From Parameters, Winter 2007-08, pp. 119-47.
The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944. By Rick Atkinson. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2007. 816 pages. $35.00. Reviewed by Colonel Len Fullenkamp, USA Ret., Professor of Military History and Strategy, US Army War College.
The Day of Battle provides an excellent overview of 11 months of difficult fighting in the Mediterranean Theater between July 1943 and June 1944. Rick Atkinson, an experienced journalist and historian, begins this general history of the Italian campaigns with the planning and execution of the joint and combined invasion of Sicily and concludes with an account of the capture of Rome. In between, the narrative is richly embroidered with descriptions and analysis of the amphibious operations at Salerno and Anzio, and the winter fighting up the boot of Italy across a series of rivers and against German defensive lines, where the weather proved almost as formidable a foe as the enemy.
Readers familiar with An Army at Dawn, Rick Atkinsons 2003 Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the US Armys baptism by fire in North Africa, will be delighted with The Day of Battle, the second installment in his three-volume history of Americas involvement in the liberation of Europe during WW II. Atkinsons narrative reflects a superb and entertaining blend of his talents as a journalist, historian, and storyteller. His clear and crisp summaries of campaigns and battles are embroidered with just enough detail to enable the reader to appreciate the issues and challenges in all their complexity, while avoiding the blizzard of details that renders some battle histories difficult if not impossible to follow. Atkinson has a talent for imposing a sense of order on the chaotic events of war and a gift for describing battle scenes in a way that enables the reader to see things in the minds eye. Twenty well-drawn and well-placed maps complement the text.
Atkinson has great respect for soldiers and an appreciation for their craft, a perspective no doubt acquired during his various stints as a war reporter in Iraq and elsewhere. Generals interest him as they are the shapers of events, but clearly he delights in writing about the officers and men at the sharp end. His accounts of Walkers 36th Texas Division getting mauled at Salerno, successive British divisions pouring out their blood attempting to take Cassino, and Darbys Rangers leading a futile effort to punch a hole in German lines at Anzio are among many poignant scenes where Atkinson nestles the reader in the company of soldiers engaged in war at its most personal level.
Inevitably, some will quibble with Atkinsons selection of material and complain about what was omitted from the story. To do so would be to miss the enormity of Atkinsons accomplishment. With his journalists eye he has distilled the story to its major points and then scripted them in a coherent and readable fashion while preserving sufficient detail to do justice to the history. Moreover, as evidence of his credentials as a historian, The Day of Battle comes with more than a hundred pages of endnotes and a bibliography, rich in primary as well as secondary sources, that spans another 30 pages.
Above all, it is his gift for storytelling that makes this book interesting as well as entertaining. Like the great WW II war correspondent Ernie Pyle, for whom his admiration is clear, Atkinson paints pictures with words so that the reader sees the characters and situations as they are being described. Serious historians tend to dismiss storytelling as pandering to the popular reader at the expense of scholarship, even as their books go unread for being tedious and dull. With a blend of descriptive detail and colorful writing Atkinsons narrative brings both the characters and the environment to life. Indeed, his descriptions of the challenges of the winter fighting over mountainous terrain against a tenacious enemy, battling the rigors of the elements, particularly the rain and cold, leave readers feeling that they have made the slog up the boot of Italy along with the soldiers.
Operational events dominate the narrative and personalities dominate the events. George Patton and Bernard Montgomery dominate operations from Sicily through Salerno, but they along with Ike and Bradley are gone from the narrative by Christmas, either in Pattons case to the doghouse for the slapping incidents or the others to England where the planning for Overlord beckoned. At this point in the narrative, Mark W. Clark emerges as the central character who for better or worse dominates the second half of the book. Even 60 years on Mark Clark, Fifth Army commander from Salerno to Rome, remains a polarizing figure, with both admirers and detractors. He was quick to fire subordinates, some say too quick, when they did not measure up, as was the case with Ernest Dawley at Salerno and John Lucas at Anzio. Clark, an Anglophobe who openly criticized his boss, General Harold Alexander, and his fellow army commander, Bernard Montgomery, held the belief that his British allies lacked strong aggressive leadership at the division level. Unfortunately for the war effort in general and the campaigns in Italy in particular, these sentiments were returned in kind by the British, leading to what threatened to become, at times, serious rents in the delicate fabric of the alliance. On the opposite end of the spectrum from Clark as a combat commander we find Lucien Truscott. Atkinsons portrayal of Truscott as the most talented and capable of the division and later corps commanders to emerge from the fighting in Italy is spot on.
The tenacity and skill with which the Germans, under the command of Field Marshall Albert Kesselring, resisted the Allied advance exacerbated the friction between the Americans and the British. Time and again, the amiable Field Marshall, short of troops and equipment, embarrassed by a lack of air support and inadequate logistics, succeeded in punching well above his weight. Kesselring was quick to exploit the seam between British and American troops at Salerno and nearly succeeded in pushing them back into the sea. He repeated this feat at Anzio. Granted, mention of Salerno and Anzio for many conjures up impressions of Allied strategic and operational incompetence, but skillful German defensive operations mattered most, and Atkinson unsparingly gives credit where due.
Atkinsons accounts of combat operations and their planning frequently touches on subjects that will resonate with the modern reader, reminding us that good history not only informs about the past but likewise illuminates contemporary issues. Reading Atkinsons account of Churchill overriding the protests of his generals, who argued that the Anzio landing force was too small and poorly supported for any hope of
success, one cannot help thinking about the contemporary events surrounding the 2003 invasion of Iraq and its aftermath. This is not to say that the author implies any direct analogy between the two situations, indeed there is no hint of such. Still, the example serves to illustrate one of the uses history has for the professional officer, where events from one era can inform and illuminate decisions from another. Churchill believed adamantly that a landing behind German lines in January 1944 would break the stalemate along the Rapido Line as it would compel Kesselring to withdraw his forces or fight at a disadvantage in two directions. The British Prime Minister simply refused to consider what would happen if Kesselring chose to counterattack the small Allied force at Anzio while defending along the Monte Cassino line. This, of course, is what happened. Although US General John Lucas combined corps managed to cling tenaciously to its beachhead, it did so at enormous costs in lives, British and American.
Churchill hoped that once begun, operations against the Axis soft underbelly would prove so lucrative as to blossom into a true second front. As later events would bear out, Italy was no soft underbelly, rather it proved to be, in Ernies Pyles words, a tough old gut. Rick Atkinsons survey of the Italian campaigns breathes life into the Italian campaigns and is not only a great read but is certain to be seen as a valuable addition to WW II scholarship.
Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower. By Zbigniew Brzezinski. New York: Basic Books, 2007. 234 pages. $26.95. Reviewed by John W. Coffey, retired Foreign Affairs Officer at the State Department and author of numerous articles on foreign and defense policy.
In this excellent book, Zbigniew Brzezinski issues a spirited, stern report card on Americas global leadership in the post-Cold War era. Judging the overall performance of Presidents Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II dismal, stranding America as a fearful and lonely democracy in a politically antagonistic world, the author offers counsel to future presidents for a second (final) chance.
Bush I, an adroit practitioner of power politics, wins a B for his masterful handling of the Soviet Unions demise and East European reconstruction, along with his skillful diplomatic and military defeat of Saddam Husseins aggression. Regrettably, President Bush failed to exploit these victories, or to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hence, the original sin of his legacy is the inconclusive but increasingly resented and self-damaging American involvement in the Middle East.
Unlike Bush I, Bill Clinton had the vision thinga deterministic faith that globalization would pave the path to world interdependence and democracy. This belief, plus his image of America as the worlds indispensable nation, coalesced in a policy of American self-renewal subordinating foreign policy to domestic politics. Wishful thinking and an undisciplined modus operandi in policymaking (the coffeehouse atmosphere described by Colin Powell) earn Clinton a C for the gap between good intentions and marginal effect. Brzezinski praises Clinton for the expansion and consolidation of NATO and the European Union, but, except for his Balkan intervention, otherwise considers the record thin.
Bush II receives a scathing F for his catastrophic leadership animated by a neoconservative Manichaeism (anti-Islamism replacing anti-Sovietism) and a missionary zeal that bred simpleminded dogmatism and destructive unilateralism. The calamitous costs of the Iraq war, Brzezinski believes, have entailed erosion of Americas legitimacy, intensified regional instability, and solidified Islamic terrorism. The author gives thanks at least that Iraq proved the cemetery of neocon dreams, which he identifies as three: (1) Islamic terrorism reflects a nihilistic rage toward America unrelated to specific historical experiences; (2) Arab political culture respects force above all; (3) democracy can be forcefully imposed on Arabs.
Brzezinski accuses the current administration of cynically stoking national paranoia and a garrison-state mentality for crass partisan advantage, implying that radical jihadism does not pose a mortal threat to the West, merely the possibility of painful but essentially sporadic acts of terrorism.
What, then, is to be done? Brzezinski offers various policy prescriptions, some commendable but unlikely (todays toxic partisanship makes executive-legislative consultation improbable), or impractical (what would 4 million 18-year-old Americans do in a national service program). His assessment, however, of the current global upheaval and festering Third World envy and resentment toward the United States reflects his minimization of the terrorist threat to the West. Brzezinski rightly notes the historical context of radical Islamism, but as a realist who once omitted Communist ideology from his analysis of the Soviet threat, he now ignores the ideological dimension of Islamic terrorism.
