China: A Potential or Current Threat?

Jed Babbitt has an excellent piece on RCP today that talks about the potential threat China represents to the US and by implication, the rest of the Western world.China’s Economic Sword.   People have been pointing to the potential threat China poses for at least the past twenty+years and are almost invariably poo-pooed as being unrealistic and that China does not pose a threat to the US they just want to modernize and bring the fruits of that modernization to their own people.   I tend to think that China is indeed a threat and a threat we in the West ignore at our own peril. There are several developments … More after the Jump…

The Fall of Qaddafi and the future of the “Arab Spring”

I wrote about the war/action/conflict/kinetic what have you in Libya when it kicked off in March, April, and again in June. With the rebels now storming Tripoli itself and being on the verge of success under the cover of NATO, the question now becomes what will the successor regime look like. I will guess here and say that it will be a notional democracy wit an oligarchy of strongmen in power. They will also make all the right noises to placate the soft-heads in the west and make them feel good about their policy of R2P. It will probably not be long before the new regime starts hunting down Qaddafis … More after the Jump…

The Fronts of World War I in 1917 & 1918

The tactical and strategic situation at the beginning of 1917 was little changed from that at the beginning of 1916.   All that the offensives on the Western Front had managed to accomplish the previous year were minor changes in the trace of the trenches and massive loss of life.   Both the British and French planned further offensives in the west during the years but events would intervene to ensure that only the British committed themselves to large-scale offensives on the Western Front in 1917. The spring and summer saw the French army undergo a crisis of confidence that has come to be known as the French mutinies, thought … More after the Jump…

Sun-Tzu & Clausewitz: A Comparison

Both Sun-Tzu and Clausewitz have something to offer for the serious student of warfare.   The biggest distinction between the two seems to be their different approaches to the art of war.   Sun-Tzu advocates a more subtle and indirect approach to the art of war while Clausewitz advocates a more direct approach. The essence of Sun-Tzu’s philosophy seems to be winning through superior generalship.   He almost seems to advocate a type of warfare by superior maneuver similar to that practiced in Renaissance Italy.   He preaches the avoidance of pitched battles unless the attacker is assured of winning.   This view is summed up in chapter III verse … More after the Jump…

Book Review: On Roman Military Matters by Vegetius

This little tome by the Roman scholar Flavius Vegetius Renatus was written sometime in the 5th Century A.D. and is known by several titles, the original Latin title is De re Militari but is variously known as the Epitome of Military Science and On Roman Military Matters, the copy I have uses the latter title. This is one of the few works that survived from antiquity in continuous publication, if you will. It was used as a text on military operations throughout the Middle Ages and has survived to this day. Just about every king, noble, and military leader of the Middle Ages had a copy of this book and … More after the Jump…

Battle Analysis-The Ludendorff Offensives of Spring 1918

In the spring of 1918 the German army attempted a series of war winning offensives on the Western Front that ultimately were to fail and their failure led directly to the German signing of an armistice in November of 1918.   The failure of the Ludendorff offensives as they were known was strategic and operational in nature.   The German army had devised a new tactical system and doctrine that broke the stalemate of the Western front.   What they could not do was follow through once the front had been broken. The Germans had developed the tactical system known as infiltration in response to the stalemate of trench warfare. … More after the Jump…

Tilting at Windmills: What the Hell is Obama, NATO, and the West Doing in Libya?

I have been pondering this one for a while now.  What exactly, is the west trying to accomplish in Libya?  I have posted on this before here and here, and I am still puzzled as to what we are trying to accomplish in Libya, protect so-called innocent civilians or topple Qaddafi’s regime? The stated goal of the administration is to protect civilians in line with the UN Security Council resolution # 1973, but the way in which the air campaign is being waged certainly makes it seem as if toppling Qaddafi is the goal of the bombing.  Their were intense air attacks yesterday, and one of his son’s was killed … More after the Jump…

Cyber War – The Threat for a New Generation?

