From Parameters, Autumn 2005, pp. 146-64.
The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century. By Thomas X. Hammes. St. Paul, Minn.: Zenith Press, 2004. 321 pages. $24.95. Reviewed by Richard Halloran, onetime lieutenant of airborne infantry, formerly with The New York Times as a foreign correspondent in Asia and military correspondent in Washington, now a free-lance writer in Honolulu.
This is a stimulatingnay, provocativebook that should cause military readers and all associated with the security of the United States to question their fundamental assumptions. It is also a gutsy book because the author, a serving officer, asserts in effect that the Secretary of Defense, his team in the Pentagon, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are wrong in the way they seek to transform the nations armed forces and in the way they are fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He further contends that the United States stands a good chance of losing its wars in the future unless the forces confront the realities of warfare in this century.
Colonel Thomas X. Hammes, USMC, the senior Marine fellow in the Institute for National Security Studies at the National Defense University, contends that the United States is engaging in a fourth generation of warfare, which he labels 4GW throughout his book. This form of warfare, he says, directly attacks the minds of enemy decision makers to destroy the enemys political will. The author writes that 4GW has been evolving for seven decades, and the United States has already lost three times: Vietnam, Lebanon, and Somalia. Similarly, the French lost in Vietnam and Algeria and the former Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and the Russians continue to bleed in Chechnya. For the United States in Iraq, Hammes argues: Clearly, 4GW is a very different concept from the short, intense war the Administration planned for and celebrated by declaring the end of major combat on May 1, 2003.
In construct, Hammes sees the first generation of war as peaking with the massed land armies of the Napoleonic era. The second generation was the trench warfare of World War I. The third generation featured the firepower and maneuver of World War II, notably in the German blitzkrieg. All reflected the industrial, communications, and political developments of their times.
Expanding on 4GW, Hammes says that the message is clear for any rinky-dink power or band such as al Qaeda wishing to shift the balance of power: Only unconventional warfare works against established powers. Therefore, Hammes emphasizes: As the only Goliath left in the world, we should be worried that the worlds Davids have found a sling and stone that work. He berates the Department of Defense: Yet internal DOD debate has largely ignored this striking difference between the outcomes of conventional and unconventional conflicts. In fact, DOD has largely ignored unconventional warfare.
In particular, Hammes contends that the current concentration on advanced technology is mistaken. True believers in technology see warfare as being
reduced to a one-sided contest where the technologically superior side dictates all action, he argues. We continue to focus on technological solutions at the tactical and operational [levels] without a serious discussion of the strategic imperatives or the nature of the war we are fighting. Hammes says, I strongly disagree with the idea that technology provides an inherent advantage to the United States. Elaborating, he writes: The information revolution allows our potential 4GW enemies to not only match our capabilities in many areas but actually exceed them in some. The wars of today and tomorrow, the author asserts, are long term struggles that will be won or lost primarily with human skills and knowledge.
Hammes is at his best in chapters on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Prior to 9/11, al Qaeda stayed on message for internal Islamic and external US audiences and succeeded in painting Saudi Arabia, an ally of the United States, as a corrupt regime. Bin Laden also played on an American weakness: patience. Tired of seeking peace in the Middle East and being hated for it, many Americans would have opted to go home. Then came 9/11, which Hammes believes was a major mistake from al Qaedas standpoint because, like the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, it awakened a sleeping giant. In Afghanistan, he says, there have been positive developments: Coalition forces have recognized the nature of the war they are in and are developing much more effective responses. On the other side, the insurgents are counting on the United States not to have staying power.
Of Iraq, Colonel Hammes writes bluntly: The Bush Administration failed to understand the type of war they were embarking on. Unfortunately, he continues, the underlying nature of the Iraq war is not that of a high-tech war but that of a fourth generation. The insurgents in Iraq are clearly an intelligent, adept, and adaptable enemy. They have shown a clear strategic concept of destroying American will by attacking US forces, any government or NGO [non-governmental organization] supporting the United States, and any Iraqis working for or believed to be collaborating with the United States. The greatest strength of any insurgent, Hammes explains, is that he doesnt have to win. He simply has to stay in the fight until the coalition gives up and goes home.
A minor quarrel: Hammes contends that the Chinese revolutionary, Mao Tse-tung, started this form of war. While Mao was surely an incisive strategic thinker, many elements of 4GW date back to another Chinese strategist, Sun Tzu, who wrote 2,500 years ago. The great Mongol warrior Genghis Khan was not only a brilliant cavalry tactician but a master at psychological warfare. The Russian Cossacks and their ally, Field Marshal Winter, drove Napoleon out of their homeland, as did the guerreros from Spain. In the American Civil War, Shermans march through Georgia relied as much on terror as conventional assault. T. E. Lawrence of Arabia wrote a classic on 4GW, even if he didnt call it that, in the Seven Pillars of Wisdom. The Vietnamese general Vo Nguyen Giap may have been influenced by Mao, but drew largely on his experience in defeating the French to write Peoples War, Peoples Army.
Even though Hammes and the late Colonel Harry Summers, USA, took different approaches to Vietnam, they derived some of the same lessons from that conflict. Summers liked to tell about a conversation with a North Vietnamese Colo-
nel: Summers told him, You never beat us on the battlefield. We won every engagement with you. The Vietnamese pondered, then replied, That may be true. It is also irrelevant.
Who Killed the Canadian Military? By J. L. Granatstein. Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, 2004. 250 pages. $24.95 ($16.95 paper). Reviewed by Dr. Andrew J. Bacevich, Professor of International Relations, Boston University, and author of The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War.
A distinguished Canadian military historian and author of over 60 books, J. L. Granatstein has here delivered not a work of scholarship as such, but a ferocious polemic. The result is an illuminating, pugnaciously readable, deeply disturbing, and ultimately very sad book.
A best-seller in Canada when it first appeared, Who Killed the Canadian Military? ought to interest at least two audiences in the United States. National security professionals concentrating on the recently rediscovered arena of continental defense will find here important indicators regarding Canadas ability to carry its share of the load in keeping bad guys out of North America. For a variety of reasons, the outlook is, according to Granatstein, less than encouraging.
