From Parameters, Autumn 2007, pp. 108-33.
The Eye of Command. By Kimberly Kagan. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006. 241 pages. $70.00 ($24.95 paper). Reviewed by Dr. J. Boone Bartholomees, Jr., Professor of Military History, US Army War College.
Kimberly Kagan has taken up dragon slaying. In a fascinating new and original book that relies heavily on literary interpretation, she proposes that John Keegans Face of Battle approach to narrating battles suffers fatal flaws. Kagan acknowledges that Keegans seminal work was a necessary palliative for the commander-centered battle narratives she calls general staff historyones that approach battle as if commanders issue orders and armies obey those orders as unitary entities. Kagan works from the assumption that battle narratives must be historically accurate and precise, but also must explain the course and outcome of battles. She contends that by focusing on the thousands of individual experiences that comprise a battle Keegan and his disciples miss the forest for the trees and are unable to explain either the results of battle or why things happened the way they did. Face of Battle narratives provide excellent insight on the nature of battle, but their low-level focus actually obscures causality.
Kagan combines elements of Clausewitz with complementary elements of chaos theory and applies the resulting intellectual construct to two ancient narrators to prove her point. From Clausewitz come the concepts of critical analysis and friction, among others. Clausewitz distinguished between a simple battle narrative and what he termed the critical approach. The critical approach was a three-step method involving gathering all the facts, tracing effects back to their causes (which Clausewitz called critical analysis), and evaluation to assign criticism or praise. Kagan focuses primarily on the second step of critical analysis. She argues that without that step, battle narrative is sterile and essentially useless since it cannot explain either results or causation. Friction arises at least partly from the actions of all the individuals that a Face of Battle narrative relates. The problem is that individuals, even those directly responsible for friction, rarely recognize their complicity. The commander, who has a different perspective in terms of both location and responsibility, is in a much better position to see, recognize, and comment on the causes and consequences of friction. In fact, Kagan asserts that one of a commanders primary duties during a battle is to critically analyze (in the Clausewitzian sense) the action in order to try to recognize and respond to the innumerable unexpected events. This makes him an excellent narrator for people interested in causality.
Chaos theory expands and enriches the idea of friction and addresses other important theoretical constructs like identifying and tracing causality. One does not have to be able to observe and catalogue every action in order to explain why things occurred. Important events with the potential for system-wide impact become noticeable at some point on their causal stream. It is the ability of the observer to see, understand, and interpret such events that leads to reliable interpretation of cause.
Commanders are ideally suited for such observation, recognition, and interpretation. Thus, Kagan, who understands that battle is a complex and chaotic activity, contends that narration by telling all the stories of individual participants, if that were even possible, is inadequate. Further, attributing causation to soldier reaction to weapons or the general actions of combat arms is misleading at best. She proposes that the more reliable source for those interested in more than the nature of battle is the commander, whose account would supplement and include relevant description of events by individuals.
The Eye of Command demonstrates its thesis primarily using Caesars narrations of battles from The Gallic War. Kagan includes an extensive analysis of Marcellinus Ammianuss battle narratives as an ancient example of a pre-Keegan face of battle author, but the analysis supports her primary thesis only indirectly. Using Caesar, however, is significant since Keegan specifically denigrated Caesars narrations. Kagan examines several battles, although the most extensive and significant was the siege of Alesia. She analyzes Caesars reliability as a witness based on his own political agenda and natural tendency to protect his reputation, what he saw or could have seen or known during the fight, and how faithfully he related the action. She then evaluates whether Caesars narrative gives a reliable assessment of what transpired and why. In each case, Kagan finds much more reason to trust and accept Caesars narrative than did Keegan.
Kagan and Keegan used the same text, so their difference is in interpretation, expectation, and beliefin a sense, different conclusions about half-empty or half-full. And in some respects, Kimberly Kagan has picked a fight that does not really exist. Even she admits that nobodyincluding Keeganreally narrates battles exclusively from the Face of Battle approach. It simply falls apart for all the reasons she has so correctly pointed out. She also admits that at some individual level, Face of Battle elements are necessary to any good story of battle. Kagan notes, for example, that Caesar included the stories of what he considered to be relevant individuals to set up or illustrate his narrative. So, what we have here is not dragon slaying but rather something more akin to dragon taming or perhaps selective dragon breeding. Kagan is dead on and absolutely correct about the defects of the Face of Battle approach to history; however, it retains a valid place in the literature. Kagans Eye of Command narrations are an intriguing alternative and certainly better at explaining causation than Keegans approach, but their literary contribution should be to supplement rather than completely replace Keegans technique.
War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today. By Max Boot. New York: Gotham Books, 2006. 624 pages. $35.00. Reviewed by Lieutenant Colonel Robert M. Cassidy, a US Army officer and a Fellow with the Center for Advanced Defense Studies.
War Made New examines 500 years of military innovation, elucidating enduring lessons that emphasize the imperative for militaries to adapt quickly, or perish. Most cogently and aptly, the book posits that unless the US government can
streamline its Industrial Age bureaucracy and become a networked organization, it may find that even purchasing the latest and best technology will not provide an adequate capability to preempt and defeat nimble, networked groups like al Qaeda. Put another way, when a hierarchical bureaucracy attempts to fight a networked adversary, a portion of the enemy we face is us.
Max Boot is a senior fellow in national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, a weekly foreign-affairs columnist for the Los Angeles Times, and a budding military historian. This book is his second foray into military history. The impeccable timing and pithy prose of his first military history book, The Savage Wars of Peace (2002), earned him acclaim for a lucid account of the American militarys small wars expeditions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Although much of the focus of this book has received attention previously, in works such as War in European History by Michael Howard and The Dynamics of Military Revolution by MacGregor Knox and Williamson Murray, War Made New is a must read for military professionals as it offers profound implications for the American militarys ability to adapt and win this Long War.
Boot renders a narrative of the past 500 years of warfare through the lens of four sea changes in the nature of societies, politics, and warfare. The book examines the Gunpowder Revolution, Industrial Revolution, Second Industrial Revolution, and Information Revolution to capture relevant insights about future war and to illuminate the adaptability that future wars may demand of polities and militaries. Among the examples that War Made New analyzes in the context of the above revolutions are the Battles of Assaye, Omdurman, France (1940), and Mazar-E Sharif. Boots rationale for choosing which battles to explore is threefold: to explain various aspects of the four revolutions; to amplify the maturation of the four transformations over time; and to demonstrate how the side that initially gains the decisive advantage may lose it when adversaries emulate it and adapt. The book focuses exclusively on the consequences that these revolutions portended for modern warfare. The author therefore includes only wars that exhibited transformational breakthroughs in the military art and profession. He excludes prolonged and bloody wars of attrition.
Throughout the analyses of these four revolutions, War Made New brings several notions to light. First, doctrine, training, tactics, leadership, and effective organization are essential to achieve the full measure of new technology, since technology itself seldom bestows an overwhelming advantage. Second, countries that have been able to harness transformational shifts in military power have been historys winners while those that have failed to harness military innovations have typically been relegated to irrelevance. Third, even when a country learns how to leverage innovative shifts in military capabilities, it still requires sufficient savoir faire to avoid squandering those capabilities on impossible endeavors. Fourth, for those who adapt early, superior technology, strategy, and tactics are relative and ephemeral because adversaries inevitably emulate success and adapt to counter them. Fifth, with each subsequent transformation in military power, the capacity to innovate has been accelerating. In this era, there is thus little margin for a dearth of dexterity. The risks of getting left behind are too grave not to keep pace with military changes and innovations. Lastly, Boot posits, there is no magical solution for managing the complexities of transformational
changes in warfarethe best way to anticipate the path ahead is to understand the pathways that brought us to the present.
History is replete with precedents of the aforementioned. Hubris and ossification inexorably lead nations and armies to underestimate enemies, to fail to adapt quickly enough to prevail, and to vanish into oblivion. The author emphasizes two final but salient notions that have become exceedingly evident in the last five years. One, the lines between regular and irregular war are blurring. Two, to fight and win this long irregular war will require knowledge of cultures, foreign languages, civil affairs, human intelligence, and cognitive linguistics. It will also require expunging or adapting hierarchical bureaucratic organizations and cultures to create more horizontal and more networked organizations. The irony is that after many centuries in which the West perfected, codified, and prosecuted regular wars, in most cases handing non-western adversaries crushing defeats, this epoch is witnessing the irregularization of war. Someone once observed, War made the state, and the state made war. To paraphrase this aphorism in words more apropos to this long irregular war: If the Industrial Revolution made the hierarchical and bureaucratic state, which efficiently waged large-scale industrial war; then, the Information Age spawned the non-state and non-state armed groups, whose tribal warriors and mujihadeen employ any means, anywhere, without any rules, to wage irregular warfare to undermine the state.
