From Parameters, Summer 2007, pp. 105-28.
Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965. By Mark Moyar. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. 512 pages. $32.00. Reviewed by Colonel Stuart A. Herrington, USA Ret., author of Stalking the Vietcong: Inside Operation Phoenix and Peace with Honor: An American Reports on Vietnam, 1973-1975.
Theres an old saw, Better late than never, that rings true to this reader of Mark Moyars book, Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965. Moyar, whose earlier work, Phoenix and the Birds of Prey, did much to correct the distorted record of the Phoenix program undertaken in Vietnam by the United States and our South Vietnamese ally, has turned his scrutiny to an ambitious and, in the view of this reader, welcome reappraisal of Americas much-maligned efforts to rescue the South Vietnamese from militant North Vietnamese communism. While some may ask, Why bother? in view of the outcome of the war, more and more serious scholars have taken pen in hand to reexamine the Vietnam War in an attempt to balance the record so slanted until recently by the plethora of myths, hagiographies, and oral histories spawned since the wars ignominious outcome. Labeled revisionist histories of the war, such works include Moyars effort, of which this work is Volume 1, and other works of stature, such as Dr. Lewis Sorleys A Better War and Philip E. Cattons Diems Final Failure.
For readers accustomed to the conventional wisdom of events in Vietnam, Moyar offers fresh insights, most buttressed by citations from archives (85 pages of endnotes). His research extended to all sides, United States, South Vietnamese, and North Vietnamese, as well as Hanois Soviet and Chinese sponsors. The result is a 400-plus page work containing a fresh look at the war, from the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu to President Johnsons decision to commit American ground forces in July 1965. Moyar takes on more than a few long-standing truths. If youve always had problems buying into the notion that Ho Chi Minh was a Vietnamese nationalist first, and a communist only for the convenience of obtaining support from Moscow and Beijing, or that the Chinese would have certainly intervened if the US military had invaded North Vietnam, or that Ngo Dinh Diem was an ineffective leader and an obstacle to victory (who, by extension of this logic, simply had to be removed), then Moyars book will be an eye-opening and satisfying read. Similarly, if youre among those who have harbored reservations that the views of intrepid media observers like David Halberstam were more valid than those of trained American military observers on the ground, then Moyars book will certainly capture your attention and keep it.
This is a work that many will find disturbing as it chronicles that pivotal time when Washington, under three presidents, struggled to come to grips with the situation in Vietnam. Although in the wake of the 1954 Geneva Accords there existed a bipartisan consensus that the non-communist southern half of Vietnam was threatened by Ho Chi Minhs Hanoi government, the challenge to American decisionmakers was to somehow fathom what was really going on in Vietnam, and
how, in the wake of the French negative example, we as Americans could leverage our national power to bring about the desired outcome of protecting the South. Moyar, like Philip Catton (Diems Final Failure) before him, delves into the labyrinth of American and South Vietnamese factions that existed during this critical period. He parades a bewildering array of persona and factions across the stage, to the extent that any reasonable reader might wonder how anyone in Washington could understand what was actually happening in Saigon in the year leading up to the November 1963 coup that took the lives of President Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu. The machinations are too complex and mind-boggling to attempt to address within the confines of this short review, but Moyar makes persuasive cases that the US government was ill-served by many, including Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge and a cabal of anti-Diem forces in Washington. He relates how President Diem was a tragic but far from incompetent national leader (for whom no replacement of any stature waited in the wings); and that, while General Paul Harkins had a more balanced appreciation for the situation in the South before his departure, the newly appointed US Ambassador, Maxwell Taylor, was ill-cast for his role and seemingly tone deaf when dealing with the Vietnamese generals who stepped up to rally the country in the wake of Diems assassination. Moyar is at his best when recounting just how deficient the Administrations knowledge of the friendly situation was during the time when the die was cast for a wider war with American ground forces in the lead. Ironically, Moyar presents sufficient details from Vietnamese communist archives to establish that Washingtons picture of the enemy situation, to include Hanois commitment of regular forces to the south in 1964, was probably more accurate than its view of our South Vietnam allies.
This is disturbing stuff at a time when the United States is again embroiled in an overseas campaign for which an understanding of the complexities of both friendly and enemy situations is vital to success. Readers of Moyars work can be excused for having that sinking feeling that in the current Global War on Terrorism, the capability to understand complex situations involving unfamiliar regions, languages, religions, and cultures (never our nations strong suit) and come up with viable campaign plans, is now urgently demanded, but once again, sorely deficient.
One of the more troubling observations in Moyars work is his discussion of the persistent and vain attempts of the Johnson Administration to limit its actions in response to Hanois moves, a process, Johnson hoped, of sending signals to Ho Chi Minh that the United States sought no wider war, signals which the enemy repeatedly interpreted as signs of weakness. Absent a good grasp of enemy capabilities and intentions, how can one know what signals to send, or how they might be interpreted? In Iraq today, some might argue that limiting the amount of US forces on the ground after the toppling of Saddam Hussein was intended to send the signal that the United States had no designs on Iraq or Iraqi oil, or that we are not occupiers. This said, might the Iraqis who risked it all at the ballot boxes or who now wear the uniforms of the police force or the national army read our intentions differently today? (Not to mention how such signals are received in Tehran and Damascus?) These are timely questions that Moyars equally timely work suggests to this reader, who awaits with anticipation Volume 2 of his opus, which will cover 1965-1975.
Ivans War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945. By Catherine Merridale. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006. 480 pages. $30.00. Reviewed by David M. Glantz, author of When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler and editor of The Journal of Slavic Military Studies.
No war in history has produced greater human suffering, material devastation, and political and social dislocation than the Barbarossa Campaign conducted by Adolph Hitlers Third Reich against Josef Stalins Soviet Union during World War II. True to objectives he enunciated almost 20 years before in his autobiography, Mein Kampf, on 22 June 1941, Germanys Führer unleashed a genuine Kulturkampf (culture struggle) against the Soviet Union, aimed at destroying its Red Army and Bolshevik regime, enslaving its Slavic population, and attaining living space (Lebensraum) for the German nation. Hitler expected to achieve these goals by waging a lightning war (Blitzkrieg) to decimate the Red Army, undermine the morale of its soldiers, and produce a collapse similar to that of the Tsars army during World War I.
Replicating its brilliant performance in Poland and the West during 1939 and 1940, the German Wehrmacht came enticingly close to achieving its Führers aims. During the first six months of the war, it indeed dismembered and decimated the Red Army, inflicting more than 4.5 million casualtiesincluding more than 3 million dead and captureda gruesome toll equivalent to over 80 percent of the Red Armys initial wartime strength. Despite these appalling losses, however, the Red Army halted the German juggernaut short of Leningrad, Moscow, and Rostov. After suffering more than 16 million additional casualties over the next four years, instead of collapsing, the Red Army ultimately prevailed, dashing Hitlers expectations by destroying his Wehrmacht and Third Reich in the ruins of Berlin in May 1945. Today, as historians busily exploit newly released archival materials to reconstruct a more accurate operational mosaic of this once obscure campaign, they remain perplexed by the question, Just how was the Red Army able to endure such catastrophic losses and yet prevail? In Ivans War, Catherine Merridale skillfully addresses this question by examining the experiences of Red Army soldiers who endured unimaginable privations to survive the war.
Exploiting a wealth of old and new historical studies and soldiers memoirs, augmented by interviews with a wide range of Red Army veterans, Merridale successfully places a human face on the hitherto faceless Soviet soldieralthough, of necessity, primarily only those who survived. Addressing her subject chronologically within the context of Barbarossas operational record, the author weaves these soldierly recollections into a convincing narrative detailing such oft-conflicting motives as hatred, patriotism, fear, and comradeship that impelled soldiers to act as they did midst the carnage and brutality surrounding their service. By thoroughly examining the conflicting bases of soldierly morale within the complex context of the wartime Red Army and Stalins Soviet Union, Merridales study also provides a point of departure for similar studies of morale and combat performance in other armies.