Students of civil-military relations, meanwhile, may use Who Killed the Canadian Military? as a case study in how to get things wrong. In enlightened, decent, and thoroughly democratic Canada, pompous and ignorant politicians, abetted by myopic generals too quick to bend to the whims of fashion and tacitly encouraged by an indifferent public, managed over the course of a half-century to transform a small but eminently respectable Canadian military establishment into a spent force, its soldiers exhausted, their equipment rusted out, their coffers all but empty.
In charting this slow but inexorable process of decay, Granatstein makes it clear that plenty of different culprits had a hand, the ostensibly conservative no less than the proudly liberal. But looking beyond personalitiessome of them achieving McNamara-like standards of arroganceGranatsteins explanation for Canadas present-day military dysfunction emphasizes three factors. First comes anti-Americanism, deep-seated resentment provoked by the uncouth and intrusive 800-pound gorilla that is Canadas nearest neighbor. The second factor is peacekeeping, a proud Canadian tradition, which over time, according to Granatstein, has fostered widespread delusions regarding Canadian virtue and the nations ostensibly exalted standing in the worlds eyes. The third factor derives from the longstanding bifurcation of Canadian society, with Anglophone and Francophone sensitivities being especially acute whenever issues related to military service or overseas deployments arise.
Since the end of the Cold War and especially since 9/11, Granatstein writes, anti-Americanism has become Canadas substitute for a coherent foreign policy, a tendency he describes as fundamentally at odds with the vital interests of a country whose security and prosperity alike require that it foster congenial relations with the United States. But for office-seekers eager to curry popular favor, striking postures that call
into question traditional US-Canadian security ties has posed a temptation too alluring to forego. As a consequence, more and more Canadians have come to see collaboration with the United States as tantamount to absorption into the American Empire. The result has been to discredit what ought to stand as the essential organizing principle of Canadian military policy: the imperative of complementing and being interoperable with US forces.
The tradition of peacekeeping, sustained in part by ministers eagerly chasing after Nobel Peace Prizes, has led the average Canadian to confuse effectiveness with good intentions. Granatstein argues, convincingly, that successful peacekeeping in any but the most benign circumstances requires having peacekeepers who are ready to fight, if need be. But for many Canadians, the image of their soldiers decked out in blue berets has long since become more important than asking whether those soldiers are trained and equipped for anything that might involve heavy lifting. Indeed, the conviction that Canadas army has managed to transcend the tawdriness of mere warfighting has become in some quarters a measure of Canadian moral superiority, especially when contrasted to the armed forces of the bullying and bellicose Americans.
Finally, the political imperative of taking care to avoid unnecessarily antagonizing the Québecois has mutated into a much broader penchant for charting military policy with an eye toward remedying past injustices and empowering hitherto marginalized groups, regardless of the impact in terms of military effectiveness. No Western military is immune to the pressures of political correctness, but the Canadian Forces appear to have succumbed more completely than most. The upshot: quotas for just about everything, guaranteeing not only an appropriate representation of the French-speaking minority, but also women, new immigrants, and native peoples. Granatstein reports that the current priority is to open up enlistment opportunities for the disabled.
The upshot of all of this is a military establishment that Granatstein scathingly describes as a ramshackle gendarmerie devoid of any meaningful combat capability and unable to meet the nations pressing security and foreign policy requirements. Abused, mismanaged, and neglected, with an active duty force of just over 50,000 in all services (or environments since there is nominally only a single service) backed by a minuscule reserve and sustained by barely one percent of the nations Gross Domestic Product, Canadas military is hurtling toward what one senior serving officer has called a mass extinction scenario.
Granatstein believes that absent drastic measures, the present-day condition of the Canadian military will indeed become terminal. In his concluding chapter, he lays out his own agenda to avert that prospect, proposing to expand the active component to 80,000 while enhancing the reserves, doubling the defense budget to permit a long overdue recapitalization, and configuring operating forces to provide Canada with a compact but robust combat capability. He also urges renewed engagement with the United States on security issues so that Canada will have a voice in the defense of North America and above all to ensure that Canadian military weakness will never provide Americans with a pretext to violate Canadian sovereignty in the name of self-defense.
Given the absence of any party or major political figure willing to champion the cause of military revitalization, Granatstein calls upon his fellow citizens to act. His title asks, Who killed the Canadian military? In the final analysis, he charges, We all did. . . . You and I killed the Canadian military. Reversing course, therefore, demands collective action from the bottom up. That Granatstein considers the enlightened, decent, and thoroughly democratic people of present-day Canada capable of such action exemplifies the spirit of resolve and the flinty patriotism permeating this admirable book.
A War of a Different Kind: Military Force and Americas Search for Homeland Security. By Stephen M. Duncan. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2004. 392 pages. $28.95. Reviewed by Colonel Robert B. Killebrew, USA Ret., who served in Special Forces, mechanized, air assault, and airborne infantry units, and held a variety of planning and operational assignments, during his 30-year Army career.
The subtitle of Stephen Duncans A War of a Different Kind is Military Force and Americas Search for Homeland Security, and the text correspondingly focuses on military aspects of homeland security in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 while serving up references to the war overseas. Steve Duncan, a former DOD appointee in the Reagan and first Bush Administrations and now a fellow at the National Defense University, has written a tightly woven, thoroughly researched, and detailed history of the war on terror to date, from the point of view of Washington and the home front. The authors style is terse and at times legalistic, as when he follows the judicial trail of recently released Yaser Hamdi, an American citizen accused of being an enemy noncombatant, or when dissecting the Secretary of Defenses Annual Report for 2002. His focus tends toward the use and misuse of reserve forces for the homeland security mission against a backdrop of operational demands in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the Administrations ongoing attempts to develop a comprehensive antiterrorist strategy.
The books reach exceeds its grasp in some waysit would be supremely ambitious to try to pack an analysis of the Administrations security strategies, a broad-ranging discussion of National Guard and Reserve component missions, and a history of war into a single volume. As a result, the narrative gallops along in places, then slows to a walk in others. This is not a primary text on the war to date.