The Past as Prologue: The Importance of History to the Military Profession. Edited by Williamson Murray and Richard Hart Sinnreich. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. 287 pages. $75.00 ($23.99 paper). Reviewed by Dr. Conrad Crane, Director of the US Army Military History Institute.
In the Summer 2005 issue of Parameters, Antulio Echevarria argued in The Trouble with History that soldiers expect too much from the discipline. Instead of trying to draw lessons or gain vicarious experience from what are really just interpretations of the past, military professionals should instead primarily use history as another tool to develop higher-level thinking skills. Echevarria emphasized the limits of history and the dubious foundation it supplies for any factual analysis.
This book would seem to offer a counter to those arguments. Distinguished military historian Williamson Murray and noted defense analyst Richard Hart Sinnreich have assembled a diverse and impressive array of authors to help soldiers and Marines confront the future with a firm understanding of wars continuities. The editors espouse that modern leaders too often disconnect their thinking from the past, and military professionals are often too focused on immediate pressures to properly utilize history in any critical analysis. The essays were first presented at conferences at Sandhurst, England, and Quantico, Virginia, and then assembled in this volume with an aim to show why the study of history is important to military leaders, and also why it is so difficult and challenging to apply.
An opening selection is the conference keynote address by Sir Michael Howard, who was also quoted in the Echevarria piece. A model and mentor for many
in the historical profession, Howard discusses in his essay the problems with parochialism in military history, and disturbing trends toward the study of War and Society that neglect the central activity of the armed forces, that is, fighting.
Following Howards typically eloquent offering, the remainder of the essays is organized in two groups. The first discusses the influence of history on the military profession. All four articles in this section are critical of current military attitudes and how we educate individuals about history. British Lieutenant General John Kiszely presents a paradox that the costs of a poor understanding of history increase with rank, while the time available for proper study considerably decreases. He argues for more history in military curricula, as well as more emphasis on a life long program of self-education. Lieutenant General Paul Van Riper, USMC Ret., follows with an essay that is particularly useful because of his thoughtful recommendations regarding books military professionals should read. He describes the virtual elimination of history from military education in the 1950s and 1960s, and how an undue emphasis on the science of war over the art of war hurt subsequent American military performance. He explains his own efforts to restore balance in Marine education, and closes with fears that a current emphasis on scientific planning techniques such as operational net assessment or effects-based operations might endanger efforts to keep history at the core of professional military education where it belongs.
The editors conclude the first part of the book. Sinnreich provides a rather depressing overview of the role of history in professional military education, emphasizing that the discipline has too often been ignored, and even today is not adequately a part of war college curricula. He agrees with Echevarria on the utility of history, saying that soldiers prefer simplicity and precision in learning that can produce a dismaying reductionism or Jominian search for universal principles. Sinnreich favors Clausewitzs view of the purpose of studying war, to hone judgment before battle, not dictate decisions during it. Murray decries contemporary trends in the American military toward anti-intellectualism and inflated expectations about technology. While he also echoes Echevarrias concerns, Murray argues that only history can give the professional some sense of the interactions that occur on the battlefield, no matter how imperfect and ambiguous those lessons might appear. Nothing prepares soldiers and Marines to deal with uncertainty better than a study of history.
The second part of the book is titled The Past as Illuminator of the Future. Paul Rahe from the University of Tulsa opens with a discussion of Thucydides that is a good summary of his work, but could have been structured to be more relevant to broader issues. Colin Gray follows with a discussion of the continuing relevance of Clausewitz to modern warfare. John Gooch from the University of Leeds uses many historical examples to draw insights about the development of strategy at various levels. His excellent piece is followed by three case studies by British authors regarding military failures to properly understand or use history: Andrew Gordon on the Victorian Royal Navy; Major General Jonathan Bailey, British Army Ret., on European lessons learned from the Russo-Japanese War; and J. Paul Harris on the British Army between the world wars. The book then concludes with two attempts by Americans associated with the Marine Corps University to use the past to project the future; Christopher Harmon on terrorism, and Frank Hoffman on civil-military relations.
The paperback version of this book is well worth the price for its insightful essays, which will appeal to anyone interested in military history or military education. But despite the editors intent to demonstrate the importance of history to military leaders, the end result of this collection also reinforces Echevarrias cautions. The second part has numerous examples related to the costs of ignoring or misinterpreting history. But the collection would have benefited from a couple of detailed case studies regarding nations and leaders who properly applied historical analysis. This would have further buttressed arguments about changing and strengthening the role of military history in professional military education. This collection leaves the reader with the impression that history is a dangerous tool that is perilous to ignore or use. That may be another reason the discipline needs to be emphasized more in the war colleges.
Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy. By Stephen M. Walt. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 2005. 320 pages. $27.95. Reviewed by Major Bradley L. Bowman, Assistant Professor of American Politics, Policy, and Strategy, Department of Social Sciences, United States Military Academy.
Why is the United States widely disliked in the world? What are the consequences of this unpopularity? What can the country do to reduce the popular animosity directed at America? Why has no formal alliance developed to balance against US power as realist theory would predict? What are the means by which various states oppose or accommodate US power? How should the United States change its grand strategy? In Taming American Power, renowned Harvard political scientist and neo-realist, Stephen Walt, tackles the central questions related to US foreign policy and grand strategy. Walt argues that the current US grand strategy of primacy has largely been a failure, engendering pervasive anti-Americanism and damaging US interests. Walt suggests that a grand strategy of offshore balancing would reduce anti-Americanism and better protect our interests.
Surveying the now familiar international and domestic polling data, Walt finds pervasive anti-Americanism around the world. According to polls that Walt cites, with only a few exceptions, majorities in other countries view the United States unfavorably, see US influence as negative, ascribe ulterior and self-serving motives to the US war on terrorism, and believe American foreign policy does not consider the interests of others. After identifying these well-known trends in international opinion, Walt moves to a provocative and important discussion of whether US values or policies explain this widespread anti-American sentiment. The author acknowledges that both play a role, but ultimately concludes by arguing that the chief source of contemporary opposition is global reaction to specific policiesand especially the actions of the Bush Administrationand is not simply a response to US power or American values.
While the debate regarding the causes of anti-Americanism is now ubiquitous, Walt provides a valuable and insightful contribution that is central to debates regarding US grand strategy. After all, policymakers must accurately identify the causes of global anti-Americanism before designing an effective strategy to ameliorate them. In other words, a successful prescription depends largely on an accurate diagnosis. If
foreign governments and populations oppose the United States because of American values, as well as American power and influence, there is little to be done. However, if much of the ire directed toward the United States is a function of American policies, it follows that policy changes would likely alter these global perceptions. In the 2006 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, the Bush Administration minimizes the role of US policy in explaining the emergence of Islamist terrorism, instead arguing that terrorism springs primarily from maladies pervasive in the Arab world. This debate is much more than a petty, academic squabble. The success or failure of the United States in the Long War will depend largely on an accurate and nuanced diagnosis of the problem. Walts book offers a fairly persuasive counter-argument to the Bush Administrations point of view that will provide readers of all leanings with a more nuanced framework with which to analyze US grand strategy.
Overall, Walts two chapters on strategies of opposition and accommodation represent a significant scholarly contribution worthy of attention. However, Walts chapter on strategies of accommodation includes a section on domestic political penetration that does not appear to adhere to the same standards of scholarship. Foreshadowing many of the same arguments found in the controversial 2006 working paper coauthored with John Mearsheimer that ignited a firestorm of controversy, Walt argues that the influence of the Israel Lobby has caused the United States to pursue policies abroad contrary to its interests. Perceiving a curious paradox, Walt writes, The puzzle, therefore, is to explain why Americas support for Israel continues to increase, even though the positive case for close alignment has grown weaker and the cost of the US-Israeli connection has grown. Walt explains this perceived paradox concluding, The explanation for this anomaly is Israels unmatched ability to manipulate the American political system for its own benefit. While Walt meticulously supports most of his assertions throughout the book with facts, figures, and examples, this claim appears to rest on shaky ground. Walt does not demonstrate conclusively that US support for Israel is contrary to Americas interests. Furthermore, even if US support for Israel is counter to American interests as Walt suggests, he does not prove with any degree of certainty that the Israel Lobby represents the decisive explanation for this allegedly counterproductive US policy.
