Book Review: To the Gates of Stalingrad by David Glantz

David Glantz’s To the Gates of Stalingrad is the first of a three book trilogy that catalogs the intense German-Soviet battle for Stalingrad in 1942-43. The book details the failed Soviet offensive toward Kharkov in spring 1942, the German spring offensive (Fall Blau, or Case Blue), and the German 6th Army advance to Stalingrad. The book is in line with Glantz’s other works that attempt to prove his common thesis: that the Eastern Front was the decisive theater of the World War II. The book represents Glantz’s unmatched ability to chronicle the battles for the Eastern Front from strategic, all the way to the tactical level. One paragraph might detail … 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…

Book Review: The Dragon’s Teeth by Benjamin Lai

[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] If you pay attention to the goings on in the world and not just the US election news you are well aware that China is a rising power in Asia.  China is now not only a commercial power but also an increasingly assertive military power.  The Chinese military is opaque at best to most Western observers and it is difficult to gauge its military capability based on what are usually hyperbolic news reports.  Therefore, it is somewhat prescient that this … 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…

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: Pearl Harbor: The Missing Motive by Kevin O’Connell

I will admit that when I first got the request to review Pearl Harbor: The Missing Motive I was skeptical. After finishing it I remain skeptical but will admit that the author makes a well-written, if not necessarily compelling case for his premise. First about the book. The book is 300 pages of text divided into 7 parts/chapters. It has 46 pages of notes and a 14 page bibliography. Also included is an index. One thing about the notes; the notes are endnotes of a sort except that they are not annotated within the text. That is, they do not follow a recognized standard citation system such as MLA, APA, … More after the Jump…

The Battlefield of Cannae: a Site Visit

The Battlefield of Cannae: a Site Visit The Battle of Cannae in 212 B.C. is perhaps the platonic ideal of what a decisive victory should look like.  Western commanders have been trying to replicate it since it happened over two millennia ago.  It was the final in a series of crushing defeats suffered by the Romans in the second Punic War to Hannibal Barca the other two being the Battles of Trebia and Lake Trasimene; one day I will visit these sights as well.  I covered the battle in a post almost exactly five years ago here: http://www.military-history.us/2010/10/rome-and-cannae/.  This past summer while on vacation in Italy I finally got around … More after the Jump…

CSA PRL Book Review: The Philippine War by Brian McCallister Linn

The 2014 US Army Chief of Staff Professional Reading List (PRL) was released in the Summer of 2014 and I was relieved in the extreme to see that there was only one novel on the list, Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer.  The list is different than earlier lists because it is organized topically instead of by position as earlier lists were.  I have read many of the books on the list already and decided to read the ones I have not and post my thoughts on the books on the list.  This review is the next in that series. Most people that have heard of the Spanish-American War at the turn of … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Great Northern War Compendium edited by Steve Kling

[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] The Great Northern War Compendium is a massive two-volume work that covers just about everything you ever wanted to know about the Great Northern War (assuming you have ever heard of this obscure to English speakers war), and probably some that you don’t. Some stats.  The two volumes together comprise 660 pages consisting of over 70 articles arranged in chronological order from the wars beginning in 1700 to its conclusion in 1721.  Each volume has an index and in addition there … More after the Jump…

Gallipoli, 1915: Analysis of a Glorious Failure

The Allied invasion of Gallipoli and its subsequent failure represented perhaps the greatest lost opportunity of the First World War.  There is every reason to expect that if the invasion of Turkey had been successful then much the same results would have accrued to the Allies then as were to accrue twenty-eight years later when the Allies successfully invaded Italy in the Second World War.  The tangible results of the Allied invasion of Italy in 1943 was the capitulation of the government of Mussolini, and the diversion of up to sixteen German divisions in Italy that could have been more profitably used in France.  Additionally, one of Germany’s most capable … More after the Jump…

CSA PRL Book Review: The Utility of Force by Rupert Smith

The new 2014 US Army Chief of Staff Professional Reading List (PRL) was released in the Summer of 2014 and I was relieved in the extreme to see that there was only one novel on the list, Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer.  The list is different than earlier lists because it is organized topically instead of by position as earlier lists were.  I have read many of the books on the list already and decided to read the ones I have not and post my thoughts on the books on the list.  This review is the third in that series. The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World is … More after the Jump…