But used as a companion to other sources, A War of a Different Kind can be a very helpful guide to aspects of the war not commonly described. Duncans explanation and discussion of Posse Comitatus and the ins and outs of mobilizing reserves is extremely useful, and the author offers insights into legal briefs and Administration strategies that greatly expand the researchers understanding of backstage maneuvering during the first two years of the war on terror. The authors familiarity with reserve component issuesDuncan is a former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairspermits him to present perhaps the most detailed and comprehensive explanation to date of the stresses and strains on todays citizen-
soldiers, on the laws that affect them, and on the difficulty of reconciling the National Guards responsibilities for support to local civil authorities with its national, and, too frequently, overseas missions. Likewise, his training as a lawyer helps him present a detailed and tightly reasoned analysis of the Bush Administrations views on due process and the laws of war when applied to enemy combatants who fall between the categories of legitimate military personnel and terrorists.
Duncan has served in government as a Republican appointee, and A War of a Different Kind takes on an unfortunate partisan slant early with a chapter detailing his views on the Clinton Administrations hesitancy and bureaucratic sclerosis in confronting the terror threat. As he continues through the early days of the second Bush Administration, though, the reader is left with the strong impression that the same paralysis gripped the Republicans before 9/11. And by the end of the book, when Duncan sums up his thesis, he admits that there are still gaps in planning for homeland defense:
The balance between the DOD mission of forward defense and its responsibility to provide support at home before and during a terrorism-caused crisis must, therefore, be recalibrated. . . . [I]t is highly likely, if not certain, that after another major attack, state and local jurisdictions would be overwhelmed. Substantial military assistance in a variety of forms would be needed immediately. The hard decisions to prepare for that possibility must not be postponed.
A War of a Different Kind is a different and very useful kind of analysis of the challenges confronting US defense planners today. Military readers horizons will be broadened by Duncans discussions of the political and bureaucratic stresses on reserve components, on the legal aspects of Posse Comitatus, and on his analysis of the Administrations strategic planning. This book is a useful addition to any library focused on the war on terror or defense policy in general.
Al-Jazeera: The Inside Story of the Arab News Channel that Is Challenging the West. By Hugh Miles. New York: Grove Press, 2005. 438 pages. $24. Reviewed by Philip Seib, author of Beyond the Front Lines: How the News Media Cover a World Shaped by War and the Lucius W. Nieman Professor of Journalism, Marquette University.
The persistent, jabbing journalism of Al-Jazeera has made the Qatar-based news channel a significant factor in Middle East policymaking. Although Al-Jazeeras objectivity deserves challenge (as is the case with many news organizations), its credibility in the Arab world is what really matters.
British journalist Hugh Miles presents a wide-rangingif at times overly admiringexamination of the technique and impact of this journalistic phenomenon. In a region where almost all television news had been state-controlled and dull, Al-Jazeera has at the very least enlivened politics and journalism since it began broadcasting in 1996. It is news for Arabs, provided by Arabs, and broadcast from an Arab country, which means a lot to an audience that has grown increasingly suspicious of Western-based newscasts from the likes of CNN and the BBC.
Nevertheless, Al-Jazeeras product has been strongly influenced by American television. Al-Jazeera shows such as The Opposite Direction feature the same silly bombast as can be found on Crossfire and other intellectual food-fights, and the newscasts are slick and fast-paced. Al-Jazeera, writes Miles, also embraces the kind of freedom that US news media enjoy, and the stations reporting often irritates government officials. Miles notes that Al-Jazeera extensively covered the bickering among Arabs that occurred before the Iraq war, while most channels in the region played it down. Its coverage of the second intifada in 2000 stirred public sentiment in ways that angered Egypts Hosni Mubarak, who was resisting pressure to intervene on behalf of the Palestinians.
That coverage of the intifada was similar in some respects to US reporting during the Vietnam War. On both occasions, writes Miles, the audience acquired a strong sense of immediacy to the events through the medium of television. Both conflicts changed the way future wars would be covered. Al-Jazeeras graphic images of civilian casualties during the intifada and in the Iraq war have not only spurred much debate about appropriate content of coverage, but also have affected the political dynamics of the region, creating a more volatile environment in which American diplomatic and military personnel, among others, must operate.
Al-Jazeera is a magnet for criticism from diverse sources. It is periodically assailed by other Arab news organizations for normalizing relations with Israel by airing interviews with Israelis, and Miles found viewers who said that because the station was not consistent enough in its support of Palestinians it must be a Zionist-American trick. On the other hand, the loudest critics of Al-Jazeera include US government officials who condemn the station for inciting anti-Americanism in Iraq and elsewhere in the Arab world. To its credit, Al-Jazeera has broadcast these blasts from former Secretary of State Colin Powell and others, and viewers can decide whether it is unseemly for the American government, which might be expected to champion press freedom around the world, to attack one of the most independent Arab news organizations.
Part of Americas nascent public diplomacy strategy in the Arab world is to compete with Al-Jazeera, using tools such as Al-Hurra, the Arabic television channel bankrolled by the US government. Survey research indicates that few people watch Al-Hurra and even fewer trust its news reporting. Miles calls it just another ill-conceived Washington media stunt, leading nowhere. Public diplomacy planners might consider whether American interests could be better served by cooperating with Al-Jazeera instead of trying to hijack its audience.
The long-term impact of Al-Jazeera is difficult to predict. Miles cites the idea of an Islamic glasnost based on the liberalizing effects of information, but he adds that to believe that satellite television is automatically going to make Arab societies democratic is to presume that the current state of affairs in the Arab world results from information deficiency, which is not true. Given the complexities of Arab politics and culture, an influx of news could have profound or negligible effect, depending on the circumstances of the moment.
With plans to provide English-language programming on the air as well as on the Internet, Al-Jazeera could have even greater impact beyond the Arab world, particularly among members of the ummah, the global Islamic community, more of
whom speak English than Arabic. If its broadcasts become more accessible, Al-Jazeera could also help reduce Western ignorance about the Arab world.
Many members of the American defense community must work in an environment affected by Al-Jazeera and so should develop a sophisticated understanding of the stations journalistic practices and its influence on its audience. In this volume, Hugh Miles presents the most comprehensive and up-to-date appraisal of the station. Although his work has some minor errors and would benefit from endnotes and a bibliography, it is a valuable guide to the new media world in which Al-Jazeera is indisputably a major player.
When Presidents Lie: A History of Official Deception and Its Consequences. By Eric Alterman. New York: Viking Press, 2004. 477 pages. $27.95. Reviewed by Major Robert Bateman, currently assigned to the Multinational Security Transition CommandIraq, in Baghdad.