Unfortunately, some critics of Walts argument have ventured beyond substantive criticisms, attacking Walt personally, explicitly or implicitly accusing him of anti-Semitism. However, it is important to reiterate, criticizing the policies of Israel or questioning the value of close US-Israel relations is perfectly legitimate and healthy and not necessarily anti-Semitic. No stateincluding Israelshould be exempt from scrutiny and debate. Americans who staunchly support Israel and believe a special relationship between the United States and Israel is mutually beneficial for both states only hurt themselves and their argument when they conduct ad hominem attacks. Reasonable individuals can disagree regarding the impact of some Israeli policies on American interests and the optimum character of US-Israel relations. As long as both sides in this debate acknowledge the right of Israel to exist in peace and security within its own borders, the dialogue is healthy and should continue. The dialogue should proceed based on the merits of the arguments, shunning ad hominem attacks, unsubstantiated claims, and conspiratorial hyperbole.
While Walt overestimates the influence of the Israel Lobby, the books central thesis represents a clarion call that policymakers should heed. Walt correctly argues that a grand strategy of primacy unnecessarily antagonizes allies and critical foreign publics, engendering opposition that exacerbates US efforts to achieve its aims and protect its interests. Pervasive global anti-Americanism is not inevitable; the United States can best protect its interests by shifting from a grand strategy of primacy to selective engagement or offshore balancing. As Paul Kennedy has written, successful grand strategies require frequent self-assessment. As US difficulties in Iraq continue and the 2008 election approaches, now is the time to evaluate current American grand strategy. In Taming American Power, Walt has conducted this assessment of current US grand strategy, and his findings are not encouraging. Protecting Americas interests and defeating al Qaeda and its associated movements requires cooperative allies and sympathetic populations. As Walt suggests, a rejection of the grand strategy of primacy would represent an important first step.
Imagined Enemies: China Prepares for Uncertain War. By John Wilson Lewis and Xue Litai. Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2006. 362 pages. $60.00. Reviewed by Dr. Paul H. B. Godwin, retired National War College professor specializing in Chinese defense and security policy.
This fourth and final volume in Lewis and Xues masterful series on Chinas nuclear weapons programs, military modernization, and security policy is the result of a decade mining Chinese sources joined with three decades of interviews. The books purpose is twofold. First, to analyze the impact of the revolutionary advances in military technologies and changing threat perceptions (the imagined enemies) on Chinas national command authority; military culture; doctrine; command, control, and operations; and weapon modernization priorities. Second, to determine how the resulting transformation in military capabilities is being applied as China prepares for a potential war to prevent Taiwan from becoming a sovereign statea conflict Chinese planners anticipate will result in US military intervention. Lewis and Xue correctly stress that because the consequences could well doom Chinas aspiration to become a global power, Beijing does not seek this war. Nevertheless, rising nationalism and the uncertain dynamics of cross-strait relations together with Beijings efforts to deter Taipei from taking the fatal step toward de jure independence require China to prepare for this unwanted war. The authors recognized expertise and the reality that a confrontation over Taiwan is the single most probable cause of a Sino-American military clash make this book of singular interest to military and civilian policymakers and analysts.
Lewis and Xue provide detailed analyses of how Chinas military and civil leaders have responded to the challenges presented by military technology advances, changing threat perceptions, and political-military crises in the past. The heart of their work, however, is assessing Chinas responses to the application of advanced military technologies by the United States. Beginning with the 1991 Gulf War, where the lethality and efficiency of US military operations stunned Chinese analysts, they
closely followed US-led NATO operations against Serbia in 1999 and the 2003 Iraq war. Between these three conflicts, the two US Navy carrier strike groups dispatched to the Taiwan area during the 1996 cross-strait crisis carried their own message of American capabilities and intent. Lewis and Xue conclude that China selected missiles and airpower as the primary arms to overcome American military superiority. Two chapters are dedicated to assessing the changing doctrine, organization, missions, and capabilities designed to make these arms effective in a strategy designed to counter US intervention. This strategy seeks to either deter or significantly slow down approaching US forces, permitting China to achieve a quick decisive defeat of Taiwan before the United States can bring its military power to the fight.
Lewis and Xue prudently highlight the uncertainties Chinese planners recognize as they prepare for their unwanted war. In contrast to the United States, the capabilities China has developed over the past decades, the doctrine, concepts of operations, and command and control procedures used to direct them have yet to be combat-tested. More importantly, China has not fought a war since 1979, and the joint warfare essential for success is completely new to the service arms and branches of the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA). Indeed, there are recurring suggestions in the military press that the PLA leadership is dissatisfied with the degree of progress made despite frequent joint service exercises designed to prepare them for the offensive operational doctrine now driving PLA planning.
Moreover, China is uncertain the war can be kept limited and conventional, leading to yet another review of Beijings nuclear doctrine and the principal of no first use resulting in significant force structure changes for the missile forces. Nor are the planners confident they know how much resistance Taiwan will present, given the influx of sophisticated American weaponry. It is also likely that the difficulties faced by the United States post-war stabilization operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have not gone unnoticed by PLA analysts as they reflect on a post-war Taiwan. There is always uncertainty in war planning, but Chinas planners know they have to prepare for war with the worlds most advanced and combat-experienced armed forces and a Taiwan whose will to fight is unknown. As Lewis and Xue note, Chinas soldiers learned from Sun Tzu that underestimating the adversarys capabilities is the first step toward defeat.
If there is weakness in Lewis and Xues analyses, it is not in what they assess but in what they neglect or treat lightly. Missing is any discussion of Chinas efforts to acquire information warfare capabilities and the means to degrade the space-based systems that make American military operations so effective. This despite a decade of Chinese military analysts stating that US dependence on these assets creates a distinct vulnerability. Degrade them and US military operations will falter. Chinas recent anti-satellite test demonstrates Beijings commitment to this program. Similarly, although Chinas navy receives some attention, there is no assessment of the apparent area denial or anti-access strategy to be conducted primarily by the PLA Navys rapidly expanding modern submarine force. For a comprehensive image of Chinas planning for a war over Taiwan, the authors focus on missile and airpower must be complemented by the PLAs preparations for information warfare, space, and naval operations.
These flaws, however, do not remove this book from the must read list of those who follow Chinese security and defense policy.
The Dictators: Hitlers Germany, Stalins Russia. By Richard Overy. New York: W. W. Norton, 2006. 849 pages. $21.95 (paper). Reviewed by Dr. Paul J. Springer, Assistant Professor of Military History, United States Military Academy.
In 1991, Alan Bullock published Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives, widely regarded as one of the most significant comparative biographies ever written. Richard Overys The Dictators tackles the same subject, but approaches the problem in a completely different manner. Any attempt to explain the life and influence of either of the twentieth centurys most feared and reviled dictators is fraught with peril; an endeavor to capture both may be beyond the ability of even the most gifted historian. The obvious temptation is to highlight every similarity between the subjects, but Overy does a commendable job of keeping his comparisons unforced. He concludes that the methods used by each leader to transform his nation into an unrealized utopia present the necessary parallels for this work. Of course, if his goal is to examine the men responsible for more violent deaths than any other men in history, one is forced to wonder why he ignores Mao Zedong, who is typically credited with more deaths than Hitler and Stalin combined.
Overy organizes his work thematically rather than chronologically. This approach allows a more thorough comparison between Hitlers reign, which lasted only 12 years (1933-1945) and Stalins control of the Soviet Union, which spanned more than two decades, ending with his death in 1953. Such a methodology clearly illustrates the parallels between the two leaders, but can also prove quite confusing to the lay reader not fully versed in the history of both regimes. Also, the authors system produces a series of essays comparing the regimes approach to a particular subject. Each chapter is capable of standing alone as an insightful piece, but in some ways, the whole is lesser than the sum of its parts. The chapters simply do not connect well; each is a vignette of Nazi Germany compared with the Soviet Union with little linkage between the sections.