Despite al Qaedas avowed aims, three decades of worldwide terrorist attacks, and its quest for weapons of mass destruction, does Brzezinski consider 9/11 merely a painful, sporadic act? Jihadist terrorism arises not from any quest for human dignity, but from the savage animosities and murderous rage arising from a failed Muslim civilization. Brzezinski urges Americans to respect pluralism, yet no nation on earth offers a better model of pluralism than America. Radical Islamism rejects this pluralism, together with Brzezinskis other goods like freedom, democracy, social justice, and gender equality. Muslim resentment of modernity and its manipulation by dysfunctional governments to divert attention from needed internal reform help fuel Islamist rage.
Brzezinski states that impatient democratization is doomed in the developing world; however, he shares with neoconservatives the bipartisan foreign-policy chimera that the benefits of liberal-democracy are available to a world in turmoil. Historical candor, if not political correctness, nonetheless requires recognition that decent, stable, effective self-government has a long track record in only a sliver of human experiencethe Anglo-American community. Americas Founders benefitted from a 500-year tradition of liberty descending from the Magna Carta and from 150 years practice in the art of self-government during the benign neglect of British colonial rule. Who should be surprised that extremists triumphed in limited elections in the Muslim world in 2005-2006? In Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinian territories, militants quashed moderate opponents.
A responsible American foreign policy cannot transplant to inhospitable soil the blessings of liberty that arose from a unique congruence of conditions, circum-
stances, and the way of life of a united people. In his discussion of different types of constitutions, Aristotle explained that constitutions are relative to particular cases, to the circumstances and character of a people, and that the best practical constitution requires a large middle class as an anchor of moderation and stability. Tocqueville attributed the maintenance of the American democratic republic to the good fortune of historical circumstances and material conditions, including widespread prosperity making possible a large middle class, but above all to the laws and customs of the Anglo-Americans. Aware of the mortal diseases that always afflicted popular government, the Founders designed, for a united people, a complex, extended republic for a large middle class, commercial society to moderate the violent effects of faction, not least religious zeal, and secure liberty. In prescribing American foreign policy for a chaotic Third World, Brzezinski and neoconservatives alike need to learn Lincolns sober realism that the Founders sought to demonstrate the truth of a most problematical proposition, namely, the capability of a people to govern themselves.
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy: Confronting Todays Threats. Edited by George Bunn and Christopher F. Chyba. Washington: Brookings Institution Press, 2006. 340 pages. $29.95 (paper). Reviewed by George H. Quester, Professor of Government and Politics, University of Maryland.
Anyone seeking an up-to-date, balanced, and very well-written handbook on current nuclear problems will want to turn to this book. The product of a series of seminars at Stanford Universitys Center for International Security and Cooperation, the book surveys the wide range of risks facing the United States and the world today in the realm of nuclear proliferation, and the steps that can be taken to protect against or head-off such proliferation.
The title of the book might be somewhat misleading, because it is not really until the final two or three chapters that one gets a discussion of what passes these days for US nuclear policy, with the bulk of the book instead addressing the worlds nuclear problems.
While being up-to-date, the book at the same time reminds the reader of the history of the nonproliferation effort in Chapter 3 by George Bunn, and the history of American attitudes on deterrence, preemption, and preventive war in Chapter 2 by David Holloway. The book is not very supportive, nor stridently critical, of Bush Administration policies, but is carefully phrased throughout. It is only really in the final summary Chapter 8 by the editors that more stark policy judgements are put forward, but Chapter 6 by Wolfgang Panofsky and Dean Wilkening, on the possibilities of defense against nuclear attack, also shows the strong doubts that have to be felt about the likely effectiveness of such defenses. The final chapter makes a strong case against any American recourse to nuclear weapons, even where some dire nuclear threats might have to be headed off in the case of possibly menacing rogue states or nonstate actors.
While Chapters 1 through 5 mostly discuss nuclear threats to the United States and to the rest of the world, Chapter 7 does indeed offer a solid review of the options being proposed for US nuclear policy. The chapter recounts in detail the
changes in nuclear policy that were announced by the Clinton Administration after the Cold War, and then the additional changes proposed by the Nuclear Posture Review in the Bush Administration, some of which might suggest a greater American willingness to use nuclear weapons.
The particular topic of US nuclear policy surely merits a fuller discussion than it normally receives. One suspects that the authors and editors would agree with this reviewer that such policy is receiving woefully little attention around the United States, as we are all distracted by the war in Iraq. The Department of Defense leadership has little time to spare for the strategic choices to be made here, and the Congress and American public are also not tuned into the issues. Debates about RNEP (Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator) or RRW (reliable replacement warheads) are too often framed by a simple distrust of any new initiatives coming out of the Bush Administration, an administration seen as too unilateralist and too willing to ignore the opinions of other countries.
The debates about the nuclear weapons to be retained for the future, and for the contingencies in which their use is to be threatened, are not simple, and this book does not portray them as simple. If the instincts of the current administration are distrusted, this per se is hardly a yardstick to judge the tradeoffs of policy here. For a well-informed discussion of the threats we face in the nuclear field, and the possible nuclear and non-nuclear responses we can consider for these threats, it is important to get back to the complexities of the real issues. For this purpose, whether or not one agrees with all the conclusions it offers, this book is quite excellent.
Electing to Fight: Why Emerging Democracies Go to War. By Edward D. Mansfield and Jack Snyder. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2005. 300 pages. $32.95. Reviewed by Major Bradley L. Bowman, Assistant Professor of American Politics, Policy, and Strategy, Department of Social Sciences, United States Military Academy at West Point.
Unlike the hard sciences, political science enjoys few ironclad laws. The human element at the core of political interaction injects a degree of unpredictability and variability that makes the existence of such absolutes in political science a rarity. Democratic peace theorythe notion that established democracies rarely wage war against one anothercomes as close as one can expect to being a law of international relations. Empirical evidence overwhelmingly supports this assertion. This realization, combined with a host of other factors unique to the history and culture of the United States, has led many Americans to view democratization as a panacea for many of the international challenges the nation confronts. Whether attempting to address the root causes of terrorism or reducing the likelihood of future conflict with China, the US grand strategy in recent years has been amazingly one-dimensional: democracy promotion. Yet, in their book Electing to Fight: Why Emerging Democracies Go to War, respected scholars Edward D. Mansfield and Jack Snyder provide a necessary reality check for the misguided view that the promotion of democracy invariably represents a prudent policy for the United States.
Using a database consisting of longitudinal indicators of domestic institutions for 177 countries from 1800-1994, the authors explore the relationship between democratization and international war. Acknowledging existing literature regarding democratic peace theory and the relationship between democratization and domestic conflict, Mansfield and Snyder instead turn their attention to the relationship between democratic transitions and international war. The authors seek to understand why Americas efforts at democracy promotion have often ended in disappointment. Analyzing 316 incomplete democratic transitions, 221 complete democratic transitions, 79 interstate wars, and 108 extra-systemic wars, the authors reveal several important conclusions. They find that incomplete democratic institutionsthose that stall before reaching the stage of full democracyincrease the chance of involvement in international war in countries where governmental institutions are weak at the outset of the transition. More specifically, they find that the risk of international war increases by a factor of four to 15 in instances characterized by an incomplete democratic transition. In fact, according to their research, seven percent of all wars since 1816 are associated with incomplete democratic transitions. Based on this, the authors assert, Democratic transition is only one of many causes of war, but it is a potent one.
Following their analysis of the data, the authors explore ten cases from their dataset in order to test their conclusions and gain additional insight into the relationship between democratization and international war. These ten cases consistently exhibited one or more of the following mechanisms:
Exclusionary nationalism that generates enemy images or perceptions of conflicts of interest with other states; pressure-group politics by military, ethnic, or economic groups that seek a parochial benefit from policies that raise international tensions; logrolling among elite factions that include such groups; persuasion and outreach by such groups to garner mass allies; ineffectual brokerage of political bargains by the ruling elite; contradictory and unconvincing signaling in foreign affairs; the use of aggressive foreign policies by groups gambling for domestic political resurrection; the use of partial or complete media domination to promote nationalist ideology; and nationalist bidding wars between old elites and rising mass groups.
In short, the lack of mature political institutions needed to manage intensified domestic political competition makes democratizing states disproportionately likely to provoke foreign conflicts.
Based on these findings, Mansfield and Snyder emphasize the importance of getting the sequence right. According to the authors, democratization would ideally begin with reforms of the state and the economy, together with limited forms of democratic participation, rather than a headlong jump into popular elections before strengthening of the institutionssuch as efficient and even-handed public administration, the rule of law, professional journalism, and political parties. However, as the authors acknowledge, the United States does not possess the means necessary to precisely control the process of democratization in other countries. Developments in Iraq provide a painful reminder of this reality. One of the most frequent mistakes Middle East scholars and pundits make is overestimating the ability of the United States to influence social, political, and religious change in
the region. For a variety of reasons related to international legitimization of a US military intervention and US domestic political pressure for tangible progress, as well as the predictable desire of the majority faction in the democratizing country to call for early elections, it is difficult for the United States to justify the postponement of elections even if America possessed the means to do so. Acknowledging these realities, the authors admit it may be unrealistic to count on the systematic implementation of a finely calibrated strategy of international influence. Consequently, they argue, American policymakers should approach democracy promotion with humility and caution.