When Presidents Lie is not just about any old collection of presidential fibs or exaggerations. Cynics may contend that Presidents lie all the time, and that this has been a constant throughout history. But as author Eric Alterman points out, our acceptance of this truth is only moderately recent. What makes When Presidents Lie interesting and useful for the professional, however, is the second half of the title.
The targets of Altermans presidential indictments are no less than FDR, Kennedy, Johnson, and Reagan. For those keeping count on some hypothetical balance sheet, that makes three Democrats, each considered liberal in his time, and one conservative Republican. The author skewers Roosevelt for misleading the people about the contents of agreements with the Russians during the course of the Yalta talks. Kennedy, a President whose reputation has faded considerably in the past two decades, is castigated for his deliberate misrepresentations about the deals he and his brother cut during the Cuban missile crisis. Johnson, perhaps the most hopeless of the four, is doubly damned. First, for believing Kennedys lies, and then for acting upon the reports from the Tonkin Gulf and subsequently telling lies about the event even after he knew better. (Alterman contends that Johnsons immediate use of force following the initial news from the Tonkin Gulf was one of the consequences of the Kennedy-created myth of playing hardball in the Cuban missile crisis.) Finally, Reagan is pilloried for the Iran-Contra affair.
The lies Alterman details are not, generally, new knowledge. What is new about this book is that it brings together for the first time, in a single volume, evidence which had heretofore been scattered. Moreover, as the four case studies presented deal with national defense, international relations, and ultimately the application or threat of force, the book serves as an excellent single-source touchstone. For the military professional with deep ethical roots, it is a foundation-shaking and profoundly depressing read.
In other contexts, the author, Eric Alterman, serves as both a lightning rod and a litmus test. He is the author of the books Sound and Fury (which produced for the English language the neologism Punditocracy), What Liberal Media?, and the counter-
Administration work, The Book On Bush, among others. He is also a prolific writer for The Nation and maintains his own politically oriented web-log, Altercation, on MSNBC.com. In short, he is among the most prolific and impassioned writers on the political left. This must be acknowledged because this book, When Presidents Lie, is decidedly not political in the slant that it takes in addressing the evidence. It is a sure and steady work by a professional academic historian, scrupulously researched and rewritten over the course of 11 years. The author takes extraordinary care to ensure that the case studies and core of this book are not shaded by his political bias.
Indeed, one might well contend that he goes too far in this regard. Throughout much of the book the text dances along the fine line which separates traditional (read: usually boring) purely academic works of history published by university imprints and the lighter writing styles pushed upon the public by the commercial popular press. At times, however, the academia comes through a little too strongly and one wishes for the passion which bubbles just beneath the words to burst forth onto the page. In the final analysis, however, it is probably best that Alterman restrained himself. The book is serious, the material is well presented, and the indictments set forth serve as a caution to us all.
High Noon in the Cold War: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. By Max Frankel. New York: Ballantine, 2004. 206 pages. $23.95. Reviewed by Louis J. Nigro, Jr., Senior Foreign Service Officer in the US Department of State and Professor of International Relations in the Department of National Security Studies, US Army War College.
Max Frankels monograph on the 1962 Cuban missile crisis adds another entry to a very long bibliography. Frankel is a distinguished American journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent who covered the missile crisis as a reporter for The New York Times in Washington. To that personal experience he has added a familiarity with the constantly expanding literature on the crisis, as well as what he describes as additional understanding of the political and diplomatic styles of the principal actors, derived from his reporting days in Kennedys Washington, Khrushchevs Moscow, and Castros Havana.
Frankels narrative tells the story of the 14-day crisis clearly and concisely, starting from the morning of 16 October 1962, when National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy brought to President John F. Kennedys bedroom some photographs, taken by high-flying U-2 spy planes, that showed Soviet troops engaged in setting up nuclear-capable missile sites in Cuba. Frankel describes the crisis as rooted in the complementary miscalculations of Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. The American President mistakenly believed that the USSR would never deploy nuclear weapons to Cuba; the Soviet leader believed that the Americans would acquiesce if they were deployed and presented as a fait accompli.
Frankel takes us briskly through the Presidents creation of the ExComm short for the Executive Committee of the National Security Councilwhich quickly divided into hawks, who favored early and robust military intervention to solve the
problem of the missiles, and doves, who favored reserving the full use of military force until other tools were applied to the situation. They first preferred a selective blockade of Cuba, called a quarantine to present it as something less than the act of war it in fact was, and a public demand that the Soviets withdraw the missiles. Frankel does a good job of setting the crisis within its broader diplomatic context, especially the ongoing dispute over the status of Berlin, exacerbated by the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961, as well as the deployment of US Jupiter missiles to Turkey, on the Soviet doorstep. Kennedy saw the introduction of missiles into Cuba as part of the larger, and more important, Soviet design on Germany. He wanted to avoid appearing weak in Cuba because that could embolden the Soviets on Berlin. Kennedy preferred to put the onus on Khrushchev in Cuba for starting a war that could escalate to the nuclear level. The President did not want to later face a similar situation over Berlin, in which the onus would be on the United States to begin hostilities in Europe involving nuclear weapons.
Frankel ably shows how Kennedy and Khrushchev both successfully maneuvered toward a peaceful resolution of the crisis, which in both cases involved overruling subordinates and calibrating bilateral moves carefully and judiciously. On the 26th and 27th of October, the crisis reached its tipping point. Khrushchev told Kennedy that he would remove Soviet missiles from Cuba if the United States promised not to invade Cuba, which Kennedy was prepared to do. Khrushchev then raised the stakes, however, demanding that the United States also remove the Jupiters from Turkey, which Kennedys chief advisors opposed. They were concerned that any such action would have an effect on European allies who lived under proximate Soviet threat and who would see this as adding up to assuring US nuclear security at their expense.
