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: Decision Points by George W. Bush

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Decision Points is a book I have put off reading for several years but finally got around to. I mainly put it off because I have essentially avoided reading any histories of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars as they hit a little close to home for me. I finally changed my mind because I decided enough time has passed. Don’t get me wrong, I was not angry about the wars, I fought in Iraq in 2003-2004 with the Big Red One, at best I am ambivalent. That is a combination of the military historian and the veteran in me. I decided to read Bush’s memoir because I was curious to … 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…

Book Review: McNamara’s Folly: The Use of Low-IQ Troops in the Vietnam War by Hamilton Gregory

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[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] McNamara’s Folly is a book about a topic that needed a separate treatment.  The book itself is not large at 212 pages of text. The book is separated into six topical parts with endnotes called “sources”, an index, and appendices. I wish the book had a bibliography but the endnotes are fairly extensive if you do have to search through them to find the first citation for a full record. The first two parts of the book are the author’s … 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

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[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: Rome’s Revolution by Richard Alston

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The end of the Roman Republic and founding of the Empire is one of those events in history that has been recounted so often in histories and also in stage and theater that everyone thinks they know what, why, and how it happened. Rome’s Revolution by Richard Alston will show you that you don’t necessarily know what you think you know and that most accounts of the fall of the Roman Republic are simplistic accounts at best.  The author is a professor of Roman History and brings an expert’s perspective to the story that is missing from many popular accounts. The book itself is 337 pages of text with extensive notes, … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Month That Changed the World: July 1914 by Gordon Martel

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[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] Given that 2014 is the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, there has been a virtual flood of new books and scholarship on the war in the past few years. A flood that I sincerely hope does not stop anytime soon as the renewed emphasis on the war is starting to change the traditional view of the war. One area that has gotten particular emphasis this year is the Origins Controversy, as in, what really caused the war and … More after the Jump…

The Battle of the Nations – 16-19 October, 1813

The Battlefield at Leipzig

The October, 1813 Battle of the Nations in Leipzig was arguably as important as the 1814 Battle of Waterloo.  In English language historiography of the Napoleonic Wars it is often downplayed or only briefly mentioned however.  This is mainly because no English speaking armies fought in the battle.  The lions share of the fighting at Leipzig was done by Austrian and Russian armies and thus the English speaking world tries to ignore this decisive battle in which almost 50,000 men died. After Napoleons’ defeat in the Russian Campaign of 1812 and the concurrent French defeat in the Peninsular Campaign the Allied nations of Europe joined together once again in the … 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…

Book Review: Breakout: Pioneers of the Future, Prison Guards of the Past, and the Epic Battle That Will Decide America’s Fate by Newt Gingrich

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Breakout: Pioneers of the Future, Prison Guards of the Past, and the Epic Battle That Will Decide America’s Fate by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich would probably have been a more interesting book if it had introduced some new ideas.  Sadly, it does not.  The book is nothing more than a rehashing of the tired ideas that have been floating around in conservative circles for years. One would think that in 209 pages of text at least one original idea would appear.  The book is separated into 13 topical chapters with an introduction and a conclusion.  There is an extensive notes section and a surprisingly good index. The topics cover everything … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Rise of the Warrior Cop – The Militarization of America’s Police Forces

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I picked up Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces because the book looked interesting and I was shocked at what happened in Boston during the search for the two bombers.  The sight of police officers kitted up like my platoon and I was in Iraq on TV pulling people out of their homes at gunpoint and then searching those homes without a warrant shocked and dismayed me.  Therefor the title of the book was at a minimum intriguing and I decided to read it. The book itself is separated into 9 chapters in what is essentially chronological order.  There are 31 pages of endnotes by chapter and an … More after the Jump…