Understandably, since the experiences of the many millions of Red Army soldiers who perished, became missing-in-action, fell captive to the Germans, or simply deserted to the enemy remain mute, Merridale has limited her study
primarily to those soldiers who survived. Historians will be able to redress this weakness only when additional sources, such as the diaries and letters of dead soldiers and Narodny Kommisariat Vnutrennikh Del materials on morale become available.
Despite these minor flaws and the effects of the rigors of time, which has reduced the pool of Red Army veterans willing and able to share their experiences, this is social history at its best. As belated as it is, this book is the first and most thorough treatment of the subject in either the English or Russian language. One hopes it will not be the last.
The Trojan War: A New History. By Barry Strauss. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006. 236 pages. $26.00. Reviewed by Dr. J. Boone Bartholomees, Jr., Professor of Military History, US Army War College.
Barry Strauss new book on the Trojan War is representative of the special category of history that reinterprets old and familiar stories. When done well, reinterpretations are interesting and educational; however, such history can be fraught with peril for both historian and reader. Any historical interpretation that accounts for all the facts is technically valid; however, it is possible to define away inconsistent facts or over-emphasize trivialities to the point of distorting any reasonable interpretation of an event. That is where a reader has to trust the historian. Fortunately, Strauss is a reputable and reliable historian. Reinterpretations often reflect new thinking about what is importantin a sense providing the current politically correct version of history. They sometimes reflect the discovery of new evidence; that is, new facts raise issues about whether accepted interpretations are still valid. In The Trojan War: A New History, we have such a reinterpretation where new facts may challenge the validity of an old and familiar story.
Barry Strauss reexamines the Trojan War in light of evidence primarily from archaeological excavations and Hittite texts. He uses period texts from other societies as evidence of norms of the time. Of course, the traditional interpretation is that of Homer supplemented by other minor or later works. There has long been debate first about whether the events Homer relates in the Iliad and the Odyssey ever happened, and second, if they did, about how accurately Homer depicts them. Strauss answers both those questions in the affirmativewith some reservation. He asserts the ancient Greek city-states may well have waged war against a city they knew as Troy, although it probably was not technically a siege and was certainly shorter than Homer asserts. As for Homers veracity, Strauss finds his narrative remarkably consistent with what we now know about civilization in 1200 B.C. Whether one considers Strauss findings a major reinterpretation, a minor adjustment, or a confirmation of Homer is a question of half-empty or half-full.
Heinrich Schliemann, of course, found the remains of Troy in 1871, and archaeologists have been working since then to confirm his find. Excavations since 1991 have dramatically expanded what is known of the ancient cityespecially in
terms of size. Schliemanns Troy was little more than a citadel; modern digs suggest a prosperous city of approximately 75 acres that dominated fertile surrounding countryside and profited from its location at the entrance to the Dardanelles. There is evidence of a destruction, probably by military conquest, in the correct timeframe. The Hittites called the city Taruisa or Wilusathe latter being very similar to the early Greek Wilion, which became Illion, the term Homer used for the Trojans. It is clear that Troy was a typical Anatolian city, and as such it was allied with the Hittites. Attacking Troy would have been perilous, even for the early Greeks, whom Strauss likens to the Vikings as wide-ranging traders and colonists as well as vicious seaborne raiders. In its heyday, the Hittite empire was one of the great powers of the ancient world, and it valued the ring of allies with which it surrounded itself. But the Hittites were in decline in 1200 B.C., and their attention was elsewhere. A Greek attack on a Hittite ally was possible.
From studies of contemporary society, Strauss believes it plausible that a coalition of Greek city-states attacked Troy in response to the insult of wife stealingparticularly considering that Paris and Helen stole the national treasure when they fled Sparta. Of course, the lure of Trojan loot would have made forming the coalition easier. Homers claim of nine years of siege warfare is less believable based on economic and political constraints of the time. Conversely, tales of looting the Trojan countryside, attacking Troys allies, and selling prisoners and hostages as slaves fit contemporary norms. Because the Greeks failed to completely seal off Troy, Strauss says they obviously did not besiege the city. While technically correct, such a restrictive interpretation of a siege is uncommon. The Union army never completely surrounded Petersburg and Richmond, but its operations there in 1864-1865 are universally considered a siege. Still, the siege probably happened and likely progressed in much the manner of Homers narrative.
And of the Trojan horse, that most famous of ancient deception plans? Strauss, in opposition to the conventional wisdom, believes it may well have existed even if later generations misunderstood its function. He finds some kind of deceit or stratagem to gain entry into the city highly probably. The Greeks proved unable to breach or storm Troys walls, and treachery was one of the most common siege techniques of the ancient world. A horse would have been an appropriate gift to leave outside Troyan admission of defeat in a sense. The shipwrights with the expedition would have had little difficulty fashioning one. That the horse contained nine soldiers is much less probable. The horse, if present at all, probably served as a decoy to distract the Trojans rather than as a means of gaining entry into the city. According to Homer, individual Greeks had slipped in and out of the city earlier in the siege; infiltrating a small party under the cover of a victory celebration accompanied by civic debate over the fate of a horse statue would have been relatively easy. Once inside the walls, the commando team could have easily waited for dark, overpowered the gate guard, and signaled the Greek fleet waiting nearby.
Thus, The Trojan War: A New History is exactly what it claims to be. It is a new way to look at a familiar story. It makes sense; the interpretation accounts for all the facts. It has the added benefit of being both interesting and readable.
The Morality of War. By Brian Orend. Orchard Park, N.Y.: Broadview Press, 2006. 289 pages. $27.95 (paper). Reviewed by Martin L. Cook, Professor of Philosophy and Deputy Department Head, United States Air Force Academy.
In 1977, Michael Walzer published the first edition of Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations. That volume has now become the common touchstone for all thinkers in the Just War tradition and more than any other single thing is responsible for the proliferation and currency of the vocabulary of Just War in American discourse. Its arguments are the common frame around which other scholars range their positionsboth in agreement and in disagreementand has served to inform the world of policy as much as the world of scholarship.
Brian Orends new volume, The Morality of War, promises to join Walzers in its widespread influence. Not since Walzer has there been a treatment of the whole range of issues in Just War as comprehensive and detailed in application to real-world circumstances. Indeed, Orends work exceeds Walzers in the range of topics treated and, even more importantly, updates the arguments to the many ways in which the world of international politics and use of military force have changed since the immediate aftermath of Vietnam.
Building on his earlier excellent books on human rights, Just War, and Walzer, Orend sets himself the daunting task of providing a coherent and comprehensive position on the whole range of moral issues that arise in war and executes the task masterfully.
He begins by providing a sweeping history of the Just War tradition and its bifurcation into its legal form (in international law) and its moral and religious form (in philosophy and theology). This chapter alone is a powerful antidote to the tendency in some military quarters to think that Just War is captured completely and adequately in the law of armed conflict.
Orend then explores the complex questions of the moral reasons for the regard we pay to states in the international system and the concept of aggression as it applies to the rights of states to defend themselves against aggression. He very helpfully explores the application of these concepts both to intrastate war (the historically common form since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648) and to attacks by non-state actors such as al Qaeda.