In addition to their general admonition to avoid an overly broad campaign of democracy promotion, the authors provide specific regional observations and policy recommendations. With respect to the Middle East, Mansfield and Snyder warn that simply renouncing these authoritarians and pressing for a quick democratic opening is unlikely to lead to peaceful democratic consolidations. On the contrary, unleashing Islamic mass opinion through a sudden democratization could only increase the likelihood of war. All of the risk factors are there: the media and civil society groups are inflammatory, as old elites and rising oppositions try to claim the mantle of Islamic or nationalist militancy. The rule of law is weak, and existing corrupt bureaucracies cannot serve a democratic administration properly.
While scholars such as Thomas Carothers have raised legitimate questions regarding the merit of sequencing in democratization, Mansfield and Snyders book represents a well-researched scholarly contribution to the ongoing debate. The general interest reader and part-time observer of international relations may find Electing to Fight a bit tedious and repetitive. However, Mansfield and Snyders work represents essential reading for academics engaging in the study of democratization and international relations, policymakers wrestling with the role democratization should play in future US grand strategy, and practitioners confronting the daily political and civil challenges associated with nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan. Electing to Fight is much more than just another forceful argument; this book is a comprehensive scholarly study with critical implications for American policy. In short, the character of Mansfield and Snyders scholarship and the relevance of their conclusions make Electing to Fight one of the most important books written in recent years.
Caesar: Life of a Colossus. By Adrian Goldsworthy. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2006. 583 pages. $35.00. Reviewed by Dr. J. Boone Bartholomees, Jr., Professor of Military History, US Army War College.
Adrian Goldsworthy has produced the definitive modern biography of Julius Caesar. It is an absorbing book about a fascinating personality. Julius Caesar is among the handful of ancients about whom there is widespread name recognition in the modern western world. He was one of the great captains Napoleon recommended studying. His conquest of Gaul arguably shaped the development of western Europe, although Goldsworthy points out that Gaul was ripe for colonization, and some other Roman would probably have conquered it had Caesar not. He lived an exciting life that
had a distinct and recognizable effect on his own day and history. Few people can claim any such spectacular achievements. Doing such a life justice is a challenge for a biographerAdrian Goldsworthy has proven himself up to the challenge.
Little is known about Caesars childhood. Goldsworthy recounts what there is to tell and fills in the blanks with authoritative speculation based on our fairly extensive knowledge of childhood in the ancient Roman upper-class. He uses that discussion to introduce an important theme that runs through the biographythe importance of family to Roman social and political life. Family gave the ancient Roman class, but it also gave him history and reputation. Who you were and who your ancestors were was important. Caesars family was not among the most prominent of the city, but it was prominent enough so an ambitious young man need not be hindered by his heritage. The second thread that Goldsworthy introduces during the discussion of growing up in the Roman upper-class is the concept of auctoritas. That is prestige or influence, especially in the political sense. One might obtain auctoritas from many sources such as doing favors, providing political support, loaning money for electoral campaigns (or other reasons), and military success; however, the basis from which one started was the family and its reputation. Goldsworthy depicts Caesars career as a search for auctoritas and reputation.
Readers of this review are most likely to be familiar with Caesar the soldier. However, Caesar was primarily a politician. Like most upper-class Romans, his military exploits were a necessary prerequisite for his political life. That he was particularly good at the military aspects of his life does not change the fact that Caesar thought of himself first as a Senator and politician. He sought posts that would enhance his reputation and provide potential wealth, and he fought his wars for the same reasons, modified only by the caveat that he was a Roman patriot and thought his actions to be in the best interest of the state. From this perspective one can understand Caesars enormous debts as an aspiring young politician and his extraordinary generosity (both monetary and in terms of treating defeated Roman enemies) later in his career. Goldsworthys essentially political approach to Caesar frames all aspects of the Romans life with the possible exception of his romantic exploits. Adrian Goldsworthy could certainly have written a military biographyhe is a recognized expert on the Roman militaryit would just not have given Caesar his due.
This political slant makes the book particularly interesting for a military historian. You get enough military history, but the emphasis on the social and political enriches the overall story. There is the familiar conquest of Gaul and excursions to Britain, the First Triumvirate, and the eventual crossing of the Rubicon. I had almost lost interest in Caesar after Pharsalus, the climatic battle of the civil war when Caesar beat Pompey. Goldsworthy, however, makes the rest of Caesars life interesting. One reads of Egypt, Cleopatra, and the Alexandrian War when Caesar was besieged by rivals to the Egyptian throne; north Africa and the Battle of Thapsus; Spain and the Battle of Munda (Caesars last); and his dictatorship, political program, and assassination. The overall impression is that Goldsworthys subtitle, Life of a Colossus, is accurate.
Caesar has the advantage of acknowledging all the arcane debate that characterizes modern classicist scholarship without descending into it. Goldsworthy presents potential alternative interpretations ranging from translations that
might be flute or oboe to debate over the color of Cleopatras skin to what Caesar uttered with his last breath. He gives and explains his own opinion without stooping to bicker. The narrative flows, and as sophisticated as it is, tells a good story. If the book has a fault it is that it screams for more maps. There is a single large-scale map of the Roman empire with incredibly sketchy detail and only Rome and Alexandria marked. A map of Gaul and another showing the campaign in Italy after the Rubicon are both helpful but incomplete. Beyond that there are sketches of many of Caesars battles, but it is easy to get geographically lost in the narrative as Caesar marauds across the known world. Maps, however, are expensive, and it is the rare publisher that allows an author the maps the text deserves.
Overall, this is a great book. It is essentially a mini-history of Rome from 100 to 44 B.C. It reads well and will do nothing but enhance Adrian Goldsworthys already fine reputation.
The Kremlin and the High Command: Presidential Impact on the Russian Military from Gorbachev to Putin. By Dale R. Herspring, foreword by David M. Glantz. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2006. 242 pages. $34.95. Reviewed by Dr. Stephen J. Blank, Professor of National Security Studies, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.
This book delivers what its title promises. It is not just an account of the notorious failure to reform that has led the once-feared Soviet army into a slough of despond, it is also a laser-like focus on the failures of the presidential leadership by Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin, and a basically positive account of Vladimir Putins military policies. Throughout the book Herspring, one of the ablest and most experienced experts in the field of both Soviet/Russian and comparative civil-military relations, emphasizes the critical importance of leadership in the Russian army.
If anything is or was to be accomplished in Russia it could only be done so, Herspring argues, by a leadership that understood the armed forces. The facts are that Russia is and remains a subject culture, the military even more so, and that like all bureaucracies, it is highly resistant to change. Herspring is under no illusion that the Russian army and in particular its officer corps would generate reform from within. Therefore, if any meaningful reform was to adapt this organization to contemporary requirements it would have to do so on the initiative of the Russian president. And in the authors estimation, Gorbachev simply did not understand his own military. Yeltsin was even worse, neglecting and publicly disrespecting the military. Putin, on the other hand, in this particular assessment is a leader who understands Russian political culture and bureaucracies, and is a decisive leader not afraid to take responsibility for potentially dangerous orders, e.g., Chechnya. Neither was he afraid to remove people who were causing problems such as Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev and Chief of Staff Anatoly Kvashnin. Herspring believes Putin imparted more stability, certainty, and leadership to the armed forces who now know what Russian policy is, where it is leading them, and what they can expect.
Admittedly, Putin has been greatly helped by the steady recovery of the Russian economy since 1999, fueled by the rising oil prices that have funneled large amounts of funds into the treasury. All this economic activity has permitted Russia to begin a gradual program of rearmament, reorganization of the armed forces, and a stable process of development. Neither Gorbachev nor Yeltsin enjoyed this dispensation. But while Herspring does not neglect the fact that money has never been available for reform, he does insist that even had there been money, Yeltsin and Gorbachev would not have known what to do with it. Certainly, there was never sufficient funding to accomplish the necessary reforms, but more importantly there was never an understanding among the previous presidents or top military leadership that military reform could not be done on the cheap. Herspring believes it will take until 202035 years since the rise of Gorbachevuntil we might be able to speak of genuine reform or transformation of the Russian army.
While not all scholars will necessarily agree with Hersprings point of view as to why reform has failed in the Russian military and the specific role that Putin, Gorbachev, and Yeltsin played, there is no doubt that this is a masterful account of the Soviet/Russian Army. A masterful presentation of fact by an author who has thoroughly researched his material and presented a clear point of view as to how events actually occurred.
Anyone wishing to develop a greater understanding of the military and civil-military relationship of the last generation of Soviet/Russian leadership needs to read this truly indispensable account. Inasmuch as Russo-American military relations appear to be steadily worsening, combined with Washingtons disregard for the Russian armed forces for the last 15 years, many who follow such trends would do well to read this book sooner, rather than later.