Kennedy, relying on the expert advice of former Ambassador to Moscow Llewellyn Thompson regarding Soviet expectations and negotiating techniques, and using his own brother Robert as unofficial envoy to Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin, arrived at an arrangement that satisfied both sides. The public deal was that the Soviets would take their missiles out of Cuba in exchange for a US promise not to invade the island. The private deal was that the United States would quietly remove the Jupiters from Turkey some months later. The Americans privately offered up the Jupiters because they were obsolete and already scheduled for removal. The Soviets accepted a private deal on the Jupiters because Khrushchev had in the meantime decided that the public deal was in itself sufficient, and because Soviet surface-to-air missiles had shot down an American U-2 plane and killed its pilot, bloodshed that Khrushchev feared might lead to an escalation he did not want.
Unfortunately, after giving us an able narrative of the affair, Frankel comes to the surprising and unorthodox conclusion that the crisis was never really all that close to resulting in nuclear war between the rival superpowers. Frankel believes that Kennedy and Khrushchev, both in firm charge of their respective governments and military establishments, were determined from the outset of the crisis to avoid war, especially nuclear war. They understood, he writes, that no issues of national survival were at stake, and they suspected, correctly, that powerful domestic pressures more than aggressive foreign ambition had led them into confrontation.
This is impossible to accept. Although neither man actively sought a military solution to the crisis, their preferences were not the only potential determining factors
involved. The crisis began with a major change in what the Soviets used to call the objective correlation of forces between the two superpowers, heavily armed adversaries who saw themselves locked in a worldwide struggle for survival. Not only did the crisis involve unforeseen contingencies and unplanned events, but senior advisors, military and civilian, on both sides, were urging the two leaders to take tougher and more confrontational positions and counseling resort to more forceful means, including the use of nuclear weapons, if demands went unmet. Given the totality of the circumstances, the situation was simply unstable, explosive, and potentially uncontrollable.
Despite Frankels unsatisfactory conclusion, his account of the crisis can nevertheless be useful as an introduction to the subject for readers who are unfamiliar with its basics. Those who want deeper analysis and more detailed documentation of these events must look to one of the more scholarly attempts to reconstruct and understand the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962.
Alexander, Killer of Men: Alexander the Great and the Macedonian Art of War. David J. Lonsdale. London: Constable & Robinson, 2004. 230 pages. $25.00. Reviewed by Dr. J. Boone Bartholomees, Jr., Professor of Military History, US Army War College.
The author of any new book on the generalship of Alexander the Great must begin by asking himself why the world needs another such work. He faces the fundamental challenge of saying something original about a well-worn topic. There are no new sources, and numerous excellent authors have written on the subject in the centuries since Alexanders death. Most authors solve this challenge by providing an original interpretation of familiar material. That is the approach David Lonsdale chose in dealing with Alexander. Fortunately, the title Alexander, Killer of Men does not hint at the interpretation he presents. Lonsdale, a protégé of Colin Gray and currently a lecturer at the University of Reading, uses Alexander in his strategic studies courses. Consequently, he wrote an interpretation that is really an analysis of the Macedonian kings campaigns in terms of modern strategic and operational theory. This is a useful approach for modern students of the strategic art, provided they remember that such an analysis almost certainly bears no resemblance to how Alexander thought and consequently may provide little real insight into why he selected the strategic options he did.
Lonsdale finds that Alexander inherited a good army equipped with good technology. He cautions against overemphasizing the value of the sarissaa judicious warning since it is not obvious that this extra-long spear was really the decisive advantage of the Macedonian system. Lonsdale also praises the overall loyalty and professionalism (overlooking various assassination plots and revolts) of the Macedonians, their operational mobility and flexibility, and their tactical use of combined arms. Especially in the combined-arms aspects, which he depicts as an innovation, he underestimates the progress the Greeks made during the Peloponnesian War. Because of terrain and culture, Greek city-states would never have adopted heavy cavalry, but they were all using light troops of all kinds and had moved past what Lonsdale calls the quasi-ritualistic warfare of earlier periods.
Lonsdale believes Alexander had an effective process through which he exercised command. The heart of the process was Alexander himself, but it included trusted competent subordinates and some system to relay plans and orders. Lonsdale recognizes that this process became less effective as Alexander grew increasingly paranoid and consequently less trusting of his generals. Alexander actually missed Parmenion (not personally but professionally) after he had the old general assassinated. In the end, Lonsdale, like most analysts of Alexander, falls back on the assertion that he was a military genius. This is a frustratingly unsatisfying explanation, but perhaps unavoidable.
This reviewer would have liked a more detailed explanation of how Alexanders campaigns knit together to achieve strategic objectiveswhat I understood to be the purpose of the book. What did Alexander want to achieve, and how did the campaigns he designed and battles he accepted further the achievement of that objective? Lonsdale addresses those issues; however, most readers would be looking for more in three areas. First, what was Alexander doing? Why was he in Persia, and why did he continue east after defeating the Persians? In other words, what were the strategic objectives? Other than Alexanders paranoia, Lonsdale downplays the strategic impact of his personality. I believe the Macedonians sense of destiny and his sheer curiosity were critical in determining the strategic objective. Thus, other than the fact it happened, Lonsdale does not discuss the incredibly difficult side trip to Siwa, Egypt, which makes no strategic sense unless you know that Alexander went there to pray at a famous shrine. He received a prophecy, the exact contents of which he never revealed, but which traditional accounts imply reinforced his ambition to conquer the world. If true, that may well have been a critical moment in the campaigna redefinition of the strategic objective. Similarly, there seem to be two significant reasons Alexander kept pushing his army east after the conquest of Persia. Both rise from Alexanders personality. He was curious and just wanted to know what was out there, and he was ambitious and wanted to subjugate everyone he encountered. If strategy is all about achieving political objectives, and Alexander personally selected those objectives, then a strategic study must necessarily deal with such subjects. An inquiry along those lines leads to the murky realm of myth and legend that Lonsdale tried to avoid, but if understanding the strategic objective is essential, some journey into that realm is unavoidable.
Next, there needed to be a more detailed examination of the enemy. One cannot understand Alexanders strategy without understanding the Persian military system. As one example, the reason Alexander could afford to tramp around the rim of the Mediterranean and spend months besieging ports had to do with how the Persians raised armies. Once Alexander had destroyed the professional core of Persians and mercenary Greeks at Issus, Darius had to rely on levies from outlying satrapies. Those were of poor quality and took time to assemble. That time gave Alexander strategic options that might not otherwise have been available.