A great strength of the book is that each theoretical discussion is then explicated as it bears on specific historical examples. Unlike Walzers use of history, which is often limited to very small vignettes to illustrate specific points, Orend develops these cases in richer detail so that the real complexities are allowed to play out. He explores fully the moral valence of the current international system with its deep tensions between sovereign states and the on paper legal authority of the United Nations Security Council over all uses of force not unambiguously in response to aggression, and applies that discussion to recent decisions to use force that failed to receive clear Security Council blessing. The result is a helpfully nuanced moral assessment of contemporary international organizationsjudging them to be helpful and important, but acknowledging their very real limitations both in efficacy and legitimacy.
The book devotes entire chapters to the modern contours of non-classical wars, a critical assessment of Walzers famous and much debated attempt to establish a moral category of supreme emergency which allows violation of the normal constraints of the war convention, and especially jus post bellum (the relatively undeveloped area of the moral requirements of justice in the aftermath of major combat operationsa topic to which Orend more than anyone else in the field has given especially helpful attention). Included in the post bellum discussion is a very thoughtful section on the history and probable future of war crimes trials which, of course, become daily more important as the International Criminal Court begins to function in earnest. Of obvious great relevance to the contemporary situation, there is also a chapter devoted to the moral and practical aspects of coercive regime change.
The book concludes with thoughtful discussion of the two major competitors with Just War as a way of thinking through the moral issues involved in the use of military force. Pacifists, of course, reject the moral justification of the use of force entirely. But pacifism actually comes in numerous forms, based on different assumptions and convictions, and Orend provides an excellent typology of those alternatives. Realism, by contrast, rejects just war on the ground that moral thought is mere window-dressing in international relations. Instead, realists assert, international relations are (and should be, in the strong form of realism) the province of realpolitik. In their view, introduction of moral language and moral considerations is at best irrelevantand at worst, dangerously idealistic.
Orends discussion of these alternatives is balanced and careful. He finds much that is useful in each. Nevertheless, the conclusion is that Just War is, all things considered and with limitations which the alternatives make apparent, the most comprehensive and intellectually defensible approach to moral thought about war.
In short, Orends book, in this reviewers opinion, provides the best single volume in English on Just War. Readers seeking a comprehensive and in-depth treatment of the whole range of thorny moral questions involved in war can find no better place to begin than with this book.
Women in the Line of Fire: What You Should Know About Women in the Military. By Erin Solaro. Emeryville, Calif.: Seal Press, 2006. 409 pages. $15.95 (paper). Reviewed by Richard Halloran, onetime lieutenant of airborne infantry and a former military correspondent for The New York Times.
When the volunteer force was struggling to stand up 30 years ago, it was confronted with three fundamental questions of personnel. Until then, the military services had been mostly white in their leadership, single in the young officer and enlisted ranks, and predominantly male. Now the services enlisted and retained a large number of black and other minority Americans, had to contend with young married officers and enlisted people, and brought in many young women. In sum, it might have been called the BMW revolution.
Over the years, the armed forces have done perhaps the best job in America of integrating minorities into the mainstream of institutional life. In the mid-1980s,
two master sergeants, one black, the other white, sat side by side in an office at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, home of the field artillery. Asked about racial issues, one master sergeant (I dont remember which one) said: Man, we solved that problem a long time ago. The other nodded in vigorous assent.
Similarly, the services have added institutional programs to informal support systems that have long been operative to look after young families while members are deployed. Commanders know that individuals will not be effective on patrol in Iraq if they are worried about the family back home. Most commanders have bought into the adage that soldiers are enlisted but families are re-enlisted.
Women, too, have made great progress in the military services since they arrived in large numbers in the 1970s and 1980s. But to Erin Solaro, an avowed feminist, military historian, and journalist embedded with combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan, that progress will not be complete until all restrictions on women serving in combat have been removed. I believe we are at the end point of American womens struggle for citizenship, a struggle that predates the Civil War and that is, in fact, almost as old as the Republic, Solaro writes. I think we are on the threshold of the only civilization that a free people should cherish: one that men and women create and defend together, as public and private equals.
She asserts that final changes must be achieved so that the participation of women in all phases of military service is de jure as well as de facto. The author writes that her experience in Iraq and Afghanistan convinced me that women are now firmly part of the American military, in all its aspects, and that its time to drop all remaining combat exclusion policies and procedures as a matter of military necessity and of equality of obligation in citizenship. About that particular war, Solaro declares: From the outset I believed, and still believe, that we are fighting a war with militant Islamic fundamentalism, and that the outcome of such a war is important not just to American men, but also to American women. Therefore, logically, women should be part of the military, even if the opening campaign in Iraq has proven ill-advised and poorly executed.
The question of women in combat revolves around at least a half-dozen issues:
Men discriminating against women. Solaro spends more ink on this issue than any other. A person who is categorically excluded from combat, whether a male nondeployable or a woman, is a second class member of the most hierarchical organization in the United States, she contends as she gathers arguments reaching back to the American Revolution to prove her point.
Physical ability. Solaro seeks to demolish this argument by contending that the difference between men and women is predicated upon and aggravated by the militarys antiquated cultural assumptions about appropriate weights and body-fat levels for physically active women.
Mental capacity. This contention for the most part has gone away as women have proven that they are capable of doing many military jobs. A chief master sergeant at Langley Air Force Base said that, given a choice between a man and a woman who seemed equally qualified to work on black boxes, he would choose the woman because she was more deft and patient for painstaking tasks.
Sexual tensions hindering unit cohesion. This is perhaps the most vehemently argued position of men who oppose assigning women to combat units. Solaro derides their arguments as looking to the past instead of to a future defined by a civilian society ever more open to womens potential and advancement.
Chivalry. Solaro acknowledges this trait as a binding moral obligation upon men to protect women but contends that it too often devalued women into weak and transient creatures. A chief petty officer aboard a destroyer in San Diego said he would not hesitate to slam down a hatch on men below to save his ship. But if I knew there were women down there, I dont think I could do it.
Primeval instinct. Solaro recognizes that there is a deeply rooted, very powerful belief that women are not supposed to be risked in war because most women either have or will have children. But she brushes that belief aside as the prattling of old men, statistics showing that childbirth was more dangerous than military service, even in the infantry.
In the end, Solaros book is a valuable contribution to the running debate over women as warriors. She is fairly convincing in arguments about discrimination, physical ability, and mental capacity. She is less persuasive in her contentions on sexual tensions, chivalry, and the primeval instincts about the role of women in the preservation of the human race.
Strategy and History: Essays on Theory and Practice. By Colin S. Gray. New York: Routledge, 2006. 234 pages. $135.00 ($39.95 paper). Reviewed by Dr. Stephen J. Blank, Professor of National Security Studies, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.
It is a capital idea to have all these essays published together for they contain much wisdom. Admittedly, this reviewer is an admirer of Dr. Grays work, but the importance of the ideas he addresses in this series of essays collected over 30 years should give much food for thought even to less impressed readers. The issues Gray addresses range from the nature of security or strategic studies, to the importance for strategists and analysts to learn from history, to ethics, and most important of all, to the overriding necessity of focusing on the strategic level of war.
In all these cases, essays, and in his book titles the words strategy and history stand out as the lodestars of Grays thinking. Unfortunately, it is precisely these things and their attributes that are all too often missing from American strategy and policy. Indeed, we would do well to make this book or at least some of the essays required reading for policymakers and students and faculty at institutions of professional military education. Grays foundation has always been Clausewitz and his insistence that war is an instrument of policy which is chosen to achieve political, including strategic, ends or purposes. It is not merely a clash of arms as far too many Americans believe. Gray makes the acute distinction between warfare that is the tactical clash of two militaries and war that encompasses the multidimensional phenomenon of conflict between military or political entities. Throughout the book Gray finds that America has been deficient in understanding the need for a truly strategic approach, focusing instead on a methodology that glorifies technology and depreciates geography, culture, and history.
