Grant was personally uninvolved and, more important, that he took correct and honorable action when informed of problems. The tradition of holding leaders responsible for the actions of their subordinates makes this aspect of the reinterpretation of Grant most difficult to accept. Fortunately, I do not believe one needs that argument to prove Smith's basic point--that Ulysses Grant was a more effective President than generally thought.
Let me hasten to point out that this book is not a whitewash. Smith faithfully and in detail discusses Grant's flaws--he does not miss one--but he also does a masterful job of highlighting Grant's talents. Grant was a complex man who lived in challenging times. We may never grasp exactly what made him great. Jean Edward Smith presents his interpretation wonderfully. Grant is biography at it best. I highly recommend it.
Identifying Potential Ethnic Conflict: Application of a Process Model. Edited by Thomas S. Szayna. Arlington, Va.: RAND Arroyo Center, 2000. 328 pages. $25.00. Reviewed by Colonel George F. Oliver, Director, US Army Peacekeeping Institute.
This is a difficult book to read and comprehend, but the model presented has merit. The best part of this book is its in-depth analysis of four case studies: Yugoslavia, South Africa, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia. As the acknowledgements state, the book was commissioned by the US Army's Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence and is intended for use by members of the intelligence community to predict the outcome of ethnic conflicts.
In the new world order of the 21st century, internal ethnic conflicts dominate crises around the globe. The authors state that between 1988 and 1998 there were 108 conflicts, yet only seven were interstate wars. With the rise of global communications, global economics, and worldwide interests, it behooves the intelligence community to be able to predict when a crisis will erupt. The authors introduce a model that enables analysts to track and predict ethnic conflicts. The model is quite comprehensive. The criteria, and subsections of each, provide a systematic approach for predicting the outbreak of ethnic violence.
The authors introduce three criteria to determine the outbreak of ethnic conflict. These are: closure, the structures within a state and the power struggle between them; transformation, identifying the conditions within a nation or region that could cause an eruption into conflict; and, last, the actual catalysts that create the outbreak of violence. Simply stated, the model uses three stages to depict the likelihood of conflict (strife): the potential for strife, transformation into likely strife, and the transition from likely to actual strife.
Stage I of the model, closure, refers to the power struggle between various elements within a nation attempting to gain power. These elements include political, economic, and social factors that might contribute to the rise of ethnic tensions. Stage II, transformation, is the most comprehensive part of the model. Its purpose is to determine the incidents or criteria that can transform a region from potential to likely conflict. An analysis of the political balance of power, key leaders, and external influences provides the basis for determining this transformation. The last stage of the analysis is looking for predictors or incidents which will cause a region to transform from likely to actual conflict. This section includes a detailed analysis of the nation's ability to deal with the outbreak of violence.
As mentioned previously, the best part of the book is the four case studies. In two of the case studies, Yugoslavia and South Africa, the authors conduct a historical review of events to prove their model. In the remaining two, Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia, the authors predict the possibility of ethnic conflict becoming a reality. The Yugoslavia case study is one of the most comprehensive I have seen. The South African case is also well done. Those who conduct case-study analyses might find these sections particularly useful.
I did not enjoy reading this book. It is an insightful, scholarly work that provides an excellent methodology for predicting ethnic conflict, but not a book one can read in a leisurely fashion. It is a graduate-level work for students exploring issues in international affairs or for intelligence officers whose job is to make predictions. The true value of this work is its systematic approach to analyzing potential conflicts.
Military Justice in America: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, 1775-1980. By Jonathan Lurie. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2001. 348 pages. $25.00. Reviewed by Major Herman Reinhold, USAF, Judge Advocate General's Office, Fifth Air Force, Yokota Air Base, Japan.
If only real life were as electrifying as the TV show JAG. While the lives of real Judge Advocate General (JAG) officers and judges are usually not so stimulating, there is often hidden conflict and drama in the law. Those hidden elements are shown in Jonathan Lurie's book Military Justice in America: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, 1775-1980.
Lurie's foundation is the constant struggle to balance justice and discipline. Those who want commanders to maintain maximum control of their troops with swift punishment battle against the reformers who want to ensure citizen-soldiers receive fair treatment and just punishments, similar to the treatment received in civilian courts. Those supporting the status quo try to protect the commanders to aid them in maintaining good order and discipline, so we can have effective units protecting the nation. The reformers try to make military justice as fair as possible, under the supervision of an appellate court system.
These abstract intellectual struggles do not involve car chases, shootouts, or explosions. Rather, Lurie's history details conflicts that take years and decades to resolve. The individual cases are often key milestones.
Lurie provides a long historical background of courts-martial in America. This is important information about the development of military legal concepts from 1775 until 1951. The historical focus helps the reader understand the impetus for the reforms that lead to the creation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in 1951. Lurie skillfully explains the political influences that created the UCMJ and the court. The remainder of the book focuses on how the court continued to evolve from its creation until 1980.