Finally, the author needed to provide more on how points one and two above relate. For example, Lonsdale expertly analyzes Alexanders options after Issus and his subsequent strategy; however, absent an understanding of the strategic objective we really cannot evaluate either the situation or the decision. Because there is little discussion of the capabilities and limitations of ancient fleets or the
Persian military system, the reader may have an imperfect understanding of why seizing the Mediterranean coast was a better strategic option than pursuing Darius.
Lest this review sound too critical, let me hasten to add that this book is a solid work. Lonsdale deals with Alexander very competently and has a good grasp of strategic theory. I just wanted a little more.
Beyond the Front Lines: How the News Media Cover a World Shaped by War. By Philip Seib. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2004. 185 pages. $29.95. Reviewed by Colonel Kevin Riedler, Director of Strategic Studies, US Army War College.
Philip Seib is both an award-winning journalist and an educator, a reporter and a purveyor of reporting procedure. Beyond the Front Lines is his latest in a series of publications defining the role of journalists in a free world, and equally important, the guidelines they must follow in order to establish and retain the trust of consumers of their trade. Additionally, he provides perceptive comment, from a journalists point of view, on the Pentagons recent policy of embedding, and that policys broader ramifications for future conflict.
The author expounds several prevalent themes throughout the book, focusing through his journalistic lens: the news medias primary task is to educate the public; reporters should maintain an adversarial approach; American news organizations, through neglect, have degraded their international coverage to a level rendering them dangerously inept; the government (elected and appointed officials, military, etc.) cannot be trusted; the speed of the Internet is having an enormous effect on reporting in general, much of which is not beneficial; and last, journalists are players who have both a role and a duty in the governmental policymaking process. While many of these themes are readily acceptable, the author seems to carry several to perilous extreme.
The book provides fairly even coverage on a variety of topicsexamples on both sides of issues, some of which ironically refute the arguments he intends to support. For example, Seib suggests the role of network anchormen . . . in times of crisis [is that of] de facto national leaders, offering reassurance through their calm electronic presence. To lead, however, connotes a responsibility to bring others to a particular objective, a journalistic role which Seib seems to simultaneously support and reject. This is an extension of the long-standing debate over journalists involvement in shaping vice reporting events. And, interestingly, while he clearly articulates his view that journalists ought not trust government officials and senior military leaders, only one of those three groups (journalists) is not bound by a sworn oath of office.
The book contains an entire section on the effects of the Internet and satellites on journalism. Seib correctly laments the syndrome driving reporters of all media types to scoop their contemporaries. In so doing, they often sacrifice both the context surrounding such snapshot reports, and, more dangerously, fail to do appropriate research that would permit them to accurately understand what has taken place, or to comprehend the potentially deleterious ramifications of their own inaccurate representation. He devotes a fair amount of time to the newest media phenomenon
Web-logs, or Blogs. He is most prescient in his depiction of their potential (as of the books writing, there was only a fraction of the Blogs on-line that exist at the time of this review) both for first-person, accurate reporting, and as a tremendous venue for spin of the highest sort and unabashed, manipulative propaganda.
Of perhaps the greatest import for military readers is Seibs analysis of embedding reporters with units in the field. He grants that the policy was a qualified success, and thus will likely be repeated in the future. As a result, however, this means that not only must Public Affairs Officers be cognizant of these relationships and their potential for volatility, but all military members and particularly commanders at every level need to work this new reality into their scheme of action.
Seib provides several cogent and insightful gems: The big picture should not be neglected in favor of a series of snapshots. Interviews and research have value, even in the era of real-time news. Often overlooked are the US militarys relationships with other countries armies . . . [which produce] more democratic and just behavior by the foreign military than would be likely if there was no US presence. Americans are ill-prepared to engage in debate about revising alliances. . . . They watch their intellectually mushy news coverage. These are but a sampling of numerous such comments, soundbites inviting greater in-depth study.
Beyond the Front Lines offers clarity into the increasingly necessary relationships between the media (traditional journalists and others), those who make and carry-out national policy, and those who select those policymakersthe public at large. While it is highly unlikely that readers from any of these sectors will agree with all the author purports, simply realizing the inherent struggles for those who report, those who act, and those who consume that stream of journalism, in its many forms, makes this a valuable read. I recommend it as I do most newspaper and other media accounts . . . soak in the information presented, but do not accept it as incontestable fact without applying well-reasoned consideration and a healthy dose of personal discernment.
Testament: A Soldiers Story of the Civil War. By Benson Bobrick. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003. 288 pages. $23.00 ($13.00 paper). Reviewed by Dr. Samuel Newland (LTC, ARNG Ret.), Professor, Department of Distance Education, US Army War College.
Every war seems to produce a litany of memoirs and remembrances by the participants, from the most senior general officer to the lowest-ranking enlisted soldier. Some of these memoirs, particularly on the senior level, are explanatory of actions taken or, all too often, self-justification of actions and decisions. Others are simple narratives of what transpired during the individuals time at war. For the serious student of military history, the most valuable individual writings are not the memoirs intended for publication but diary entries that were a soldiers musings or letters sent home to friends or loved onescandid writings that were never intended for publication. This is what makes Benson Bobricks book a true treasure trove, because it is based on original letters from a Civil War soldier, retained in family storage until 1998.
Testament is based on some 90 letters written by Benjamin W. (Webb) Baker and edited by his great-grandson, Benson Bobrick. Webb Baker enlisted in August 1861 when he was 19, and from that time until September 1864 Baker served his state and his country well. He was a common soldier in Company E of the 25th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment, finishing the war as a corporal. Baker enlisted early in the war in response to one of Abraham Lincolns calls for volunteers. From the onset of the conflict, this Illinois citizen was a strong supporter of the Union and an opponent of both secession and slavery. In fact, prior to his enlistment, at the age of 16, he attended one of the Lincoln/Douglass debates, held at the Charleston County Fairgrounds in Illinois.