In fact, throughout these essays as well as in his other books Gray consistently emphasizes the need to learn from history, how others may have resolved or confronted strategic challenges based on their geography, history, and enculturation. Sound strategy cannot omit these factors from consideration. If that omission does occur, and it features prominently in Americas military tradition, victory may be achieved, but it will not be strategic in nature. Indeed, strategy will have failed its ultimate test. We may win the battles only to lose the peace or broader war.
Grays insistence on rigorously emphasizing the strategic dimension also leads him into controversy which he does not shirk. His essay Nuclear Strategy: the Case for a Theory of Victory from 1979 clearly states his insistence on the Clausewitzian dictum and the critical nature of strategy. The author makes it abundantly clear that if we were to enter into a nuclear war that war must be fought to achieve clear and tangible strategic objectives, i.e., it must result in victory. This insistence obviously flew in the face of those advocating deterrence theory and present-day political wisdom. Gray earned considerable opprobrium from those who insisted that there could be no victory in a nuclear war. Inasmuch as this was not necessarily the Soviet view at the time and the fact that Leninist theory was no less Clausewitzian in its insistence on the political objective of war, there is much to be said for this reasoning, unpalatable as it may seem.
The essential point here is that wars are conducted for the purposes of securing political gains, as Liddell Hart famously said, The purpose of war is a better peace. Thus, a nuclear war may have to be fought, if it comes to that, in an effort to obtain a better peace. These essays reflect Grays independence of mind, intellectual rigor, and willingness to challenge the political correctness or conventional wisdom of the time. There is another key point for which Gray is well known and one that is related to this issue. Gray insists that the advent of the nuclear era in 1945 does not represent a break with the past, nor does it consign all the accumulated strategic wisdom and experience that has gone before into oblivion. Instead, the burden of proof rests upon those who espouse the belief that we entered into a wholly new world in August 1945. Again, the importance of strategy and history are championed at the expense of popularity and conventional thinking. But since these two elements, strategy and history, are precisely those in which Americans have been most deficient, the challenge falls to those who seek the answers regarding how we blundered into our current strategic predicament. Anyone responding to this strategic conundrum could do much worse than to start their effort by pondering the lessons Gray imparts in Strategy and History.
Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodiesand What It Means to Be Human. By Joel Garreau. Rpt.; New York: Broadway, 2006. 400 pages. $26.00 ($15.95 paper). Reviewed by Dr. James R. Downey, Professor of Science and Technology, US Army War College.
Technology is advancing at a dizzying pace. The cell phone you buy today is nearly out of date before you leave the store. Sequencing your personal DNA for under $1000 may be just around the corner. Nanoscale robots might some day be built and en-
ter your brain providing significantly faster and more sophisticated human intelligence, blending the line between man and machine. Joel Garreau takes these kinds of developments and explores them to their potential extremes, both good and bad, in his book Radical Evolution. At first glance, the title might suggest some major modification to the evolutionary development of humans or the planet. In one sense this is true since the book explores the radical evolution of technology and how it might affect the future of mankind. To those less familiar with developments occurring in info-, bio-, and nanotechnology this book presents a useful overview. For the national security audience Garreaus work provides an insight into the impact that twenty-first century technologies could have on the continuing Revolution in Military Affairs.
The book opens by suggesting we are about to embark on dramatic changes previously not experienced by the human race. The chapter titled Be All You Can Be presents several accounts of research projects being conducted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the areas of biotechnology and human performance enhancement. Readers familiar with DARPA know it as the driving force behind stealth technology and the Internet. Today, DARPA is looking at how to make smarter, faster, and stronger soldiers as well as the enabling technologies that will make it all possible. Driving all the developments that Garreau describes in later sections of the book is something he calls The Curve, and an entire chapter is devoted to this subject. Garreau is not the first to describe the impact of exponential developments in technology, particularly computer processing capability. However, he does manage to do so in a way that will be accessible to a wide range of readers. The chapter identifies four areas of technological development many observers believe will be the key to a number of advances in this century. The primary driving force is the development of information technology (IT). Exponential advances in IT are enabling the other three technology areas the author highlights: genetics, robotics, and nanotechnology. He collectively names these the GRIN technologies. Carried to their theoretical extreme the exponential advances in GRIN lead some to think we may approach the so-called technological Singularity. The idea, first suggested by Verner Vinge (interviewed extensively in the book), is that as the rate of change increases it reaches a point where change occurs essentially instantaneously and we simply dont know what the world will be like after that. The GRIN technologies become the focus of succeeding chapters which explore potential futures described with thought-provoking titles including Heaven, Hell, Prevail, and Transcend.
In the first future all the best possible things that could happen with the GRIN technologies combine to produce a world with greatly enhanced humans, reduced poverty, and increased prosperity for all. The main proponents of this view are Verner Vinge and Ray Kurzweil. In Heaven people can live forever, or at least a very long time, having tremendous mental and physical capabilities, and in the view of Kurzweil, may even transcend their biological existence. The Hell scenario which follows outlines what could go wrong in the future, particularly with nanotechnology. Here Garreau meets up with Bill Joy (co-founder of Sun Microsystems) and Francis Fukuyama (Our Posthuman Future), well known for their concerns about the future. The downsides of the GRIN technologies include global environmental disaster and the societal and ethical dilemmas resulting from fundamental changes to what it means
to be human. Finally, both the Prevail and Transcend scenarios take a more middle ground suggesting that humanity will learn to deal with The Curve and our basic nature will allow us to survive the coming revolution.
Probably the greatest strength of the book is the many interviews Garreau conducted with the leading proponents of the various scenarios. For readers who lack the time to read more in-depth accounts Radical Evolution presents the main arguments of individuals such as Vinge, Kurzweil, Joy, Fukuyama, Lanier, and others. Furthermore, this book introduces key issues and can spark some new thinking. At times Garreau interjects too much of his own opinion, even referring to classic environmentalist concerns like DDT. None of the technologies is explored in great depth, and the author bypasses some relevant topics like the future of energy. Most surprisingly to this reviewer, he essentially ignores the role that religion and faith will certainly play as some form of these futures plays out. Some readers may find that Garreau gives too many examples or repeats himself when describing a topic. This is particularly true in The Curve where most readers will get the point after just a few pages.
This book provides a good introduction to the set of technologies most likely to profoundly impact the future of human society. Whether the world will end up in Heaven, Hell, or somewhere else altogether remains to be seen. Regardless, Joel Garreaus Radical Evolution provides an opportunity to learn about technological developments coming in this century and opens the door to ponder the implications for both national security and the future of the human race.
The Ghosts of Iwo Jima. By Robert S. Burrell. College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2006. 262 pages. $29.95. Reviewed by Colonel James R. Oman, Chairman, Department of Command, Leadership, and Management, US Army War College.
The battle of Iwo Jima seems to be enjoying a rebirth of interest among scholars and the American public. This interest is readily apparent by the publication of this fascinating book as well as the handful of other recently released accounts and articles focused on documenting the history of this epic battle. The recent passing of photographer Joe Rosenthal, noted for his photograph of the flag raising on Mount Suribachi, the newly opened National Museum of the Marine Corps at Quantico, Virginia whose very structure is designed to evoke that very scene, and the recently released movie Flags of Our Fathers have all drawn attention to a battle that was fought more than 60 years ago.
The Ghosts of Iwo Jima represents a significant departure from the many recent articles and books focused primarily on the battle or some aspect of the supporting operation. First-time author, Captain Robert S. Burrell, USMC, spends little time describing the actual battle. Burrell instead focuses the book on the heretofore neglected dynamics, complex considerations, and impact of inter-service competition that led to the decision to undertake the Iwo Jima operation. The author analyzes the varied explanations, rationalizations, and justifications that were subsequently offered in response to the horrific loss of life sustained by the attacking forces.
