Fighting Barbarians 


© 1998 David Tucker

From Parameters, Summer 1998, pp. 69-79.

The Roman legions were peerless in the field, so the Germans attacked them in the woods. The Germans skirmished, harassed, and ambushed over three days, slowly weakening the Romans. Bad tactics, adverse weather, poor leadership, unfavorable terrain, and simple treachery undid Roman advantages in technology, training, and discipline. The Roman units maintained their cohesion but, worn down, were finally overwhelmed by superior numbers. Those taken prisoner were buried alive, crucified, or offered as live sacrifices to the German gods. Three legions disappeared in the Teutoburg forest. Arminius, the German commander, had the heads of Romans nailed to the trees as a warning to Rome. Roman power never again extended beyond the Rhine.

Splintered into quarreling principalities, the Russian princes fell one by one to the Mongols, whose superior mobility, command and control, tactics, and equipment were unexpected. When the city of Riazan fell, the Mongols slaughtered the citizens, flaying some, impaling others. They did not spare those who had taken refuge in the churches, raping all the young women and nuns they found there, before the eyes of the other refugees. As they burned the city, the Mongols let a few witnesses escape so they could spread the word about the fate of those who dared to resist.

Seeing the British scouts who had just seen them, the Zulus rose en masse and began the attack. This was the battle the British wanted. The warrior strength of the Zulu nation would be charging across open ground into the disciplined fire of hardened Imperial infantry. For a time, the result was as the British expected. Despite being vastly outnumbered, the British raked the Zulu ranks with trained firepower. But the British commander had spread his forces too thin. As poor logistical support led to a decreased rate of fire, and some local auxiliaries broke and ran, this mistake proved fatal. One element of the British line was overwhelmed by raw Zulu courage and willpower, weakening the rate of fire even more and leading to the destruction of another element and another, in a snowballing effect until the British were overwhelmed. A few of the British survived. The Zulus suffered horrendous casualties at Isandhlwana but left the field victorious after disemboweling their fallen enemies.

Barbarians win with cunning, numbers, and courage. The civilized lose despite their superior technology and training. Sometimes barbarians are better than the civilized in certain aspects of the technology and art of war. Always, barbarian ferocity is a force multiplier, their cruelty a psychological force to crack the effete morale of the civilized, who always seem to underestimate the barbarians.

These are not just stories from a remote past. It is the future that awaits us--at least according to some. The greatest danger we face, according to these writers, will not be high-tech armies like our own but savage warriors who respect none of the civilized constraints under which we operate, who will do anything, absolutely anything, to gain victory. Spawned amid the deprivation of anarchic, overpopulated, and environmentally ravaged wastelands or brooding on their cultural defeat in oil-rich Muslim lands, not only will these warriors commit these atrocities, they will enjoy doing so. Torture and rape they will consider sport; slaughtering children and the old, a pleasant afternoon's work; breaking treaties, no more trouble than taking a breath. Such enemies may well defeat us on future battlefields because they will be more numerous, cunning, and fierce than we and unexpectedly possess some technology as advanced as ours. Or, precisely because they are cunning, they will avoid great battles where our superior technology gives us the advantage and seek to defeat us by attacking our allies and our outposts overseas with subversion and terrorism, counting on our inability to adapt to their strategy of slow, steady strangulation.

Whether they risk great battles or prefer innumerable small engagements, they will not hesitate to attack the American people directly. They will defeat us by hacking to death the information systems our economy and comfort depend on. They will defeat us by broadcasting to us live the mutilation of American prisoners of war, who of course in the future will include women, and then returning the mutilated and disfigured to us as a derisive goodwill measure. They will defeat us by sneaking chemical and biological weapons into the United States and using them. They will defeat the United States, in short, by breaking our people's will to fight. When we scout the future what we see are barbarian hordes overwhelming us.[1]

This view of what awaits us has gained influence or at least some respect. Its proponents are regular participants in conferences on future military and security issues. Every briefing on the future now contains an obligatory slide on "failed states." And of course it is true that we should never underestimate our enemies or assume that they will attack our strengths and obligingly ignore our weaknesses. Just remember our hasty retreat from Somalia--and we are always told to remember Somalia. After all, defeat at the hands of ruthless barbarians has happened to others who, at the height of their power and in the comfort of their wealth, thought themselves secure. Finally, we should take this warning seriously because defeat has consequences. The Romans never ruled beyond the Rhine; the Russians have not yet recovered from Mongol domination; after Somalia the Clinton Administration's policy of "aggressive multilateralism" disappeared, and crippling doubts persist about our ability to sustain a violent engagement overseas.