Overy argues that Hitler and Stalin followed similar paths to power. Both possessed a supreme ability to focus their willpower, overwhelming anyone in their presence. Both were constantly underestimated, coming from humble origins to ultimate authority. Each styled himself a man of the people, eventually adopting a heroic pose as the savior of his society. This image was constantly reinforced through paintings, photographs, and statues as a means to massage the public image of the leader, making certain to always appear in uniform and in a position of benevolent authority.
Both leaders mobilized the masses, encouraging the lowest segments of society to participate in the regimes. Public outpourings of support were not limited to state-run media. Private individuals clamored to demonstrate their adoration for Hitler and Stalin, particularly by offering outlandish congratulations upon birthdays and other significant dates. Overy illustrates the important relationship between totalitarian rule and control over a political party, noting Hitler was the partys Führer far longer than he was Germanys . . . Stalins personal authority derived not from high state office, but
from his position as General Secretary of the Party. Neither vested too much power with a single bureaucratic organization, instead creating multiple layers of terror, with each institution rivaling the others and constantly seeking the leaders approval.
Hitler and Stalin offered their followers visions of social utopias that could only be realized through the dictators personal leadership. Both displayed a complete surety of purpose; despite ordering the deaths of millions of their own citizens, neither wavered from his vision. Each vision included monumental architecture and massive industrialization, while gradually causing all individuals to become entirely dependent upon the state. Economic revolutions swept Germany and the Soviet Union, driven by command economies and extremely ambitious goals. Yet neither leader ultimately succeeded; both visions were derailed by the bloody realities of World War II.
Overy also argues that the dictators enhanced their control by eliminating rival institutions that might compromise the loyalty of their followers. In particular, both individuals undermined religious institutions and seized control of the national educational systems, granting them long-term influence. Ruthless control over military structures, characterized by massive expansions of each nations armed forces and an insistence upon personal obedience to the leader, were enforced by regular purges of military leaders of dubious loyalty.
Ultimately, Overy concludes that the methods used by Hitler and Stalin were similar, but the goals each strove for were radically different: What united the two systems was the unresolved and permanent gap between ideal and reality, and the common instruments exploited by each system to mask the distortions of the truth. Stalins socialist utopia centered upon the solidarity of workers and complete equality, while Hitlers ideas were fundamentally based upon inequality, the establishment of a master race to rule over all others. Overys work serves as a vital reminder of the perils of dictatorships and a warning to any nation that would place its future in the hands of a single ideologue. While it does not surpass Bullocks work in explaining the lives of Hitler and Stalin as individuals, his broad comparison of the Nazi and Soviet regimes offers an important insight into the study of totalitarianism and is a worthy addition to the library of any student of the twentieth century.
Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan. By A. C. Grayling. New York: Walker and Company, 2006. 361 pages. $25.95. Reviewed by Dr. Thomas B. Grassey, the James B. Stockdale Professor of Leadership and Ethics at the Naval War College.
A. C. Grayling is Professor of Philosophy at the University of London. The windows of his home study look upon a park created after German bombs destroyed the row of Victorian houses across the road on the night of 29 December 1940. Broken bricks and remnants of concrete walls, now mostly covered with ivy, are mute reminders of the South London block that once served hundreds of lives. Contemplating the street where I live and the surrounding area, I am daily reminded of the horrors of that time.
There is an argument [the jus in bello principle of discrimination], Grayling offers, that says that deliberately mounting military attacks on civilian
populations, in order to cause terror and indiscriminate death among them, is a moral crime. Is this assertion . . . an unqualified truth? If it is, people in todays Western democracies must revisit the recent past of their countries to ask some hard questions about their behavior in the great wars of the twentieth century, so that the historical record can be put straight.
The record in question is the fact that Allied bombing in which German and Japanese civilian populations were deliberately targeted claimed the lives of about 800,000 civilian women, children, and men. Grayling takes great care to make several points before he attempts to set forth and then examine the historical record. First, there is no moral comparability of German and Japanese aggression and their wanton slaughter that led to the deaths of some twenty-five million with those who died from Allied bombing. Second, his examination of the moral status of Allied area bombing is not intended to impugn the courage and sacrifice of the men who flew RAF and USAAF bombing missions. . . . Nothing in this book should be taken as detracting from the bravery of those men. Third, Grayling concentrates primarily on the area attacks by Britains Royal Air Force Bomber Command against German cities; there is almost incidental attention to US Army Air Force devastation of Japanese cities, and tacit exoneration of US Eighth Air Force daylight bombing of Germany because that campaign was intended as precision bombing of military-industrial targets (even though the postwar Strategic Bombing Survey revealed that American bombing accuracy had to be measured in miles).
Grayling is thus taking on the task of carefully examining from a moral perspective the bombing campaign of the RAF against Nazi Germany; his reasoning and conclusions are then applied to the similar campaign of the USAAF XXI Bomber Command, which included the firebombing of Tokyo and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to which Grayling gives much less attention.
Among the Dead Cities is an examination in eight chapters. From Introduction: Was it a Crime? in which Grayling explains the moral question and the tools used to answer it, he progresses to The Bomber War, a 60-page recapitulation of Bomber Commands operations. Grayling focuses on the four-night July 1943 Operation Gomorrah incendiary bombing of Germanys second-largest city, Hamburg; it produced the first-ever firestorm, and killed more than 45,000 people, at a loss of fewer than 100 British aircraft and crews. The Experience of the Bombed is grim reading; Shermans remark, War is hell, is fully proven in this chapter. But Grayling does not focus solely on the emotional; he provides a detailed study of the strategic questions, citing the Strategic Bombing Surveys evidence that the USAAF attacks on German ball-bearing, oil, and aircraft production were far more damaging to the Nazi war effort than was RAF area bombing: Almost every authority on the subject of Bomber Commands area-bombing campaign agrees that it was a failurea failure in military terms, that is . . . . It sought to undermine the morale and weaken the will of the German people, and it signally failed to do either.
In his conclusion, Grayling asserts that he has proven that area bombing was neither necessary nor proportionate, that it was against the general moral standards of western civilization and the specific laws of war of the time, and that Allied airmen should have refused to carry out area bombing missions over Germany and
Japan, specifically including the overall RAF campaign directed by Air Marshal Arthur Harris and the USAAF B-29 missions, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Among the Dead Cities is as strong an argument as can be made against the RAF campaign. And though Grayling is a philosophy professor, his historical research is admirable. (A 46-page appendix attempts to document the date, target cities, type and number of aircraft launched, type and number of aircraft lost, and often the German casualties, of every RAF area-bombing attack in the war.) The argument against the American bombing of Japan, however, is much less detailed; it relies on the transfer application of general principles shown for the RAF. Grayling is satisfied this suffices, but others may question whether a different case requires a separate proof.
In a certain sense, Among the Dead Cities is not written for ethicists; I can think of none who disputes Graylings judgment about the British air campaign. Michael Walzer famously argues for a supreme emergency justification of Bomber Commands effort, but only up to 1943. Christopher Harmons Newport Paper, Are We Beasts? (quoting Churchills doubts), sympathetically examines the moral predicament of British statesmen and military leaders facing the Nazis, yet he too concedes that area-bombing should have ceased earlier than it did.
Thus, the books argument really is directed at the general reader and the military professional, who may need to be convinced that area-bombing in World War II was immoral. And it remains to be seen whether the case made against the RAF transfers as directly as Grayling believes to the USAAF bombing of Japan, including the controversy about the 6 and 9 August 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. American readers will sharpen their moral sensibilities by reflecting on that question.
The Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of America. By Colin G. Calloway. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 224 pages. $26.00. Reviewed by Colonel Alan Cate, USA Ret.
The 1763 Treaty of Paris, concluded among Great Britain, France, and Spain, ended the contest known as the French and Indian War in North America and the Seven Years War in Europe. The settlement entailed an enormous land transfer. From France, the victorious British obtained Canada and Louisianathat is, all the territory east of the Mississippi River stretching from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, Frances ally Spain ceded Florida to Albion. The great nineteenth century American historian Francis Parkman, in a phrase that supplies the title of Colin Calloways new book, aptly wrote, half a continent . . . changed hands at the scratch of a pen.