This exceptionally well-researched work describes in meticulous detail the sometimes disturbing and often contentious strategic decisionmaking process leading to the decision to execute Operation Detachment, the seizure of Iwo Jima. The decision by the Joint Chiefs of Staff occurred as a result of rivalries that developed between the Army and Navy as each service fought along a separate axis of advance toward Japan, a rivalry predicated on the competition for scarce resources. The northernmost axis of advance was planned for the Central Pacific Area under the leadership of Admiral Chester Nimitz. The southernmost advance would occur within the Southwest Pacific Area and be led by General Douglas MacArthur. These two theaters of operations and their respective advances would then converge in the area between Luzon and Formosa.
The author points out that the Joint Chiefs of Staffs failure to overcome service rivalries by designating a unified commander for the theater caused strategic paralysis. This paralysis would not be broken by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but rather by Admiral Nimitz with the help of the Army Air Corps. Admiral Nimitz, deviating from the original war plan, proposed to ignore Formosa and instead seize Okinawa. He believed that Okinawa would achieve the anticipated benefits that were expected to be accrued by the planned seizure of Formosa, namely furthering the strangulation of Japan through the interdiction of its sea lanes of communication. An additional benefit would be the establishment of bases for launching the impending invasion of the Japanese homeland. The most significant benefit though, from Nimitzs perspective, was that this plan eliminated the highly contentious and paralyzing question of who would be in overall command for the Formosa operation, he or MacArthur. General Henry Hap Arnold, Chief of Staff of the Army Air Forces, backed Nimitzs Okinawa proposal. Arnolds support would come at a pricethe seizure of Iwo Jima immediately before Okinawa.
Nimitzs proposal for seizing Iwo Jima and then Okinawa caused the Joint Chiefs of Staff to search for a strategic compromise, resulting in the approval of this newly recommended course of action. Regrettably and ironically, as the author points out, the Marine Corps, which ultimately would pay such a heavy price for carrying out Operation Detachment, was excluded from the decisionmaking process.
General Arnold undoubtedly was focused on the means for the rapid defeat of Japan, but also clearly had his eyes fixed on establishing an independent Air Force. Arnold rightfully saw the B-29 Super Fortress as the instrument which would validate strategic bombing. He believed a strong performance by the B-29 in the Pacific would lay the groundwork for a separate service. Unfortunately, the B-29 was not capable of meeting Arnolds and the Joint Chiefs expectations. Arnold saw Iwo Jima as an ideal base on which to station fighters. It was the placement of fighters on Iwo Jima to escort the B-29s that would contribute to their improved effectiveness. Regrettably, Iwo Jima proved to be unsuitable as a fighter base, and the numbers of fighter escort missions eventually emanating from Iwo Jima was miniscule.
The seizure of Iwo Jima caused nearly 26,000 US casualties, killed and wounded, with another 2,600 incapacitated due to combat fatigue. Iwo Jima was the deadliest battle in the history of the Marine Corps. Burrells well-documented research has also unearthed a number of misrepresentations, inaccuracies, and fallacies long associated with the battle. Casualty figures, specifically the under-representation of US
casualties, the over-exaggerated Japanese casualties, and the differing methodologies used to arrive at the specific counts are well researched, documented, and presented. The casualty figures the author presents when combined with the ever-changing rationale for the execution of Operation Detachment paint a sobering picture.
The Ghosts of Iwo Jima is first and foremost a superb book providing fresh insight into a frequently studied battle. Yet it is much more. Burrells description of the strategic intrigue, compromises, and deal-making associated with this operation is neither pretty nor appealing. However, at the end of the day, these decisions and their outcomes are reflective of the tough challenges faced by strategic leaders then as well as today. The book illuminates the human dimension of strategic leadership and exposes the challenges associated with performing in a strategic environment characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.
While Burrells research and presentation reveals unflattering aspects associated with the battle for Iwo Jima, it does not denigrate or diminish the personal courage, sacrifice, and valor demonstrated by so many who participated, and rightfully so.
Insurgents, Terrorists, and Militias: The Warriors of Contemporary Combat. By Richard H. Shultz, Jr., and Andrea J. Dew. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006. 328 pages. $29.50. Reviewed by Colonel Glenn Alexander Crowther, Research Professor of National Security Studies, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.
Richard Shultz and Andrea Dew of the Fletcher School at Tufts University have produced an excellent primer on the nature of warfare and our likely enemies in the twenty-first century.
Starting with the end of the Cold War, US investment in military capability has produced a military against whom no one can stand in conventional state-on-state warfareso they wont. Instead, the authors point out that we will face proud warriors who come from cultures that inspire them with centuries of martial tradition.
The book opens with several chapters related to the nature of warfare in the twenty-first century and insight into the cultures that the United States may encounter as it seeks to stabilize the world as part of the Long War. The authors provide a well-thought-out view of the cultures in question, concentrating primarily on tribal societies. In three chapters that address War After the Cold War, Assessing Enemies, and Tribes and Clans, the authors posit that these tribal societies will comprise the enemies of the future for the United States. The nature of these societies have led to a preferred type of warfaredecentralized, violent, and family-based. When faced with an extremely potent conventional threat, these societies turn to the fundamentals they have always known: the ambush, the raid, and other techniques that western militaries associate with insurgency and asymmetric warfare.
The book continues with four chapters devoted to discussion of recent theaters of conflict: Somalia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Each chapter examines in-depth the society in question, analyzing the structure of family-based groups that comprise these organizations. Additionally, each chapter discusses the involvement of
militaries from developed countries applicable to the particular case. These chapters provide details of what went wrong in a given scenario and why, emphasizing both the nature of the society in the country in question as well as the decisionmaking process exercised by outside forces.
This lack of a centralized state that makes family-based societies viable in the twenty-first century is the same characteristic often found in weaker states that do not have the ability to provide good governance. This failing makes these locales attractive to transnational criminal and terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda. In such instances, the United States may engage the threat in an effort to impose stability. The target is never the local culture, but rather the lack of stability that US forces are seeking to address. The US presence in these areas inevitably comes into conflict with local power structures. Locals will almost always seek to drive away any foreign interlopers. The United States reliance on quick, kinetic solutions when faced with such attacks can lead to years of warfare. It is precisely the type of warfare that these family-based systems have specialized in for millennia.
One theme concurrent throughout the book is the propensity for militaries and policymakers in developed countries to underestimate the warfighting capacity inherent in these tribal/clan based societies. The authors go into great detail regarding the mishaps suffered by the British, Russians, and United States in the four countries reviewed. They posit that in each case, success might have been possible if security specialists had taken certain precautions and adopted a more flexible approach. Shultz and Dew also provide recommendations for security specialists and policymakers to use in future conflicts in regions dominated by instability.
Although the book does not necessarily plow new ground in terms of understanding different cultures, it does distill extant knowledge into a form readily understandable by todays military professional. Although some aspects of the individual country studies are a bit detailed for the average reader, the overall effect is to provide insight into a world very different from our own. In addition, the authors are able to educate the practicing professional regarding what mistakes to avoid when operating in these environments.
As with all of Shultzs works, this book is thoroughly researched and impressively referenced. The authors provide insight to not only popular writings on culture such as Culture Matters by Lawrence Harrison and Samuel Huntington, but also less well-known treatises such as Ethnic Groups in Conflict by Donald Horowitz and Ted Robert Gurrs Minorities at Risk. Any serious student of culture will find a worthwhile framework for pursuing such studies in this work. But it is the professional warfighter who will profit most from the book.
