Book Review – The Great War: A Combat History of the First World War by Peter Hart

Since 2014 there have been a whole slew of books released dealing with World War I in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the war.  This volume is one of them.  In The Great War Peter Hart has produced a book that should have been written half a century ago at a minimum. The stats: the book is 476 pages of text separated into 16 chronologically arranged thematic chapters with maps, notes, and a preface. This book does what few other books I have read about manage.  That is, it examines World War I combat from the perspective of what was achievable at the time instead of criticizing commanders for … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans by ADM James Stavridis

Sea Power is a book that takes a fresh twenty-first century look at the world’s oceans and the geopolitical challenges facing the United States in the century ahead. As always, the stats.  There are 343 pages of texts divided into 9 topical chapters with an index and recommended reading/sources list.  The chapters cover an introduction to ocean geography and a detailed treatment of each ocean and the history and current challenges associated with it for the United States.  The final chapter is a look and a recommendation for what America’s maritime strategy should be going forward. The book is well written and while ADM Stavridis is no Robert Kagan in … More after the Jump…

Terror and Counterinsurgency

I thought that the victory laps the press and others are doing about the supposed defeat of ISIS in Iraq was a good time to post this. Apparently the leaders of the West and most of the Western population has decided that several hundred dead and wounded every year due to terrorism is acceptable as the West collectively is unwilling to exert the effort to effectively defeat terrorism. It can be defeated if we are willing to be realistic and understand that you can only defeat terror by out-terroring the terrorists. Now three questions about insurgency and counterinsurgency please reply in the comments: How many people have heard of the … More after the Jump…

Book Review: At the Edge of the World: The Heroic Century of the French Foreign Legion by Jean-Vincent Blanchard

[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] I would hazard to guess that when most people think of the French Foreign Legion they think of hard faced mercenaries doing France’s dirty work, the idealized Beau Geste bringing civilization to the North African Desert or legionnaires fighting to the last man at Camerone.  At the Edge of the World  by Jean-Vincent Blanchard tells the real story of the French Foreign Legion and it needs no embellishment. The stats: the book is 222 pages of text separated into two … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Thai Way of Counterinsurgency by Jeff M. Moore PhD

[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] Anybody who has read this blog over the past few years will know that I am not a big fan of COIN doctrine as currently espoused by the US Army.  My objections to COIN are mainly that it doesn’t work, not because the US gets it wrong but because the US is the wrong vehicle to execute the COIN fight in a foreign land.  Foreigners are automatically hamstrung in implementing a successful COIN strategy by the fact that they are … More after the Jump…

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…