Book Reviews


From Parameters,  Spring 2006, pp. 120-53.


Soldiering: Observations from Korea, Vietnam, and Safe Places. By Henry G. Gole. Dulles, Va.: Potomac Books, 2005. 255 pages. $27.50. Reviewed by General Frederick Kroesen, USA Ret., Senior Fellow, Institute of Land Warfare, AUSA.

Colonel Henry Gole, USA Ret., has written a unique report of a career of soldiering which might best be described as a staccato presentation of random thoughts. This is not to imply that there is not a coherent progression through his career, but rather that he focuses on one thing at a time, covers it succinctly, and passes on to the next. He warns his readers in the preface that he has chosen to “write little stories about soldiers I’ve known . . . ,” about “the peculiar subculture we called home . . . , the Army” and “snapshots from the career of a soldier.” He fulfills the promise admirably.

As with all memoirs there is the obligatory introduction of who he is, beginning with his early years in Greenwich Village in New York City until he volunteered for the draft in 1952. He was the son of immigrants struggling through the Depression and was eight years old when Pearl Harbor was bombed. His account of the four World War II years, through the eyes of an adolescent, is the best four-page summation you will ever read, though you may have to be of the “greatest generation” to understand it all. I have already cited in Army magazine his tribute to an 18-year-old uncle, a draftee, home on his first leave in an ill-fitting uniform and horse blanket overcoat who nevertheless prompted, “But he was somebody. He was a soldier.”

The remaining chapters cover years that played out in an unusual Army career, one that begins during the Korean War, then is interrupted for eight years before a restart is instigated by President John F. Kennedy’s challenge, “Ask not what your country can do for you . . . .” Despite the break it was a war career that spanned almost 30 years of service, most in the demanding field of special operations and most in satisfying “serving with the troops” assignments.

Gole’s Korean War period is a graphic portrayal of the life of a BAR (Browning automatic rifle) man in an infantry rifle company during the last months of the hostilities. Chapters, some only one and a half pages, cover his troopship across the Pacific, his stay at a replacement center, shipment to Korea, and arrival at his unit. Thereafter anecdotes cover his return to the United States and his discharge.

Eight years of “Interludes and Reflections While Safe” carry him through schooling and into the teaching profession and give background and substance to his developing philosophies and principles. Those years and an excursion into Slovenia on a successful search for his roots, along with an occasional touching reference to his family, are the only departures from the Army life of a combat soldier.

Gole returned to the Army in time for Vietnam, and a major portion of the book covers his years of Special Forces duties and activities. Almost all accounts are short chapters, introducing the reader to Heinz, Mad Dog, Mr. Fritz, Bill Holt, the

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“Yards” (Montanyard people), Lopes, Billy B., and other characters who deserve their 15 minutes of recognition in the recorded history of our nation. There is no particular theme or linkage among their stories, but each adds a small bit to the mosaic being presented as one man’s view of Vietnam. The overall effect, however, is that the book becomes a collection of short stories, not a comprehensive presentation of the value of that whole career. There are nuggets of philosophy, of guiding principles, of a lesson learned, but for the most part the reader has to deduce for himself the meaning and value of what he learns. It is all well and good not to be preached to, but there would be value also in the author’s view of what he has learned and how he draws it all together as a purpose for his prose.

I nodded appreciatively at Colonel Gole’s caustic appraisals of Walter Cronkite, the news media, draft dodgers, and our government’s failure to honor our promises to the Republic of Vietnam. As a member of “the rest of the Army,” however (I’ve never worn a green beret), I was much less enthused over the disparaging references to “arrogant leaders” and the “centralized, unimaginative Army,” typical comments that pop up through the book, all delivered as offhand swipes at Army organization and leadership without explanation or specifics about what was wrong. I don’t mind the criticism, but would like to know from what it stems. One is left with the thought that although the author identifies two particular outstanding leaders, he developed his love for the Army and respect for the brotherhood among soldiers despite the seniors he had to work for.

Nonetheless, the author provides a vivid portrayal of soldiering, honors a parade of deserving individuals, and adds more understanding of our Army operations during the third quarter of the last century. There are many wise and thought-provoking passages throughout—depersonalization of the individual replacement system, the adoration enjoyed behind the Iron Curtain “because he was wise enough to be born American,” and “some men like to fight in the deadliest game men play.” These and other such observations make Henry Gole’s book a worthy addition to the Army library.


New Glory: Expanding America’s Global Supremacy. By Ralph Peters. New York: Sentinel, 2005. 283 pages. $24.95. 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.

Picking up a book by Ralph Peters is sort of like opening Playboy to read the articles. On the one hand, we’re eager for the fresh and incisive insights of one of the most perceptive strategists writing today. On the other, we guiltily flip through the pages to see who he’s going to excoriate this time.

New Glory doesn’t disappoint in either category. As far as the lashings go, Peters rips into, among others, the French (“Think of France as a two-bit Soviet Union”), defense contractors (“for whom ‘vampires’ is too kind a word”), the Air Force (a “degenerate organization whose doctrine is inept, whose purchases

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are counterproductive and whose leadership is interested only in bureaucratic self-perpetuation”), the Revolution in Military Affairs (“Its dishonest claims were concocted by theoreticians unburdened by practical experience”), and the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld (“Despite his self-congratulatory rhetoric, the Secretary of Defense revealed himself as the Secretary of Defense Industry”). And that’s just for starters.

But pyrotechnics aside, New Glory is also a new Ralph Peters, salty as ever but with a coherent, expanded worldview that deserves to be seriously weighed against current national strategies. His central theme—that the coming century will be the era of the common man, and that the United States is best positioned to take advantage of it—is developed through historical analysis, cogent commentary on current events, and his personal experience traveling off the world’s beaten tracks as well as through its capitals.

Peters has organized his argument in three parts. The first is a discussion of the current American way of war, as seen by an outside observer during recent operations in Iraq. He lauds the hard work, expertise, and patriotism of men and women serving in the trenches, but is scathing of high-level decisions based on intellectually weak concepts that fail to recognize the essential, bloody nature of the current war against militant Islam. “The nonsense that ‘victory isn’t possible today’ is an absurdity foisted upon us by academics and pundits,” he writes. “Victory is always possible if we’re willing to pay the price.” The war in Iraq was necessary and beneficial, he claims, but “above all, our military has not summoned the wherewithal to drive home the fundamental truths . . . that war means death and destruction, that bloodless war is less than a myth, and that we must be ready to do whatever it takes to convince an enemy of his defeat.” In future wars, Peters predicts a need to be prepared for both intercontinental “raids” or long-term occupations, not a focus on a single “silver bullet” solution for every crisis. Further, American political leaders and generals need to cultivate a more low-key approach to diplomacy and warfare that reassures allies and convinces enemies of the implacability of American hostility. Our so-called “information warfare” has been a fiasco, he writes, and the lead has been taken by sometimes-hostile media like al-Jazeera. “Presidential administrations,” he writes, “whether Republican or Democrat, have developed a deadly case of big-mouth disease. . . . No war was ever won by a government press release.” Peters’ point is that, in the wars of the 21st century, acting is more important than claiming or threatening to act. “In the peculiar conflicts already scarring this new century—wars of perception as well as flesh and blood—it is crucial not to issue threats that we might not fulfill.”

Peters’ second theme, which his fans have heard before, is that the strategic high ground in the 21st century is people, not cities or even natural resources. The United States, because of its background and culture, is uniquely placed to become the champion of the ordinary man and woman in the next century, and this should become the focus of America’s grand strategy. A fundamental reappraisal of policy and its instruments is overdue. Forget the Left, he says, which has tragically squandered its moral capital by elevating rigid anti-Americanism at the expense of human rights and freedom—an inverse of the Left’s original agenda. Forget also the

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United Nations, which does some good work in the field but has become corrupt and irrelevant to solving real problems. At some time it may emerge from its present funk and be worthwhile, he says, so the United States should remain a participating member, but for the near term, seek other means to operate internationally. Peters also writes that the Islamic world has failed to provide its adherents an organizing framework for civilization. In a striking chapter entitled “The Frozen Civilization of the Desert,” he asserts that Muslim civilization stopped progressing at about the time Christendom invented movable type, and has been locked in the past ever since. These retrograde conditions—the corruption of the Left, the irrelevance of the United Nations, and the dangerous impotence of Islamic culture—make it absolutely vital for the United States to stand for the disenfranchised men and women of the world, and to strike out unilaterally or multilaterally with new allies who share our view of freedom and the importance of the dignity of the common person. “Human rights is not a ‘soft’ issue,” he writes: “The deplorable lot of billions of human beings is the hardest issue of all.” And again, “In this age of devolution, in the breakdown of old orders and the rise of the popular will, our future lies with the global masses who ride aging motorbikes, not the few who travel in corporate jets.”

Finally, Peters takes the reader on a tour d’horizon around the world, around “Old” and “New” Europe (“We would do well to keep Europe’s history at the back of our minds: This is the continent that mastered genocide and perfected ethnic cleansing”), and particularly into the developing giants that ring the Indian Ocean, which he believes is the geographical nexus of the next century. South Africa, Indonesia, and India all rate perceptive, on-the-ground analysis. From this, Peters advocates a Mahanian strategy for the United States in the 21st century, one that recognizes the central role that the populous states around the Indian Ocean rim will play in the developing future of the world.

New Glory reads the way its author speaks: ideas and acerbic comments tumble out, one after the other, each one suggesting a book in its own right. For example: “We seem uniquely unfitted for the here and now.” “Warfare is a bath of blood in a pool of horror.” “The great test case of our time will be Iraq.” “France is a poisonous snake.” The scope is perhaps too ambitious, and some time spent narrowing the focus would have helped. But the ride is well worth the price—this is grand strategy based on trends and events that sometimes slip out of the headlines in the United States and international media. The author backs up his observations with visits and conversations with people in the region who are often ignored by the pundits and officials who make policy: “Talk to . . . working men and women. To anyone who must forge their way ahead through practical acumen and labor. You get a very different, pro-American story.” His insights into the rise of pluralistic society in Indonesia and the growth of a South African empire in southern Africa are especially compelling, as is his observation that India is “the strategic Manhattan, the prime real estate in a strategic region.”

Tremendously ambitious, rapid-fire, and occasionally overwhelming, New Glory is Ralph Peters at his best: tart, slightly scandalous, immensely readable, and thoughtful and provocative throughout. Readers may disagree with some of his conclusions, but they will read him eagerly nonetheless.

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Sands of Empire: Missionary Zeal, American Foreign Policy, and the Hazards of Global Ambition. By Robert W. Merry. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005. 303 pages. $26.00. Reviewed by Andrew J. Bacevich, Professor of International Relations, Boston University, and author of The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War.

An accomplished journalist and biographer, Robert Merry offers here what he himself describes as a “clip job”—that is, a book based not on extensive research, but one that draws liberally, indeed almost entirely, on the published works of others. Merry’s self-assigned mission is to scrutinize each of the “Big Ideas That Explain Everything” thrown up as the Cold War came to an end, reflecting on how each has stood the test of time. He is by no means the first observer to undertake that task. Still, for those looking for a CliffsNotes version of the grand theories that sprouted like mushrooms as communism collapsed—“the end of history,” globalization, “the clash of civilizations,” and so forth—this may be your book.