U.S. Army Counterinsurgency and Contingency Operations Doctrine 1942-1976. By Andrew J. Birtle. Washington: US Army Center of Military History, 2006. 570 pages. $49.00. Reviewed by Lieutenant Colonel Robert M. Cassidy, a US Army officer and a non-resident Fellow with the Center for Advanced Defense Studies.
To be certain, U.S. Counterinsurgency and Contingency Operations Doctrine 1942-1976 is a relevant addition to the corpus of books on counterinsurgency operations and doctrine. Examining the quarter century that covers the American involvement in Vietnam, this book is also unique in that it is the only book I know of that focuses exclusively on the topic of doctrine development, training, and professional military education during this key, but sometimes forgotten, period. The timing of this book is a bit imperfect, however. If Andy Birtle had finished this in 2003, the US military might have been able to leverage its lessons for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and for the writing of the first two versions of the Army and Marines post-2001 counterinsurgency field manuals.
This gem of a book comprises eight full chapters on the development, propagation, and implementation of counterinsurgency and contingency operations doctrine. It begins with the immediate post-World War II period, explores the fre-
netic ferment in the domain of counterinsurgency during the first half of the 1960s, and culminates with the dearth of such doctrine during the waning years of the Vietnam War. It also includes a short introduction and a conclusion, the latter assessing the impact and value of the entire corpus of Vietnam-era counterinsurgency doctrine vis-à-vis the lack of military success in Vietnam. Avid students of doctrine will be enamored of this study as it includes many fascinating facts about the origins and permutations in counterinsurgency doctrinal concepts and lexicon in the 1960s, offering useful insights for todays experts. A full read of this comprehensive work also unambiguously reinforces the notion that the irony and the repetition of history, with attendant doctrinal ideas, are indeed inexorable.
Throughout the pages of U.S. Counterinsurgency and Contingency Operations Doctrine readers will readily discern enduring truths that theorists and big-power armies learn and relearn, through the toil and blood of their soldiers, while prosecuting in-contact experiments with the latest doctrines. This work, by way of anecdotes and salient quotes, is full of testimony to the aforementioned. A short review cannot adequately and clearly elucidate the complex layers and links within and among the many doctrinal manuals examined in this study, but it can capture the most germane points. Among several conclusions in this book on this era of counterinsurgency, three merit some emphasis here. Firstly, imposing foreign political and societal values to engineer democratic institutions among people that may neither be capable of nor inclined to emulate western notions of democracy has proven an untenable endeavor more often than not. Birtle offers pithy quotes that underscore this fact, for example, It is unwise to impose upon occupied territory the laws and customs of another people. The author cogently reiterates the salience of this with, The task of building social, political, and economic institutions in alien environments was more alchemy than science, a magical art that the sorcerers of academialet alone their uniformed apprenticesonly partially understood and imperfectly controlled.
Although the author seems convinced that the US Army developed a good quality and quantity of counterinsurgency doctrine during the 1960s, it did so almost in the complete absence of other governmental agencies, ones that should have had an equal role in thinking about and implementing an integrated approach to counterinsurgency. In other words, the second helpful finding in this work was that the interagency piece during the Vietnam era was not functional and no amount of doctrine could overcome this shortcoming, particularly in a sphere of conflict where exercising all the elements of national power is crucial. According to Birtle, The United States never developed an effective way to integrate and direct counterinsurgency activities at the national level.
This veritable exegesis of myriad counterinsurgency manuals from that quarter century offers a third conclusive truism, with implications for Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Long War: Counterinsurgents cannot be successful without denying the insurgents sanctuary and external support. This is as true of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas on Afghanistans border as it was true of the Ho Chi Minh Trail on Vietnams border. The second major objective for the counterinsurgent, after isolating the insurgents from the population, must be to deny the insurgency access to external support. For example, the 1961 Field Manual 31-15, Counterguerrilla Operations,
stated that experience had proven that insurrections rarely achieved their full potential without access to external sanctuaries and sustenance. Likewise, the US Armys 2006 FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency, essentially states the same thing about denying sanctuaries. U.S. Counterinsurgency and Contingency Operations Doctrine is full of many insights and fascinating facts; it represents thorough research and professional presentation. One interesting footnote in the beginning of the book shows how the early post-World War II doctrine relied heavily on the German Wehrmachts anti-partisan doctrine, including the notion of hammer and anvil, a concept which continued to appear in the US doctrinal lexicon on counterinsurgency until the end of the twentieth century. Doctrine is imperfect and flaws in counterinsurgency doctrine did partially contribute to the failure in Vietnam, but Birtle maintains that Americas most egregious errors lay in the realms of strategy and policy. History is a relentless mentor.
Shopping for Bombs: Nuclear Proliferation, Global Insecurity, and the Rise and Fall of the A. Q. Khan Network. By Gordon Corera. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 288 pages. $28.00. Reviewed by W. Andrew Terrill, General Douglas MacArthur Professor of National Security Studies, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.
Former CIA Director George Tenet has reportedly described Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan as at least as dangerous as Osama bin Laden when the Pakistani nuclear weapons specialist was in his heyday. BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera obviously agrees, and in Shopping for Bombs, he explains the reasons for his viewpoint. Corera looks at Khans rise from a metallurgy student in Europe to become the leader of an important global network for acquiring nuclear technology and helping build a Pakistani nuclear weapons program. This is the same network that later became important in exporting sensitive technology to other countries including at least Iran, North Korea, and Libya. According to Corera, A. Q. Khan had a greater impact on nuclear proliferation than any other individual in the last three decades. In this frightening book, Corera explains how and why this could be allowed to happen.
Corera begins his study by examining Pakistani motivations to acquire nuclear weapons and then expand their nuclear arsenal. These motives were and remain overwhelming. Pakistan is one of those few nations with a population that continuously fears for their countrys future existence in a hostile region. (Israel is another such nation.) These concerns were magnified following the 1971 war with India when the Pakistan Army was defeated in only 13 days, and the country itself was dismembered. Following this massive defeat, some new and radical approach to national security seemed imperative. Nuclear weapons appeared as the obvious answer, and Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is well known for his bombastic statements that Pakistanis would be willing to do almost anything including eat grass in order to acquire such systems. This commitment to become a nuclear weapons power was fundamental and uninterrupted by leadership changes in Pakistan. It was also encouraged by continuing tensions with India and the first Indian nuclear test in
1974. To his credit, Corera does not oversimplify the difficulties for a developing nation seeking to build a nuclear weapon, while also noting the unrelenting Pakistani drive in pursing this goal. By at least the early 1990s, Pakistan was widely suspected of having an undeclared nuclear weapon, and all doubt was subsequently removed when the Pakistanis conducted a nuclear test in May 1998 following Indian nuclear testing by an ultra-nationalist government earlier that month.
The Pakistani effort to obtain a nuclear weapon after the 1971 defeat is comprehensible to most Westerners even if the larger implications of this action are seen as tragic for regional and global peace. Yet, there is also the issue of Khans service as a nuclear Wal-Mart to regimes such as those of North Korea, Iran, and Libya. To address this dimension of the story, Corera presents a Pakistani worldview which he associates with Khan and with former Pakistani Chief of Staff, General Mirza Aslam Beg as well as with large elements of the Pakistani public. This is the view that the world is not particularly safe with large numbers of nuclear weapons in the hands of a few major powers. Rather, since nuclear weapons are inherently unusable, widespread proliferation is a positive development which renders war unlikely if not impossible throughout the world. Corera also notes the longstanding view in the developing world that the spread of nuclear weapons could help to disperse power around the world and therefore challenge the dominance of a few nations in global politics. Under this worldview, proliferation leads to global democratization as voices which were previously ignored must now be taken into account. Unfortunately, Khan and his supporters seem untroubled by the need for ongoing worldwide rationality that would be required under such a global system.
Coreras study also deals with specific aspects of Khans personality that allowed him to flourish over a considerable period of time, but also eventually helped lead to his downfall. In particular, Khan is presented as a nonstop self-promoter who aggressively sought to marginalize rivals and portray himself as the sole driving force behind the acquisition of a Pakistani nuclear capability (which he was not). The picture that is provided is not one of a scientist who seeks anonymity while pursuing forbidden technologies, but an egomaniac who had a useful ability to get close to whomever was in power in Islamabad. Corera states that beyond its founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan is a nation with few heroes, and Khan successfully attempted to fill this void with the Pakistani masses. He also suggests that Khan was particularly popular with some elements of the military and with Pakistani Islamists. Corera most notably concludes that Khan was often much more popular with the Pakistani masses than was President Pervez Musharraf and that any efforts to move against him had to involve a careful consideration of Khans popular following. At the same time, Corera maintains that Khans high profile caused his activities to become a special concern to a number of western nations worried about proliferation issues. Moreover, Khans feelings of political invulnerability may have led to arrogance and sloppiness in the ways he conducted various nuclear transactions.