This book will appeal to JAG officers, and to other military officers and historians interested in the history of the court and the UCMJ. However, it may also captivate those interested in how changes happen in our government. It shows people working for justice and taking risks, recommending and fighting for changes to the status quo. At the same time, others fought to save a system they felt had helped the United States win all its wars and control the military during peace. The book also illustrates the importance of civilian control of the military in our system of government.
Lurie gives great, detailed information about high-profile cases and the court. The history stretches from the writings of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to the politics of the My Lai case. Along the way Lurie provides insights into such incidents as Andrew Jackson being held in contempt of court, the court-martial and execution at sea of the son of a Secretary of War, and cases from the Civil War involving military control over civilians.
Those who want to do additional research will find an index and detailed bibliography, but no footnotes or endnotes. For notes, readers will need to get Lurie's earlier books. Military Justice in America is a compilation of two previous works: Arming Military Justice, and Pursuing Military Justice. Those two texts were combined without the footnotes to make this shorter volume.
Military Justice in America will appeal to many. It is a well-written and enjoyable book. The timing of its publication is also appropriate. We celebrate 50th wedding anniversaries because they represent a successful union over time. Similarly, the 50th anniversary of the UCMJ and the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in 2001 can be said to have marked a successful union of the interests of those supporting strong military discipline and those who support justice and fairness in the military court-martial system.
Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia. By Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000. 337 pages. $27.50. Reviewed by Dr. Andrew Scobell, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.
Once again Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the renowned New York Times foreign correspondent husband-wife team, have produced a thought-provoking and highly readable volume on a topic of considerable interest. Kristof and WuDunn's previous collaborative effort resulted in China Wakes (Times Books, 1994) which this reviewer also highly commends to readers. This time the intrepid Pulitzer Prize-winning duo tackles a far more daunting challenge--a study of all Asia. Indeed, the authors readily admit that they have attempted an awesome task, and that their approach has limitations. Nevertheless, the book succeeds rather admirably as a lively yet solid introduction to contemporary Asia.
The reader is presented with vivid portraits of countries and individuals. One value of the volume is that it provides a human dimension that is often missing in the writings of inside-the-Beltway national security analysts. While these researchers tend to identify correctly the key Asian trends and skillfully assess their effects and the implications for the United States, they rarely discuss what it all means for ordinary people in the countries concerned. Even regular visitors to the region tend to interact only with their counterparts and taxi drivers in these countries rather than the proverbial man in the street. Kristof and WuDunn, in their quest to bring Asia home to their readers, reach well beyond the subjects most conveniently available to foreign correspondents. They give voice to an Indonesian rickshaw driver in eastern Java, a Cambodian child prostitute in Phnom Penh, a Japanese gangster in Tokyo, the father of a Thai teenager working in a Bangkok sweatshop. These vignettes are not so much recounted to titillate as they are to reinforce larger points about major issues facing particular countries or the entire region. The authors, for example, skillfully weave together personal stories to illustrate both the severe impact of the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98 and the surprisingly quick recovery that has allowed many inhabitants of the worst-hit countries to get back on their feet, albeit battered and bruised.
Of greatest interest is the final third of the book, focusing on Asia's destiny. The authors do an excellent job of making connections between the past and the present and fleshing out the implications for the future--their time horizon is 40 years out, 2040. While their attempts to depict future scenarios in specific countries strike one as sometimes bordering on the silly, this does not detract from their more carefully thought-out musings on such topics as the future of the Korean peninsula. While Kristof and WuDunn are optimistic about Asia's future in the long run, they are less than sanguine about the serious problems confronting the region now and in the medium term: the scourges of pollution, disease, rampant nationalism, and ethnic conflict.
The authors also touch on military topics. They speculate that "the next world war, if there is one, will almost certainly begin in Asia." And they identify the issues that would most likely lead to conflict between states. Kristof and WuDunn are particularly concerned about the potential for virulent nationalism in triggering conflict between China and Japan or between China and India. Their discussion of the lingering legacy of Japanese expansionism in the early 20th century is particularly well-handled. Especially sobering is their assessment that "a war over Taiwan is one of the greatest threats to security in the Pacific."
The book pays greatest attention to the anthropological and economic dimensions of Asia--topics often underappreciated by the defense intellectual community. Precisely because these aspects are solidly covered in clearly written prose that is mercifully free of jargon, this book is of great value. Chapters 3, 5, and 7 are important for those seeking a clearer understanding of the Asian financial crisis.
This volume is highly recommended, especially for the uninitiated reader daunted by the challenge of coming to grips with such a vast and diverse continent of ever-increasing strategic significance to the United States. While strategists and policymakers new to the region will find the book an excellent place to start their tutorial, experienced Asia hands will also find much food for thought.
America's Asian Alliances. Edited by Robert D. Blackwill and Paul Dibb. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2000. 143 pages. $17.95. Reviewed by Lieutenant Colonel Debra R. Little, Director of Asian Studies, US Army War College.