Initially Bakers regiment saw little action and instead marched and maneuvered through various parts of Missouri. The 25th Illinois received its baptism of fire after it marched south into Arkansas. Baker took an active role in his regiments first battle, at Pea Ridge, Arkansas. The 25th Illinois fought well in what would rightfully be called a Union victory. Baker was hit twice by small-arms fire, although his wounds were not serious and he was able to resume active service with the regiment after a brief convalescence. Participation in the battle of Pea Ridge was the first of many hard-fought battles for the 25th Illinois. The regiment was soon on the move, marching through Arkansas into Mississippi and on to Tennessee. In the months that followed, Baker participated in the battles of Perryville, Stones River, and Chickamauga. Much to his displeasure, his younger brother John joined an Illinois volunteer regiment, and after the Battle of Perryville Private Baker had the sad duty of searching for his brothers body, burying him, and writing home to tell his mother of his brothers death. At Chickamauga Baker was again wounded, and for a period of time it seemed as though this wound might cost him his arm. Fortunately his arm did not have to be amputated, but he was hospitalized for some four months. This wound caused a disability that would make it difficult for him to do any heavy labor for the remainder of his days. In fact, he carried an ounce of Rebel lead for the rest of his life. The last part of his military career was spent as a part of William T. Shermans army that tramped across the south to Atlanta, where Bakers service ended on 1 August 1864.
Several elements make this book intriguing for a student of military history. First, it isnt merely a replication of the Civil War letters, but the Illinois volunteers great-grandson has woven a narrative about his grandfathers military career using the letters and other materials. At the same time, for the purist the letters are included in their entirety as essentially an appendix to the narrative. Second, and perhaps most important, this book is valuable because the young soldier was extremely observant and articulate. While a soldier, he read, studied, and in many ways added to his education, a factor that is clearly evident in his writings. His intellectual abilities become pronounced after the war when he attended college, ultimately earning a doctorate in history. Thus, although he was a low-ranking volunteer, he wrote with significant insight and about issues beyond the battlefield. In his letters he muses about the life of a soldier, which though hard, he enjoyed, and a life in which he wanted to be regarded as successful. He kept up with the news, and when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, he wrote about it and its impact on the troops. Observations on the capabilities of certain Union leaders can also be found in his comments. Following the battle of Chancellorsville, he discusses General Joe Hooker as well as General Ambrose Burnside.
All in all, the book is a pleasure to read. It is engaging and the reader comes to know Webb Baker well and to gain yet another perspective on the life of a Union soldier during the American Civil War. Testament is a good read.
All the Factors of Victory: Admiral Joseph Mason Reeves and the Origins of Carrier Airpower. By Thomas Wildenberg. Washington: Brasseys, 2003. 326 pages. $27.50. Reviewed by Captain David W. Willmann, USN Ret., Department of Distance Education, US Army War College.
All the Factors of Victory is an important and much-needed source of research and information about a transformational period for the US naval service. Based on the life and career of one of the most dedicated and influential unsung heroes of the peacetime Navy, this book spans the period between the Spanish-American War and World War II. It allows the reader to follow the reformation process from a sail and ironclad naval service, through the times of large-caliber battlewagons, to the emergence of the carrier battle forces of World War II fame.
The author does a masterful job in presenting this first published biography of Admiral Joseph Reeves, one of the true pioneers of naval aviation. He takes us from Bull Reeves years at the US Naval Academy (graduating in 1894) through his 52-year career of dedicated naval service. We follow a young naval cadet (they werent called Midshipmen yet) who joined the Navy football team following its first loss to West Point. The loss prompted Navy to hire a full-time coach and begin a spartan training regimen, instilling concepts such as esprit de corps, relentless practice, and teamwork into Reeves and his teammates. The results included a 12-4 win by Navy, and the concepts instilled were lastingReeves would continue to incorporate them into his leadership style throughout his long and distinguished career.
Commissioned an engineer, Reeves participated in the only battle of his career while stationed onboard USS Oregon in the Battle of Santiago in 1898. Although cited for his performance, he was only one of several commended junior officers whose valor was overshadowed by such luminaries as Admirals Dewey and Sampson. Following transition to the line around the turn of the century, Reeves continued his brilliant career, tackling the complex problems of naval gunnery, torpedoes, and ordnance. In fact, he constructed the first fire control instrument in the US Navy that automatically measured rate-of-change of the range to target. During a tour of instructor duty at the Naval Academy, where he also took on the duties of head football coach, Reeves was honored by the Class of 1909 dedicating its yearbook, the Lucky Bag, to him as a mark of appreciation for his unfailing courtesy and kindness that he offered each member of the class.
Over the next 14 years, Reeves distinguished himself in various seagoing positions, primarily aboard the Navys power-projection platforms, the battleship. His continued leadership accomplishments resulted in his being given command of various ships, culminating in the most cherished billet in the Navy, battleship command of the USS Maine in 1917. Promoted to Captain after 28 years, Reeves was given command of his second battleship, the USS North Dakota. He was then ordered to a year of study at the Naval War College for the 1923-24 academic year.
During his student and subsequent year on the faculty of the Naval War College, this 52-year-old battleship sailor became interested in naval aviation and its potential to influence the outcome of any future sea battle. Specifically, his interests were focused on the role of the emerging aircraft carrier and its planes. Reeves conceivably saw aviation as the door to his future. At his request, he changed his career path from that of a standard surface warrior and entered flight training in order to qualify for duties as the Commander, Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet, the most important aviation command in the fleet. It is interesting to see the impact that his war college studies and faculty duties had on his decision to move into a new and innovative career field at such a late date.
Following flight school and designation as a naval aviation observer, Reeves commenced his leadership of the carrier aviation Navy. His success in convincing his superiors as to the importance of naval aviation, without threatening the supremacy of the battleship, was probably his biggest accomplishment of this period. More important, he had given the admirals a weapon that enabled the fleet to project its power far inland. In August 1927, he was rewarded for his hard work and excellence by selection for flag rank, the first aviation officer in the fleet to achieve this promotion.
As a flag officer, he spent the next four years presiding over the rapid evolutionary and sometimes revolutionary changes of carrier aviation. From single carrier ops to multi-carrier battle force operations, Rear Admiral Reeves hand was on the tiller for nearly every event. He came to realize the value and potential strength that lay in this new form of warfare. Sometimes at risk to his own career, he stood for what he felt was best for the Navy. One of the best quotes from the book, attributed to Reeves, is, A commander who stops to appraise the impact of a military decision upon his personal fortunes has no right to be entrusted with a command.