In evaluating the debate to which these ideas gave rise, Merry comes down against the likes of Francis Fukuyama and Thomas Friedman and firmly on the side of Samuel P. Huntington. Contemptuous of anything that smacks of the “Idea of Progress”—the notion that “mankind has advanced over the centuries through quickening stages of development, from primitiveness and barbarism to enlightenment and civilization”—he is scathingly critical of those who advocate policies rooted in utopian expectations. Merry rejects the notion that history follows a foreordained path and that Americans are providentially called upon to guide it toward its final destination. Rather, he believes that the attempt to do so will prove our undoing.

To put it another way, Merry bears a grudge against Woodrow Wilson and against Wilson’s intellectual heirs still intent on casting the United States in the role of Crusader State. Wilsonians past and present tend to view the world through the prism of ideology, which persuades them that American values are universal and are destined to triumph everywhere. Merry sees the world through Huntington’s prism of culture, which emphasizes the durability of identity and the persistence of conflict. For Wilsonians like today’s neoconservatives, history is a tale of good versus evil in which a happy ending beckons if we have the will to seize it. According to Merry, history ought to be seen as an inconclusive and morally ambiguous story of us versus them.

At the present moment, “them” is the population inhabiting the Islamic world. At least so Merry believes, declaring categorically that for the United States today, “The enemy is Islam.” Merry sees little prospect that efforts to convert this enemy to the American way of life will succeed. Indeed, he judges Islamic peoples to be “inherently unreceptive” to liberal democratic precepts. To insist otherwise and to persist in the sort of “foreign adventurism” that has become the hallmark of US policy since the end of the Cold War will end with the United States being engulfed by “the swirling forces of a chaotic world.”

In proposing his alternative to Wilsonian grandiosity, Merry takes care to protect himself from the charge of isolationism, devising his own policy of “conser-

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vative interventionism.” Under the terms of this approach, rather than insisting on ideological conformity, the United States would permit nations to govern themselves according to their own lights “so long as they neither pose nor tolerate threats to America and the West.” Any government disregarding that dictum would be severely punished—in essence, restoring the strategy of deterrence that served the United States well during the Cold War. With regard to the immediate terrorist threat, Merry wants Washington to narrow its focus, concentrating on organizations that endanger the United States rather than on movements such as Hamas and Hezbollah that, however repugnant, do not. He wants to restore the Western alliance, desist from pressing Europe to incorporate Turkey into the European Union, and even seek a rapprochement with Iran. He proposes, in short, to ratchet back ideological ambition in favor of pragmatism.

As he fulminates against the folly of others, Merry at times becomes as dogmatic as those he criticizes. Even so, and despite the fact that most of his insights are derivative, Sands of Empire contains considerable wisdom. The argument it presents is straightforward and accessible. For the most part, the prescriptions are prudent and consistent with common sense. If formulating foreign policy were simply a matter of choosing from among several alternative baskets of ideas, “conservative internationalism” would get this reader’s vote.

But of course that’s not how foreign policy gets made. However much we might wish it were otherwise, policy derives from interests, ambitions, and aspirations. Ideas function as ornaments that statesmen—George W. Bush no less than Woodrow Wilson—deploy when and how it suits them to do so. To be meaningful, any critique of American statecraft needs to look beneath the ornaments at the structure that they conceal.


Iran’s Nuclear Option: Tehran’s Quest for the Atom Bomb. By Al J. Venter. Havertown, Pa.: Casemate, 2005. 451 pages. $29.95. Reviewed by George H. Quester, Professor of Government and Politics, University of Maryland.

This is a large book on a most timely topic, as the United States and Europe and the world now confront the possibility that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. The author pulls together a great deal of material, including various chapters and appendices published by other authors, including wide-ranging discussions of Iranian politics and history, of the religious tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, of Tehran’s history of supporting terrorism abroad, the nuclear program that once existed in South Africa (the author is himself originally a South African, and is now resident in the United States), and of course all that we have seen reported, with greater or lesser reliability, on Iran’s pursuit of missiles and nuclear warheads. The book includes appendices on Saddam Hussein’s quest for nuclear weapons in Iraq, and on Iran’s oil and gas resources.

The author avoids coming to any definite conclusion on whether Tehran now has nuclear warheads, and he expresses sympathy for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other outside monitors in their difficulty of achieving

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any certainty on such a question. But the material he presents, albeit of uneven reliability, certainly makes American and other concerns seem well-placed.

The style and tone of the book unfortunately make the story it outlines come across as not so definitive or convincing, as the prose is typically choppy and conversational. Perhaps that’s deliberate, as it seems almost meant to sound like an intelligence agent being breathlessly debriefed, or a personal travelog of meetings with informed observers around the globe. The inserted sections by David Albright and Corey Hinderstein on “Iran’s Multi-Stemmed Centrifuge Program” and by Charles Vick on “Iran’s Missiles: Devils in the Detail” by contrast read much more smoothly. With the United States and the rest of the world trying to steer between excessive caution and foolish complacency, the tone of a book like this is important, lest it be seen as a premature ringing of alarm bells.

In addition to noting the possible weapons-design inputs from North Korea, Pakistan, and China (alongside the inputs from Russia and elsewhere involving more explicitly peaceful nuclear activities, which nonetheless can be dual-used for making atomic bombs), the book offers some worrisome reports about alumni of the South African nuclear weapons program becoming engaged with Tehran. Whether there are real bomb-producing inputs here may be inherently unknowable. But this also, of course, makes it impossible for us to be sure that there are not such inputs.

An interesting omission in the book shows up in that there is no reference at all to the nuclear-energy programs launched in the 1970s under the Shah, when the outside world had good reason to suspect that these programs also were intended to generate a nuclear weapon. Iran was at the time, and is still today, “flaring” natural gas (simply burning the gas as a waste-product, as oil is extracted). Iran has thus never been energy-poor, and has never really had a plausible need for nuclear power. Under the Shah, as today, such actions make any such “dual-use” program quite suspect.

The broad lessons of all of this are that there must be a worldwide concern about dual-use nuclear technology, and about what happens with the bomb-making expertise of any country (like South Africa) that submits to nuclear disarmament, with the pessimistic bottom line being that global nuclear disarmament may thus indeed be impossible. Unemployed South African or Russian or other bomb-makers may be all too easily enlistable as producers of nuclear weapons for someone else, with agencies like the IAEA or CIA never being able to be certain that bombs are not being produced.

The rumors that circulate today, so admirably collected in this volume, are simply an early warning of the orders-of-magnitude greater number of rumors that would circulate if the United States and Russia and other nuclear powers were ever to agree to a global nuclear disarmament.

This book is of great interest to anyone watching the current nuclear proliferation problem. By the way it is written and presented, it may also capture a wider audience and attention among military policy and intelligence buffs, but this same writing style may cause the more serious analyst to regard it as perhaps too uneven in reliability.

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War and Destiny: How the Bush Revolution in Foreign and Military Affairs Redefined American Power. By James Kitfield. Dulles, Va.: Potomac Books, 2005. 386 pages. $27.50. 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 an uneven book with three interwoven narratives, one on the transformation of the nation’s armed forces, a second on battle in Iraq, and the third a judgment on the Bush Administration’s record in military affairs, particularly the legacy of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

The author, James Kitfield, a writer on national security for the National Journal, a small but reputable publication in Washington, D.C., also weaves in a subordinate theme on relations between the military forces and the press. Unfortunately, his book is marred by a sprinkling of factual errors and questionable judgments that detract from its overall worth.

In the first part, Kitfield surveys the Bush Administration’s effort to transform the armed forces of the United States. It is competently done but breaks little new ground. Kitfield seeks to put the changes into historical context, asserting that the election of President Bill Clinton represented “a generational passing of the torch” from the World War II generation to those conditioned by the divisive war in Vietnam. In turn, President George W. Bush has been influenced, the author contends, by neoconservatives who “believed that U.S. military power must be unsurpassed in order that evil empires and nations could be confronted and defeated, not accommodated, to prepare the path for the march of democracy.”

In the second part, the author is at his best as he reports from the field in Iraq, writing about generals and sergeants in telling detail and compelling narrative. In a chapter entitled “Gates of Babylon,” Kitfield portrays a battle in a sandstorm, the likes of which none of the Americans and few of the Iraqis had ever seen. Tanks of the 7th Cavalry had crossed the Euphrates River when they were blinded by the storm and stumbled into ambushes set by Iraqi tanks. “Out of that stormy murk, fedayeen fighters appeared like wraiths,” Kitfield writes, “swarming U.S. tanks and armored vehicles, their traditional robes tossing wildly in the wind.”

Far above that fray, however, a Global Hawk drone sent radar probes through the storm and beamed pictures of the Iraqi tank formations by satellite to Beale Air Force Base in California, where they were relayed by computer to photo interpreters at an Air National Guard Center in Nevada. The intelligence was then streamed by satellite back to Central Command’s air operations center in Saudi Arabia, from which a strike order went to a B-1 bomber flying over Iraq. Within minutes of the Iraqi tanks’ detection, 2000-pound precision guided bombs were hurtling through the darkened sandstorm. “The Iraqi armored formation below,” Kitfield concludes, “would never have time to ponder how it had been so mercilessly exposed beneath the cover of a seemingly impenetrable storm at night.”

In grim contrast, in his third segment Kitfield laces into Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his team for blunder after blunder after the battle against Iraqi

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regulars. “Defense Department officials,” the author contends, “had essentially taken a capital-intensive, high-tech U.S. military, stripped it lean for a sprintlike invasion of Iraq, and then left it mired, undermanned, in a manpower-intensive marathon of occupation and counterinsurgency.”

Similarly, the author faults the Rumsfeld team for shifting the burden of security in Iraq to Iraqi forces without following through. “In what amounted to a clear dereliction of duty, the Rumsfeld team had failed to give the mission the priority, funds, and oversight it clearly warranted.” Strong words, and they are not the last of it. “Secretary Rumsfeld was gambling the fortunes of the finest military in the world on a bet that the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan would markedly improve despite his own profound miscalculations.”

Kitfield renders an initial judgment on Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense: “The lives of U.S. service members risked and lost, and the fate of nations and nascent democracies such as Iraq and Afghanistan that were imperiled by such a high-risk and parsimonious approach, would ultimately prove as much a part of Secretary Rumsfeld’s legacy as transformation itself.”

On the press, Kitfield writes from Baghdad: “You knew a media circus had come to town when Ollie North was spotted strolling through the lobby in full safari regalia and a camera crew in tow, and Geraldo Rivera was rumored to be close behind.” He says the circus was in full swing at the Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC, soon pronounced “see flick”), which had set up a media bureau at the Kuwaiti Hilton Hotel. The processing of 600 journalists—identity pictures, shot records, next-of kin addresses—had the feel, Kitfield says, “Of the first day of summer camp, and you could tell that with so much shared time ahead the counselors didn’t want to spook the campers.”

Kitfield is especially good on the bonds between soldiers and scribblers when they have shared fear and the sight of spilled blood. About soldiers, Kitfield writes, “They looked out for you in ways you didn’t anticipate, and covered your back even before you realized it was exposed. It is why war stories are the best and the worst stories any of us will ever remember.”

The author was less positive about the high command. Jay Garner, the Army Lieutenant General called out of retirement to be the first US civilian administrator in Baghdad, “was forbidden by the Pentagon and White House to talk to the press, meaning there was still no U.S. voice of authority to explain to expectant Iraqis what their future held.”