Later chapters in this study specifically address Khans nuclear trade with Iran, North Korea, and Libya. According to Corera, Khan was willing to provide these countries with just about any technology or information in his possession provided they paid enough. All of the chapters describing Khans interaction with these
radical states are interesting and valuable, but the description of his involvement with Libya is one of the most important parts of this story. Libya is described as having a nuclear weapons program that was essentially a joke until Tripoli began to deal with A. Q. Khan. Khan was willing to sell the Libyans important nuclear technology that helped them overcome what is portrayed as their bumbling and incoherent approach to nuclear acquisition. Khan therefore had taken Libya far further than they could have gone alone [although] the Libyans were not yet close to the bomb. Unfortunately for him, he did so at exactly that point in time when Libyan leader Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi was closing a deal with the United States and United Kingdom to give up his nuclear program as part of an effort to end sanctions against his regime. When the German merchant ship BBC China was seized by US authorities with a cargo containing illegal nuclear technology bound for Libya, Qadhafi correspondingly revealed his countrys extensive dealings with Khan. Corera maintains that these ties were already widely known to the Western intelligence services, but that the ships seizure made it impossible for Libya to engage in anything short of full cooperation with the United States in order to end sanctions. Musharraf at this point had little choice except to arrest Khan if he wanted to preserve decent ties with the United States. He did, however, quickly pardon Khan who has been placed under comfortable house arrest at his multimillion dollar home in a wealthy neighborhood of Islamabad.
Corera does not treat Khans arrest and later pardon as the end of the story on clandestine nuclear networks engaged in proliferation activities that threaten world peace. While at least part of Khans network has been shut down, Corera suspects that other parts of it may have broken away and continue to operate. This possibility is of particular concern as Pakistan has never allowed US officials to question Khan about his activities. This refusal is usually viewed as an effort to prevent Musharrafs suspected role in supporting and concealing Khans activities from being confirmed. Additionally, Corera suggests that Khans story remains an important cautionary tale in a world characterized by the increasingly open trade associated with globalization as well as by clever individuals motivated by profit, ideology, and ego seeking any available opportunity or loophole to subvert international nonproliferation efforts.
The China Fantasy: How Our Leaders Explain Away Chinese Repression. By James Mann. New York: Viking Press, 2007. 127 pages. $19.95. Reviewed by Richard Halloran, onetime lieutenant of airborne infantry and formerly a correspondent in Asia for The New York Times.
In good journalistic fashion, James Mann gets right to the point in this slim volume, saying it is about the views of China that prevail in Washington and the other leading capitals of Europe and Asia and in corporate headquarters around the globe. Formerly a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times in Beijing and then Washington, Mann writes: One might think that the problems of Chinas political system would raise both moral questions and practical ones, but apparently they dont. The book seeks to explain why not.
He asserts that the U.S. government and American (or multinational) corporations have been eager to conduct as much business as possible with China and thus have sought to minimize the core issues of repressions of dissent and Chinas one-party political system. Instead, Mann contends, they foster an elaborate set of illusions about China, centered on the belief that commerce will lead inevitably to political change and democracy.
Mann is an equal opportunity critic, skewering those on the right and the left, neocons and liberals, Democrats and Republicans, Reds and Blues alike. Soldiers may notand should notenter this fray, as this is in the political realm of their civilian masters. But soldiers would do well to be aware of this contentious quarrel as it may affect when and how and against whom they might go to war.
The author outlines several scenarios that apologists for China have forged over the years. When someone warns that China is swiftly amassing military power, he is greeted with the Soothing Scenario. It assures the worrywart that things in China are headed in the right direction. Eventually, according to the Soothing Scenario, trade and prosperity will bring liberalization and democracy to China.
A variation is the Two Steps Forward, One Step Back approach. Whenever China arrests a group of intellectuals, the apologists contend that was just one minor setback. The unpleasant news, Mann asserts, tends to be safely embedded in an assumption of progress, a soft, warm, gauzy wrapping of hopefulness.
A second, quite different, vision of Chinas future in Manns scheme is the Upheaval Scenario. Proponents of this scenario point to strikes, protests, riots, ethnic strife, and corruption, and argue that things cant go on the way they are in China. The system, they say, will be pushed to the breaking point with all sorts of unpredictable consequences and therefore should be shored up.
The third scenario Mann calls, well, the Third Scenario. It envisions a China that fundamentally does not change over the next 25 years. The Communist Party may not survive but some form of authoritarian government will. This possibility, Mann says, is one that few people talk about or think about these days, and therefore are not prepared to deal with it.
Over the last three decades, Mann says, an extensive lexicon has been developed to stigmatize critics of the Peoples Republic of China. The phrases in this Lexicon of Dismissal appear in almost every debate about China. Detractors are brushed off as China bashers or anti-Chinese who suffer from a cold war mentality. They are provocative or troublemakers who are pushing the envelope.
Among the more insidious pronouncements in this lexicon: People in China dont care about politics. People in China just care about money. If we treat China as a threat, it will become a threat. Phooey. Too many conversations with Chinese, in China or America, have revolved around issues of war and peace, of Taiwan, of the Middle Kingdom versus Pax America. Chinese elites are not Marxist determinists, they are profound nationalists.
Beyond the divisions among Americans who are China watchers, either China bashers on the right or panda huggers on the left, Mann has especially sharp words for business executives. On the surface, he says, it looks as if mid-
dle-class Americans are identifying with middle-class Chinese, dreaming that the Chinese, too, will one day insist on a choice of political candidates.
Beneath the surface, however, he finds a troubling reality: The business communities of China and the United States do not harbor these dreams of democracy. Both profit from a Chinese system that permits no political opposition, andfor now at leastboth are content with it.
Manns solution: What we need now, above all, are political leaders who are willing to challenge Americas stale logic and phraseology concerning China. We need politicians who will call attention to the fact that America has been carrying out a policy that benefits business interests in both the United States and China far more than it helps ordinary working people in either country.
A flaw in this otherwise incisive work is the absence of a discussion of China watchers who are neither bashers nor huggers nor business executives but who might be called realists. They see China for what it is, not for what they would like it to be, and advocate policies that seek both to engage the Chinese and to deter them from military miscalculation.
John M. Schofield and the Politics of Generalship. By Donald B. Connelly. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006. 488 pages. $49.95. Reviewed by Colonel Alan Cate, USA Ret.
The hallmark of classic scholarship is that for years, or even decades, new generations of writers feel compelled to argue with it. A prime example is Samuel P. Huntingtons seminal 1957 study of civil-military relations, The Soldier and the State. Offering a rich and complex general theory of its subject, the volume approvingly equated modern American military professionalism with the late nineteenth century emergence of a near-absolute separation between politics and the armed forces.
Now comes Donald Connelly, in this superb life of General John M. Schofield, to contest this aspect of Huntingtons thesis. Connelly uses Schofields long career as a general officer, from corps command in the Civil Wars western theater to a postwar, active duty stint as Secretary of War to its culmination as the US Armys commanding general from 1888-1895, to illustrate his contention that, contrary to Huntington, the complete depoliticization of the military is impossible, and even dangerous.
Connelly makes several related arguments while limning Schofields portrait. First, he avers that it is far too simplistic to regard the topic of civil-military relations as the domain of relatively distinct and monolithic groups of civilians and soldiers. Rather, most civil-military disputes in our history have pitted one civilian and military coalition of interests versus another coalition. The issue has never been whether civilians would control the military, but instead which civilians would be in charge. Schofields experiences in the swirling political maelstrom of Civil War Missouri, the showdown and eventual impeachment crisis between President Andrew Johnson and Congress, and implementing southern Reconstruction all furnish ample evidence for Connellys position.
This leads to the authors second and third major points. There exists no bright line separating the civilian and military spheres. And politics, whether ideological, partisan, institutional, or personal are paramount in shaping military policy. Again, the impact of political quarrels, such as those over slavery, employment of African-American troops, confiscation of private property, and the scope of military government in conquered territory all deeply affected Schofields generalship and occupied much of his time and energy.
According to Connelly, all this prompted Schofield, earlier than most of his colleagues, to recognize the futility of attempting completely to divorce the military from politics. Indeed, Connelly labels Schofield as one of Americas first political soldiers. This has a double meaning: to recognize the milieu in which senior officers operate and to distinguish Schofield from the political generals, prominent men appointed from civilian life, who were the American wartime norm from the days of the early republic through the Civil War. Schofield was both professional and political.
Unlike many biographers, Connelly does not claim too much for his subject. Nevertheless, while this book will not bolster Schofields fame, it more than does justice to an active and influential career. He graduated near the top of his West Point class in 1853, and endured the dreary peacetime duty and glacial promotion that were an officers lot in the old army while the great sectional crisis of the 1850s brewed. The outbreak of Civil War in April 1861 found Lieutenant Schofield in Missouri, a crucial border state. In August, he participated in a skirmish at Wilsons Creek, for which he later received the Medal of Honor. By November he was a brigadier general.
A merely capable battlefield leader, Schofield proved a superb bureaucratic infighter after the war, whether dealing with presidents, Congress, or his fellow generals. Connelly credits him with playing a key part in helping the army posture itself to face the twentieth century, and especially hails his active support of reforms in personnel policy and military education. The author maintains that, ultimately, the reconciliation of professional autonomy and political subordination was Schofields most enduring contribution to the professionalization of the army.
Early on, Connelly properly warns readers against the dangers of presentism, that is, discerning analogies with the past and drawing facile lessons for today. Still, reflecting upon Schofields experience as a senior military leader forced to make major policy decisions in the absence of frustratingly elusive policy guidance about fighting insurgents, supervising elections, and examining enemy combatants before military commissionsone cannot help but note similarities with our own era. Given this environment, Connelly wisely concludes by holding Schofields career of service as a reminder that while an army deeply involved in politics is dangerous, so is one completely segregated from the values, institutions, and people of the nation.