At age 60, after being ordered to a backwater post as Commandant of the Mare Island Navy Yard, Reeves probably felt that he had made some enemies along the way and awaited the mandatory retirement age of 64. Instead, President Roosevelt gave Reeves a third star in 1933, which ultimately led to a fourth star and duties as Commander-in-Chief of the US Fleet, retiring in June 1936. During World War II, Admiral Reeves was asked to perform duties as the Navy member of the Office of Lend-Lease Administration and later served on the presidential commission to review the Pearl Harbor attack. Reeves retired from active duty on 2 April 1947 and died less than one year later, on 25 March 1948.
Admiral Reeves was renowned for his brilliant speaking ability, but he seemed to hold little faith in the written word. He left few writings and no personal papers. The books author, Thomas Wildenberg, provides the Navy and military history an important and valuable contribution with this well-researched, professionally written, and easily readable biography.
Even though aviation units under Admiral Reeves direct leadership never dropped a weapon or fired a gun in combat, Reeves did more to shape the future role of carrier aviation than any other officer in the Navy. The victories of carrier aviation warfare in 1942, specifically Midway, can be viewed as a direct result of his leadership in naval aviation during the interwar years. Finally, he fostered the development of a host of innovative doctrines and tactics that laid the foundations for
practically all of the modern tenets of carrier doctrine still followed by the US Navy. Admiral Reeves has rightly been called the father of carrier warfare.
Arsenal of World War II: The Political Economy of American Warfare 1940-1945. By Paul A. C. Koistinen. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004. 657 pages. $49.95. Reviewed by Michael J. Fratantuono, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of International Studies, Business & Management, Dickinson College; Adjunct Professor, US Army War College.
This book is the fourth of a planned five-volume series proposed by Professor Koistinen, who has set for himself the formidable task of writing a detailed, authoritative, solely-authored history of the way America has harnessed its economy during times of war.
Toward this end, he has developed a paradigm that provides the unifying framework for the entire project consisting of four factors: the maturity of economic resources; the size of the federal government; the character of the military and its relationship to civilian authority; and the state of military technology. While all four factors have evolved at varying rates, the degree of maturity of each and the interaction among the four have dictated the nature of mobilization and the wartime economy in the pre-industrial (Revolutionary War), transition (Civil War), and industrial (20th century) eras. In the context of the paradigm, by the late 1930s, World War I had established the need for a professional officer corps and a permanent institutional structure dedicated to procurement and logistics. In the 1920s, US corporate leaders commanded organizations that continued to grow in scope and complexity and were among the most technologically advanced in the world. During the Great Depression, a growing and increasingly more powerful federal government assumed new responsibility for managing the economy.
A central premise for the work is that in each era, mobilizing for war creates unique societal tensions, as it requires a degree of centralized planning that supersedes market processes and runs counter to principles of representative democracy. For World War II, the series of government agencies that were successively created and empowered to coordinate mobilization and production effortsthe National Defense Advisory Commission (1939-1940), the Office of Production Management and the Supply Priorities and Allocations Board (1941), and the War Production Board (1942-1945)were arenas of conflict among special interests, even as the pragmatic and politically astute President Roosevelt watched and occasionally influenced the struggle.
In particular, throughout those years, corporate leaders, who had enjoyed status and privilege under Republican administrations of the 1920s, vied for power and control of the economy with New Deal reformers, who had gained standing and influence during the 1930s and were aligned with organized labor and consumer advocates. Ultimately, when military officers, who depended on corporate America to supply the materials they demanded and who also desired minimal interference from reformers, allied themselves with corporate leaders, the scales tilted. Even as
the US economy was reconverted to peacetime production, the stage was set for the further solidification of the military-industrial complex and a corresponding loss of influence of consumers and organized labor in the post-World War II era.
Professor Koistinen uses a multilayered analysis to substantiate his thesis. He traces the success and misfortune of key individuals to their unique character traits, professional roles, and sometimes nearly impossible challenges. He describes relationships in and among government bureaus, military agencies, private corporations, and non-governmental interest groups. He suggests the degree of planning, via statistical analysis, needed to replace market mechanisms. And he conveys the myriad of other functional tasks that had to be coordinated by government agencies to implement plans, such as allocating aluminum, copper, steel, rubber, and petroleum to various end-products; financing and constructing factories; imposing wage and price controls; rationing output; handling procurement and logistics; managing relations with labor; fine-tuning the economy; and ensuring minimally acceptable economic outcomes for all parties.
The more experienced and serious-minded readers will find they must devote many hours over several sessions to navigate this book: simply speaking, it is densely packed with detailed information, as attested by 150 pages of chapter notes. Yet, Professor Koistinen acknowledges this fact and at the outset recommends a selective reading strategy that will permit even the more casual reader to come away with some important insights about the political economy of the United States. First, success in modern, large-scale warfare is highly dependent on the ability to plan, to build and convert capacity, to reallocate resources, to mass produce standardized high-quality output, and to coordinate material and product flows through the supply chain. Second, given the extraordinary complexity of a modern economy, centralized coordination is not the road to efficiency. Although real gross domestic product rose by 52 percent between 1939 and 1944, the increase was not an economic miracle. Instead, mobilization and production for the war effort revitalized and reallocated resources that had been idle during the 1930s. In contrast, much economic activity was extravagant and wasteful. Third, large-scale political-economic institutions are forums in which special interest groups will vie for influence as they attempt to capture economic rents. Furthermore, in the contemporary United States, elites wield enormous power in commercial, political, and military institutions; correspondingly, for at least 70 years, the US economy has not been organized by textbook laissez-faire principles.
As with all good historical analysis, the book invites further speculation. For example, given the US experience, one must wonder about the extraordinary struggle among elites and special interests currently taking place in Eastern Europe, Russia, and China as those economies continue to make the transition to capitalism. Equally provocative, mobilization for World War II occurred at a time when the US economy was essentially self-sufficientindeed, in the 1930s, global trade as a share of global gross domestic product reached its lowest levels of the past 150 years. This stands in contrast to the contemporary era of globalization, in which US multinationals are outsourcing manufacturing activities, white-collar service jobs, and most recently the innovation process itself. Thus, the reader might ask whether those trends will reach a point where they threaten the ability of the United States to once again successfully engage in full-scale mobilization, if circumstances necessitate the attempt.
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Reviewed 16 Autumn 2005. Please send comments or corrections to email@example.com