There are mistakes in the book, including these examples: The Office of Net Assessment in the Pentagon is on the third floor, not “deep in the bowels.” The terrorist assaults of 9/11 damaged one segment of the outer ring of the Pentagon but did not demolish “three of the building’s five concentric rings.” Israel and Egypt, not Israel alone, have been the leading recipients of US foreign aid. Erwin Rommel, the “Desert Fox” in North Africa in World War II, was a field marshal, not a general. And a final example: Kitfield asserts that Chinese leaders are “world-class experts at sensing and exploiting weakness on the world stage.” To the contrary, Chinese ignorance of international affairs, notably about the United States, is monumental and the root cause of the danger that they will miscalculate American military capabilities and intentions.

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The Opportunity: America’s Moment to Alter History’s Course. By Richard N. Haass. New York: Public Affairs, 2005. 242 pages. $25.00. Reviewed by Joseph J. Collins, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, currently Professor of National Security Strategy, National War College.

As we approach the midpoint of the second administration of George W. Bush, the growing weight of our national security problems—Iraq, Afghanistan, the aftermath of Katrina, and the continuing discomfort of friends and allies—has heightened desires for a new policy paradigm. The Opportunity by Richard Haass is a small book but a great contribution to that end. It is all the more worth reading because its author, Secretary Colin Powell’s chief policy planner and now the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, is a likely contender for the position of Secretary of State or National Security Advisor in the next administration.

The author argues that the United States has a unique, perishable opportunity to make a better world because of its unsurpassed power and the fact that today the potential for great power conflict is abnormally low. Haass recommends turning away from hegemonic behavior in favor of better integrating the policies of the world’s great powers. In Haass’s words:

The United States should be using its power and influence to persuade the major powers of the day . . . to sign up and support a set of rules, policies, and institutions that would bring about a world in which armed conflict between and within states is the exception; where terrorists find it difficult to succeed; where the spread of nuclear weapons is halted and ultimately reversed; in which markets are open to goods and services and in which societies are free and open to ideas; and where the world’s people have a good chance to live out lives of normal span free from violence, extreme poverty, and deadly disease.

Haass’s manifesto is not a utopian tract but a conceptual guide to multi-lateralism, where the great and middle powers become partners in a common enterprise. Haass calls his design a “doctrine of integration,” which he sees as a literal successor to the doctrine of containment. Integration, he argues, is vastly superior to policies based solely on counterterrorism or the promotion of democracy. Haass finds the promotion of democracy to be an inadequate response to the pressing threats of the day, and he believes our standing in the world has been damaged by a number of the policies and the heated rhetoric of the Bush Administration.

The bulk of Haass’s book is dedicated to fleshing out his ideas on terrorism, nonproliferation, and economic integration. While these functional chapters are quite good, his tour d’horizon of US relations with each of the great powers in Chapter 6 is, in my view, the highlight of the book. Here the author shows his perceptive appreciation for the strengths and weakness of the respective states and clearly indicates where the United States must use its influence and nuanced policies to accomplish its interests while moving the world in a better direction.

Haass has an excellent understanding of the perceptions foreigners have of the United States, and an equally good grasp of US interests and how to achieve

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them. He does not wear rose-colored glasses. Regarding our traditional allies in Europe, for example, Haass notes that the transatlantic relationship cannot be turned back to its harmonious Cold War status. Haass recommends “selective partnerships” on various issues with a view to keeping as many nations as possible pulling in the same direction.

Haass outlines a new and different policy paradigm for the future that may be subject to selective criticism. For one, the author, steeped in diplomatic history, may have overestimated the power of a concert among the great powers in the 21st century. As we see daily in Central Asia and on issues of nonproliferation, even when the great powers agree to cooperate, they often disagree on policy, and at times, on principle. The competitive urges among the great powers are extremely strong, even when those urges do not reflect military options.

Finally, this small book also exerts little effort to resolving the problem in Iraq. Haass has been a prescient critic of preventive war in Iraq, and he analyzes for nearly ten pages the missteps on the road to Iraq. Unfortunately, after proclaiming the need for success in Iraq, he offers only a page of very general recommendations on how best to achieve it. The outcome of our efforts in Iraq will be a predicate to whether we will succeed or fail at great-power integration in the future. Readers of this book deserve more of Haass’s insight on how to solve the challenge of Iraq.

The Opportunity is a brief, clear, and well-considered design for a new foreign policy. Even if you do not fully accept Haass’s concept of integration, it is difficult to argue with his larger point: “For all of its power, there is virtually nothing the United States can do better without others.” This book will make an excellent addition to any reading list on foreign policy, and it is bound to become a best-seller in Foggy Bottom and among avowed internationalists, at home and abroad.


Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power. By David Rothkopf. New York: Public Affairs, 2005. 756 pages. $29.95. Reviewed by Dr. Sarah Sewall, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, currently Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the JFK School of Government, Harvard University.

David J. Rothkopf’s tome on the National Security Council (NSC) is a bit like a Chinese dinner: beautifully presented, tasty while consumed, but not completely satisfying. It is less a systematic assessment of the NSC as an institution than a popular history of the making of American foreign policy. The NSC functions almost as a flag of convenience for this sweeping and anecdotal survey of key foreign policy players and decisions. Rothkopf writes well and holds the reader despite the scope and slipperiness of his nominal subject. But his underlying goal seems to be recommending a particular flavor of foreign policy, casting it as the historical ideal. Even after 470 pages, this reviewer wanted more rib-sticking analysis of what makes the NSC structure and workings successful (measured by the President’s goals rather than by the author’s preferences about outcomes) and whether the current constellation of NSC players and processes can effectively meet this century’s challenges.

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Granted, much of the problem lies with the NSC itself. If the NSC is simply whatever the President makes it, what is it? The very protean character that assures its longevity also frustrates efforts to define and study it. Legally created in 1947, the NSC was a bare-boned but flexible instrument for advising the President on “the integration of domestic, foreign, and military policies relating to the national security.” As such, Rothkopf writes, “even those in the know are often confused by what they mean when they refer to the NSC.” Is it the formal NSC members—the President, Vice President, Secretaries of State and Defense, and others as designated by the President to sit on the council? The up to 200-person staff conducting daily policy oversight and writing decision memos? Or is it the decisionmaking process—and then is it the formal decisionmaking structures or the informal influences Rothkopf deems most important? Well, yes. Even the author sometimes has difficulty keeping his lens focused on which NSC he is writing about. (The NSC is odd in other respects, too. If it didn’t exist, some other security policy coordinating mechanism would have to be created. Yet at critical junctures, such as achieving détente with China or ending the Bosnian conflict, the NSC has been circumvented entirely by the official who runs it. How to capture an entity that remains both essential and irrelevant?)

Running the World chronicles the NSC’s evolution as handmaiden of American engagement with an increasingly complex world. The National Security Advisor (NSA) emerges from behind the curtain to become the central cog of US foreign policy (despite occasional abdications), and the NSC’s staff continues to swell despite repeated attempts at pruning. Exempt from requirements of Senate confirmation and freed from bureaucratic ossification, these officials answer only to the President. Like the names of policy memoranda, successively revised by each administration, the role and structure of the NSC is at the President’s pleasure. Rothkopf sees President Clinton’s embrace of process and roles developed by the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations as the NSC’s bipartisan coming of age. He deems as ideal an “honest broker” NSA, one who develops real options rather than ratifying the lowest common denominator of consensus, and the single hierarchy of decisionmaking embodied in the Principals and Deputies Committees (chaired by NSC leadership). He convincingly argues for an activist NSA who focuses on managing the NSC process—developing policy options (not confirming groupthink) and ensuring coordination and results—rather than the President.

Process, though, often appears conflated with Rothkopf’s views of the policies emerging from it. For example, Condoleezza Rice is faulted for refusing to play the honest broker during her term as National Security Advisor in the first George W. Bush Administration. But Rothkopf didn’t actually want an honest broker as much as a “balancer” for the outsized influences of the Vice President and Defense Secretary. His real beef is with the policy outcome. This is emblematic of the dangers of diagnosing the NSC as an institution.

Rothkopf understands the difficulty. At the outset he outlines five main factors shaping the NSC: the personality or sociology of an administration (determined in large part by the President); the domestic political context; the international context; an administration’s ideology or governing philosophy; and the NSC structure and pro-

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cess. But it’s tough to disaggregate and control for these shaping influences, and Rothkopf is content to touch upon them independently and sporadically.

The author stresses the primary importance of the leadership’s “character” in shaping US foreign policy. In so doing, he is lobbying on behalf of a particular form of character—one he finds reflected in great Americans of the past when they faced crises. George Washington chose to serve the US government, rather than dominate it. Harry Truman defined America’s international role after World War II in analogous terms. To Rothkopf, these choices reveal a rational self-interest and restrained use of power that incorporates the long view and takes a larger community into account. He portrays the current Bush Administration’s “faith-based foreign policy” and unilateral militarism as a radical departure from this “character.” While one may agree with much of his critique of George W. Bush’s policies, the President’s worldview is hardly un-American. Scholars such as Walter Russell Mead have amply demonstrated competing traditions in our nation’s foreign policy. What Rothkopf calls the “transformationists” of the current government have merged Wilsonian idealism with Jacksonian power projection. This may be, for reasons Rothkopf enumerates, the wrong approach to today’s challenges. But it is authentic, and it should be challenged on its own merits.

Rothkopf’s signal contribution lies in demonstrating the importance of personality and relationships in the formulation of American policy. He illustrates how the President’s perspective and power flows to, and is reflected by, the individual players in this Shakespearean drama. Rothkopf’s position as Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade and as a Managing Director at Kissinger Associates facilitated access to well over 100 key security figures of past decades. This is the most delicious aspect of the book, especially the quotes from the defacto protagonist, Brent Scowcroft, clinging to his pragmatic, multilateral principles despite the rising tide of neoconservatism around him. Rothkopf’s subjects illustrate, in their own words, the sometimes disappointing humanity of our security architects. There is bureaucratic mud-slinging about who didn’t play ball, first-person rendition of top policy insider rivalries, and lots of post-facto justification amidst the testimonies. Sometimes doubt even bubbles up, as when Condoleezza Rice seeks to put the Administration’s response to 9/11 in historical perspective. Occasionally these reflections bear little relationship to the point at hand, as if the fact of getting an interview mandated using it. In fact, the book’s narrative sometimes feels like the string linking a necklace of quotes. But the interviews succeed in showing that it’s not just the organizational chart, title, or formal process that counts in American foreign policy. As Rothkopf writes, “Statutes and history are far less important than the personal transactions that continuously remake this powerful entity.”

Still, where structure and process do matter, Rothkopf avoids questions that demand more attention. For starters, is the NSC properly configured to address security challenges given that the lines nominally separating domestic and foreign threats, waging war and building peace, and our strength at home and power abroad all continue to fade? What about the now-moribund National Economic Council? Does the creation of a Homeland Security Council and Department help or hurt? Larger is less wieldy, but clearly we need an NSC that integrates all aspects of American security. Rothkopf rightly stresses the need for emphasis on policy planning, but Iraq and Loui-

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siana have underscored the price of failed policy execution. Should we reconsider the Eisenhower model of separate committees for both policy formulation and execution? In this era of anti-terror emergency, should the NSC revisit its self-imposed prohibition on operational responsibilities? More pointedly, would we ever learn that it had, given how little democratic oversight of the NSC is possible? Say what you like about Dick Cheney’s power—at least the man was elected. The book shows the accretion of influence to NSC officials, yet doesn’t address accountability. While accountability in the form of confirmations or more intrusive oversight could impede the original charter, restraints on the NSC’s freewheeling character may become important both for enhancing security and maintaining the democratic character of American government.