As this generation of leadership seeks to reexamine America's established ties in Asia, this book is a useful tool. Nine distinguished strategists present systematic and concrete prescriptions for strengthening America's Asian alliances. The book is a collaborative effort between Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Australian American Leadership Dialogue. It offers an examination of US relations with Japan, Korea, and Australia--each alliance conceived in circumstances of a bygone era--and provides an analysis of the contemporary regional security environment.
Unlike the new and largely peaceful Europe, the Asia-Pacific region is fraught with old instabilities, new risks, and opportunities. America's Asian alliances face an arc of potential instability, from the divided Korean peninsula in Northeast Asia, to the nuclear confrontation between India and Pakistan on the South Asian subcontinent, to an unstable Indonesia in Southeast Asia. The United States and its allies must also address the rise of Chinese power, as well as continue efforts to halt the spread of nuclear and high-tech conventional weapons, maintain access to energy resources, and expand the world's free-trade system.
In the first chapter, Australian Paul Dibb provides a snapshot of Asia's strategic environment. He argues that despite the fashionable view that geography and geopolitics are no longer relevant in the post-Cold War era, Asia retains many of the geopolitical elements of the Cold War. In his assessment of the next five years, he argues that the US alliance system in the Asia-Pacific region needs to adjust to the lack of a clear enemy by developing a "new common security concept." Rather than being threat-based, the alliance emphasis in the Asia-Pacific region needs to focus on shared interests in the maintenance of regional stability.
The second chapter, by Phillip Zelikow, examines the evolution of America's role in Asia, and his argument will undoubtedly be met with cheers from Asia-watchers. He debunks the standard narratives that tend to reinforce the notion that the history of American foreign policy toward Europe equates to the history of American foreign policy for the rest of the world. Zelikow provides a very useful comparison of the distinctive character of US engagement in Asia to its policy toward Europe. He concludes with the warning that the erratic character of US policy toward Asia may carry great risks given the unstable equilibrium in the region.
Australian Stuart Harris and American Richard N. Cooper address the US-Japan alliance using a cost-benefit framework to foreshadow where differences on bilateral or regional issues could develop in traditional areas of tension. The authors address burden sharing, US military bases, defense cooperation guidelines, theater missile defense, economic relations, China policy, Taiwan, the Korean peninsula, Russia, and multilateral activities.
Ralph Cossa and Australian Alan Oxley examine the future of the US-South Korea alliance, looking at both the current security environment and diplomatic initiatives on the Korean peninsula. They recommend alliance policy options that increase the likelihood that the most desired outcomes might be achieved.
Australian John Baker and American Douglas Paal look at the future of the US-Australian alliance in the absence of the Cold War threats that shaped the structure and character of this extremely close relationship. They explain why the alliance has experienced a period of drift and emphasize the need to get the political leadership of both countries focused on their commonalities. The chapter reviews the enduring benefits to both sides of the alliance then highlights the challenges it now faces. They conclude with recommendations that would not only ensure the continuation of the alliance, but also enhance its relevance and utility in the expected strategic environment of the Asia-Pacific region.
In the concluding chapter, Robert D. Blackwill lays out a broad policy agenda for the three alliances and proposes concrete steps to strengthen and build closer coordination in America's alliance system in Asia. Dr. Blackwill effectively reinforces the premise that Asia's many possible alternative futures stand in stark contrast to those of Europe. After outlining the regional threats and opportunities, he makes the argument that the quality and effectiveness of America's Asian alliances will crucially influence prospects for the region in the next five to ten years.
Blackwill rightly points out that the US system of alliances in Asia has not evolved significantly since the end of the Soviet threat. He provides an excellent assessment of the challenges facing alliance nations and concludes that America's three primary bilateral alliances in Asia should be brought closer together over the next five years to form a more effective security effort on behalf of Asian peace and stability.
These authors are unanimous in seeking to spark an informed policy debate that will serve to remind security practitioners of the values and benefits in preserving, invigorating, and strengthening America's Asian alliances. The book is a relevant, worthwhile read for senior members of the defense community and provides a framework for examining how to prepare these alliances for future challenges in the Asia-Pacific region.
China, Nuclear Weapons, and Arms Control: A Preliminary Assessment. By Robert A. Manning, Ronald Montaperto, and Brad Roberts. New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 2000. 106 pages. $10.00 (paper). Reviewed by Carmel Davis, Department of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania.
As co-chairs of a panel sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, National Defense University, and the Institute for Defense Analysis bringing together academics and government experts, the authors have written a short book aimed at the policy community. The authors contend that China's choices about nuclear weapons may be as important to the United States as Russia's over the next decade because China views itself as a rising power and is sensitive to its perceptions that the United States is attempting to contain it. China is pursuing a strategy of modernizing its forces and may be increasing their size. Chinese doctrine, however, is in flux, and China's interest in arms control is unclear. The authors also argue that these issues are poorly understood in the United States because current expertise on nuclear weapons issues is based on our experience with Russia, while most US experts on China are unfamiliar with nuclear weapons. Additionally, our current experience with nuclear weapons is drawn from the bipolar US-Soviet relationship; as US, Russian, and Chinese arsenals converge, we will be entering the unknown territory of a tripolar relationship. Finally, US national missile defense (NMD) initiatives are a complicating factor.