This engrossing, gracefully written volume, however, isnt really about diplomacy, war, or real estate. Rather, as Calloway declares in one of his many felicitous apercus, the book is less concerned with changing colors on the map . . . than with the effects of changing circumstances on the various peoples living there. Traditionally, historians of colonial America, especially in writing about the decade prior to the War of Independence, have focused on Anglo-American society and culture rooted along the Atlantic seaboard. Calloway brings forward the many others who are equally part of the early American story. These include Indian, African, Ca-
nadian, French, and Spanish populations, as well as backcountry British settlers, whose frontier lives and interests often radically differed from those concentrated in coastal enclaves. In so doing, the author also neatly captures the multicultural and global nature of the eighteenth-century British Empire with observations such as slaves from West Africa labored in fields in West Florida wearing textiles from West Yorkshire.
Calloway, born and educated in England, and a professor at Dartmouth College, has produced several previous books on Native American history. He sets the stage in his latest effort with a marvelous, wide-ranging opening chapter on America and Americans in 1763. He reminds us how slow communications were back then; the peace was signed in early February, but the British commander-in-chief in North America did not receive the momentous news until May. Fewer than two million people inhabited Britains North American colonies. Fully one-fifth of these were African slaves and, in some areas, they outnumbered free whites. Only one in 20 Americans lived in cities. Along the frontierthe Appalachian Mountain chain and points westAnglo-Americans mixed with French and Spanish traders, and multiple Indian nations. The potential of death due to disease or violence, to a degree difficult for modern readers to conceive, hovered constantly.
Subsequent chapters treat major events set into motion by the Peace of 1763. With France eliminated as a North American power, white settlers began heading west, first in a trickle, then a steady stream and, eventually, a flood. They inevitably collided with the Indians, who had tolerated the relative handful of transient French fur-trappers and missionaries, but were unprepared for masses of land-hungry Europeans. The result was much bloodshed and the ultimate destruction or displacement of the tribes. More immediately, Indian resentment of British policies far less lenient than those implemented by the French touched off an uprising led by the Ottawa chief Pontiac throughout the summer of 1763.
John Shy, an eminent scholar of the Revolution, has observed, Americans were never more British than in 1763. Yet the supreme irony of Great Britains triumph over her imperial rivals in 1763 is that it sowed the seeds of colonial rebellion less than a decade and a half later. Besides ineffectually trying to thwart expansion into the vast, newly won area beyond the Appalachians, the Crown understandably sought to have the colonists help pay for the expensive war waged, at least in part, in their defense and for their continued defense against hostile Indians. Generations of American schoolchildren, of course, have been taught that this tyrannical, unwarranted taxation without representation was a precipitating factor in the American Revolution. And the removal of the French and reduction of the Indian threats meant the Americans no longer needed to rely upon British protection. Indeed, Calloways final chapter looks ahead to another Treaty of Paris, signed in 1783, where Great Britain recognized American independence.
Like its companion titles in Oxford University Press Pivotal Moments in American History project, this book stresses the power of contingency and individual agency. These are academic terms for the old-fashioned idea that nothing is inevitable and that it is not vast, impersonal historical forces that make a difference, but rather individuals with their decisions and actions. As such, The Scratch of a Pen represents a wor-
thy addition to the series, and a necessary read for anyone interested in how military-diplomatic events impacted society and culture in pre-Revolutionary America.
Eisenhower, Science Advice, and the Nuclear Test-Ban Debate, 1945-1963. By Benjamin P. Greene. Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2007. 358 pages. $65.00. Reviewed by George H. Quester, Professor of Government and Politics, University of Maryland.
This is a very valuable study, based on an exhaustive survey of the sources that have become available in the past four decades, of what may, or may not, have been an important missed opportunity for a total ban on nuclear testing before 1961. At the same time, the book may still illustrate the inherent difficulty, even when all the record is reviewed, of determining exactly how President Dwight D. Eisenhower was prioritizing his policy goals.
The book is extremely well written, marred only here and there by breaks from chronology in disconcerting flashbacks. The author is more or less committed to the proposition that Eisenhowers policies while President were heavily shaped by the science advice he was allowed to hear, with Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Lewis Strauss working to limit his access to conflicting advice. Without being particularly blunt in these conclusions, Greene suggests that important opportunities were thus missed, and that the advisers favoring a test-ban were more correct than those opposing it. He presents an image of Eisenhower consistently wanting a nuclear test-ban, but as always seeking a consensus and being dependent on the advice of the professional scientists, i.e., being limited and shaped by what he was able to hear.
The broader political context of the Cold War is not ignored in the book, but it might thus have drawn more emphasis, especially in the years of fear related to the bomber and missile gaps, and the constant concern that communism might not be contained without a reliance on threats of American nuclear escalation. In this context, where the President was indeed fully aware of the issues, one might have adopted an alternative picture, with Eisenhower wanting a nuclear test-ban, as long as critical aspects of the American nuclear posture could be maintained. Rather than being the outcome of conflicting teams of advisers, American policy might simply have been the result of conflicting priorities.
The author notes that the important scientific advisers themselves changed their opinions numerous times on whether further American nuclear testing was needed, and on whether Soviet compliance with a test-ban could be verified. If there was a missed opportunity here will always remain debatable. Similarly debatable, even with the rich array of materials offered in this book, is whether President Eisenhower was so pliable and weak on the decisions made, or instead, was basically in command of the issues, issues which themselves were too complicated for easy judgments.
As the title indicates, the book covers not just Eisenhowers eight years in office, but the seven years prior to his inauguration, beginning with the introduction of nuclear weapons at Hiroshima. The most important period, revealing the most new details, is for the years following 1952. It is during this period that the author seeks to
show how Eisenhower always wished to de-emphasize nuclear weapons (only to be hampered by the attitudes of people like Strauss, John Foster Dulles, or Edward Teller), some evidence for the years before 1952 seems less than definitive. One needs to remember that Eisenhower came into office determined to use nuclear weapons as a substitute for the massive buildup in conventional forces that had been contemplated in the Truman Administration following the outbreak of the Korean War.
This book will be an important source for anyone studying the role of science advisers in the policy process, and for those who attach great importance to the infighting of bureaucratic politics. Lest one see the Democrats as the heroes in the test-ban debate, Greene notes how Adlai Stevensons advocacy of a test-ban seemed much more related to the political campaigning of 1956 than to any consistent policy of substance. Additionally, the author highlights how Democrats like Stuart Symington and Lyndon Johnson favored resumed testing, with John F. Kennedy in 1961 terminating the test moratorium that Eisenhower had initiated.
The author is to be congratulated for producing a readable and detailed survey of the pre-1960 test-ban debate, and for detailing the role played by various science advisers. It needs to be left to the reader to decide whether the book exaggerates the significance of these advisers, taking into account the broader issues of national strategy during the Cold War. If Eisenhower was intent on containing Soviet military and political power without imposing an enormous economic burden on the United States and the rest of the free world, he did so by posturing possible nuclear escalation. This strategy may have contributed to the ultimate western victory in the Cold War. Rather than the result of Admiral Strauss limiting what Eisenhower got to hear from his science advisers, this may have been a very considered policy decision.
Capturing Jonathan Pollard: How One of the Most Notorious Spies in American History Was Brought to Justice. By Ronald J. Olive. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2006. 299 pages. $27.95. Reviewed by W. Andrew Terrill, Research Professor of National Security Affairs, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.
Jonathan Pollard is the former US Navy intelligence analyst who was sentenced to life imprisonment for providing staggeringly large amounts of classified material to Israel for motives that are sometimes described as including money, ideology, and a desire for excitement. His story represents a sad episode in US-Israeli relations that many in both countries would like to forget. By tackling such a sensitive subject, some authors may be seen as unnecessarily re-opening a painful wound at best and gratuitous Israel-bashing at worst. Yet, anyone reading this powerful and sobering book, by the Navy counterintelligence special agent who led the effort to arrest Pollard, will quickly realize that this work is not primarily about US-Israeli relations. Rather, it is an expose of a broken and dysfunctional system for protecting some of the most important secrets that the United States possesses.