Taking seriously the warning about warriors, however, means assessing it carefully. In doing so, we see that it is not simply false. It is, rather, exaggerated and thus misleading and, in one case, may already be having pernicious effects. These warnings about warriors overestimate the degree of anarchy we confront and thus the number and character of future warriors; they lack strategic sense, and thus overstate the number of occasions when we will have to confront warriors; and they underestimate the American people, and thus exaggerate the power warriors will have over us. In underestimating the American people, these warnings perniciously increase divisions between the American people and their military. Let's consider these problems in ascending order of importance.

Anarchy: Don't Worry About It

With the end of the Cold War, commentators began to notice that men fought for reasons other than ideology. As the shadow of the Cold War shortened, old demons appeared again in plain sight. Ethnic and religious hatreds and greed and lust for power, frozen by the larger bipolar conflict, emerged after a 50-year hiatus and resumed their competition for our attention. At the same time, as the Soviet Union dissolved, a couple of nations stumbled into anarchy. Around the world there was new scope for the destructive and disintegrative impulses of the human soul. These breakdowns were seen against a background of growing migration, urbanization, and environmental collapse and in the context of an emerging global economy and increasingly powerful communications and other technologies. Together these trends were held to breed violence as they made national boundaries irrelevant and the proliferation of advanced weaponry unstoppable. The result of these developments was a growing sense that the nation-state, and the international system based on it, was dying. Only a small privileged enclave (roughly the OECD countries) would remain, surrounded by a violent assortment of brutal empires, sordid mega-cities, and anarchic outlying territories.[2]

This argument has been enormously influential, but out of all proportion to its worth. Consider, for example, that those things cited as contributing to the decline of the nation-state--ethnic and religious conflict, migration, civil war--predate the nation-state yet did not prevent it from coming to dominate international life. Why must they now be destroying the state? Indeed, migration and conflict, even civil war, historically have helped build states at least as often as they have destroyed them. Migration can act as a safety valve in the sending state, easing social or political problems. In the receiving state, it can reduce labor shortages and contribute in other ways to economic growth. Migration certainly benefited the United States, the power of whose government and federal structures was enhanced by its Civil War.

Nor will states necessarily be torn apart by urbanization, environmental collapse, or the unequal economic outcomes of globalization. Even if we assume that urbanization continues, environments collapse, and globalization unequally distributes income, we should remember that economic deprivation does not necessarily lead to rebellion and urban areas are not particularly prone to political violence.[3] Organized crime is an increasing problem in some parts of the world, but historically (e.g., Italy and Colombia) organized criminals have not tried to destroy the state. They are parasites and need healthy hosts if they are to survive and prosper. Finally, it should not come as a surprise that state failure--as opposed to civil war--has been confined to Africa. What we are seeing in Africa is not state failure as much as the failure of the post-colonial pretense that these kleptocracies were in fact states. But even in Africa, state collapse has been rare, and economic growth has returned in the 1990s.

But are not states being decisively weakened by the global economic integration that undermines state sovereignty by denying to national governments the freedom to make economic decisions? If a government pursues economic policies that foreign investors do not like, they flee, the currency collapses, and the economy declines. While this is true, it has always been true. It simply happens today with greater rapidity and more visibility because of improved communications. The 19th-century gold standard imposed constraints on government finance arguably as stringent as those under which governments now labor. The far-reaching financial and technological integration of the late 20th century does not necessarily presage the end of the nation-state or the fatal constriction of its sovereignty. The nation-state is adapting to its changing environment and even finding new ways to increase its roles and power. For example, the state is increasing its role in fostering the innovation essential in high-tech economies and is extending its power in education and health care, the latter a large and increasing part of advanced economies. The adaptability and resilience of the nation-state explains in part a striking evidence of its growing power: after years of globalization and privatizing, the state today controls a larger share of national wealth in the OECD countries than ever before.[4]

The nation-state does face a serious threat today, of course, but it is not globalization, ethnicity, or environmental collapse. It is a moral and political threat. This is fitting, since the sovereignty of the nation-state is essentially a moral and political idea. It emerged in response to the wars of religion in the 16th and 17th centuries. By declaring each state the supreme authority over religion within its borders, states removed a significant cause of conflict from their relations. The idea of sovereignty gained currency and continued to receive support because it was held to promote this good--peace between nations. If for whatever reason we allow ourselves to be persuaded that the nation-state is irrelevant or hinders the resolution of such transnational problems as pollution, human rights abuses, or weapons proliferation, the nation-state could indeed begin to wither away. This may already be happening, and there is no reason to believe that it will be a good thing. While not all nation-states have been democratic, democracy has blossomed within the world of nation-states. The historical record does not encourage us to assume that human freedom and happiness will thrive amidst alternative arrangements.[5<P255BJ0>