Connelly, a retired Army officer now a member of the Command and General Staff Colleges faculty, explicitly aims at three different, although not mutually exclusive audiences: Civil War buffs, students of civil-military relations, and current or former soldiers interested in the nature of senior leadership. This reviewer
would suggest a fourth cohort that could profit from the book: scholars concerned with the broader trends of bureaucratization and professionalization in areas of American life during the second half of the nineteenth century.
Firestorm: Allied Air Power and the Destruction of Dresden. By Marshall De Bruhl. New York: Random House, 2006. 348 pages. $27.95. Reviewed by Dr. Tami Davis Biddle, Associate Professor of National Security Studies, US Army War College.
The air attack on Dresden, waged in mid-February 1945, has developed its own secure place in the public memory of the Second World War. The word Dresden is invoked consistently whenever the topic of strategic bombing is raised, not just in a historical context, but in contemporary discussions as well. The reasons for the Dresden raids high profile are many. The city had long been one of the architectural jewels of Europe: a treasure trove of stately promenades and fine baroque homes, it was high on the travel itinerary of the educated and the well-to-do. Its destruction evoked guilt among those who knew its elegant past. Even Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who did more than anyone else to instigate the attack, came to lament it.
Many observers, both at the time and later, wondered why the city should have come into the Anglo-American crosshairs at such a late hour in the war. And the sense of lament was heightened by the knowledge that the city had been full of refugees fleeing the fighting on the Eastern Front. In addition, David Irvings influential book The Destruction of Dresden (which was originally published in 1963 but went through many English and German-language reprints) raised the public profile of the raid, especially since Irving asserted, erroneously, that the attack killed up to 250,000 persons. (Irving later backed away from that claim, but he was unwilling to give up a six-figure number: He continued to assert that the death toll was 100,000 or more.) His figures greatly influenced both the scholarly and public discussions of the Dresden raid.
A recent careful accounting revealed that the death toll at Dresden was probably between 25,000 and 35,000. While this is a terrifying number, it is far lower than Irvings claim and lower than the death toll for many other bombing raids waged during the Second World War.
But Dresdens death toll has not been the only point of confusion about the raid. Dresden is widely misunderstood by those who believe they know how and why it happened. Many of those who reference the Dresden attack seem to think that it was carried out solely by the British (in fact it consisted of four different raids by both the British and the Americans between 13 and 15 February). Many seem to think that it involved unique operational methods designed for fire-raising (whereas, in reality, the tactics used were the same as those used for all Anglo-American raids taking place at that time). Few people, including professional historians, seem to understand that Dresden was part of an air campaign carried out as an emergency response to the setbacks of the fall and winter of 1944-45 (including Hitlers December counteroffensive) and the gnawing fear that if the Soviets did not make rapid progress westward, the war in Europe might drag on into 1946a concern that neither the British (who had
been under V-2 attack) nor the Americans (who still had a war to finish in the Far East) wanted to contemplate.
While Cambridge University scholar Richard Evans work has cleared up the myths surrounding the Dresden death toll, other scholarly contributions of recent years have done much to enlighten us further about the Dresden attack itself. These have built upon the sound work done by such scholars as Sir Charles Webster and Noble Frankland (the authors of the 1961 official history of the British bombing offensive against Germany), Ronald Schaffer, Michael Sherry, Conrad Crane, and Richard Davis; but in many cases they have brought new insights to the table as well. In May 2003 the Centre for Second World War Studies at the University of Edinburgh held a colloquium on Dresden; it inspired work by such well-regarded scholars as Hew Strachan and Richard Overy. The papers would be published in final form in early 2006, in a book edited by Paul Addison and Jeremy Crang, titled Firestorm: The Bombing of Dresden, 1945. Prior to the publication of that book, however, the British writer Frederick Taylor would publish, in 2004, a thoughtful and well-researched volume titled Dresden, Tuesday February 13, 1945. Both of these books have gone a long way toward demolishing old myths, explaining the historiography of the Dresden raid, raising (and answering) new questions, and bringing new details to our understanding of the air attack and its legacy.
Late in 2006, several months after Addison and Crangs Firestorm appeared, another book was published with the same title, Firestorm (and virtually the same cover art). Authored by independent writer and former book editor Marshall De Bruhl, it aimed to tell the story of Dresden in the larger context of Allied airpower in World War II. (The subtitle of the book is Allied Air Power and the Destruction of Dresden.) Even though the De Bruhl book was published by Random House, USA while the Addison and Crang book was published by Pimlico Books, an imprint of Random House, UK, it is clear that the Atlantic Ocean kept the two offices from talking to one another. More curious is the fact that De Bruhl never cites Taylors book (Taylors volume does not even appear in the bibliography). While De Bruhl consulted the works of many other authors, he either missed or deliberately avoided Taylor.
While aimed at a general audience, De Bruhls volume does not measure up to Taylors account in terms of style, rigor, or readability. And it brings nothing particularly new to the table. While De Bruhl attempts to set his story in a wider context, his history of strategic bombing is often superficial; at times his writing is unfocused and meandering. The volume contains infelicities regarding strategic bombing and other issues (he refers, for instance, to Irvings original publisher as William Kember, rather than William Kimber). While these flaws are not fatal, they do not inspire confidence.
Far more problematic is De Bruhls rather casual approach to his sources. Scholars will find this to be both annoying and unsettling. The author writes for pages without citing sources. When he does cite primary source material, his citations are sometimes only partial (lacking file or folder numbers). Sketchy documentation of sources and heavy reliance on secondary sources is not unusual in books aimed at a general audience. But if De Bruhl wanted his work to be taken seriously by historians,
he needed to be more energetic in his research and rigorous about the sources of his arguments, especially when dealing with a topic as controversial as Dresden.
Battle for the Ruhr: The German Armys Final Defeat in the West. By Derek S. Zumbro. University Press of Kansas, 2006. 447 pages. $34.95. Reviewed by Colonel James R. Oman, Chairman, Department of Command, Leadership, and Management, US Army War College.
Author Derek S. Zumbro examines the final months of German Army Group B and graphically portrays the experiences of a multitude of Germans living in the Ruhr region in his recently published Battle for the Ruhr: The German Armys Final Defeat in the West. The author follows the same methodology of exploring and describing the events and personal accounts as seen through the eyes of the defeated as he did in his highly acclaimed coauthored 2000 work, In Deadly Combat: A German Soldiers Memoir of the Eastern Front.
Zumbro tells the story of German Army Group B as well as that of its last commander, Field Marshall Walter Model. In a short eight-month period, this once dominant fighting force was battered by the might of the Allies and sustained tremendous losses as it withdrew from France to the shelter of Germany. The hoped-for sanctuary in Germany, however, proved illusionary. Army Group B would ultimately be, as Zumbro states, pursued, methodically encircled, and finally destroyed by Lieutenant General Omar Bradleys Twelfth Army Group and Field Marshall Bernard Montgomerys Twenty-first Army Group in Germanys Ruhr Valley.
The story begins with a chapter appropriately titled Retreat to the Reich. Starting with the stark and telling opening line, By August 1944 the situation for the German army in France was grim, if not catastrophic, the author provides the rest of the story with his strategic overview and assessment of the situation facing Army Group B and Germany. Model assumed command of Army Group B and as the Oberbefehishaber (OB) West (Supreme Commander, West) in mid-August 1944, subsequently relinquishing the duties of the Supreme Commander, West several weeks later yet he would continue to command the Army Group B until its capitulation in April 1945. He was known as Hitlers Fireman for his many skillful defensive exploits during his three years on the Russian Front, skills that would quickly be put into practice. A combination of factors contributed to the maelstrom that confronted Army Group B: the reverberations generated by the attempted assassination of Hitler on 20 July 1944 and the ensuing atmosphere of mistrust that colored the Führers view of the officer corps and caused him to scrutinize every action and decision; the linkup of Bradley and Montgomerys forces in the vicinity of Falaise, France, on 19 August 1944 leading to the loss of approximately 130,000 German soldiers and nearly all of their equipment; the surrender of Paris on 25 August 1944; and, finally, the combination of the overwhelming increase in Allied material and personnel and German sources of manpower and equipment that were nearly exhausted.
Using this opening chapter as background, the author transitions into the heart of the book, the experiences and views of the defeated German populace that are part of a much larger story and far more inclusive than the impending encirclement and ultimate destruction of Army Group B. Exceptionally well researched, the author has assembled powerful vignettes to illustrate the chaos and destruction encountered by both civilian and military. From start to finish, he neatly threads the many vignettes together within each of the intervening chapters. Within each chapter, Zumbro briefly describes the strategic setting, providing perspective and context, and giving the vignettes meaning as he follows the events as experienced by ordinary citizens and soldiers as their neighborhoods and homes were enveloped in destruction and their villages became battlefields. Zumbros final chapter is titled Defeat and Occupation, followed by an epilogue that graphically portrays the uncertain future faced by the people of Germany. Uncertainty caused by the Allied occupation forces, marauding groups of displaced persons or foreign guest workers, and the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of former soldiers.