From soldiers on the ground to Combatant Commanders, to the Pentagon, and to politicians on Capitol Hill, everyone who specializes in international security matters on behalf of the United States should read this book. Additionally, the book describes the environment in which Army, Marine, and special operations forces will be operating for the foreseeable future. Sun Tzu implores us to know our enemy. Shultz and Dew have provided us with a superb roadmap to pursue that imperative. This book goes a long way in allowing the reader to get to know his opponent. We have only ourselves to blame if we are not ready the next time.
The Army After Next: The First Postindustrial Army. By Thomas K. Adams. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 2006. 336 pages. $49.95. Reviewed by Colonel Max G. Manwaring, USA Ret., Professor of National Security Affairs, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.
Only a few months ago, this book and its author probably would have been dismissed as just one more blast at the Bush Administration, perpetrated by a malcontent who just didnt understand. But history has a way of changing things in rapid and unexpected ways. Now, it turns out that The Army After Next is spot on and Tom Adams is something of a prophet. As we reappraise the US Army in the light of the expanding irregular asymmetric war in Iraq, the escalating conflict in Afghanistan, and the 2006 congressional elections in the United States, even ardent supporters of military transition can see that something has gone awry.
In this volume, Adams tells four stories. First, and most important, he presents a timely and well-reasoned explanation of the contradiction between transition, as it has been implemented, and experience encountered in Iraq and Afghanistan. As expected, the US military (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps) invaded Iraq quickly, and easily defeated Saddam Husseins army. But the conventional war unexpectedly turned into a grinding occupation, a multi-faceted insurgency, and something very close to civil war. The US military with all its firepower and technology could not control Iraqi territory or the population, and conventional state-on-state war was replaced by asymmetric warfare. In short, instead of providing a model for future war, the US military found that it was not trained, equipped, organized, or prepared for the kind of war we are fighting today and most likely will continue to face in the future. These new warswhatever they are calledare insurgency-rooted, low-tech, and unconventional confrontations between the weak and the strong. There is no way a rational but weak competitor will confront a stronger opponent on his own terms. Rather, a wise competitor will shift away from conventional military confrontations, enlarge the proverbial playing field to include the whole of a society, and focus on non-traditional, inexpensive, and more political-psychological forms of war.
Second, the author analyzes the debate over the belief that airpower can deal effectively, cheaply, and quickly with all kinds of enemies, and the counter-argument that an adequate and properly prepared ground force is necessary to exercise control over territory and people. That is, without control of territory and people, the results of airpower must beat besttransient. The experience in Afghanistan is a case in point. Despite precision bombing, airpower was unable to dislodge and defeat the Taliban fighters. Even with the introduction of infantry and Special Forces into the equation, the small, low-tech, and highly motivated Taliban forces have been dislodged, but not defeated. As a consequence, it appears that the airpower vs. ground forces argument is moot. The point is that contemporary, asymmetric irregular conflict requires more than military solutions. Contemporary conflict is multi-dimensional and requires the coordinated application of all the instruments of national and international power. In these terms, the US civil-military effort in contemporary conflict has not applied the appropri-
ate physical and intellectual tools necessary to deal with the reality of an existential alien, political-psychological, inter-religious, and inter-cultural conflict.
Third, Adams carefully and logically leads the reader through the problem of trying to apply military transformation to an ill-defined future, while at the same time fighting a war that is quite different and real. The worst part of that issue is not the obvious difficulty of not knowing exactly where you are going or precisely how you are going to get there. The worst part of that conundrum is not that vast amounts of time, effort, and money are being spent trying to develop something that might prove to be really good against a conventional peer competitor in 30 to 50 years. The worst part is that men and women of the armed forces are right now risking their lives against wise asymmetric and unconventional competitors. They have been trained, equipped, and organized for something that remains ill-defined and technologically unfulfilled. Lacking the right training and equipment, they have attempted to make-do, while suffering and dying in the process. But for the advocates of transformation it is as if the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not really happening, and that military demands of the real world do not matter. To the extent that reality is recognized and that the present force does matter, they are regarded as merely inconvenient aberrations.
The last story is not really a story. Rather, it is the lessons that should have already been learned, but remain unheeded. These lessons will speak for themselves. What we have here is a well-documented, well-reasoned, and well-written piece of work by a highly experienced practitioner. This book should be mandatory reading for citizens as well as decision-, policy-, and opinion-makers. At base, The Army After Next deals with the issue of securityour security. Too few of us have paid much attention. Pay attention now.
George Washington and Benedict Arnold: A Tale of Two Patriots. By Dave R. Palmer. Washington: Regnery Publishing, 2006. 424 pages. $29.95. Reviewed by Colonel Alan Cate, USA Ret., Chairman of the History Department, University School in Cleveland, Ohio. He is the author of Founding Fighters: The Battlefield Leaders Who Made American Independence.
At the conclusion of the failed American expedition (1775-1776) into Canada, George Washington wrote to console Benedict Arnold, a key leader of that campaign, It is not in the power of any man to command success, declared Washington, but you have done moreyou have deserved it. Americas greatest hero, regarded both by contemporaries and posterity as our countrys noblest figure, was paying lofty tribute to the character of the man who later became one of Americas greatest traitors.
Dave Palmers parallel biography of these two men is, more than anything, a study in character. No one is better equipped to undertake it. The phrase distinguished soldier and scholar has become devalued by overuse, but it is apt in Palmers case. A retired lieutenant general, he capped a long Army career as Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point, whose raison detre is to produce educated leaders of character. He has authored several books on the American Revolution,
preeminent among them The Way of the Fox (1975), a trenchant examination of Washingtons generalship. This tale of two patriots offers enough heroism, villainy, plot twists, and ironies to stock any romantic novel, and Palmer does full justice to his material. Wearing his immense learning lightly and wielding a graceful pen, his engaging narrative is thoughtful, accessible, and often sparkling.
Washington and Arnold were born into reasonably well-off colonial families in Virginia and Connecticut, respectively. As boys, each experienced significant declines in social-economic status following the deaths of their fathers, but as young men made themselves into prosperous, well-regarded members of their communities through the time-honored formula of ambition, hard work, and advantageous marriages. Both from an early age evidenced considerable charisma, and an ability to command the respect and obedience of others. And both were fired with the republican ideals of virtue and sacrifice that ultimately impelled Americans to take arms for liberty and independence against Great Britain.
No patriot generals did more to advance the cause than these two. Washington, of course, stayed in the field for eight years, held the Continental Armythe embodiment of the Revolutiontogether in the face of daunting odds and setbacks, and gained the decisive victory that turned the world upside down at Yorktown. Arnold the American Hanniballed an epic winter trek through the Maine wilderness to the gates of Quebec. Even though the subsequent assault on that bastion miscarried, its gallantry inspired patriot hearts. Later, Arnold fought a desperate naval action on Lake Champlainthe battle of Valcour Islandthat saved an American army, upper New York state, and perhaps the entire Revolution from British conquest. Most significantly, his skill, bravery, and ferocity tipped the scales at Saratoga, the Revolutions other crucial battle, for the Americans.
As Palmer makes clear, Washington and Arnoldmutual admirers at the outsetshared the character traits of courage, endurance, and intellect. They diverged in the equally important dimensions of prudence and temperament. Throughout the war, both faced challenges from lesser men. Such was Washingtons stature that these were invariably indirect: whispered innuendos and complaints, shadowy cabals seeking to undercut his authority. Arnold, on the other hand, engaged in numerous public disputes with politicians and fellow officers who were jealous of his fame or antagonized by his ego. Both generals, like many eighteenth century gentlemen, were exceedingly prickly about their honor and quick to take offense at slights, real or perceived. The difference, in Palmers felicitous phrasing, was that Arnold typically reacted with fire, Washington with ice.