This is a preliminary assessment, and the authors point to several issues without fully developing them. First, they are generally troubled by Chinese modernization of its ICBM force. However, as they observe, force modernization may be benign. From an American perspective, Chinese forces today are sufficient for minimal deterrence. This is primarily because the United States is easily deterred: We do not want to lose Los Angeles, and we are unlikely to rely on NMD. The United States views itself as a status quo power, and nuclear weapons work well for maintaining the status quo and poorly for changing it. However, the Chinese leadership may have little confidence in China's forces because they lack a secure second-strike capability and quite possibly possess only a limited ability to manage any forces that survive a conventional or nuclear attack. Given these limitations, they may have even less confidence in their capability for intrawar deterrence and still less if the United States builds an NMD system. China's modest modernization for deterrence, particularly of intercontinental forces, may be a solution to Chinese perceptions of a problem rather than something requiring an American response.
Rather than the capability on which the authors focus, what may really be the problem is how China might use it. The ongoing debate about doctrine, especially with regard to the role of nuclear weapons, is a second underdeveloped theme. China developed nuclear weapons for reasons of deterrence and prestige after (perhaps) being subjected to US threats over Korea and the Taiwan Strait in the 1950s. China apparently had little nuclear doctrine until the late 1980s. The doctrine that emerged in the mid-1990s was a concept of limited deterrence that sought countervailing capabilities across the spectrum of possible nuclear conflict, particularly at a regional level, and pre-war and intrawar deterrence. Importantly, a theme running through this book is that the Chinese intend their force modernization both to deter US attempts at nuclear coercion and to coerce others, especially Taiwan. This is profoundly different from American views that nuclear weapons are primarily useful for deterrence.
Unfortunately, this issue is obscured by the authors because they do not sufficiently distinguish their voices from the Chinese in their text. Do the authors believe that nuclear weapons can be used to coerce, or is it only some Chinese? Which Chinese? Why might Taiwan be coerced, and why has deterrence failed? How might Chinese deterrence of the United States and coercion of Taiwan interact with US deterrence of China? These issues are not directly addressed, although some believe they may solve themselves: China may discover that attempts at coercion fail, and China and the United States both may be restrained by mutual deterrence. Indeed, China may find that it, too, is easily deterred inasmuch as nuclear war might be a disaster for the continued rule of the Chinese Communist Party.
A third underdeveloped theme linking forces and doctrine is that of command and control. The authors may be forgiven here because of the difficulty attending this particular issue, but it is critical to understanding the subject. A fourth underdeveloped theme is how others might respond to Chinese modernization and doctrine. There is a real probability that a modernizing force with a doctrine possessing a coercive element may frighten Japan, Korea, Russia, and others, thereby undermining the Chinese aspirations in the region.
Finally, there is a gap between how the authors present the problems they see and their earnest recommendations. These authors at times treat those involved in the US and Chinese policy processes as rational unitary actors, when both are comprised of multiple competing parties that solve problems rather than carefully crafting policies. That said, the authors' advice to work on mutual understanding rather than pursuing a broader agenda is probably reasonable.
This book is a preliminary assessment. One hopes that the authors, having raised important issues, will address them with greater nuance in their final assessment.
American Patriots: The Story of Blacks in the Military from the Revolution to Desert Storm. By Gail Buckley. New York: Random House, 2001. 534 pages. $28.95. Reviewed by Major Robert Bateman, Department of History, US Military Academy, West Point, New York.
American Patriots is, as the title clearly states, a history of the participation of black Americans in the conflicts of our nation from 1770 to the present. From the outset it ought to be said, however, that Gail Buckley is not a historian. The daughter of the famous singer Lena Horne, Buckley writes with the training and style of a journalist. She has only a weak grasp of the primary source material that is available on the topic of African-American military service. She does not have the academic training to separate some of the wheat from the chaff. That said, this is a decent book, perhaps even an important book. Professional officers should buy it, not just get it from the library, and they should read the stories Buckley presents. While there are more academically rigorous books on the subject, they are not well known and are difficult to find. American Patriots will be a book that influences how we relate to each other regarding race and culture, because it is certain to be widely read.