I hope that most people have heard of the stuxnet (Wikipedia, but the best description I have found)worm that supposedly infected and crippled Iran’s illicit nuclear program last year. It is supposedly the new wave of warfare, with faceless hackers in another country sending hordes of worms and viruses to cripple the enemy nation’s electronic infrastructure. The Pentagon has just completed a policy that supposedly says that an act of computer sabotage can be considered an Act of War under certain conditions. I wonder if the threat of cyberwarfare is as dire as it is made out to be? There are several attacks in recent years to draw lessons from. … More after the Jump…

The Fronts of World War I in 1915 & 1916

After Turkey’s entry into the war towards the end of 1914, the Dardanelles was closed to allied shipping and thus the only warm water route to Russian ports was closed.   The allied solution to this dilemma was to use the powerful British Navy in concert with a French battle group to force the Dardanelles and reopen the route to the Black Sea.   This operation gained added impetus with the massive Russian losses suffered in the previous year and because of the Turkish opening of a new front against Russia along their common frontier in the Caucasus. The first naval attempt to force the Dardanelles in February 1915 ended … More after the Jump…

The Opening Months of World War I in the East and Elsewhere

The opening months of World War I on the Eastern Front did not proceed at as the German General Staff thought they would.   When General Alfred von Schlieffen (1833-1912) was drawing up the German war plan that would subsequently bear his name, he made several assumptions about the Russian army that would prove to be false. The most glaring incorrect assumption was the Germans estimate of the time it would take the Russian army to take the offensive.   The German General Staff assumed it would the take the Russians at least forty days to complete mobilization and begin their offensive.   This was the amount of time they … More after the Jump…

Sun-Tzu, Clausewitz, and Naval Warfare

The work of neither Sun Tzu nor Clausewitz is adequate to describe naval warfare except in the most general terms. While it is true that until recent times warfare on both land and sea was largely two dimensional, there are factors at work in naval warfare that defy explanation in either Sun Tzu or Clausewitz. The vagaries of wind and weather played a much greater role in medieval naval warfare than on land. The weather was often a determining factor in whether an engagement happened at all. The naval commander was at the mercy of the weather during the age of sail, something that ground commanders did not have to … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Fighting the Great War by Michael Neiberg

I originally saw Neiberg’s Fighting the Great War mentioned in a review essay covering recent works on WWI. The essay had good things to say about the work and then I decided to check and yes, the book had been reviewed by the Journal of Military History in the Jan 2007 issue, Vol. 71 no. 1 pg 242. I subscribe to the Journal so I pulled it it out and read the review. The review is generally favorable and recommends the book as a general history of the war. I did not have the same impression of the book as did the reviewer in JMH.I found the book to be … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Empires of the Sea: The Siege of Malta, The Battle of Lepanto, and the Contest for the Center of the World by Roger Crowley

I am planning a vacation trip to Malta this summer with my family and like all vacations I take there will be an element of historical tourism involved.   I have always wanted to visit Malta and I am finally getting a chance.   As preparation for that I am reading a few books with accounts of The Great Siege of 1565, the last battle of the Medieval Crusades.   The first book is Empires of the Sea: The Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and the Contest for the Center of the World by Roger Crowley. Crowley does an excellent job of bringing the siege to life and … More after the Jump…

The Opening Months of World War I in the West

This will be a series of posts laying out the general history of the major Fronts in World War I. The First World War was unnecessary in that if the diplomats of Europe had truly wanted to stop the war there was ample opportunity in the five weeks between the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the start of the fighting.[1] The outbreak of war in 1939 can be directly traced to the terms of the Peace dictated at Versailles in 1919, and World War II was incomparably more destructive than World War I both in terms of lives lost and property destroyed. It was fashionable in the aftermath … More after the Jump…

Combatant Military Strategic Thought in 1914

All classical military theorists point out that military strategy and national policy are intermingled.   Clausewitz devotes a lengthy portion of his treatise to the ways in which military action should serve the needs of the state; indeed, his most famous quote concerns politics and war.   Most of the combatants in World War I seem to have forgotten that policy drives strategy. When the Elder Moltke was Chief of the German General Staff, German war-plans and policy neatly interlinked however, during Schleiffen’s tenure as Chief of the General Staff that link between policy and strategy was lost.   The Great Memorandum of 1905 ignored political reality in favor of … More after the Jump…