Where Washington rose above his detractors, Arnold succumbed to excessive self-righteousness and a sense of grievance. Twice seriously wounded, passed over for promotion and denied what he believed was due credit for his efforts, and forced repeatedly to defend himself before boards of inquiry and courts-martial, Arnold eventually lost faith in the virtue of his fellow patriots. In mid-1779 he wrote Washington, Having made every sacrifice of fortune and blood, and become a cripple in the service of my country, I little expected to meet the ungrateful returns I have received . . . but as Congress has stamped ingratitude as the current coin, I must take it. Around this same time, the disillusioned warrior opened secret communications with the enemy.
The book culminates with Arnolds infamous attempt to turn the Hudson River fortress of West Point over to the British. Palmer does an especially fine job setting that episode within the context of the black year of 1780, a period when patriot hopes were at their nadir due to rampant inflation, supply shortages, desertions and mutinies in the Continental line, and crushing defeats in the wars southern theater. Even though readers know how it all turns out, Palmer artfully conveys the tension and mounting suspense surrounding Arnolds scheme by providing a day-by-day account of events during the week leading to the plots discovery and collapse.
Arnolds treason shook his countrymen, including Washington, to the core precisely because he had been such a patriot stalwart beforehand. Indeed, he resembled Miltons Lucifer in Paradise Lost, who fell from luminous glory to the darkest pit. Palmer recognizes this, then observes that Americans discerned, in Washingtons words, the interposition of Providence . . . in the rescue of the post and garrison of West Point from Arnolds villainous perfidy. Palmer intriguingly suggests this deliverance led to an irony among ironies . . . Arnold managed to do what no one else had. He revitalized the Revolution.
Honor is a sacrifice no man ought to make, proclaimed Arnold in a fit of pique at Congress midway through the war. Both he and Washington sacrificed much, but only Arnold surrendered his honor. As Palmer concludes, both mens lives confirm the proposition that character is destiny.
The Meaning of Military Victory. By Robert Mandel. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2006. 190 pages. $49.95 ($19.95 paper). Reviewed by Dr. Jeffrey Record, Professor of Strategy and International Security, Air War College.
The American war in Iraq, now in its fifth year, underscores the great difficulty of translating military victory into political successthat is, a peace better and more enduring than the pre-war situation, especially for a country that historically has viewed war as a suspension of politics and military victory as an end in and of itself. Indeed, it would be difficult, argues Robert Mandel in his impressive The Meaning of Military Victory, to imagine a postwar predicament that more starkly contrasted the disjuncture between speedy military victory and the agonizingly slow accomplishment of long-term . . . political, economic, social, and diplomatic objectives.
What does victory in war mean? The accomplishment of articulated prewar policy objectives? Holding costs below benefits? Exterminating the enemy? Converting enemies into allies? War aims are notoriously volatile, often unstated, and sometimes little more than hopes. Low war costs are always good, but the benefits may not be worth a war in the first place. Extermination may be impossible or morally unacceptable. And transforming foes into friends requires enormous luck, time, patience, civil-military integration, financial and material resources, political skill, and cultural understanding.
Mandel, a professor of international affairs at Lewis and Clark College and author of Security, Strategy, and the Quest for Bloodless War, concedes that victory is inherently subjective, but he postulates two different forms of victory: military victory and strategic victory. The former involves defeating armed resistance in battlewar-winningwhereas the latterpeace-winningentails accomplishing the short-term and long-term national, regional, and global goals for which the war was fought. Specifically, strategic victory means, for Mandel, establishing complete control over the defeated state as a predicate to engineering its political, economic, and social reconstruction in a manner commanding internal and international legitimacy. The implicit model is the Anglo-American defeat and resurrection of Germany and Japan as allied democracies.
Mandel notes the rarity of such victories, especially since the end of the Cold War. But the reasons for their scarcity are hardly a mystery. Historically, most interstate conflicts are waged for limited objectives and not to recreate the enemy. Additionally, these days most wars are fought against non-state enemies that cannot be decisively defeated (in large part because such enemies wage total war and do so in a manner that negates a great powers military superiority). Mandel clearly understands the reasons for great power strategic failure in small wars against irregular enemies:
The unsuitability of conventional military forces for . . . low-intensity conflict; limited commitment by the intervening state; difficulties in eliminating external support for the insurgent group; divisive societal problems caused by maldistribution of wealth, poverty, corruption, repression, and collapse of social structure; longstanding mutual hostility among the sides; inadequate adaptability by the intervening state to the changing predicament; and insufficient stamina by the intervening state for protracted conflict.
More interesting than the question of why strategic victories are so exceptional is that of why the expectation of strategic victory persists. Why, for example, did the United States expect a strategic success in Iraq, and a relatively cheap and easy one at that, notwithstanding the post-Cold War record of strategically failed interventions in the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, andyes (so far)Afghanistan? Clearly, someone believed in the invincibility of American military power. More profoundly, howeverand it is here that Mandel, borrowing from psychological theory, is at his bestthe White House succumbed to wishful thinking fallacies surrounding victory at the strategic level. Those fallacies include overestimation of the postwar payoff of military forces in guaranteeing compliance and deterrence; the ease of transforming the defeated states political system; the chances of the defeated states postwar adoption of the victors . . . values; and underestimation of the economic and social reconstruction costs of the vanquished state.
Given dim prospects for achieving comprehensive political-military victories in todays global strategic environment, Mandel believes the United States should abandon its promiscuous interventionism and initiate war only in cases where intervention is absolutely vital to achieve core objectives and where the
probability, size, and centrality of the payoff is really worth the effort. The United States needs to resist always succumbing to the temptation to use its superior military power to intervene in real and perceived sources of instability around the world. And even though Mandel believes that achieving strategic victory is likely to be increasingly elusive, he also calls for the integration of military and political strategies, citing the British success against the Malayan insurgency in the 1950s, and refocusing of defense expenditure from investment in war-winning to investment in peace-winning. But what is the point of preparing to achieve strategic victory in a global environment almost certain to deny it? Is not the better policy a more restrictive approach to the use of force itself? Where is the Weinberger Doctrine when we really need it?
The Meaning of Military Victory not only systematically and insightfully tackles a topic that deserves far more attention than it has received; it also explains the roots of the American foreign policy debacle in Iraq. It engages issues of critical interest to students and practitioners of war alike and ought to be required reading for both.
Counterterrorism Strategies: Successes and Failures of Six Nations. Edited by Yonah Alexander. Dulles, Va.: Potomac Books, 2006. 288 pages. $48.00 ($24.00 paper). Reviewed by Lieutenant Colonel Robert M. Cassidy, a US Army officer and a non-resident Fellow with the Center for Advanced Defense Studies.
The war on terrorism will have lasted six years by September 2007 and it has already lasted longer than the American Civil War and World War II. In fact, current US national security strategy considers it a Long War that may be protracted over the next several decades. Terrorism by non-state armed groups which are animated by radical interpretations of religion still represents a perfidious and present peril. Herein lies the relevance of a book that examines the history and evolution of counterterrorism across six cases, representing the efforts of six states. The aim of Counterterrorism Strategies is to glean best practices in order to arrive at some generalizations about the way ahead on national and international efforts to counter terrorism. For the United States, this framework is especially relevant because one of the 9/11 Commission findings was the imperative to formulate a long-term and balanced strategy to defeat terrorists, by compelling the massive departments and agencies that prevailed in the twentieth century to cooperate and work together in new ways to integrate and leverage all the instruments of national power. The editor, Yonah Alexander, is the director of the Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies in Washington, D.C., as well as the director of the Potomac Institutes Center for Terrorism Studies in Arlington, Va. The other authors are similarly qualified as contributors to this book, which in its essence, assesses how successful these six governments have been in adapting interagency and international approaches to counter non-state terrorist groups, particularly since September 2001.
