Book Review: Knights of Jerusalem: The Crusading Order of Hospitallers 1100–1565 (World of the Warrior) by David Nicolle

Knights of Jerusalem is not the book you would expect to read about one of the Crusading orders, it is not a list and description of battles the order fought, with blow by blow accounts of the most famous of these battles such as the Horns of Hattin or the Great Siege of Malta.  This is a history of how the order came into existence and how it operated and even continues to operate almost 1,000 years later when so many of its fellow orders in the Church Militant have disappeared.  The book focuses on the history of the order from its founding until the end of the Crusading era … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Roman Empire and the Silk Routes by Raoul McLaughlin

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author and/or publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] Many people think that global trade is a relatively new development in the world.  That is not the case and The Roman Empire and the Silk Routes by Raoul McLaughlin describes the ways in which ancient Rome and China traded goods over the ancient Silk Routes. First, the specs.  There are 225 pages of text divided into 14 topical chapters and 5 appendices.  There are also extensive notes, a bibliography and an index. While many histories of both Rome and … More after the Jump…

Why Does the West Seem Incapable of Winning Wars Anymore? – Part 7

A reluctance to follow traditional, pre-world wars law of war. This point harks back to point #1 and is both a result of and reaction to the high cost of the two 20th century world wars.  In the contemporary world the traditional laws of war, that is the agreed upon rules that predate Geneva are considered too harsh.  It has apparently never occurred to an academic that the laws of war are harsh for a reason, as though war is supposed to be some collegial contest like a sporting event.  They substituted ideals for a realistic appraisal of effectiveness. Let’s use an example. Traditionally, when a city or other fortified … More after the Jump…

Why Does the West Seem Incapable of Winning Wars Anymore? – Part 6

A post-World Wars Western (read European or nation-states settled by Europeans) reluctance to accept casualties in the prosecution of a war (note: this does not apply to non-Western countries which often suffer very high casualties) It is obvious to any student of history that post-World War II Western military success is defined in terms of Western casualties suffered and not military/strategic objectives achieved. Think about it this way.  We can all probably agree that the perception is that the people in the West will not tolerate high casualties in military operations.  That is conventional wisdom at least since the 1970’s.  I am not convinced it is true.  I think if … More after the Jump…

Why Does the West Seem Incapable of Winning Wars Anymore? – Part 5

A reluctance to prosecute war to the extent necessary to achieve victory even when a realistic definition of victory was elucidated. This one should be a no-brainer as recent American experience has shown that stupidity very much exists at the top of American strategic thinking at least, which is compounded by clueless media talking heads who I am more and more convinced actively wish to see Western society fail.  Clausewitz says that war naturally tends to extremes but in reality never gets there. This point goes back to deciding what determines victory.  Clausewitz is undoubtedly correct in his assertion that ultimately victory is in fact using force to compel the … More after the Jump…

Why Does the West Seem Incapable of Winning Wars Anymore? – Part 4

Wars are no longer fought to achieve victory but to achieve often nebulous goals short of the actual defeat of the enemy and often were unrelated or even contrary to national strategic interests. This one is a personal bug-bear of mine.  It has been common in the post-World War II world for Western nations in particular to set nebulous and generally unattainable war goals.  The submission of an enemy state is often not an objective and when it is even when achieved international pressure limits making a total victory truly stick.  This is not helped by unrealistic expectations on the part of the public that military victory can be achieved … More after the Jump…

BOOK REVIEW – A HISTORY OF THE MODERN CHINESE ARMY BY XIAOBING LI

Much has been written about China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Much of these works has focused on either uniforms, equipment, or a brief history of its involvement in the Korean War. However, anyone really interested in a first rate history of the PLA should seriously look at Xiaobing Li’s “A History of the Modern Chinese Army”. Xiaobing Li is currently a professor of history at the University of Central Oklahoma, and has once served in the ranks of the PLA. His work is wroth reading because it fill many of the “gaps” usually found in other works on the subject. These gaps are those aspects about the PLA that were … More after the Jump…