Jonathan Pollard is portrayed in this work as a bright, likable, and energetic intelligence analyst with high government security clearances. Yet, he is also de-
scribed by Olive as a deeply immature person who had been a social outcast for much of his early life. As a naval intelligence analyst, he routinely lied to superiors on a number of important subjects and sometimes seemed to transition into a fantasy world when making judgments about his own courses of action. In one particularly memorable incident, Pollard showed up disheveled, exhausted, and late to an important meeting with a naval intelligence officer. When asked for an explanation, he stated that his girlfriend (later wife) had been kidnapped by members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), and he had spent the weekend chasing IRA operatives around the greater Washington area. This was only one of a series of strange kidnapping stories that Pollard used on various occasions. Pollards other bizarre comments on different subjects were routinely shrugged off by colleagues in one case with the comment of thats just Pollard. Moreover, Pollards personal problems did not end with his flights of fancy, according to Olive, but also involved a spendthrift lifestyle and serious drug use when he had the money to buy drugs. These later problems were apparently never detected by background investigations.
While Pollards activities involving the Israelis are well known, Olive maintains that he was also interested in working with other countries, including South Africa and Pakistan. He also provided classified material to an American reporter. Pollard is further reported as having sought ways to run guns to the anti-Soviet resistance fighters in Afghanistan, enjoying the mystique of pretending to be an international gun-runner. Pollard, as presented by Olive, loved attention to the point of enjoying the stir he caused when first confronted with charges of espionage and eventually bragging to debriefers about how many classified documents he had been able to obtain from the government.
Throughout the study, Olive strongly maintains that Pollard could have been captured at an earlier stage or at least denied the opportunity to commit espionage had the system for protecting US secrets been more rational and had some of his behavior been taken more seriously. Pollards habitual lying was detected by the CIA in the job application process (where he was rejected) but never shared with other intelligence organizations such as the Office of Naval Intelligence. Pollard was, also in Olives assessment, a lousy spy having neither training nor discretion and yet he was still able to beat the system repeatedly before being caught. Pollard had no trouble obtaining huge amounts of classified documents, taking them to an Israeli safe house for photocopying, and then returning them to government custody. Most of these documents had nothing to do with his job, and any kind of need to know principle was laughable in this context.
Pollards capture is presented as more of a comedy of errors than a textbook case of brilliant counterintelligence work. The initial red flag was raised when a co-worker spotted Pollard in a Navy parking lot with an envelope that was known to contain classified documents and which Pollard had promised to destroy. Follow-up efforts were then made to determine why he had obtained huge volumes of documents that were unrelated to his own work while letting that same work stagnate. Various counterintelligence agencies including the FBI were initially disinterested in following up leads relating to Pollard. Later, a Navy commander who had supervised Pollard lost his temper and accused him of being a spy, while demanding a confession and the right for a permissive search of his home. This is hardly a tactic likely to succeed, and Pollard instead called his home and spoke a codeword to his wife, which told her to remove all
classified documents from the apartment. Anne Pollard, who was aware of and involved with her husbands activities, attempted to do just that but panicked when she detected a stakeout in her neighborhood. In a remarkable coincidence, this stakeout was directed at another suspected spy, Ronald Pelton, but Ms. Pollard naturally assumed it was targeted at her husband and herself. To cope with the situation, Anne Pollard ended up asking neighbors to hold a suitcase full of classified material for her after openly acknowledging the contents of the suitcase. After thinking about the situation, the neighboring couple informed the FBI of this event and turned over the evidence Ms. Pollard had left them. Jonathan Pollard was now on his way to life imprisonment, although he did not know it at the time. His wife would receive a lesser sentence.
A natural response to this book is to note that the security system that failed to catch Pollard for so long in the mid-1980s is a snapshot in time that may or may not have relevance for todays security and counterintelligence professionals. That is a question that these professionals and everyone else who holds a high security clearance may have to ask themselves. Is the security system really as bad as Olive contends? If so, the United States may face real challenges from much more skilled adversaries than Jonathan Pollard. In particular, one might ask what would have happened if a trained spy from a hostile country or al Qaeda matched wits with a system barely able to cope with an untrained Walter Mitty?
Henry Adams and the Making of America. By Garry Wills. (Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. 467 pages. $30.00. Reviewed by Dr. Samuel Watson, Associate Professor, Department of History, US Military Academy.
What is the purpose of intellectual biography? Garry Wills has written many such books, well-received for their stimulating insights. Now, unlike in John Waynes America, he takes on a written text, Henry Adamss History of the United States of America During the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson. One expects an assessment of Adamss work, perhaps an analysis of its subject and past historians views, and hopefully, given Willss reputation, an evaluation of Adamss role, the role of the History, or the role of the Jeffersonians, in the making of America. Readers get all of those, but not enough of each.
Willss first point is that the History has been less read than cited and most citations are to the books initial chapters, chapters exploring the nation before Jeffersons election. Indeed, few historians really look at the History, English professors appear to dominate the field of interpretation, emphasizing the pessimism characteristic of the later book Education of Henry Adams rather than the optimism found in the History. Most scholars have assumed that Adams wrote in a spirit of revenge against the Jeffersonian Republicans, who had deposed his forebear John Adams. Wills rejects such approaches and stresses Adamss pioneering work as a historian, along with the unprecedented depth and international range of his research.
The most intriguing portion of Henry Adams and the Making of America is the first section, in which Wills traces the experiences that qualified Adams to write his history: experience in documentary editing, policymaking, journalism, and partisan
politics. Most will be interested in Willss analysis of the History: that Adams saw the Jeffersonian era as a success, because it created a national unity . . . far in advance of the Federalist period. Historians have traditionally stressed the Jeffersonians antagonism toward national initiatives. Wills does not deny that this was originally the case, but believes, and maintains that Adams believed, that only the Jeffersonians had the national organization, the interest in the new West, the optimism, and a vision of the future distinct from the existing state of affairs, capable of promoting change.
Wills sees three major components to American nation-building in the Jeffersonian era: party-building (the creation and elaboration of the Republican coalition), territorial expansion, and war. Wills praises the Jeffersonians for their populism and pragmatismthat Jefferson in particular had the faith in the people to let them go their way and accept the consequencesand for the centralization of power they were compelled (by pragmatism) to adopt. Partisanship meant distributing patronage throughout the country; the Republicans were much less sectional in composition than the Federalists. But many historians dispute the equity of the Republicans sectional impact, as Wills did in Slavemaster President. It was in this work that he highlighted the fact that not only were the leading Jeffersonians southerners, the southern system of plantation slavery, and the elite who gained undemocratic power over other whites (southern as well as northern), benefited most from Jeffersonian territorial expansion. Wills goes on to point out that the Jeffersonians did not introduce central governance to the West; the law for governing the Louisiana Territory had roots in the Northwest Ordinance, and the practice of governance had precedent in the Northwest Territory, during the Federalist period. Nor, regardless of how sympathetic or open they were to western development, did Republican administrations produce peace in Missouri or Louisiana. One finds many of the same conflicts during the first decade of Jeffersonian administration as during the same period under the Federalists.
This is one of the chief paradoxes in a work that lauds paradox. Wills celebrates Adams and Jefferson for their populism and willingness to accommodate change, but observes that only central guidance made the West possible and bound it into the national life. Most students of American state formation would agree, but the paradox leads to the reviewers principal critique: how and why did change occur? Wills states that Adams did not believe that the Republicans became Federalists. But one is then left to wonder how the Republicans transcended partisan ideologies. To say that Jefferson offered the line of least resistance to new forces does not reflect how the Jeffersonians drove change, nor how Adams may have thought they did. The contingency and complexity, the interplay of so many factors, leads Wills to conclude: Why and how did the Jeffersonians make a nation? Because they had to. They could not make or maintain a government fitted to their time without doing so. Their own acts and those prompting or responding to their acts insensibly but irresistibly bore them along.
This hardly suggests effective management, much less guidance, for change. Nor is zeitgeist a clear or sufficient explanation of cause and effect. Unfortunately, such uncertainty of purpose underlies the entire book. Most of the work is a narrative of events, with intermittent defenses of Adamss views juxtaposed with those of other historians, but without much signposting to clarify whether Wills is primarily concerned with Adamss interpretations or one of his own. This reviewer
agrees with Willss identification of the important forces in nationalization, and with the Jeffersonian qualities that facilitated change. But correlation is not causation: The Making of America, and the specific roles Adams and the Jeffersonians played in it, remain obscure. Explaining change requires some attempt to identify and connect specific cause and effect relationships. One may not have the time to sift through the archives, but if you want to reflect on change and its consequences during the Jeffersonian era, make Wills happy and read Henry Adams and the Making of America.