Running the World is a smooth, accessible read and a useful brush-up on American foreign policy. I had hoped it would shed greater light on how the NSC should fulfill its mandate to integrate its domestic, foreign, and military policies relating to national security. Ultimately, Rothkopf offers up more red meat criticizing the Bush Administration than he does on the NSC per se. It is probably unfair to ask such a tour d’ horizon to provide the next level of analysis, but let’s hope that others will attempt it. Rothkopf’s book is a fine basis from which to proceed—proving you can enjoy the meal even if, after 13 courses, it leaves you a little hungry.


Colossus: The Price of America’s Empire. By Niall Ferguson. New York: The Penguin Press, 2004. 302 pages. $25.95 ($16.00 paper). Reviewed by Dr. William J. Gregor, Professor of Social Sciences at the School of Advanced Military Studies, US Army Command and General Staff College.

Niall Ferguson, an accomplished financial historian and a prolific writer, has written what he describes as an interpretation of American history. His interpretation leads him to conclude that the United States is an empire and has always been an empire, albeit a rather clumsy one. Although many others have asserted that the United States is an empire, Professor Ferguson’s conclusion has drawn considerable attention largely because he argues that America should accept its imperial status and simply get on with the business of managing the empire properly. Thus, most of those who have reviewed this book have commented more on this provocative idea than on the quality of the argument. Unfortunately, a close examination of the text reveals that Colossus is essentially a policy argument masquerading as history, and while there are several interesting chapters, the book does not work as either.

To provide a foundation for the book, Professor Ferguson must define empire in such a way as to include the United States in that category. Normally, only critics of American foreign policy refer to the “American Empire.” His challenge is, therefore, to overcome the fact that American Presidents do not describe US foreign policy objectives in terms of an empire. Professor Ferguson dismisses the fact that American policymakers deny imperial ambitions by citing Freud’s definition of “denial” as a primitive psychological defense mechanism, and he asserts that as US foreign policy moves from defense to offense there is less need for denial. He admits that any narrow definition of empire would easily exclude the United States from that category, so he avoids

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that definition. He also argues that those who use the term “hegemony” to describe the US position in the world actually ascribe to the United States a degree of power and influence that would be superior to any empire. Hence, hegemony becomes a euphemism for empire. However, the footnotes reveal that the examples used to define the United States as an empire are selective. The effort is semantic, not scientific. That is, the discussion is about how authors have characterized past foreign policy events and trappings of empire rather than the nature of the authority exercised by United States. Nevertheless, the reader is compelled to accept this definition, because the author refers to the United States as an empire throughout the remainder of the book.

The attention paid to semantics is the book’s undoing as a history. The title of the book is taken in part from an aphorism in which Thomas Jefferson compares the United States to Europe. “Old Europe will have to lean on our shoulders. . . . What a colossus we will be.” Yet, President Jefferson canceled the construction of all US ships of the line and decommissioned most of the Navy’s frigates, not exactly the actions of an empire. Throughout the book, the rhetoric of empire quoted to show America’s “true ambitions” stands in stark contrast to America’s actions. From that contrast, one logically concludes that America is not an empire in denial; it is simply not an empire. Therefore, Professor Ferguson’s interpretation of US history becomes not really an interpretation but an argument. He argues that the United States must use the extraordinary resources available to it to restore the order in the international environment that was formerly the product of the British Empire. But because he asserts that the United States is already an empire, he avoids any discussion of how to change US policy and public opinion to support imperial ambitions. He also avoids describing how the United States would govern the empire. In short, Professor Ferguson would like the United States to provide what he sees as the positive benefits of the British Empire, but he does not know how to get there.

Despite the book’s shortcomings, Colossus is reasonably interesting. The chapter entitled “The Limits of the American Empire” is fascinating because Professor Ferguson’s interest in financial history is on display. He interprets the expansion of the United States and the acquisition of overseas possessions in the 19th century from the perspective of commercial interests, citing Supreme Court decisions on property rights and federal tariffs. The argument is not totally convincing, but the approach is unusual. Chapter 7, “‘Impire’: Europe between Brussels and Byzantium,” provides an excellent critique of the European Union as a counterweight to US international influence. He finds that much of the evidence of European economic success masks important internal difficulties, which will limit European growth. Finally, Professor Ferguson discusses the financial cost of managing the empire. He shares Paul Kennedy’s original thesis of fiscal overstretch and argues that America’s affinity for tax cuts and social security may have already made the empire fiscally impossible. Some reviewers have commented that Professor Kennedy should have stuck to his knowledge of finance and markets and made the expanding US deficit the focus of the book. Unfortunately, he did not.

When the reader turns to the last chapter of Colossus he is greeted by this phrase: “The United States is an empire. . . .” One is compelled to write in the margin, “Not shown.” There is no doubt that Niall Ferguson is an accomplished scholar and an excellent writer, but he is out of his element in this book. His attention is focused on ar-

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guing for a US empire that fits his understanding of the long-past British empire. However, the war in Iraq and the desire of Americans for peace provide little to sustain his call for an American empire. His call for America to “avoid setting deadlines and settle in for the long haul,” does not square well with the Cindy Sheehans of America who camp on the road to President Bush’s ranch. Niall Ferguson’s dream of an orderly world made regular by an American empire is just that. America seeks no empire, and, even with Professor Ferguson’s prodding, it is unlikely to seek one.


Soldiers and Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity. By J. E. Lendon. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2005. 315 pages. $35.00. Reviewed by Dr. J. Boone Bartholomees, Jr., Professor of Military History, US Army War College.

J. E. Lendon, an Associate Professor in ancient history at the University of Virginia, has written a major reinterpretation of classical warfare. While recognizing a great many factors that influence change in military affairs, he believes the most important one for understanding the Greek and Roman ways of war was the relationship of the two societies with their respective pasts. Much of the thesis rests on analyzing warfare from an individual level. This is a refreshing approach and produces a revision of more standard interpretations that stress technology, politics, or other factors. Like traditional interpretations, however, Lendon’s thesis cannot stand alone as the authoritative explanation of ancient warfare. It is thus a welcome addition to our understanding of the ancients rather than a replacement for outdated thinking.

The Greeks conceived of their past in terms of epic heroism. Lendon believes their intimate connection with that past, as viewed through the lens of Homer’s Iliad, influenced the Greek conduct of war throughout the classical period. In fact, the Greeks so revered Homer that they copied him directly, often regardless of circumstances. Homer gave legitimacy—whether justifying continuity or change. Lendon suggests, for example, that reverence for Homer may explain why ancient Greeks eschewed well-known technologies like siege engines—the Iliad had no siege engines, so there was no need for them. Combat in the Iliad was one-on-one and face-to-face, so the individual could publicly demonstrate his bravery and prowess. That suited a Greek cultural norm of competitiveness, which Lendon believes dominated all levels of Greek society.

How competitiveness translated into the phalanx as the predominant form of deployment requires some tortuous logic, since the phalanx would seem to be the functional opposite of Homeric individual combat. Lendon contends that the phalanx was not a means to subordinate the individual in an organization, but instead a technique to create a simulation of individual combat in a mass setting. Competition still predominated, but the Greeks based it on a slightly different understanding of bravery. They came to accept a concept of passive bravery—the type of bravery needed to hold one’s ground or maintain one’s place in the phalanx.

Lendon finds tension in the system when he examines the level of armies rather than individuals. Generals, who had to demonstrate competence to sustain any authority and risked severe personal consequences should they lose a battle, had their own forms of competition and values. They competed among themselves primarily by

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winning battles. Consequently, Greek generals were interested in disciplined formations and if possible winning through stratagem, which was less risky than open battle. That was in direct opposition to the values of the individual hoplites. By the end of the Greek era, the generals’ concept of competition through battles prevailed.

The Romans fit Lendon’s thesis less neatly, but he still finds the same basic forces at work. The Romans were a people without a heroic epic past on which to model. They, of course, developed a history over time, and they imagined one to fill the inevitable gaps, but those did not serve the same purpose as in the Greek case. Lendon ascribes much of Roman military conduct to the balance between the two competing societal values of virtus and disciplina. Lendon translates virtus as competitive courage and disciplina as discipline—but in the sense of a restraint or brake on overly aggressive behavior rather than a system of rules. The Romans developed disciplina as a curb to the disruptive aggressiveness of soldiers trying to demonstrate their virtue. Thus, virtus was the predominant value of the soldiers, while the military system and especially the officers usually valued disciplina more highly. This opposing value system of soldiers and officers, of course, mirrors the tension in the Greek system; the two societies just arrived at the competition from slightly different directions.

Lendon categorizes the manipular legion not as a response to either terrain or enemy but as an adaptation of the phalanx (he calls it a phalanx dissolved to the front) to accommodate the aggressiveness of the soldiers. Modifications in the Roman tactical system indicate the slow advance of the predominance of the generals. The manipular legion gave way to the more centralized cohortal legion and eventually to a return to the phalanx. As had been the case with the Greeks, Roman disciplina gradually but inexorably won its contest with virtus.

As is the case with any generalization, one can both find fault with examples and find cases that do not fit or even tend to disprove the paradigm. In a reinterpretation as sweeping as this, such quibbling is fairly easy. And yet, if armies really do reflect the societies from which they spring, which has been a basic assumption of military historiography for at least a generation, perhaps we do need to pay closer attention to the values of the soldiers and how they operate within the military system. Professor Lendon has done just that. While I do not think his interpretation will replace the standard understanding of ancient Greek and Roman warfare—no single-cause explanation will ever do that—it is certainly a major and welcome addition to the literature.


Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, The Man Who Led the Band of Brothers. By Larry Alexander. New York: NAL Caliber, 2005. 297 pages. $24.95. Reviewed by Dr. Henry G. Gole (Colonel, USA Ret.), author of The Road to Rainbow: Army Planning for Global War, 1934-1940 and Soldiering: Observations from Korea, Vietnam, and Safe Places.

Readers of Parameters, historians, and World War II buffs probably have read Band of Brothers, written by the prolific historian of the American soldier during World War II in Europe, Stephen Ambrose. Additional millions viewed the Emmy-winning TV miniseries of the same title. Both versions tell the story of Easy Company,

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506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), from activation in July 1942 and training in Georgia, to staging in Britain, and then to bloody combat from the combat jump behind the beaches of Normandy in the dark hours before the amphibious assault on 6 June 1944 to the war’s end in Hitler’s alpine Obersalzburg in May 1945. The story includes the gutsy but failed Operation Market Garden—the bridge too far in the Netherlands— as well as close combat in bitter winter conditions in and around Bastogne, and the pursuit and destruction of the Wehrmacht in the first half of 1945.

Biggest Brother features Dick Winters, the conscript soldier of 1941 who later commanded Easy Company and the 2d battalion of the 506th PIR. Larry Alexander, a print journalist who discovered that he and Dick Winters were Lancaster, Pennsylvania, neighbors, tells the “back story” of how Winters was shaped by values now regarded as old-fashioned and what became of him after the war. Alexander writes deftly. By showing, rather than telling, he avoids hyperbole. Crisp prose reveals Winters as one hell of a leader. His virtues leap out, requiring no embellishment and few adjectives.