The expansive and often graphic photographs further document the story of the war waged against Germany, providing a visual account of the price paid by the German people. If the book has a weakness it is the near absence of maps, making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to trace the actions of individuals and units.
Battle for the Ruhr: The German Armys Final Defeat in the West is a fascinating book providing fresh insight that many may find disturbing, but is a story that has value and is a welcome addition to the genre associated with Army Group B and the final days of the war. Zumbro has clearly fulfilled his stated intent of providing insight into a little-discussed aspect of the war: the way in which the defeated enemy experienced and viewed the U.S. soldier as a conqueror, while recounting a compelling chronicle of human experience.
The AEF Way of War: The American Army and Combat in World War I. By Mark Ethan Grotelueschen. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007. 388 pages. $75.00. Reviewed by Dr. Douglas V. Johnson II (LTC, USA Ret.), Research Professor, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.
One prudent reviewer endorsed this book as one of the most important works on the AEF, and indeed on the history of the modern US Army, to appear in the last twenty years. There is considerable truth to that observation as the bulk of recent writings associated with the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I have focused at the personal or tactical level of warfare. While many of these works have been well received and informative, they have offered little beyond reaffirming what was already known. As much as this reviewer despises reviewing doctrinethat stuff that seeps out under the windows and kills the grass around Bell Hall, as he was once told at the Command and General Staff Collegedoctrine does reflect what an organization thinks it ought to be doing. US Army doctrine, insofar as it existed before and during WW I, was incredibly dry and limited, but it did indeed set forth, in approved minimalist style, the
basics of the profession. That the profession did not, during this era, concern itself with strategic matters was a correct appreciation of the state of civil-military relationships.
Grotelueschen analyzes the state of doctrine at the beginning of the war and the underlying basis for its condition. He then leads the reader through the evolution of doctrine, finally contrasting it with the ground-truth of what was actually taking place in four representative divisions. This is, therefore, a doctrine-focused book. If the reader can put that fact aside, the extremely well-written narrative will provide a refreshing view of what is otherwise seen as an exercise in blood-letting.
In evaluating the evolution of the 1st Divisions combat experiences, a division led for the most part by Major General Charles P. Summerall, one may trace the fairly rapid shift from approved doctrine to something that particular officer knew or felt would be required. When Summerall arrived in France he was quick to note the extraordinary (by American standards) proportion of artillery support employed by both allies and adversaries alike. Summerall argued vigorously for equivalency, but was overruled by General John Pershings advisers and staff. Once in command, however, Summerall pursued methods that made up, in considerable degree, for the weakness of organic fire support. Grotelueschen describes Summeralls methods as diverging markedly from established doctrine, but having salutary effects for the operations of the 1st Division.
The introduction to the 26th Division narrative touches on a sore subject demanding deeper investigationthe questionable performance of Regular officers, both within and at echelons above the division. This particular tale is muddied by the inherent Regular and National Guard prejudices recognized at every echelon. That aside, the picture the author paints of the 26th Divisions performance is not pretty, but Grotelueschen softens the depiction by noting that it had absolutely no open warfare training prior to being committed to battle. In evaluating the divisions performance, Grotelueschen relies upon the division commanders observations more than recorded events or accomplishments. For example, while the commander saw a need for tank support and greater participation by the Air Service there is little to suggest he attempted to secure these tools, or, more importantly, to train soldiers for offensive maneuvers. This particular portion of the book is strengthened by materials indicating that the units limited successes were not accomplished by the exercise of doctrine. Whether intended by the author or not, the division commanders inability to keep his unit in hand, an impression shared by senior AEF staff members, comes through much more strongly than does his limited attempts to exercise his imagination. Grotelueschen also provides deserved swipes at higher headquarters, but the final impression that the reader is left with is that of a personally imaginative, perhaps cerebral, commander who wasnt very good at the business of commanding. This account of the 26th Division is, therefore, less a tale of doctrine and more one of competency of command.
The section of the book on the 2d Division is replete with examples of successful nondoctrinal operations, adaptive leadership, and sound soldier skills. The initial stupidities of Belleau Wood quickly give way to the imperatives of reality and to the well-conducted attack on Vaux, demonstrating the divisions ability to learn and adapt by setting aside the impediment of official doctrine. The divisions participation in the Aisne-Marne operation was stylistically similar to the previous opera-
tions in the Belleau and Vaux battles, in that the unit was hurled into combat with minimal planning and only a portion of its equipment. The nature of the terrain, the strength and dispositions of the enemy, and the timing combined to create conditions of open warfare that AEF doctrine addressed, but the battle quickly stalled for lack of coordinated fire support. The divisions subsequent performance demonstrates that it had learned how to adapt, not just to do what was being presented in doctrinal sources. This is a solid chapter.
The 77th Division was a National Army division and trained almost exclusively in the United States. Draftees made up the bulk of its manpower, boasting some 43 languages. Open warfare training never appears on the units training schedules. Upon arrival in France, the division came under British control, eventually shaking free only to fall under the tutelage of a French division. When it was finally assigned to an American organization, American III Corps, it immediately replaced the 4th Division and remained in combat or enroute from one combat zone to another until wars end. As a consequence of these assignments, the division received no open warfare training, something that was reflected in its early actions. At this point it is worth noting that Grotelueschen concludes that General Summerall was right; the success of the infantry was directly proportional to the weight and skill of the artillery supporting it. Commanders quickly learned that any doctrine that did not rely on the employment of large quantities of indirect fire, properly directed and massed, was too costly in terms of lives lost to be valid.
The account of both the 26th and 77th Divisions experiences suffer from a problem of focus. The author spends too much ink on the division commanders. In both cases the commanders are difficult individuals; ironically, with totally opposite approaches to AEF doctrine. In both narratives, however, these two officers receive more attention than their units. In both cases the division commanders leave it to their subordinates to deal with the realities of combat, it is at this level of command and not at division that the deviation and innovation takes place. Because of the focus on the division commanders the reader is left with an odd sense of only half a picture.
There are, however, a number of lessons to be derived from this work: the ability of the American soldier and his leaders to adapt to the changing tactical situation; and the truism so deftly articulated by Sir Michael Howard, that it doesnt matter what doctrine you begin with, it will most likely be wrong; what really matters is how long it will take you to get it right. The book dutifully raises the age-old question of how an army must go about evaluating and validating its doctrine.
Fighting for the Fatherland: The Story of the German Soldier from 1648 to the Present Day. By David J. Stone. Dulles, Va.: Potomac Books, 2006. 488 pages. $29.95. Reviewed by Major William H. Mengel, former Assistant Professor of History, US Military Academy.
In a sweeping account, David Stone traces the story of the Prussian and German military through more than three centuries of smoke-filled battles. Given that a veritable ocean of ink has been spilled covering the topic of German military
history, how does this book add to this already vast corpus of literature? Bridging the gap between popular and academic works, Fighting for the Fatherland is a readable, but somewhat problematic, introductory survey.
The subtitle of the book does not give justice to the scope of Stones narrative, as he begins before 1648 and provides more of an operational history than a Story of the German Soldier. Indeed, the first two (of 24) chapters cover a time period stretching from antiquity to the Thirty Years War. Following a description of the birth of the Prussian army, Stone takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of the next two centuries, briefly describing a few of the major institutional changes and significant battles. The account becomes a bit unbalanced as Stone begins his more detailed narrative of the Franco-Prussian War, which dominates the middle-third of the book. Each major battle in 1870 has its own chapter, dwarfing the accounts of the previous and subsequent wars. Even the monumental Second World War receives only half as much space in Stones account as the Franco-Prussian War. On the positive side, Stone does continue the narrative through the Cold War, German reunification, and even the war in Iraq.
A strength of Stones work is the effective use of maps to illustrate some of the major engagements. Combining simplicity with information, Stones maps show features such as contours, marshes, and forests, which are of clear importance for military operations yet frequently omitted on many published maps. Stone also introduces English-language readers to some of the lesser-known details of German military history, such as the first use of the newly formed Prussian army at the Battle of Fehrbellin in 1675, or the use of the Prussian Wallbüchse gun in 1870. Additionally, Stone offers interesting descriptions of operations and everyday soldier life, at least in the first part of his book. Even the evolution of Prussian and German uniforms is covered, not only in the text, but in the color plates which accompany the narrative.
The greatest drawbacks of this book are the problematic interpretations and lack of documentation. Although Stone provides both endnotes and a bibliography, both are inadequate in revealing the sources used for his research. Some of Stones most interesting sources, such as Johann Dietzs personal account of warfare in the 1680s, are not found in his bibliography. Stones notes frequently add a few sentences which would have been better placed within the text, as many of the notes provide neither information on sources, nor explanatory details which are too tangential for inclusion in the body of the text. Many key works are, unfortunately, not referenced in either his notes or his bibliography, which may contribute to some of the problems of interpretation. Given Stones implied fluency in German, this reviewer is surprised to see no reference to the standard works on German military history by Hans Delbrück or Curt Jany. Key contributions to the literature by Dennis Showalter, Francis Carsten, Karl Demeter, Waldemar Erfurth, Eberhard Kolb, Martin Kitchen, and others are curiously missing. Gordon Craigs survey text on modern Germany is listed in the bibliography, but not his more detailed examination of the Prussian army itself. Perhaps the most puzzling omission from the bibliography (but interestingly not from the endnotes) is that of Michael Howards Franco-Prussian War, which remains a definitive account of the conflict that Stone has placed in center stage of his narrative.