For a book with the announced purpose of gleaning best practices, the end is the best place to begin because it reveals the quality and the distillation of implica-
tions for policy. It is also the most germane part as it offers a way ahead to counter terrorism. The book prescribes policy fixes which are not necessarily epiphanous or timely, but are indeed correct and cogent. The first is that states must act multilaterally and unilaterally to develop credible capabilities to counter future terrorist threats. Second, the authors conclude that simple and ideal solutions to the threat of terrorism do not exist, and states must therefore develop organizational structures and institutional cultures that will enable them to adapt as quickly as, or quicker than, terrorists. The books third implication is exceedingly obvious, as it describes the critical elements of a counterterrorism strategy to be patience, perseverance, and relentless pursuit. Fourth, Counterterroism Strategies arrives at best practices that include the apprehension or elimination of operatives and their leadership; disruption of infrastructure and sanctuaries; denial of material support and funding; and infliction of severe punishment on state sponsors and collaborators. The poor integration of foreign and domestic intelligence agencies and policies also represents a trend that is in evidence throughout the book. One recommended remedy for this is to somehow close the gaps between domestic and international law.
Counterterrorism Strategies also illumines a miscellany of realities and adaptations in the realm of counterterrorism that are relevant and interesting. Alliance Base is an adaptation that the book highlights as a paragon of cooperation, between French intelligence and the American CIA. Alliance Base is an international counterterrorism intelligence center that the two nations established in Paris during 2002. It has remained functioning and relevant, despite United States and French disagreements over Iraq. Also of interest are the sections that explain the German contributions to the post-9/11 counterterrorism efforts internationally, specifically their role in Afghanistan. Beginning in 2002, Germany contributed some special operations soldiers, along with air transport and maritime forces to support the war on terrorism in Afghanistan and patrol the seas near the Horn of Africa. Germany supported the International Security Assistance Force with a relatively substantial number of troops, manned Provincial Reconstruction Teams, and serves as the lead nation for the training and establishment of Afghan police. The German government also contributed 80 million euros a year beginning in 2002. Among Americas NATO allies, German contributions in Afghanistan were generally second only to Britain. Lastly, the chapter on Italian counterterrorism examines the challenges engendered in that countrys geographic position in the Mediterranean, which finds it in proximity to non-state terrorist groups from North Africa and as a land conduit between the Levant and the Middle East on the one side and northwestern Europe on the other. Non-state groups seek to exploit its favorable geography and its illicit networks of trafficking in humans, arms, and drugs.
This book is a well-written and well-researched contribution to the ever-expanding corpus of books on counterterrorism. It is a relatively easy read. Also, a best practices approach to learning and adapting better than our adversaries is very helpful because it allows experts to harvest heterogeneity, which is preferable to the ossification that sometimes inheres in closed bureaucracies. This reviewer recommends this book as reading for military counterterrorism professionals, civilian counterterrorism experts, and students of national security. However, a preponder-
ance of the prescriptions and policy implications provided at the end of the book have already been articulated in national security strategy and policy. While Counterterrorism Strategies does not present any significantly innovative policy recommendations, its case study approach offers valuable insight into the practices of other states intelligence bureaucracies. This insight may offer utility in adapting more innovative and internationally collaborative measures to better undermine and defeat our ever-mutating adversaries in this prolonged conflict.
Buying Military Transformation: Technological Innovation and the Defense Industry. By Peter Dombrowski and Eugene Gholz. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006. 224 pages. $45.00. Reviewed by Dr. Richard Meinhart, Defense Transformation Chair and Professor of Defense and Joint Processes, US Army War College.
The title of this book, Buying Military Transformation, is intriguing; most readers would be rather skeptical as to whether one could actually buy transformation. The authors adequately describe the initial focus on the part of military and civilian defense leaders to create a Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). They highlight the fact that this revolution would be fueled by an emphasis for new technologies provided by firms generally outside the existing defense industry. However, the RMAs practical application to date has been more of an integration of technology and the leveraging of concepts associated with network-centric principles provided by firms long established with the defense industry. The goal was to create evolutionary changes in existing systems or platforms and then to progress to achieving revolutionary changes over time. In examining this process, the authors explain the complex interaction, as it applies to technology and innovation, between military and civilians within the defense arena who determine requirements and the Congressional appropriators. The need to understand this complex interaction adds markedly to the books relevance. Even those familiar with the actual process may anecdotally be only aware of a specific program, but are woefully unaware of the totality of this relationship.
Because of its conceptual and practical insight related to the motivation, interest, and capabilities of military-defense-congressional interaction, the book would be especially valuable to those individuals who are directly involved with defense acquisition programs. The authors highlight the fact that the dollar value of these acquisition programs in the next decade may approach or exceed $200 billion. However, the book may also appeal to a much broader audience. Since some of the chapters provide an excellent understanding of the intellectual underpinning of defense transformation, along with a special emphasis on network-centric warfare, it should also appeal to anyone seeking a better understanding of these two important issues. The chapter dedicated to systems integration and public-private partnerships provides valuable insight into the process related to the interaction between federally funded research and development centers, private system integrators, and military laboratories. Leaders who manage or are involved with systems integration should appreciate this insight.
Buying Military Transformation has a number of strengths. First, the authors demonstrate a clear focus and excellent organizational skills in the seven very concise chapters. The key points are made within a seamless narrative and without verbosity. Second, the authors assertions are well documented by a plethora of notes, many of which are explanatory in nature. While readers may not agree with some of the authors assertions, the documentation can be so overwhelming that one hesitates to question their credibility. The book is an excellent reference for anyone researching the many aspects of defense transformation. Third, the authors provide specific examples to support the conceptual aspects of transformation and innovation they introduce early in the book. They dedicate specific chapters to those defense industries dealing with a number of ongoing programs related to small ships, unmanned aerial vehicles, and communications. The authors use these examples to illustrate both the strengths and weaknesses of the complex interaction between the military-civilian-congressional entities. A good deal of ink is also given to other advocacy groups and their relationship to the transformation process.
If there is any weakness in this book, it centers on the brief discussion of certain critical arguments that required constant reference to the expansive notes. This reviewer spent too much time flipping back and forth from the main text to the notes in an effort to fully understand and appreciate the basis of the authors arguments. Taking into account the smaller pitch of the notes versus the main text, the notes comprise between 20 and 25 percent of the books content. Readers would appreciate greater content in the chapters allowing for smoother flow and greater continuity.
One of the authors main assertions is that entrenched defense contractors have adapted more readily to the transformation process and therefore dominate the market. For example, they state, Transformative weapons and supporting technology will come, with few noteworthy exceptions, from the same firms that have been supplying the nations military needs since the end of the Second World War. The authors make the case that the advantage demonstrated by these legacy contractors is contrary to the expectations of early transformation theorists. They believed the innovative technology that was to fuel defense transformation was going to come from the more network-oriented firms; a process similar to what had occurred in the civilian sector. The main reasons the authors highlight for this unexpected occurrence include: high investment costs, overall risk versus controlled defense profits, and the bureaucratic nature of the defense acquisition environment. When you combine these factors with the close relationships between defense officials and civilian corporations, the latter who routinely employ retired military officers and former defense civilians, the outcome becomes obvious.
This book has a great deal of value based on its contribution to the intellectual body of knowledge regarding a very complex process. Another advantage of the book is the fact that, depending on the readers specific interests, one may gain an appreciation of various issues within specific chapters without having to digest the entire book.
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Reviewed 15 May 2007. Please send comments or corrections to email@example.com