His leadership was characterized by personal courage, empathy for his soldiers, and fighting skills nurtured by his “country boy” youth—determination, common sense, and sound judgment under stress. If we could package the combination so facilely stated here, Fort Benning and Quantico would owe us gratitude for a blueprint for the development of infantry leaders. But that begs another point: the answer to the question posed by a senior old salt in James A. Michener’s The Bridges at Toko-ri: “Where do we get such men?”

Winters was born in Lancaster in 1918 to a hard-working, church-going, non-drinking family. As a lad he walked the local woods and fields, fished, played basketball and football and wrestled in his high school years. Money was tight in the Depression years. He worked jobs as a manual laborer, lived at home, and walked to classes at Franklin and Marshall College, a “townie” who graduated in 1941. Those who knew him as a boy, as a soldier, and in his postwar life remember him as a steady, reliable, and unpretentious fellow.

He was a contemporary of non-West Point graduates who distinguished themselves in battle, rose to battalion command, and then integrated into the Regular Army to become the Army leadership of the 1970s—men like William DePuy, William Rosson, Fred Weyand, George Forsythe, and Melvin Zais. But Winters was not even tempted to make the Army his career. He had no postwar plans: “I just wanted out.”

Disoriented and depressed for a short time after the war, without knowing or talking about it, he probably suffered what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder. He recalls refusing to go downstairs to see visitors. “I didn’t want to see anybody,” he says. But Depression brats and the country boys who became World War II vets just sucked it up and went to work.

At his father’s urging, Winters set off with some local boys for the mountains of northern Pennsylvania to hunt. “I didn’t want to go deer hunting, but you gotta get with it. It’s tradition in Pennsylvania.” Four white-tailed deer stopped barely 20 feet from him. “But I couldn’t shoot. I couldn’t even think about lifting that rifle. I was done. I did not want any more killing.”

Winters’ postwar career was successful by the modest standards of his upbringing, but unspectacular. He turned down a job as a truck driver, worked as a per-

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sonnel manager, married in 1948, became the father of two children, and was surprised to be recalled to the Army involuntarily in 1952. Given the opportunity to resign his commission in 1953, he did so. He was a plant manager and an animal feed salesman before buying a farm and building a house on it in 1960. He found the quiet life he sought after World War II, maintaining contact with the men of Easy Company. Then, unexpectedly, the modest Pennsylvanian found himself in the spotlight. He and his band of brothers were discovered by Ambrose.

Stephen Ambrose attended a reunion of the 101st Airborne Division in New Orleans in 1988 to gather data for a planned D-Day book. He quickly saw a book in Winters and the men of Easy, noting above all the “remarkable closeness” of the men after so many years. In brief, Band of Brothers, published in 1992, was so well received that Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, who released Saving Private Ryan in 1998—for which Ambrose had been a technical adviser—decided to do Band of Brothers as an HBO miniseries. It premiered in 2001, won an Emmy Award in 2002, and transformed Winters and his men “from retired veterans living out their last years in tranquility into celebrities.”

It is difficult to measure popular mood with precision. But one notes the confluence of the end of the Cold War, the demonstration of American military proficiency in Desert Storm, readiness to give “the greatest generation” a last hurrah before we bury it (Tom Brokaw’s best-selling book of that title was published in 1998), and the use of commercial aircraft as bombs in the American homeland by terrorists in 2001. Patriotism was “in.”

Dick Winters was in demand as a speaker; deluged by mail; honored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the US Military Academy, and Franklin and Marshall College. And there was a (failed) effort to have his Distinguished Service Cross awarded for actions on 9 June in Normandy upgraded to the Medal of Honor. Through it all, he remained the same unpretentious and plain-spoken man, as is illustrated by his response to a West Point cadet’s question:

“What was your toughest challenge as a commander?”

“To be able to think under fire. In peace the toughest challenge is to be fair.”

Larry Alexander has given us an inspirational account of his neighbor’s life. It is fitting that this review appears in the US Army War College quarterly and that Dick Winters’ papers are destined for the Military History Institute. Both the college and the institute at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, are proud to call Dick Winters “neighbor.”


Soldier, Statesman, Peacemaker: Leadership Lessons from George C. Marshall. By Jack Uldrich. New York: AMACOM, 2005. 230 pages. $24.95. Reviewed by Colonel Ruth B. Collins, USA Ret., Faculty Instructor, US Army War College, and holder of the George C. Marshall Chair of Military Studies from 2002 to 2004.

As I anticipated reading and reviewing this book, I kept thinking that timing is everything. Along comes an author who sees the relevancy today of the leadership of George C. Marshall, just as we Americans are wrestling with a post-conflict Iraq and with the formidable challenges of envisioning and rebuilding New Orleans and much

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of the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas. Coincidentally, one of the first things this reviewer learned from the book was that Marshall headed the American Red Cross as one of his key leadership positions following his retirement from the Army. Both domestically and internationally, Marshall left an amazing legacy.

This book is not a comprehensive historical review of the accomplishments of Marshall. It certainly celebrates Marshall’s leadership competencies, but it does so in an attempt to inspire leaders of tomorrow, primarily in the business community. The author outlines what he believes are nine leadership principles that Marshall epitomized and then gives brief examples of contemporary leaders in business who he believes demonstrate similar competencies. He gives reason for people of all ages and vocations to find value in the book, specifically attempting to demonstrate that exceptional talent and leadership can overcome imposing obstacles and produce far-reaching results.

Many themes struck me as particularly applicable to today’s strategic dilemmas. For example, the author points out that Marshall embraced working with civilians as part of his overall vision, something that many military officers did not do at the time, and still do not do well. He also touches on Marshall’s ability to address the nation’s growing tendency toward isolationism at a time when the world demanded leadership from the United States. Uldrich describes how Marshall knew that you couldn’t just throw money at a problem; you had to work the hard issues with regard to systems, reform, and infrastructure.

This book is both substantive and simplistic for a student of leadership. It tempts the reader to learn more about George Marshall and his truly historic and strategic accomplishments. It enlightens the reader as to the many sides of Marshall. It is simplistic, however, in the somewhat brief and perishable tidbits regarding specific CEOs and businesses.

Soldier, Statesman, Peacemaker is not for the serious student of history, but is better suited for the budding student of leadership studies, the emerging business leader, and for leaders in any walk of life who need or want to be reminded of the example of one of the truly great American leaders of modern times.


The Politics of Air Power: From Confrontation to Cooperation in Army Aviation Civil-Military Relations. By Rondall R. Rice. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004. 284 pages. $49.95. Reviewed by Colonel George T. Doran, USAF, Director, Air Employment Studies, US Army War College.

The “Roaring 20s” era was more than just parties and the pursuit of money and leisure activities; it was also a critical time in the evolution of the Air Corps and its battle for independence from the Army. Airpower legends like Brigadier General Billy Mitchell and then-Major Hap Arnold figure prominently in this story of political intrigue and battles of wills between those who wanted an independent air service and those who saw aircraft as an integral part of the Army.

The prologue opens with an exhaustive account of General Billy Mitchell and his eventual court-martial on eight counts of insubordination, conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline, and conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the mili-

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tary service; then, like a movie, the book goes back in time to detail how the hero found himself in that predicament. The thread that weaves throughout the book is the concept of civilian control of the military. During the period covered by the book, that concept was significantly different from how modern-day civilian control is exercised.

Imagine the idea that Army officers, working on the Army staff, would draft legislation for sympathetic members of Congress and give it to them without the Chief of Staff’s knowledge or approval. Imagine general officers colluding with Senators to craft and pass legislation that is friendly to their common cause. And then imagine a general officer speaking out against the stated goals of the President and the Secretary of War and getting away with it. All these things were going on during the drive for an independent air service. These tactics did eventually catch up with Billy Mitchell and probably did more to delay the inevitable separation of the Air Corps from the Army than to facilitate the parting of the two. While General Mitchell did get his point across and fueled the debate over the use of the airplane, his tactics damaged and delayed the acquisition of the “holy grail” for all Air Corps officers, a separate air service.

After the Mitchell era came Major Hap Arnold and Benjamin Foulois, ardent airpower advocates, though much more skilled in the manner of getting things done in Washington. Their story and how they continued the work of Mitchell constitutes the second half of the book. Major Arnold became Colonel Arnold, then General Arnold and the eventual Chief of the Air Corps. The conduct of these two influential airpower advocates more closely approximates modern-day interaction with Congress and the President. Both Arnold and Foulois understood the need for working within the system and not trying to bludgeon it from the outside.

The book concludes during the dramatic expansion of the Air Corps in the run-up to World War II. The unprecedented expansion in aircraft, pilots, and doctrine, and their inclusion in war plans, all sowed the seeds for what would eventually lead to the independent status of the Air Force in 1947. Rice’s epilogue follows the thread of civilian control of the military to its logical conclusion and highlights the fact that being right and being popular does not necessarily get you off the hook when you overstep the defined boundaries. Civilian control of the military is one of America’s most treasured principles; this treatise on how these early airpower zealots repeatedly crossed that invisible boundary and paid the price for that transgression provides a lesson for all who wear a military uniform in the United States.

My only criticism of this book, albeit a small one, is the fact that the last 104 pages are notes. The actual story line ends on page 180. That’s probably not unusual for a doctoral dissertation, but it’s a bit annoying for the casual reader.


Brotherhood of Heroes: The Marines at Peleliu, 1944—The Bloodiest Battle of the Pacific War. By Bill Sloan. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005. 386 pages. $26.00. Reviewed by Colonel Vince Goulding, USMC Ret.

Authors write books for reasons, just as readers buy them with expectations. Bill Sloan accomplishes what he set out to do in Brotherhood of Heroes. I am not as sure, however, that this reviewer got what he expected. Sloan does a magnificent job of

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describing the absolute hell of island fighting in the Second World War. In so doing he performs a well-deserved service to our aging veterans of World War II and inadvertently contributes to the ongoing debate swirling around Harry Truman’s decision to employ the atomic bomb. Study Peleliu, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa—then try to convince yourself an invasion of the Japanese home islands would not have been a bloodbath of epic proportions.

If a “no holds barred” description of combat is your expectation, Brotherhood of Heroes will not disappoint. If, however, larger issues of strategy and senior officer combat leadership are your interest, you will come away only partially satisfied. Yet, it is in these areas that the real lessons of Peleliu lie buried. In fairness, Sloan’s research is impressive and he touches on the issues of strategy and leadership, particularly in the book’s Epilogue, but only enough to whet the appetite—especially for readers well-versed in the war in the Pacific.

Sloan follows a Marine rifle company through its month-long fight on the island of Peleliu, but the author also delves into employment decisions and the travails of the company’s fellow Marines in sister battalions and the 1st Marine Division’s two other infantry regiments. His brief mention of different leadership styles is well done and provides meaningful food for thought. Marine icon Chester Puller (1st Marine Regiment) is painted with a justifiably harsh brush; Bucky Harris (5th Marines) comes away with much higher marks for his employment of combined arms in order to spare his Marines the unimaginative infantry assaults Puller inflicted on his battalions. Puller and his division commander, Major General William H. Rupertus, both should have been relieved. Rupertus’s insistence on haste, in order to fulfill his ignorance-based prophesy that “we’ll be through in three days . . . [maybe] only two” caused Puller to conceal casualties and continue to bleed his 1st Marines long after they had become combat-ineffective. A fresh Army division was available, but not employed until the island was “secured.” Peleliu was going to be a Marine fight.