At first glance this work would appear to be pure history, but it contains little comprehensive narrative, and much of the historical context is lost because the author tends to focus upon individuals. A more accurate title might have been "Stories of Blacks in the Military," as this is what most of the book presents--individual vignettes. However, these vignettes prove to be the strength of the book. Buckley's accuracy steadily increases as the book moves from early America to more recent times. This is partly a function of the fact that there are few useful and reliable primary sources from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 that include accounts of African Americans. Yet even the author's material on the Civil War is somewhat dated, incomplete, and does not rest upon the firmest scholarship available. The book would have benefited from the use of some of the more recent work in this emerging field. Over the past ten years alone, numerous solid dissertations on the topic of African-American service in the Civil War have been turned into respectable works with academic and historical value. Buckley seems entirely unfamiliar with such material, and her book suffers for its exclusion. Unfortunately, in the coverage up to the mid-20th century, the author appears to favor good stories over good history. In permitting this, her editor let her down.
More stringent editorial guidance also might have spotted the areas where Buckley relied too heavily on outdated secondary sources, or the passages that appeared to be too good to be true and therefore needed to have some basic facts verified. In some instances it seems that the mythology of a hundred years ago is now being repackaged as history, merely because that mythology is now a century old. A sharp editor catches such things, assigns a fact-checker, and works with a writer to bring out the best product possible.
American Patriots does not really come into its own until the chapters reach World War I. From then on, the author is on steadier ground and her material is both more original (few in today's military are aware of the role that race and bigotry played in our Army in the "Great War") and based on more reliable sources. She uncovers a few little-known sources, especially some relating to the service of the 369th and 371st Infantry regiments, two units of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) that served entirely within the French command structure throughout the war. She also draws the reader's attention to one of the often-omitted facts of this period, the racist command structure of the only all-black American division in the AEF, the 92d Infantry Division. Racial attitudes of the white officers in command of this division (the unit did not truly fight as a division until the last days of the war) almost certainly undercut the unit's combat effectiveness.
Despite the criticisms above, students of military history or sociology need this book. Most soldiers are not historians, and American Patriots is full of the inspirational tidbits that help soldiers and leaders develop a sense of heritage. Gail Buckley wrote this with the best of intentions, her writing is clean and unpretentious, and our exposure to these aspects of our common heritage will be useful for Army leaders at every echelon.
Baptism, A Vietnam Memoir. By Larry Gwin. New York: Ivy Books, 1999. 353 pages. $6.99 (paper). Reviewed by Dr. Henry G. Gole (Colonel, USA Ret.), a frequent Parameters reviewer and contributor.
Larry Gwin has written a stark and lucid account of close combat in Vietnam--and more. His memoir also provides a between-the-lines text that seems to say: even the best among us will suffer deep and permanent psychological damage if subjected to sustained fear, gore, loss of respected comrades, and frequent barely tolerable shocks. The implication is that American military leaders must think through better psychological preparation of our soldiers for war and for the repair of damaged goods before returning combat veterans to society.
Gwin should have been the Recruiting Command's poster boy. He was Hollywood handsome; a super-jock who played football, hockey, and lacrosse; an A-student in high school, before he discovered an inclination to boozing and wenching while attending Yale, where he also served as battalion commander of his Army ROTC detachment. He had vague memories of VJ-Day, and keener memories of shooting his BB gun at little lead soldiers arrayed on a battlefield, watching Victory at Sea "religiously," and playing soldier "decked out in army surplus."
The Gwin men served in America's wars: his father in World War II, his grandfather in the Spanish-American War. His great-grandfather was seriously wounded fighting for the Confederacy, and his great-great grandfather, James Gwin, died at the Alamo. It was Larry's turn. He writes:
I was intrigued by [the war in Vietnam's] potential for challenge, the unaddressed question of how I'd measure up in combat--a question that would not have concerned me, I'm sure, if I hadn't been aware of my father's proud service in the "Good War." We are, after all, who we are. So, I signed up.The gung ho Yale senior signed up in the fall of 1962. On the Officers' Preference Statement he listed the 10th Special Forces Group, the 82d Airborne Division, with Vietnam being his overseas duty of choice. In 1963, after infantry, airborne, and ranger training, Lieutenant Gwin began a two-year stint with the 82d. He made over 40 parachute jumps while serving as a rifle platoon leader, battalion adjutant, and commander of a raider platoon. "I was prepared to jump into the jaws of doom on a moment's notice," he said. When he got his orders for Vietnam, he writes, "I was, believe it or not, quite thrilled."
After the Military Assistance and Training course at Fort Bragg, he studied Vietnamese and fell in love while at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. Later, he caroused in San Francisco before boarding the aircraft that would take him to Vietnam. He listened to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony through the plane's plastic earphones, observing, "What a way to go to war!"
He was US Grade-A prime beef: 23, great bloodlines, a sense of tradition and duty, solid education, and a strong desire to serve. When he landed in Vietnam in July 1965, he was as well prepared as any young man going into battle for the first time. But all that was barely enough to get him through his year in Vietnam. It would not be enough to prepare him to later cope with a sense of being damaged goods, a profoundly confused man for many years after what he was about to experience.