While interesting and readable, this work should be read with caution. The breadth and scope of this account make it useful as an introductory survey, although
shortcomings in sources and historiography limit the value of this book as a comprehensive synthesis of German military history.
Counterinsurgency and the Global War on Terror: Military Culture and Irregular War. By Robert M. Cassidy. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Security International, 2006. 211 pages. $49.95. Reviewed by Associate Professor William Flavin, Director of Doctrine, Concepts, Education, and Training at the US Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute, US Army War College.
Robert Cassidy has expanded on his previous look into military cultures, Peacekeeping in the Abyss, by addressing the challenges of global insurgency. He provides the reader with the key historical studies, research papers, and policy initiatives that have shaped the United States and United Kingdom militaries approach to counterinsurgency and stability operations, many of which have not been previously collected in a single source. For example, he discusses the Kupperman Study done for the US Army in 1983, a work that established the conceptual framework for low-intensity conflict; and resulted in the 1985 Joint Low-Intensity Conflict Report that identified the major deficiencies in conducting such operations; and the 1966 Program for the Pacification and Long-Term Development of South Vietnam Study that laid out a governmental approach to counterinsurgency operations. He has also expanded his examination of comparative military approaches by including not only the American and British, but also the French and Russian.
The first part of the book focuses on knowing the enemy. Knowing the enemy requires the study of the other forms of conflict. Often Americans have studied the writings of other cultures, such as Sun Tzu, to harvest ideas for incorporation into the western way of war but failed to examine what they say about the culture that created such thoughts. The author builds his case that al Qaeda is a global insurgency and that requires a global counterinsurgency. He examines the objectives and approaches that al Qaeda and various clones use and compares them with classic insurgencies. Cassidy comes to the conclusion that al Qaeda is best understood in the context of insurgency rather than the classic terrorist whose objectives are limited and as an organization is not interested in appealing to a larger population.
What type of conflict is insurgency? Here the author discusses the problem with terminology and how it has clouded thinking. The author calls for greater clarity regarding such terms as counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, low-intensity conflict, peace operations, irregular war, stability operations, and asymmetric warfare that have all been used and abused to describe the response to global threats. He proposes six paradoxes of asymmetric conflict as the path to greater understanding: strategic goals, strategic means, technology, will, tolerance of casualities, and military culture. If, for example, the greater power is not struggling for survival, is only using limited means, depends on conventional technology, is unable to generate domestic will, has limited tolerance for casualties, and embraces a big war conventional military culture, then victory over any insurgency will be difficult.
Powerful nations can succeed only when they understand the nature of the conflict, comprehend themselves, and are capable of adjusting to meet varying challenges.
Three chapters are devoted to understanding the American, British, and Russian military cultures and their strategy for defeating insurgents. Russia was judged as having the least flexible approach, with the United Kingdom having the most adaptable strategy, and the United States somewhere in the middle. All of these strategies were shaped by the particular nations geopolitical position, military culture, and accepted paradigm for war. With Russia being in the center of the continent it is naturally focused on land dominance, opting for structures to fight large wars, retaining an approach patterned after the glory of the great patriotic war (WW II). This strategy does not allow the required flexibility to successfully engage in such places as Afghanistan. The United Kingdom had a maritime focus and was focused primarily on a colonial policing strategy supported by the old regimental system, and curtailed by limited resources. Such an approach encouraged flexibility, permitting the British to succeed in a number of these endeavors. The United States also utilized a maritime approach, but equally embraced conventional war as a default strategy while continuing to conduct stability operations during the majority of its recent military history.
Cassidy describes why the American military has opted for its default setting of large conventional wars waged quickly and decisively while relying heavily on technology. He bases this conclusion on his study of the writings of Russell Weigley, Samuel Huntington, and Carl Builder, the influence of Generals William T. Sherman and Emory Upton, along with his experience as a serving officer. This inclination to revert to this default position is reinforced by such experiences as WW II and the Gulf War, even though the Army has spent the majority of its recent history involved in stability operations. This is a contrapuntal voice that extends throughout history and is exemplified by the counterguerrilla operations in the Philippines, campaigns against the American Indians, stability operations in Viet Nam, and advisory efforts in El Salvador. This chapter discusses each of these operations and focuses the reader on oft forgotten historical events and individuals having relevance today. The chapter concludes by identifying 2003 as the turning point where the challenge of post-conflict Iraq is the catalyst for the rediscovery of counterinsurgency and stability doctrine and strategy. Is this a true change in the American militarys default position or simply a bump in the road? The book does not offer any predictions. So we are left to wonder when the United States retires from Iraq will that move mirror Viet Nam where all of the institutional learning and doctrine was washed away.
How can you take this self-knowledge and exploit it to gain success? Here the book emphasizes that the majority of successful operations have employed indigenous forces. The bottom-line is that the local populace holds the answer to success. This chapter outlines innovative techniques such as the Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the Sections Administratives Specialisees in Algeria in the 1960s. Cassidy makes some excellent points, but what is not emphasized sufficiently in the political, social, and economic context is how will these newly trained indigenous security forces function after the United States leaves.
In conclusion, this is a valuable book containing information that the professional soldier and administrator will find useful and should be a welcome addition to the professional officers library. The author arouses the readers interest related to global insurgencies. He then provides insight on a number of successes and failures in various attempts at countering regional insurgencies, but unfortunately leaves it to the readers own devises to pull all of this together in terms of a successful global counterinsurgency. We anxiously await his next work where he will hopefully describe how to execute a global counterinsurgency.
Gaias Revenge: Climate Change and Humanitys Loss. By P. H. Liotta and Allan W. Shearer. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Press, 2006, 208 pages. $49.95. Reviewed by Dr. Kent Hughes Butts, Professor of Political Military Strategy, US Army War College who testified on climate change and security before Congress in September 2007.
In 2003 the Department of Defenses Office of Net Assessment commissioned Peter Schwartz and Doug Randalls climate change and national security report, which examined the implications to US national security of significant and abrupt climate change. This report was startling for its conclusions, and the fact that it was commissioned under the tenure of then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. It led many to ponder, perhaps there is more to climate change than one had been led to believe. Is climate change a hoax or the greatest threat to global security since the evolution of humankind? Read Peter Liotta and Allan Shearers new book, Gaias Revenge, and you will be in a position to speak with authority on that issue. Timely and well written, this book explains the science that underpins todays debate on the origins of climate change and relates it to the traditional and broader concepts of national security.
Liotta and Shearer are an interesting and effective team. Peter Liotta, executive director of the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy, is an Air Force Academy graduate and pilot who went on to graduate with highest distinction from and teach at the Naval War College, author some 16 books, and earn two Fulbright Scholarships and a Pulitzer Prize nomination; Allan Shearer is an assistant professor at Rutgers who specializes in developing scenarios for interdisciplinary environmental planning and management. They understand security; they understand the science of environmental change; and they provide a balanced analysis of climate change that will appeal to both disciplines.
The authors provide a thorough introduction to security, a section all too often limited in other climate change works. The transition from the state-centric Cold War model of security, with its emphasis on force-on-force conflict, to the broader definition of security that includes environmental issues and human security is well executed and provoking. What indeed is the difference between threat and vulnerability; can one ignore the latter and still provide the proper advice to security policymakers in this increasingly complex global milieu of state and nonstate actors and transnational events? The authors argue persuasively that the evolving effects of climate change limit the policy options of state leaders and increasingly
tie the national security interests of developed nations to the security of individuals, many of whom are located in the developing world.
Gaias Revenge will appeal to the military reader and the security professional that approach the topic of climate change as a security concern; readers who are willing to take the topic out of the distracting context of the conservative versus liberal political debate. The authors fuel the readers intellectual curiosity with interesting historical vignettes, disturbing examples of efforts to suppress scientific evidence, explanations of why the Kyoto Protocol was flawed, and why the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards are essential to security. Liotta and Shearer offer a solid framework for analysis in a strategic context juxtaposing Liddel-Harts Strategy with Kenneth Andrews The Concept of Corporate Strategy and linking them to the predictive value of scenarios in preparing for future security events. Strong advocates for the use of long-term strategies to establish visions, values, and transforming behavior, the authors nevertheless demonstrate the practical tenet that makes this book valuable: Political achievability, nonetheless, must be considered a resource in order to secure both the vision of environmental change and its reality . . . a vision without resources is a hallucination.
Make no mistake about it, climate change is a serious security concern, as the ongoing Russian scramble to claim the increasingly ice-free Arctic territory and its energy resources demonstrates. Publications dedicated to the security dimensions of climate change have been relatively limited and few have been written by security professionals. Gaias Revenge adds significantly to the quality of publications on this topic. Although this reviewer found the index to be somewhat modest and the recommendations too few, the book is balanced and worthy.
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Reviewed 12 December 2007. Please send comments or corrections to email@example.com