Why Does the West Seem Incapable of Winning Wars Anymore? – Part 3

Example: The Israeli bombing of a hospital in Gaza and use of white phosphorous munitions during Operation Cast Lead in 2008 During the 2008-2009 Israeli-Gazan war there were back and forth allegations that Israel had deliberately bombed hospitals in Gaza in violation of the Geneva Convention.  Israel responded by claiming that Hamas was using these hospitals as shields.  The general consensus since then has seemed to be that elements of Hamas and their leadership did indeed use hospitals as shelter but that has not been widely reported in the West.  Another was the claim that Israeli use of White Phosphorous artillery shells is a war crime because white phosphorous is … More after the Jump…

Why Does the West Seem Incapable of Winning Wars Anymore? – Part 2

Modern interpretations of the law of war are flawed from a war winning perspective This point cannot be hammered home enough as it is the root of the problem with Western war making in my opinion.  The establishment of the UN post-World War II and the ratification of a new set of Geneva conventions on the conduct of war in 1949 have radically changed the Western approach to war and following those rules have had a major impact on the West’s inability to decisively win the wars they have fought.  In fact, it could be argued, and I do that post-war notions of war making have led to unsatisfactory peace’s … More after the Jump…

Why Does the West Seem Incapable of Winning Wars Anymore? – Part 1

I got to thinking about the question at the title of this post a few months ago.  Being me I started doing some research and then put my thoughts down in what ended up being a fairly long paper for some casual writing.  Rather than dump it all at once I am going to serialize it into parts and probably publish one part every 2 weeks to a month until it is done.  I am going to put it here and also on my survival site because I think the issues it brings up are relevant in that arena as well.  What I hope to do is provoke some discussion … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Our Lives, Our Fortunes and Our Sacred Honor: The Forging of American Independence, 1774-1776 by Richard R. Beeman

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] This is a repost of a review that originally appeared on the blog in June, 2013.  The book is now coming out in paperback and if you did not read it then I recommend you read it now as it gives you a great sense of the times in which our nation was forged and the risks,  hazards, and courage displayed by the Founding Fathers. Our Lives, Our Fortunes and Our Sacred Honor: The Forging of American Independence, 1774-1776 by Richard Beeman is … More after the Jump…

Book Review: War Made New by Max Boot

The hot topic in military history and military doctrine development circles since the early 1990’s has been the concept of the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA).  An RMA is defined as a development, generally technology, which alters the conduct of war so thoroughly that warfare becomes unlike what it was before.  In science this is called a paradigm shift.  The most common examples of RMA’s that are bandied about are gunpowder, steam ships, breech loading rifles, tanks, aircraft carriers, the modern staff system, and information technology.  There are others but those are the most common.  As a military historian, I am skeptical of the whole notion though plenty of folks … More after the Jump…

Book Review: How the West Won by Rodney Stark

How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity by Rodney Stark is a refreshing look at history. What I found most refreshing is that the book looks at the rise of Christianity as a good thing, even a necessary thing, instead of the calamity it is presented as in much historical writing. What I also found both new and intriguing is the idea that the disunity of the West has been one of the vital factors that contributed to the West achieving modernity where other cultural groups did not and that empires are in and of themselves bad things. Stark takes special care to demonstrate how the rise … More after the Jump…

Moral Relativism and War

If you are of liberal political leanings you will probably not like this piece as I am going to proceed to attempt to demolish several sacred cows of contemporary liberal thought.  I unreservedly admit that I am politically conservative and further admit that I am not trying to be unbiased in his piece.  I am essentially venting my spleen at the half-truths and outright lies I so often find in books that purport to be histories but that are in reality only thinly disguised attacks on historical actors.  I find it typically liberal that such attacks are often made on those that cannot defend themselves, such as historical figures long … More after the Jump…

Women in Combat-Part 5

This is an issue I feel strongly about so every time there is a development I will be posting updates. Marines delay female fitness plan after half fail Yet more evidence that women are not physically capable of performing the combat tasks required of ground combat soldiers.  There are jobs in the military that women can do and do well.  Combat is not one of them.  Why is women in combat being pushed so relentlessly?  I am left with only the conclusio that liberals and PC types would rather see more women come home in body than admit that there are in fact differences in capabilities between men and women. … More after the Jump…