After briefings and orientation in Saigon in July, Gwin was assigned to the 21st ARVN Division at Bac Lieu, in the Mekong Delta. Hearing that it was a quiet place, he said, "I felt gypped." Our memoirist is clearly a hero-in-waiting. In the Delta he fought wait-a-minute vines, red ants, ARVN apathy, leeches, and the heat. Filthy, he walked the walk, and came under fire, serving the infantry soldier's apprenticeship. Then, with about two months in-country, he was reassigned to "the Cav." His war got serious.
Readers familiar with We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young by Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway, an account of two battles, the first major encounters of the war between the American and North Vietnamese first teams in the Ia Drang Valley, will recall that the battle at Landing Zone (LZ) X-Ray was a very bloody affair, resulting in victory for a US battalion, but with heavy casualties on both sides. That fight was followed by another, an enemy ambush of 2d Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), a relief force, as it walked from X-Ray to LZ Albany. The 2/7 Cavalry came very close to complete annihilation, surviving thanks to air support and brave men fighting mostly in small groups as the enemy searched for and executed isolated or wounded American soldiers. Larry Gwin had been the Executive Officer (XO), the number two man in Alpha Company of the 2/7 Cavalry, for over a month. Nothing in his athletic or martial experience, nor in his creative imagination, had anticipated this. "This couldn't be happening, I thought. It was worse than any nightmare I'd ever dreamed. We were getting the shit kicked out of us!"
In a movie theater, perhaps, the situation would play out, there would be a parade honoring the dead and the brave, the hero would bask in his heroism, clean. Music up, credits, lights on. It's over. But real life in a rifle company isn't that way. It goes on, and on, and on . . . .
Including the Ia Drang relief of another battalion at LZ X-Ray, and the ambush en route to LZ Albany, Gwin and A Company would make 45 combat assaults and fight in five major engagements. Alpha Company suffered more than 70 percent casualties. As XO, Gwin organized the chopper loading plans, kept the beans and bullets moving forward, got the wounded out on medevacs, and generally monitored the tactical situation to fill the cracks and do what needed doing. His pride shines through as he admires the guts and tenacity of American soldiers, and his humanity moves him to despair as he sees the young men he loves burned and mutilated. A C-123 aircraft crashes, killing all aboard. Dead Americans were gathered in a row under ponchos, their boots sticking out askew. Shock follows shock. One recalls Lord Moran's observation that courage is like clothing: it wears out.
Larry Gwin is a hero. He is also damaged goods. Few books can transport the reader to the midst of close combat. This well-told story does. And the price is right. Buy it and read it now.
Prelude to Tragedy: Vietnam, 1960-1965. Edited by Harvey Neese and John O'Donnell. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2001. 309 pages. $32.95. Reviewed by Dr. Paul F. Braim (Colonel, USA Ret.), who served four tours in Vietnam.
This book is a collection of the experiences and opinions of five American and three Vietnamese leaders who were involved in nascent counterinsurgency programs of the US and South Vietnamese governments. One of the editors, Harvey Neese, served in Vietnam with the International Voluntary Services, managing agricultural projects; the second editor, John O'Donnell, served as a provincial representative of the Agency for International Development in Vietnam, working in agricultural and rural development. The other three Americans who provided essays, Bert Fraleigh, "Rufe" Phillips, and George Tanham, had broad and repetitive service in US economic aid programs in Vietnam and throughout Southeast Asia. The three Vietnamese essayists, Hoang Lac, Lu Lan, and Tran Ngoc Chau, were senior officers of the Army of Vietnam (ARVN) who also had political responsibilities. Two of these officers began their military service with the Viet Minh forces of North Vietnam. Most of these contributors are known only to those interested in or affected by the war; however, the foreword is provided by Richard Holbrooke, who has become well known for his recent diplomatic endeavors as a roving ambassador of the United States.
The common theme of the individual stories, and the foreword, is of early success by US and Vietnamese officials in programs for improving the economy and security in rural areas. The authors agree that these programs were distorted and reduced in effectiveness by US authorities who refused to listen to those agents who were in the field and familiar with Asian cultures and the intricacies of counterinsurgency. The rapid and uncontrolled buildup of US assistance programs militarized and Americanized the struggle against the communists, according to the authors. The US military chain of command, from Saigon to Washington, is criticized for building ARVN as a conventional force, unsuited to the demands of counterinsurgency. The Vietnamese authors describe a fragile ARVN leadership, wracked by political favoritism and shifting cabals, and thus unable to act decisively.
US complicity in the coup that overthrew Vietnamese President Diem is highlighted as a major mistake. Bureaucratic infighting also diluted the focus and the effects of the US effort. "This is not a military but a political war," argued Rufe Phillips, "and it's being lost." Bert Fraleigh charged the loss of the war to American leaders, who "through ignorance and arrogance, denied counterinsurgency for South Vietnam."