Nuclear First Strike: Consequences of a Broken Taboo. By George H. Quester. Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006. 176 pages. $55.00 ($22.95 paper). Reviewed by Colonel John Mark Mattox, Commandant, Defense Nuclear Weapons School, Kirtland Air Force Base, NM.
No one who has spent time, since the end of the Cold War, thinking about nuclear weapons and their consequences would argue that the nuclear genie is back in the bottleand that there is no longer anything to worry about. For those, however, who havent thought much about nuclear weapons in the last 20 years might be operating under the dangerous assumption that the genie has evaporatedand that there is nothing to worry about. For those in the latter category, George H. Quester is the bearer of disturbing news; the genie has not evaporated, and the scenarios in which the genie might slip from the bottle have never been more numerous than they are today.
What keeps the genie in check? Quester forcefully argues that it is the effect of tabooa sacred (or at least sacrosanct) prohibition that makes an act utterly unthinkable. A taboo, Quester notes, is more than simply something we would want to avoid, something that we disapprove of, for we do not hear of a taboo on bank robberies or a taboo on murder. The word is distinctive in that it refers to something that we are not willing even to think about doing. There is no weighing of benefits and costs; we simply reject the idea without further thought. As Quester points out, when it comes to the possibility that the now 62-year-old taboo on nuclear weapon use might be violated, there is much to think about.
Quester outlines an extensive array of scenariossome very possible, others, by his own assessment, less soin which the nuclear taboo might be broken. He assesses likely world reaction to the breaking of the taboo as well as responses from the American electorate. In both cases, one is struck by the bewildering array of possibilities and variations. While the casual reader may feel a bit put-off by so many variables, the thoughtful reader surely will pause to consider one of the more sobering implications of Questers argument; that the tidy nuclear world of the Cold War is truly a thing of the past. Nowadays, even non-state actors without state sponsorship conceivably could carry out a radiological or nuclear attack. Scenarios which never received widespread consideration during the days when only great powers had nuclear weapons now thrust themselves on the world in unsettling ways. Not only are the scenarios themselves disturbing; the second-order effects to which
those scenarios could give rise are equally disquieting. The author notes, What a nuclear attack on an American city would do to American standards of civil liberty may indeed be one of the more worrisome impacts we have to consider.
Despite these scenarios, Questers central message is not one of doom and gloom. Rather, it is that if individual nations and the international community at large can leverage the force of taboo and agree that the nuclear taboo must be left unbroken, the resulting united front could have the salutary effect of reinforcing the taboo such that nuclear weapons are never used again. Quester outlines a number of taboo-reinforcing behaviors and milestones, preeminent among which is the year 2045, the centennial of the only hostile use of nuclear weapons. If the world can manage to eschew nuclear weapons use until then, that anniversary will constitute yet another symbolic firebreakitself another reason not to break the taboo.
The author also reviews a wide variety of possible US policy approaches to reinforce the taboo. He suggests that certain prudent measures (such as a serious national commitment to a robust nuclear incident response capability), while not necessarily intended as taboo-reinforcing per se, are likely to yield the same net effect. The sheer number of possible policy approaches which the author entertains combines to confirm what the reader has been sensing all along, there are no easy answers. There simply is no ironclad guarantee that some entitystate or otherwisewill never use a nuclear weapon. The notion of taboo is powerful, but it is no panacea. Indeed, the best conceived US policies may have no effect whatsoever against the Osama bin Ladens of the world, whose philosophies actually might welcome nuclear cataclysm.
In sum, Quester presents us with a paradoxone whose ramifications must be considered carefully; on the one hand, all parties must take affirmative steps to maintain the efficacy of the nuclear taboo, which, by definition, is something so terrible that one does not even think about it. On the other hand, the only way to preserve the taboo is to think about it; dont pretend that nuclear weapons dont exist; dont pretend that the possibility of their use is inconceivable; and dont pretend that the taboo surrounding their use could never be broken. It can; and if it is broken . . . well then . . . the results could be too terrible to think about.
No Substitute for Victory: Lessons in Strategy and Leadership from General Douglas MacArthur. By Theodore and Donna Kinni. Old Tappan, N.J.: Pearson Education, 2005. 288 pages. $27.95. Reviewed by Dr. Mark R. Grandstaff, Senior Fellow, James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership, University of Maryland, College Park and Professor of History, Brigham Young University.
Army General Douglas MacArthur is a prime candidate for the study of leadership. The son of Army General Arthur MacArthur, he spent more than 70 years serving in a variety of leadership positions, including Superintendent of West Point, Chief of Staff of the Army, Field Marshall of the Philippines, Supreme Allied Commander of the Pacific during World War II, Military Governor of Japan during its occupation, and as a presidential hopeful as well as public administrator and businessman.
His famous victory following the Inchon landing during the Korean War is a classic in the annals of military strategy. President Harry S. Trumans later dismissal of MacArthur also provides an important lesson in civilian control over the military. The generals famous speech to the Congress in 1951 belies his main pointfar from fading away, MacArthurs star continues to rise in the pantheon of great leaders and generals. A book on his leadership thinking and experiences is long overdue.
No Substitute for Victory by Theodore and Donna Kinni attempts to fill the void by distill[ing] powerful leadership lessons from MacArthurs life in order for readers to use them no matter where you lead and what you intend to accomplish. MacArthur, according to the authors, was a man who knew how to set the right goals, build quick response organizations, and motivate and inspire people to execute the impossible. In the first part of the book, the authors describe MacArthurs Principles of Strategy: Define and Pursue Strategy, Utilize Surprise, Aim for Envelopment, and Hit Them Where They Aint. In the second portion of the book they present the essence of their workthat one of MacArthurs greatest assets was his inspirational leadership. They explain how leaders today need to follow the generals examples, e.g., be a role model, cultivate image, and make compelling speeches. This reviewer is not sure where the authors obtained their definition of inspirational leadership, but somehow morals and dedication to a higher cause and profession should have made their list. The third part of the book focuses on MacArthur as organizational manager. The authors tell us to follow MacArthurs example; Weigh Change Carefully, Invest in Training, Manage People Positively, and Manage Upward. Each of these topics is addressed in a separate chapter containing a MacArthur story demonstrating that particular principle and, to give the Kinnis their due, offers what few in this genre doa reflective question about how readers might adopt such a principle in their own lives. The final section, titled Personal Traits of a Leader, consists of 15 chapters, beginning with Live Your Values, and contains chapters on Preparing to Succeed, Develop Your Media Savvy, and finally, A Patriot Be.
The problem with such books is that the many vignettes from which the authors tease out such lessons are problematic in themselves. If you suggested to MacArthur that he was worth studying because of how he applied the principles of war to management or that his inspirational leadership was predicated on his abilities to be visible, become a heroic icon, and nurture subordinates, he would have dismissed such thinking as mere pabulums. MacArthur believed that leaders were preordained to greatness and that only the very best possessed the ability to penetrate the fog of war and obtain victory.
Writing about leadership, once reserved for the academic and corporate elite, has now turned into a cottage industry. Today in bookstores you will find scores of books on leadership practices, of which the largest genre is what I like to call fill-in-the blank on leadership. These books explain the leadership styles of Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ulysses Grant, or Robert E. Lee, offering timely tips on how to make their style and techniques your own. Moreover, there are books on the leadership lessons of Jesus Christ, Moses, and Buddha. For the most part, the same principles are used over and overonly the names and vignettes change.
As an academic and historian, I am at a loss to explain how authors can so easily find a story to fit the current management concepts of the day and sell it to the public. Is there value to this? There must bepeople keep buying these formulaic tomes, and publishers keep churning them out. In regards to the Kinnis work on MacArthur, it is as good as any unless you prefer Ike or Patton to Dugout Doug.
Duffys War: Fr. Francis Duffy, Wild Bill Donovan, and the Irish Fighting 69th in World War I. By Stephen L. Harris. Dulles, Va.: Potomac Books, 2006. 456 pages. $29.95. Reviewed by Dr. Douglas V. Johnson II (LTC, USA Ret.), Research Professor, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.