The real story of Peleliu, however, lies at the strategic level. According to the official History of Marine Corps Operations in World War II (Western Pacific Operations), the assault on Peleliu was designed to protect Douglas MacArthur’s flank as he moved from New Guinea to the southern Philippines in the summer of 1944. The principal “threat” consisted of airfields and anchorages in the Palau Islands, whose “permanent neutralization” could be achieved only through amphibious assault. It was bad strategy. As Sloan accurately states, by the summer of 1944 there was no Japanese air or sea threat in the Palau Islands. The ground forces that occupied the islands were not a threat unless somebody was foolish enough to pick a fight with them. In order to placate MacArthur and ease residual strains of interservice conflict stemming from the June-July Saipan battle and its attendant Smith v. Smith controversy, Admiral Chester Nimitz committed his Marines to an ill-advised supporting attack of MacArthur’s “New Guinea-Mindanao Axis” drive. Ironically, the same MacArthur who perfected the art of bypassing Japanese strong points along the northern New Guinea coast advocated the seizure of the well-defended Palaus. Perhaps he assumed Nimitz would do so intelligently. Mindanao itself (southern Philippines) became as irrelevant as Peleliu. Admiral William “Bull” Halsey saw the picture clearly and recommended that Nimitz abandon the Palau campaign and strike (along with MacArthur) directly at the central

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Philippines. The recommendation became reality, but Peleliu inexplicably remained on the agenda. Sadly, the Marine Corps official history posits that the necessity of invading the Palau Islands is a “matter of unproductive speculation.” I would be sorely disappointed if anybody reading this review would agree. To do so is to say that the blood shed by the 1st Marine Division in the fall of 1944 was truly wasted.

Most histories of Peleliu cite poor photo and terrain intelligence. While perhaps true for a battalion operations officer planning an attack, the same cannot be said for Nimitz’s staff. Even poor aerial photos would have told strategic planners there were no airplanes or ships in the Palaus capable of interfering with an invasion of the Philippines. Senior officers bear much of the blame—strategically, operationally, and tactically. Nimitz and Rupertus come to mind immediately. But just as guilty is Major General Roy S. Geiger, USMC (overall commander of the Palau Island landings). The outspoken (and usually right) Marine Major General Holland M. Smith best understood the strengths, weaknesses, and strategic appropriateness of amphibious operations, but he had been discredited for his relief of an Army general during the Saipan battle. Geiger should have stepped up. He compounded his poor strategic performance at the operational level by allowing Rupertus to bleed the 1st Marine Division’s regiments white while a fresh Army division was available. Clearly, Saipan exerted more influence on Peleliu than is usually acknowledged.

Regardless, one thing is clear. Peleliu is a troubling example of how brave young men can pay the price for the arrogance, ignorance, and incompetence of the older men responsible for their well-being. When all is said and done, little has changed in 60 years. Young American soldiers and marines do the dirty work so well and heroically that they sometimes obscure the fact that they do so in spite of less than sterling strategic leadership.

If Bill Sloan’s book causes people to think more about the realities of ground combat—in any war—the heroic performance of the 1st Marine Division in the summer of 1944 will have served a useful purpose.


What Stalin Knew: The Enigma of Barbarossa. By David E. Murphy. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2005. 352 pages. $30.00. Reviewed by Stephen J. Blank, Professor of National Security Studies, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.

In a memorable and bravura passage of his novel The First Circle, Alexander Solzhenitsyn portrays Stalin as a man who trusted no one—not his wives, his mother, his mistresses, nor even Lenin. Indeed, Solzhenitsyn observes that he trusted only one man, and that man betrayed him. This book recounts how Hitler, and Stalin’s own actions, betrayed him as well as the Soviet Union. The subject of Stalin’s policies in the crucial 1939-1941 period has enjoyed renewed attention from historians since the demise of the Soviet Union, because many previous constraints upon Russian historians were lifted and numerous archives opened, at least for a few years. Since the 1990s, access to an accurate understanding of the Stalin period has been narrowed, so this book is doubly welcome and could not have been written by a more knowledgeable author. David Murphy was chief of the CIA’s

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Berlin base from 1950 to 1961 and then chief of Soviet operations at the CIA, so he has a long-standing, intimate, and deep knowledge of Soviet intelligence.

In this book Murphy focuses on only one aspect of the Soviet intelligence empire: military intelligence and its networks in European embassies and Soviet agent networks. He reveals, as have others who have tracked the other branches of this intelligence system (foreign communists, sources from the Communist International, intelligence agents from the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs [NKVD]), just how thoroughly Soviet intelligence had penetrated Europe both before and after the Nazi conquests. The amount and scope of intelligence coming into Soviet offices and to Stalin was truly unbelievable. Yet it was not believed. And few, if any, officials in Russia were prepared to confront Stalin and his no-less-odious toadies on this score. Murphy actually devotes a chapter to the tragic fate of one of those few, General I. I. Proskurov, who paid the ultimate price for his honesty and independence.

Stalin was also taken in by a masterful German deception scheme, beginning with letters to Stalin by Hitler. This campaign magnificently exploited Stalin’s belief that the intelligence reports of German buildups, even down to predictions of the correct time of invasion, were nothing more than provocations (Stalin would habitually prefix that word with some choice Russian obscenities in his notes on these reports). Stalin also apparently believed, as did so many others, that, after all, Hitler would not lie to him. What Stalin also evidently believed is that many, if not all, of these intelligence reports, and not just from military intelligence, represented British or other imperialist efforts to entangle him in a war with Germany. Thus Stalin persisted in his stubbornly held and utterly misguided convictions that Hitler had promised him there would be no invasion despite the growing unease of his subordinates who, after all, had to process these voluminous intelligence reports of an unparalleled military buildup. As Murphy points out, this deception campaign was imperative for German success.

Murphy’s work is essential reading, and not just because it offers new material and interpretations of a crucial aspect of Soviet history. An honest confrontation with history is an essential part of the cleansing process that former totalitarian and authoritarian regimes have to undergo. All signs point to the fact that under Vladimir Putin, who is an alumnus of the KGB, access to the evidence of the multifarious crimes of the Soviet regime is being steadily restricted. It is not surprising that the heirs of the KGB (itself a descendant of the NKVD that conspired with Stalin to hide the truth) are not interested in revealing the entire truth. But that only means that sometime in the future another Russian leader, and along with him, the Russian people, will probably have to undergo another painful and tragic lesson in deception.


The Dominion of War: Empire and Liberty in North America, 1500-2000. By Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton. New York: Penguin, 2005. 520 pages. $27.95. Reviewed by Major Robert L. Bateman, currently assigned to the Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq.

In The Dominion of War, historians Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton set out to recast how we understand the history of North America and the peoples who have

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lived here over the course of the past five centuries. Their thesis is that our continent has been shaped by empires seeking to extend their dominions, first European, then (and this is the potentially controversial part) our own. In carefully crafted language the authors acknowledge that the terms “empire” and “hegemony” are particularly laden words in this day and age, especially as they relate to the American period under consideration. But the authors maintain that those are the most accurate terms available to describe the elements and objectives at play. In this pursuit they are generally successful. The Dominion of War is a solid work of scholarship which may possibly change the focal points and acknowledged “turning points” by which we generally understand our history.

Editors and publicists at commercial publishing houses, when drafting the text which appears on the dust jackets of the books they produce, are prone to hyperbole. Accordingly, every year there appear quite a few book covers which breathlessly announce that the text contained within is a “magisterial work” which offers a “startling new perspective” on the “broad sweep of history.” By and large these announcements are pabulum, enticing to the same degree that the claim of “New and Improved!” is on a bottle of liquid laundry detergent. But when dust-jacket compliments are coupled with the name of historian Fred Anderson, one should not automatically dismiss the hype.

Anderson is a professor of history at the University of Colorado, and he has an established track record of excellence. His 2003 award-winning book, The Crucible of War, followed and built upon his less well-known but academically respected A People’s Army. The latter is the standard academic work for understanding the motivations of colonial soldiers in the New England region during the French and Indian War. (If that topic seems narrow, remember that it was these same men who kicked off the American Revolution just a few years later near Boston, so their motivations with respect to the military do, in fact, matter.) In this latest effort, Anderson partners with less well-known historian Andrew Cayton, whose own specialty heretofore seems to have been largely confined to the history of the midwest. The combination seems to work moderately well; there are no obvious breaks in the continuity of the text, and the documentation is consistent throughout. Moreover, The Dominion of War does, indeed, offer the promised “grand arc of American history” and provides something of a “new perspective” to boot.

Five hundred years, however, is a lot of temporal ground to cross between the covers of a single book. Doing so in any sort of conventional manner is almost a recipe for disaster, or at least for mind-numbingly boring pedagogy. Anderson and Cayton largely succeed in dodging that particular bullet, however, through the convention of the abbreviated biography.

Although, in general, the “Great Man” theory of history is déclassé within academic circles, it still sells well (and perhaps for that reason should not be entirely banned from academia) because it helps readers relate to the past. The Dominion of War, for this reason, uses the lives of nine men as its vehicle: Samuel de Champlain, George Washington, William Penn, Andrew Jackson, Antonio López de Santa Anna, Ulysses S. Grant, Arthur MacArthur, Douglas MacArthur, and Colin Powell. Although not all are necessarily the driving force in their respective eras, they each serve well in the role of exemplar for Anderson and Cayton’s broader thesis.

As the authors put it, “Our purpose in writing this book was to rearrange the landscape of historical memory and meaning by emphasizing the importance of the

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wars Americans have fought less to preserve liberty than to extend the power of the United States in the name of liberty.” They succeed, though not without some hiccups.

The Dominion of War is strongest in its opening chapters. The biographies of Washington, Penn, Jackson, and Grant are well developed, and one is drawn into those periods. This makes sense, given the previous research work and areas of specialty of the authors. In sharp contrast, however, their depiction of Arthur MacArthur is shallow and seems to exist only in order to bring his son onto the stage, while the Colin Powell segment is so thin that it gives the reader the distinct impression that the authors wrote it under protested pressure from an editor who likes nice round numbers like “2000.”

Overall, and despite its uneven quality, this large work is a solid piece of scholarship which should be read by those with a strategic bent. Those seeking narratives of particular conflicts, let alone battles, need not pick it up.


Engaging India: Diplomacy, Democracy, and the Bomb. By Strobe Talbott. Washington: Brookings Institution Press, 2004. 268 pages. $27.95. Reviewed by Dr. Sumit Ganguly, Professor of Political Science and Director, India Studies Program, Indiana University.

Relations between two robust democracies, India and the United States, during the Cold War years oscillated between short periods of engagement and long spans of estrangement. In the early 1950s, shortly after India’s emergence as an independent state, its role as the leader of the nonaligned movement vitiated the prospect of close relations with the United States. Simultaneously, the American defense agreement with Pakistan in 1954 made India deeply suspicious of American motives and goals.