These criticisms are made by many writers, and they are generally valid. With respect to military assistance, the United States engirded ARVN with vehicles and relatively heavy weapons, thus allowing their Vietnamese counterparts to emphasize fire support in lieu of maneuver and to become ever more bound to movement on roads and major trails. It is a truism that a soldier in any army who is assigned to a vehicle will never walk again.
But the legion of critics should endeavor to empathize with the commanders of the US Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) in Vietnam. They were not fools, nor were they insensitive to the nuances of "winning the hearts and minds of the people." They were, however, faced with the threat of a North Vietnamese invasion of the South, a threat which grew throughout the war, and which became reality on a number of occasions, including the final campaign of the war. It was necessary to build a conventional ARVN in order to meet that threat, as well as to act against guerrilla forces which were increasing in strength and armament, provided by North Vietnam. The communists so increased their attacks that US economic assistance programs were severely limited as the depredations spread.
Admitting the failure of the US counterinsurgency program, one should also recognize that the communists (North and South) did not win the hearts and minds of most of the people of South Vietnam either. A critical component of the communist Tet-68 offensive was to be an uprising of the people against the government of the Republic of Vietnam; this uprising did not occur. Nor did many of the people in the hinterlands of South Vietnam voluntarily support the communists. Some authors have argued that the massive US and South Vietnamese military presence prevented the people from expressing their support for communism. But, to my observation, a great percentage of the affected population supported the American efforts, and cooperated with their legitimate government, when they felt secure enough to do so.
For all their brash and insensitive mannerisms, the Americans in Vietnam--soldier and civilian--were uniquely kind, and the Vietnamese came to recognize that quality in the American character. Left-leaning intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals, in the United States and worldwide, sought diligently to find a hidden motive for the American effort in Vietnam, but there was none. The American people came to help; they gave to the struggle the lives of many of their young--their most precious resource. They demanded nothing in return, and they left with promises of aid to all sides in the war.
The early struggle described in this book was "Kennedy's War." It was a most noble endeavor by President John Kennedy to build a nation in the image of the United States, free and prosperous, on the frontiers of the communist empire in Asia. The effort was also most naive. We did not know then how to build a nation; we don't now. But we did learn how not to do so. One cannot build a nation from the outside.
Combined Arms Warfare in the Twentieth Century. By Jonathan M. House. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2001. 364 pages. $45.00 ($19.95 paper). Reviewed by Colonel Gregory Fontenot, USA Ret., former Commander of the Battle Command Training Program.
Jonathan House's Combined Arms Warfare is a revision of his earlier Research Survey No. 2, Toward Combined Arms Warfare: A Survey of 20th-Century Tactics, Doctrine, and Organization, published in 1984 by the Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth. In this version, House successfully delivers on two promises: first, he has updated his original work to complete the story of combined arms warfare through the end of the century; second, he has written for the general reader rather than for the professional soldier. The result, a consequence of delivering on the second promise, is a far better book. It is cogently argued and tightly written. The author has also eliminated jargon and military euphemisms. The result is a first-class analysis of the trends in combined-arms warfare over the last century, including weapon development, doctrine, and organization.
A thoughtful student of the subject, House concludes with an excellent essay on the future of combined arms. Juxtaposing it against the sections on Desert Storm and Chechnya, he avoids predicting the future, but ably amplifies the tenets of the book. Chiefly, he examines the key trends in combined-arms warfare of the 20th century, including the continued improvement of weapon systems and the move toward "integration" or combining arms at lower levels. He cautions against both rigid structures and the deployment of temporary or task-organized units without adequate training. This apparent contradiction stems from the competing and differing requirements posed by rapidly changing missions, the environment, and the enemy--in the vernacular of the Army, METT-TC (mission, enemy, terrain and weather, troops and support, time available, and civil considerations).
According to House, the issue is to achieve balance and assure sufficient means to exercise command and control. While accepting the possibility that information technology may ease the command and control problems, House is not convinced that information technology alone is the answer. Training and the cohesion that comes from regularly working together are, in his mind, the keys to successful "extemporaneous" combined-arms formations.
The author draws his conclusions by analyzing developments in combined-arms warfare along functional lines, including protection, mobility, offensive power, and motivation. Doctrine, weapon developments, and organizational design are, in his view, the means to determining the most effective balance among the many functions--some operating in opposition to one another. Mobility, for example, may come at the expense of protection. Developing the right balance between these competing requirements is essential; at a minimum, formations must operate in a doctrinal framework that mitigates risks related to protection in order to achieve greater mobility. Command and control, both technically and tactically, are also essential components of a successful combined-arms organization. The application of the radio to the tank, coupled with the right doctrine, has produced success; when absent, it has prevented combined-arms organizations from achieving their potential. Jonathan House's approach is sound and compelling.
The author devotes considerable effort to discussing the way that combined-arms formations train to operate. Historically, extemporaneous combined-arms organizations that have not trained together have failed. House shows that armor and infantry cooperation are at the heart of the problem. When the tank-infantry team works well together, success is realized. When they have not, as in the first Russian efforts in Chechnya, the results have been uniformly catastrophic. The lesson to be gained here is that, even if weapons, doctrine, and organization are adequate, success still demands effective training.