If you are an Irish Catholic you will love this book. If you are just Irish you will enjoy it immensely. If you are merely a World War I historian you will find it valuable. If you are a social historian you will find it useful. If you are a student of the US Army you should read it regardless of your ethnicity, religious persuasion, or professional orientation. We do not raise ethnic regiments in the US Army anymore, although by virtue of geographic distribution Army National Guard units do possess a local orientation. The issues that are associated with the process of ethic regiments are detailed in the books opening chapters. Irish-English tensions afflicted the Fighting 69th from the beginning, but were handled by a variety of means including the timely words of the units remarkable Chaplain Father Francis Duffy.
This is the authors third book in a series that began with a solid work of social-military history, Duty, Honor, Privilege: New Yorks Silk Stocking Regiment and the Breaking of the Hindenburg Line. Harris series is largely focused on New York Citys World War I regiments, including his second work, Harlems Hell Fighters: The African-American 369th Infantry in World War I.
As in all such histories, the tragedy of American unpreparedness for World War I comes through as part of the narrative. Soldiers experiences with inadequate equipment and ineffective training are constant reminders in the grim saga of that war. The regiments first experience with gas weapons was tragic, but avoidable, unlike its first experience with heavy shelling. In both cases the Irish suffer serious casualties in what was supposed to have been a quiet sector. The descriptions of tactical action and attempts to conform to the realities of combat will continue to irritate the professional soldier reading this book. Critics of every war complain that the Army always prepares to fight the last war and is slow to adapt to realities on the present conflict. In the case of Operation Desert Storm, the American Army was happily confronted with an army with its head, and a good deal more, in the sand. Even though not everything went as planned or hoped, doctrine and training worked with the stupidity of the enemy high-command to produce a 100-hour war. In Americas current conflict that adaptation evolved more slowly than most would have liked. Nevertheless, the WWI experience, like many episodes of dissatisfaction, stems from both military and political sources, and, like him or not, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was correct in his assessment, You go to war with the military that you have. Harris wastes little time with the what ought to have beens and draws the reader ever deeper
into reality. In doing that, the reader cannot miss the American soldiers willingness to endure the awful conditions Harris describes in detail.
The initial chapters of Duffys War focus on Father Duffy, but that focus gradually shifts to Bill Donovan whose personality dominates the combat action chapters which constitute almost half of the book. As Harris describes it, Donovan is Duffys man to lead the 165th Regiment and he, Duffy, takes every opportunity to make that desire a reality. The latter chapters are a graphic portrayal of the brutality of combat in war. The descriptive material, taken from participants letters and memoirs, seem to describe every soldiers death or wounding in bloody detailit may be a bit too much for some readers. Bloody as it may be, the detailed accounting reflects the value of the personal accounts that Harris has so well examined and integrated into a stimulating and coherent narrative. It is indeed an art to take a collection of letters and effectively integrate them into a narrative resembling ground-truth and then pull the whole together to find its place in the grand significance of things. While one might quibble with some of the grand, this reviewer has nothing but admiration for the descriptions of ground-truth.
One is not certain whether to credit Harris or the publisher for the good sense to incorporate the excellent maps from the United States Army in the World War, 1917-1919 series. The simple clarity and tactical relevance of these maps significantly improve the reading experience. The publishers have incorporated a number of photographs appropriately in the narrative, rather than follow the somewhat irritating practice of lumping all photos together. The effect of these decisions is that readers are treated to a more complete texture as they progress through the book. As mentioned in the opening of the review, how urgently you read this book depends on who you are, but no matter what the answer to that question may be, it will be worth your time.
The Trials of Abu Ghraib: An Expert Witness Account of Shame and Honor. By S. G. Mestrovic. Boulder, Colo.: Paradigm Publishers, 2006. 235 pages. $22.95. Reviewed by George R. Mastroianni, Professor of Psychology, US Air Force Academy.
This book is one of at least eight about Abu Ghraib now in print, with more on the way. Mestrovics book, based on his experiences as an expert witness for the defense in three courts-martial relating to Abu Ghraib, repeats and extends the view of Abu Ghraib expressed in most of the other works. According to this view, primary responsibility for the abuses at Abu Ghraib does not lay with the few low-ranking soldiers who are seen in the infamous photos. Instead, it is the high-ranking government and military officials who devised and promulgated harsh treatment and interrogation policies for detainees, policies which constituted a kind of official incitement to commit abusive acts, that are to blame. Mestrovics book is a sensitive and compassionate account, but it ultimately fails to convincingly make its case.
The substance of Mestrovics argument for upward displacement of blame is that the abuses at Abu Ghraib derived directly from interrogation techniques imported from Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan. The abuses were part of a pattern deliberately encouraged by high-ranking officials, not behavior ad-libbed by sol-
diers. Mestrovic points to other instances of abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan that resemble those seen at Abu Ghraib, and documentary evidence that senior officials set out to Gitmo-ize Abu Ghraib, portraying the abusers as pawns in a larger game.
Mestrovic offers a compelling picture of the organizational dysfunction that permeated Abu Ghraib. Drawing on several of the official investigative reports, he illuminates the confusion and ambiguity in command relationships, and the horrible living conditions, insecurity, indiscipline, and lack of accountability that characterized Abu Ghraib. The author sees these conditions, created and tolerated by senior leaders, as key elements in causing the abuses.
Mestrovic discusses a layered approach to understanding Abu Ghraib, including international, national, and local layers. His analysis, however, focuses too selectively on the highest layers of power. For example, Mestrovic does not seriously consider the role of the two soldiers who received the harshest sentences, Charles Graner and Ivan Frederick. Mestrovic reports that other soldiers feared Graner, who they saw as having god-like power over them, but he does not pursue the relationships among the perpetrators as having potential explanatory power. Graner, too, remains a convenient scapegoat for Mestrovic, rather than a powerful figure and ringleader. The complex phenomena at Abu Ghraib need to be analyzed thoroughly at every level.
For Mestrovic to convincingly relieve the perpetrators of criminal responsibility and displace that responsibility upward, he must show that the climate at Abu Ghraib, conditioned by the policy changes on interrogation techniques, was so toxic that it overcame individual soldiers ability to recognize right from wrong. Mestrovic espouses that like people in abusive marriages, soldiers were physically but not emotionally able to walk out on the abuse. But the evidence shows that many soldiers did, in effect, walk out. Even some of the perpetrators recognized the abuses, whatever their origin, as wrong and tried to report them to a nonreceptive chain of command. None of the soldiers was apparently ordered or coerced to commit abuses, and the abuses prosecuted were not, for the most part, associated with interrogations.
Mestrovic shows clearly that the climate at Abu Ghraib made abuse possible, and that some soldiers exploited the dysfunctional climate to gratify themselves at the expense of prisoners, thereby exposing themselves to criminal prosecution. As for the higher-ups, Mestrovic does not mention the punishments meted out to many of those above the perpetrators in the chain of command, whose failures enabled the perpetuation of this climate. It is legitimate to ask whether the extent and severity of those sanctions were adequate, and whether they reached high enough, but they, too, should be a part of the story.
Mestrovic does not place much blame for these abuses on the individuals he defended because, in his view, It is not sufficient to blame a morally corrupt individual as an explanation for any crime or abusive act, because the social setting that failed to set appropriate limits and boundaries must be taken into account. It may not always be sufficient to blame a person, but it is people and not social settings that end up before juries. The courts-martial apparently did take these social factors into account in their sentencing decisions, but still found the soldiers guilty. By offering an analysis that largely excuses the perpetrators and blames vagueness, policy confusion, and higher-ups, Mestrovic risks doing in the moral sphere what the government has argu-
ably done in the policy sphere; creating a confusing environment in which it becomes more, not less, difficult for the soldier to see and do what is right.
Abu Ghraib will be the subject of a great deal more comment and analysis. Like it or not, it is a prominent and permanent part of the history of this war. Thus far, the narrative constructed to explain Abu Ghraib has focused more on punishing the current administration than on carefully explaining the events themselves. The nation, and the soldiers who will find themselves in dangerous, confusing, and difficult circumstances in the future, deserve more than a morality play. They deserve a penetrating analysis that confronts the difficult issues of policy, leadership, responsibility, morality, and character head-on, from top to bottom. That book has not yet been written, but should it appear, there will no doubt be plenty of blame to go around.
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Reviewed 30 August 2007. Please send comments or corrections to email@example.com