A brief interlude of good bilateral relations did ensue in the immediate aftermath of the Sino-Indian border war of 1962. The Indian Army, which had been severely mauled in the disastrous border war, had to be re-equipped and modernized to cope with the emergent Chinese threat. Though intent on preserving their country’s nonaligned credentials, India’s leaders desperately sought military assistance from the United States. Initially, the United States proved forthcoming and significantly expanded its military assistance mission in New Delhi. Such bonhomie, however, was not to last. Pakistan, India’s intransigent adversary, expressed grave reservations about the emerging Indo-US military nexus. Unwilling to alienate its putative South Asian ally, the United States swiftly drew back from providing more substantial military assistance to India.

After the mid-1960s, as the United States became increasingly embroiled in the war in Vietnam, India and South Asia were consigned to the backwaters of American foreign and security policy concerns. Indeed it was not until the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that American policymakers again focused their interests on South Asia. Even this renewed attention to South Asia, and mostly to Pakistan, was derivative of the American global anti-communist enterprise. Nor surprisingly, almost immediately after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, the United States again disengaged from Pakistan.

Indeed, it was not until the dramatic opening of the Indian economy, following an acute fiscal crisis in 1991, that the United States chose to devote any significant diplomatic attention to the region. Though India now merited some attention in the American foreign policy calculus, the level of interest in the country in the critical de-

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partments of the US foreign and security policy establishments was still limited. The lack of attention to India, as Strobe Talbott candidly acknowledges in his remarkable diplomatic memoir, Engaging India, became apparent to senior policymakers in the wake of the Indian nuclear tests of May 1998.

Apart from having a purely personal interest, Talbott, a former foreign correspondent for Time magazine, at that time had little or no diplomatic experience in dealing with India. However, as a close confidante of President Bill Clinton, he was given the daunting task of engaging India (and Pakistan) in the wake of the 1998 nuclear tests. The task that he was entrusted with was unenviable, because prior to the India and Pakistan nuclear tests, the stated American policy was to “cap, roll back, and eliminate weapons of mass destruction in South Asia.” In the aftermath of the tests, while the Administration may have still harbored those goals, for the immediate term Talbott’s objectives in his negotiations were more modest. They were to induce India (and Pakistan) to adopt a “strategic restraint regime,” to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), to adopt strict export control guidelines and procedures to prevent the seepage of nuclear technology, and to resume a bilateral dialogue designed to reduce tensions.

The author’s diplomatic discussions with his Indian counterpart, Jaswant Singh, though marked with courtesy and a large degree of mutual respect, were far from easy. Several factors complicated the discussions. They were both historical and structural. The prior diplomatic relationship between the two states had been both slender and strained. Consequently, both sides had to overcome this legacy of neglect and establish a milieu of trust. Despite their fundamentally differing briefs, they quickly managed to establish a large degree of rapport. Such a rapport, though both desirable and indeed necessary, could not overcome other critical obstacles. The Indian side was well aware that over time, thanks to the exigencies of American domestic politics, the appetite for maintaining sanctions would wane. Consequently, it was in their interest to draw out the negotiations. Before too long their calculations proved correct.

Talbott’s account also reveals how Indian domestic politics constrained movement in the negotiations. As state and national elections loomed, his interlocutor’s ability to move with any dispatch was also hobbled. Additionally, the ever-watchful Indian press, which took an acute interest in the negotiations, sought to carefully parse and interpret, sometimes quite incorrectly, even the most anodyne joint statements that emerged after each round of meetings. Such tight scrutiny, coupled with lingering suspicions about the motives of the United States in certain quarters of India’s media elite, did little to make these negotiations any easier.

In the end, Talbott, despite heroic efforts, failed to accomplish most of his initial goals. However, it would be incorrect to conclude that these talks amounted to little of substance. Even though he may have felt that his endeavors had been mostly Sisyphean, it would be wrong to arrive at such a conclusion. While India has not eschewed its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, it has not resumed nuclear testing, it has strengthened its export control laws, and it has begun a negotiating process with Pakistan. There is little or no question that at least some of these developments are the result of Talbott’s tireless labors. Ironically, President Clinton’s successor, George W. Bush, has been one of the most significant beneficiaries of the improved climate in Indo-US bilateral relations.

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Even though this book is focused on a particular segment of recent American diplomatic history, it should be of interest to more than specialists of South Asian politics. Those interested in questions pertaining to American foreign policy, the dispersion of nuclear weapons, and diplomatic negotiations should all find this work to be of more than passing interest. Talbott, a former journalist of some repute, writes with clarity, verve, and a remarkable attention to vivid detail. His graceful and compelling prose, coupled with the insight that he provides into the complex negotiating process, should make Engaging India attractive to a much wider audience.


Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda. By Sean Naylor. New York: Berkley Books, 2005. 425 pages. $25.95. Reviewed by Colonel Gregory Fontenot, USA Ret., former Commander of the Battle Command Training Program.

There are very few correspondents working today who can be legitimately described as military correspondents. There are some who claim to be war correspondents, but that title only requires a journalist to have reported on a war. Some, but not all, of this number even feel they should actually report from the scene. More disturbing, few journalists take the trouble to learn anything about the military; thus when they report they tend to do so in complete or nearly complete ignorance of the institutions which are used to wage war. Sean Naylor is an exception to the rule that journalists who report on combat operations and the military are sublimely ignorant of their subject. Naylor’s beat is the US Army first and the US armed forces second, and he seems to like it that way.

Despite his expertise, Naylor is not well thought of by the Army brass, for the good reason that he is generally and genuinely skeptical of the story lines that emanate from official outlets. Like any good reporter, he seeks to tell the whole tale, and some of what he reports the senior leadership would prefer not to hear. Naylor does, however, have a constituency—soldiers. He seems honestly to like soldiers and to care about them. For more than ten years he has reported on the troops wherever they happened to be. In that time, Naylor seems to have developed an affinity for them. He is far less cynical about their motivation, their talent, and their point of view than are many of his colleagues. Naylor’s affection and respect are clearly revealed in his stories.

Not a Good Day to Die is a good story and one well told. Naylor tells the story from the point of view of the troops and how the choices made by senior commanders affected them. Not a Good Day to Die is a first-rate narrative of the battles waged in the Shahikot Valley in February and March of 2002. The book succeeds in two important ways. First, it is a compelling and interesting story, and second, it raises important questions about how the United States planned and conducted Operation Anaconda. This is the most important vector in Not a Good Day to Die since, despite enormous effort and many instances of incredible bravery, Operation Anaconda failed to achieve the outcomes anticipated. Some will argue, with good reason, that Naylor fails to set the context for his story in terms of what US Central Command (CENTCOM) and Combined Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC) intended and the role that these headquarters played in planning Anaconda. Naylor understands that he might be criticized regarding context, but he makes the case, which is easy to believe, that he would have done more if

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CENTCOM and US Special Operations Command (SOCOM), in particular, had not blocked his efforts to do so by denying access to information.

Still, Naylor’s account is damning enough, and the case he makes is, at the very least, plausible. Naylor suggests that there was no plan in place for what to do in the event of the operational success actually enjoyed during the “special forces on horses” phase of the operation. CENTCOM and CFLCC seemed as surprised as everyone else at the Taliban’s rapid collapse. But joint doctrine is presumably clear about the need for thinking through a campaign to the point of the strategic end imagined in the first place. Events on the ground seem to have outstripped the plan. Implicit in the narrative is the idea that someone, somewhere, should have imagined a “what happens next” phase of operations following the insertion of Special Forces and the application of US airpower.

Naylor argues that virtually everyone in the chain of command from CENTCOM down was slow to see that the conditions on the ground had changed. According to Naylor, Colonel John Mullholland, who commanded Joint Special Operations Task Force Dagger, realized sooner than most that following the collapse of the Taliban conventional troops would be needed to close out the campaign. Eventually, CENTCOM acted and brought in conventional ground forces. Ultimately, CENTCOM and CFLCC perceived Operation Anaconda as part of the end game in Afghanistan.

The author lays out quite clearly the dilemma commanders at all levels faced in recognizing the shifting requirements. He is less sympathetic to some of the ideas that forced units to do without. Chief among these was the mantra within Central Command to avoid the mistakes the Soviets made. At CENTCOM that meant that, at all costs, the United States should not bring in large numbers of conventional forces. Accordingly, when conventional troops arrived, they came without key tools for command and control and fires. On the other hand, everything had to come to Afghanistan by air and be sustained by the same means.

Naylor is perhaps a bit disingenuous when he points out that the brigade of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) deployed to Afghanistan without supporting artillery, since it is hard to imagine sustaining artillery by air for very long. A better argument could be made for bringing Apaches, which CENTCOM also resisted. In fact, organic sustained fire support very well might have made a crucial difference. Naylor is just not as convincing here as he might have been. On the other hand, as long as airmen contend that they can do what artillery presently does—suppress immediately and over time—then they will have to produce. Indeed, Naylor suggests that airmen did not produce immediate suppressive fires that endured over time in Afghanistan.

Not a Good Day to Die is best when discussing the command and control arrangements for US forces in Afghanistan. Naylor’s narrative reads like any good account of the maiden voyage of the Titanic. He recounts basic flaws in design, errors in judgment, personal foibles—institutional rivalries that leave the reader with the sick feeling of impending doom that is then played out in the mountains above the Shahikot. For this reason alone, Not a Good Day to Die deserves to be read.

Sean Naylor will not have the last word on this campaign, but he has told a story of courage and devotion to duty that enriches both those who bear arms and those who do not. He has also raised important questions about how operations are planned and executed. His book is provocative, compelling, and irritating all at the same time.

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Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. By Jared Diamond. New York: Viking Press, 2005. 592 pages. $29.95. Reviewed by Lieutenant Colonel Robert M. Cassidy, Battalion Commander, 3d US Army/CFLCC, Special Troops Battalion.

Collapse is essentially a sequel to Jared Diamond’s previous Pulitzer-Prize winning Guns, Germs, and Steel. In Guns, Diamond created a masterful narrative of the historical evolution of human civilization, synthesizing anthropology, geography, geology, and sociology into one lucid book. Collapse is its logical successor, and it draws from the work in Guns to explain how past civilizations collapsed, applying the factors that helped precipitate those collapses, including the current challenges engendered by globalization, finite resources, and population growth.

Diamond is a professor of geography at UCLA, the University of California, Los Angeles. Among his awards are the National Medal of Science and the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. Although only a small portion of this book actually addresses warfare or military policy, it is salient reading for national security experts and military officers because it examines long-term threats to global security with military consequences. This book also explains some cultural impediments to adaptive decisionmaking and behavior that are relevant to a military undergoing transformation.

The author’s main assertion is that the nonsustainable path along which the global community is rapidly moving will resolve itself one way or another within the lifetimes of people who are children today. He posits whether war, genocide, pandemic disease, starvation, or the collapse of civilization will resolve this challenge rather badly, or whether we will deliberately choose to make decisions and course changes that will resolve this challenge in a more positive way.

Part One of the book examines the state of Montana as a microcosmic case exhibiting many of the environmental and ecological problems that plague other more discernibly problematic parts of the globe. Diamond observes that the ostensibly clean state of Montana “actually suffers from serous environmental problems involving toxic wastes, forests, soils, water, climate change, biodiversity losses, and introduced pests.” Part Two is the most fascinating part of Collapse, as it focuses on the causality for the collapse of ancient societies. The author recounts several cases of societal failure, but the two most interesting and germane are the Mayan civilization and the Viking colony on Greenland. His analysis explains the inexorable link between the environment, political culture, and military culture; it also reveals how the societies’ core values impaired decisions and impeded adaptation, thereby leading to their extermination. One particularly poignant excerpt on the Mayans, attributed to American explorer John Stephens, highlights the book’s salience and quality: “Here were the remains of a cultivated, polished, and peculiar people, who had passed through all the stages incident to the rise and fall of nations, reached their golden age, and perished.”