Jonathan House's work is a good start point or model for force designers and doctrine writers who are planning combined-arms operations in the 21st century. For that matter, his work is also a good start point for developing any requirements for new weapon systems.
Guide to IGOs, NGOs, and the Military in Peace and Relief Operations. By Pamela Aall, Daniel Miltenberger, and Thomas G. Weiss. Washington: United States Institute of Peace Press, 2000. 298 pp. $14.95 (paper). Reviewed by Melinda Hofstetter, Washington Liaison for the Center for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance, Tulane University.
The recently published Guide to IGOs, NGOs, and the Military in Peace and Relief Operations, by the US Institute of Peace (USIP) and the US Army Peacekeeping Institute, is a well-organized, concise handbook that really could fit into a pocket or backpack in a field operation with no trouble at all--and it is well worth taking along. At 4 1/4 by 8 inches, it travels easily and is a useful source of historical and current information on the organizations in the title. It is meant as a reference manual, and not necessarily designed to be read from start to finish.
The Guide packs a lot of information into less than 300 pages. It has chapters on intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the US military, each by a different author. The authors state up front that it is intended as a tool for field operators. The Guide introduces the operators to their potential partners in the humanitarian "battlespace" of peace or relief operations, then explains how each will function. There is even an outline of the "Evolution of a UN Peace/Humanitarian Operation: An Illustrative Scenario" that in five pages covers all the phases of action in such operations: who arrives and when, the response, and the progress of the peace/humanitarian situation. One of the Guide's main goals is to help break down the so-called cultural biases that various actors harbor, in an effort to foster communication and cooperation, and perhaps even expedite the mission or mandate of an operation.
The well-known and prolific Thomas G. Weiss, formerly of the Watson Institute for International Studies of Brown University, authors the IGO portion. The section defines an IGO, lays out the history of IGOs, and profiles global and regional IGOs, including addresses and websites. IGOs are also described "in action," that is, how some of the most prominent IGOs function and their responsibilities in an emergency. Not only does this chapter provide a list of the main international players, but it also presents a brief review of the past decade's experience in peacekeeping. Derived directly from Weiss's work in the Humanitarianism and War Project at the Watson Institute, the section describes early and current UN peace operations (as contemporary as East Timor). The chapter ends on a note of philosophical conjecture, wondering if IGOs can actually ever really pull together and form a cohesive coalition. Will they recognize that successful mission completion might mean having to give up some autonomy and striving even harder toward the ever-rejected "C" word--"coordination"?
The NGO chapter, written by Pamela Aall of the USIP, is also an instructive and concisely written offering. It contains a brief history of NGOs, a listing of their objectives, how they may be expected to operate during conflict, and the challenges of coordination with other civilians and the military. It profiles 48 major NGOs. For those coming from organizations with a well-defined hierarchy, NGO lines of authority and their decentralized decisionmaking approach are explained. Aall points out that in a crisis it is much more efficient to maintain flexibility by use of this independent decisionmaking approach, as opposed to the vertical stovepipe of the military's chain of command. Aall specifically writes about NGOs in conflict, illustrating the dilemmas they face in such environments. The chapter includes recommendations for those "changed circumstances NGOs now find themselves dealing with." Training modules, personal security programs, and hired trained protective staffs are some of these changed aspects.
Aall also delves into the tough subject of how NGOs have been forced to think about the unintended consequences of their activities, along with the fundamental principle of "do no harm." The final section of the NGO chapter focuses directly on coordination with other organizations and the military. Differences in tasks between the military and NGOs are highlighted. She points out that collaboration and cooperative action usually works best, if at all, on the ground, at the local level.
Finally, in 68 pages, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Miltenberger from the US Army Peacekeeping Institute has put together a strictly US-focused military guide. It is a comprehensive collection of charts depicting officer and enlisted rank insignia, as well as silhouettes of various equipment and even a list of common acronyms. The role of each service is detailed, along with a breakdown of their organizations. A section on "Military Thinking and Military Culture" will be useful to those who have had little contact with the military and who may think of service members as little more than right-wing sword-wielders. Values, planning, teamwork, and yes, flexibility are described as military attributes. Miltenberger also candidly points out some of the military's drawbacks, such as frequent rotation of personnel, a tendency to have a short-term perspective on goals and objectives, and so forth. The military section also has a brief chapter on the military side of coordination in civil-military operations.
This is a practical volume for the practitioner that keeps pace with many of the relevant issues, addresses management of the difficulties, and focuses on the crucial issues of cooperation and communication in peacekeeping operations. The Guide offers much good information for participants on both sides of the humanitarian and peacekeeping fence.
Reviewed 6 March 2002. Please send comments or corrections to email@example.com