Part Three discusses the modern societies of Rwanda, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Australia, and China. The chapter on China is extremely relevant because it offers insight on the behavior and sustainability of our only emerging peer, a potential military adversary, and a rapidly increasing competitor for finite global resources. The chapter on Rwanda focuses on the genocide of 1994 and offers a grave and stark exam-

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ple of what can happen to a poorly governed society that is unable to resolve its population, environmental, and climatic challenges. The chapter on Haiti and the Dominican Republic is interesting because it examines a case where two distinct cultures and political entities, coexisting on the same island and facing similar environmental and climatic challenges, achieve different outcomes. Haiti’s future remains unpromising, whereas the Dominican Republic’s future is relatively promising. The fact that the US military deployed forces to the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Rwanda in the past underscores this chapter’s relevance. The final part of Collapse examines the lessons of societies that failed or succeeded; it examines the impact of both responsible and irresponsible big businesses, and it analyzes the differences between the ancient and modern worlds.

Collapse is a well-written, scholarly work that offers a seemingly prescient analysis of the long-term threats to the security of the Western powers in an increasingly integrated and porous global security environment. This is not a quick and easy read, and it would not be the first book I would recommend to the reading audience of this journal. However, it is of value, and when combined with Diamond’s previous work Guns, Germs, and Steel, and with John Keegan’s The History of Warfare, it offers testimony to how cultural values and preferences can catastrophically influence the decisions and behavior of nations facing the challenges of climatic change, population growth, fragile environments, and changes in warfare. Diamond also asserts that religious values often contribute to disastrous behavior because they are so deeply held and slow to change. The Norse civilization on Greenland, as an example, failed in part because its embedded cultural and religious predilections did not make it amenable to adaptation and innovation within the context of the harsh arctic environment. One interesting observation by Diamond about past societal failures is that “a society’s steep decline may begin only a decade or two after the society reaches its peak numbers, wealth, and power.” A final caveat in this book is that globalization now essentially makes it impossible for any society to collapse in isolation. Afghanistan and Somalia offer glaring examples, and for the first time in history, the possibility of a global decline exists.


Defense Logistics for the 21st Century. By William G. T. Tuttle, Jr. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2005. 355 pages. $38.95. Reviewed by Dr. Steve R. Waddell, author of U.S. Army Logistics: The Normandy Campaign, 1944, and Associate Professor of History, US Military Academy.

William G. T. Tuttle has more than 40 years of experience working with logistics systems of the Department of Defense. His military experience extends from rifle platoon leader to commanding general of the Army Material Command during Operation Just Cause in Panama and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990-1991. Tuttle has combined his military experience with ten years of work with the Logistics Management Institute in support of logisticians in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the armed services, and the defense agencies. William Tuttle is well qualified to examine defense logistics issues.

This work is not for the casual reader. It is written for military and civilian DOD leaders and is intended as a blueprint for improving defense logistics. The au-

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thor intends the book to be “a comprehensive treatment of defense logistics that could become a supplemental resource for many courses of instruction, from senior service college to junior staff and command schools.”

Tuttle argues that 21st-century logistics must meet two objectives in order to support the national military strategy: the timely delivery of forces and sustainment to the combatant commanders, and the minimization of the logistics “footprint” in the battle spaces. He examines the processes, issues, and policy choices related to logistics and argues that improvements are required to bring defense logistics into the 21st century.

Central to Tuttle’s argument are five principles that when applied to the logistics processes he believes will result in the effective performance of defense logistics tasks. The supporting principles are: accountability for process performance; continuously shared knowledge of asset status, requirements of the campaign, “customer” status, and process barriers; maximized commercial contracting of logistics activities in the continental United States, forward bases, and intermediate staging and support bases; use of the “comparative advantage” concept for allocation of logistics tasks to coalition partners; and simplicity in planning and operations. He argues that these five “enabling” principles make improving logistics possible.

The author devotes chapters to creating force-projection processes and platforms, sustaining forces in the battle spaces, the processes for sustaining weapons and support systems, assessing product support processes, sustaining the people in operations, assessing the processes to sustain people, and professional development of logisticians. He concludes with recommendations for improving logistics in the 21st century.

To improve force projection, Tuttle argues for seven process improvements. First, the DOD should establish a senior integrated process team, chaired by the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Second, Installation/Depot Transportation Officers should be reassigned to US Transportation Command (TRANSCOM). Third, TRANSCOM should be assigned the mission and given the resources to provide a theater reception and deployment management capability for each combatant command to manage intra-theater airlift and sealift and terminal operation resources. Fourth, DOD should implement the Deployment Decision Support System. Fifth, the DOD activity address code process must be modernized. Sixth, DOD must develop contractor support arrangements for all phases of force-projection operations, from pre-deployment equipment maintenance through theater assembly area reception. Seventh, DOD should implement contingency planning for coalition deployment support. Tuttle believes these process improvements should involve limited cost. He also argues for an investment in strategic and operational lift and modification of pre-positioned resources, shifting them from land to sea. He concludes with a call for improved intra-theater lift, the purchase of the V-22 for the Marines, and a replacement for the C-130 aircraft for the Army.

In the area of force sustainment, Tuttle makes five major recommendations. First, DOD needs to implement project manager-led contractor support for weapons and support systems. Second, one must invest in continuously shared knowledge for sustainment operations. Third, logisticians must transform distribution to minimize the battle space logistics footprint. Fourth, a joint theater logistics management organization for each area-based combatant commander must be provided. Fifth, prime vendor arrangement for people sustainment must be expanded.

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Tuttle concludes that to make his process improvements and technology investments work, a high-quality workforce is essential. He argues that the military component of the workforce must stress focused skill development and the civilian workforce must be transformed to create a force of competent managers.

Logisticians, senior government and military leaders, leaders of business and industry, and others interested in logistics will find Tuttle’s work thought-provoking. The challenge, as is usually the case with implementing process change, is that organizations often resist change and the costs often exceed expectations. While Tuttle clearly is more interested in producing a better, more efficient, logistics system than in controlling costs, he does believe that improvements to the logistics processes will result in cost savings which could be used to purchase additional logistics assets such as sealift and airlift capability. This work is sure to generate discussion regarding the future of US defense logistics in the 21st century, and I recommend it to anyone interested in the subject.


The Battle of An Loc. By James H. Willbanks. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005. 226 pages. $29.95. Reviewed by Lieutenant Colonel Gregory A. Daddis, author of Fighting in the Great Crusade and Instructor, Department of History, US Military Academy.

Despite the devastation and anxiety generated by the three-month struggle for An Loc during the 1972 Easter Offensive, a sense of satisfaction pervades James H. Willbanks’ account of what one historian has called “the single most important battle” in the Vietnam War. After the Americans had endured years of frustration in attempting to identify and destroy an elusive enemy, the North Vietnamese Nguyen-Hue Campaign finally provided American military leaders an opportunity to bring their superior firepower and technology to bear in a conventional operation. As one US advisor assigned to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) airborne brigade noted, this was “the war we came to fight.”

The realization of battle under “normal” rules did little, though, to further US goals of fostering a more stable government of South Vietnam, and a careful reading of The Battle of An Loc warns that while battles may be necessary in war, they are not always sufficient in attaining political objectives. While the fighting in Binh Long province may have saved Saigon from North Vietnamese occupation in 1972, it nevertheless did little to wean uneven ARVN forces from their reliance on US support. More important, as Willbanks properly argues, the “Nixon administration used the South Vietnamese victory at An Loc to declare the President’s Vietnamization policy a success,” thus providing clear evidence that the United States could fully disengage from Vietnam.

These strategic-level conclusions are well balanced by a tactical and operational overview of General Vo Nguyen Giap’s 1972 campaign to destroy ARVN forces, occupy key South Vietnamese cities, and discredit Nixon’s Vietnamization and pacification programs. Willbanks, a faculty member of the US Army Command and General Staff College and an advisor during the battle of An Loc, brings a wealth of historical and personal experience to a narrative written in clear prose. Detailing Giap’s planning assumptions for an invasion that would include the equivalent of 20 North Vietnamese Army (NVA) infantry divisions, the author illustrates

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how American forces were well on their way to drawing-down in Vietnam at the same time Giap was preparing for his Easter Offensive. A core group of American advisors, the “glue that kept . . . [the ARVN] together,” and US airpower would be the difference in checking the three NVA divisions assigned to take An Loc.

 Throughout April and May, the NVA would launch three separate attacks with hopes of seizing a base for subsequent operations against Saigon. Willbanks makes clear the unparalleled intensity of fighting that leveled An Loc and surprised even the most experienced of American advisors. The angst is palpable as the author describes the confusion created by NVA and ARVN forces being “so closely intertwined; from the air, the pilots had a difficult time separating friend from foe.” Tactical air support from US Air Force F-4s, AC-130s, A-37s and B-52s, as well as Army Cobra attack helicopters, proved indispensable in blunting NVA attacks.

Readers should be cautious about drawing lessons from Willbanks’ reverential discourse on airpower in Vietnam, however. While he rightly asserts that air support “provided the difference between victory and defeat” during the battle for An Loc, airpower did little to assist in the pacification effort or to disrupt support for the insurgency throughout Vietnam. This is not a book to be used in maintaining an argument that American airpower, properly employed, would have won the war.

No less significant than airpower was the role of American advisors, whose mere presence, according to Willbanks, “was the embodiment of the US commitment to stand by the South Vietnamese in time of dire peril.” US officers are depicted as frustrated professionals counseling apprehensive ARVN commanders and staffs with “very little training or experience in handling operations as complex as those demanded by the NVA onslaught.” Here readers may be unhappy with the author’s tendency to stereotype combatants along national lines. While US advisors are without exception calm and cool under the pressures of direct combat, their Vietnamese charges are often portrayed as little more than impediments to an efficient prosecution of battle. Vietnamese Air Force pilots are depicted as undependable and reluctant fliers, while US airmen bravely defy the nine battalions of North Vietnamese antiaircraft fire that eventually surrounded An Loc. Only occasionally does Willbanks refer to the competence of the ARVN soldier.

There is timely perspective to be gained here for those currently attempting to build armed forces capable of confronting national security problems without direct assistance from the United States. Patience and resolve, all while guarding against American hubris, are essential aspects of working with allies who may be judged as less able. Building armies is not a task that is quickly accomplished, especially when cultural and language barriers exist between American advisors and the units to which they are assigned. Of note, one of the US advisors who played a leading role in repelling the NVA onslaught in the early stages of the An Loc battle was a young captain with extensive knowledge of the Vietnamese language.

Much more than presenting just a personal account of battle, James Willbanks has succeeded in offering an insightful version of what General Ngo Quang Truong called “the longest and bloodiest siege of the war.” For those readers aiming to gain a better appreciation for the final stages of American military involvement in Vietnam or for those seeking to better understand the difficulties in prosecuting coalition warfare, reading The Battle of An Loc would certainly be time well spent.


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Reviewed 9 February 2006. Please send comments or corrections to usarmy.carlisle.awc.mbx.parameters@mail.mil