Strategy: Just Say No

As in the past, some places in the future undoubtedly will be plagued with anarchic violence, but those circumstances do not necessarily portend a generalized collapse of the state form or a radical change in the way nations and groups settle disagreements. Nor should we assume that anarchy breeds hardened warriors. On the one hand, tough guys develop without the encouragement of anarchy. Somalis and Chechens had reputations for bellicosity and toughness before their recent troubles. On the other hand, not every anarchy-induced thug with a gun is a warrior. For every band of warriors, there are a hundred gangs filled with opportunists who melt away when confronted with something more forceful than the pleas of defenseless women and children or when the drugs and liquor wear off.

Whatever the character of the combatants who arise in it, a reasonable response to anarchic violence is to avoid it. We should be able to do this. Contrary to what proponents of the coming anarchy imply, and whatever our National Military Strategy and our Secretary of State say,[6] it is not the case that instability or conflict anywhere requires us to respond militarily. In the current strategic setting there are very few places where we would be justified in deploying forces to fight or to police civil unrest. Tacit admission of this can be seen in our efforts through the African Crisis Response Initiative to train Africans to take care of their own problems. For our own sake, we cannot simply ignore humanitarian tragedies abroad; we can, however, afford to be very selective where we engage for humanitarian and other reasons. Broadly speaking, there is only one area in the world where our interests may collide with barbarism: the area around the Persian Gulf, north to the Caspian Sea and east into Central Asia. This is a significant piece of territory (roughly the size of the United States) that may contain up to 75 percent of the world's oil reserves and 33 percent of its natural gas reserves. But it is still a limited area, which means that, even in the unlikely event that barbarism and anarchy become widespread in the world, our confrontations with them can be limited.

It is customary now to argue that selective engagement abroad is impossible because of the images of wretched humanity on our television screens. Somalia is cited as just such a case. But a recent study presents convincing evidence that what leads us into operations such as the one we undertook in Somalia is more complicated than a simple loop of heart-rending stimulus and compassionate response. Media coverage of the famine and violence in Somalia was scanty until government officials began to mention Somalia as a problem. What then developed was an intricate interplay of official and public opinion mediated by the press. At no point in the process were officials helpless in the face of the public or the media. We went into Somalia and not Bosnia, even though the images of both were equally haunting. Media technology has not taken the power of decision from leaders.[7]

The American People: Don't Underestimate Them

A realistic assessment of the world into which we are moving accepts the possibility that terrible things may await us. Barbarism is a constant human possibility, even if it is not widespread, and our interests and the possible breeding grounds of barbarism do coincide in at least one important case. Additionally, even though we have no reason to confront nasty people abroad, they might still come after us at home. But is it inevitable, if terrible things come to pass, that they defeat us? The central assumption in the argument that barbarians will defeat the United States is the claim that the American people will not have the will, the courage, to fight on when terrible things happen.[8] According to this argument, the weakness of the United States as it faces an uncertain and barbaric world is its people.

We cannot dismiss such a disturbing assertion by pointing out that it is made only by a few. The argument has broader support and currency than that. At a recent conference attended by a representative sample of our nation's military, including senior officers, a young officer was reportedly applauded for a presentation that included the remark that the US military might lose in the future even though it is the best prepared, trained, and equipped force we have ever had because "the American people have lost the warrior's edge" and cannot endure casualties. Edward Luttwak, a respected analyst of military and national security affairs, has published several writings over the past few years making the same point. Luttwak believes that the American public's aversion to casualties is at least in part explained by the fact that parents now have fewer children and so are much more averse to losing even one of them in battle than were preceding generations or are the people of societies where families are still large. Luttwak believes that we are so averse to having our young die in combat that we can no longer fulfill the role of a great power. The result of these attitudes can be seen in the remark of a Washington Post reporter several months ago. He wrote, "In purely military terms, the Bosnia operation has been a huge success, with scarcely any casualties to NATO troops."[9] For some, military success has come to mean no casualties. But if military success means no casualties, then military success will be very rare because military operations without casualties are very rare. If military success is rare, then our defeat in the future seems almost certain.

The most frequently cited evidence for this argument that the American people have lost the warrior's edge is what happened in Somalia on 3 October 1993. On that day, 18 American soldiers were killed as the result of the effort to catch Mohammed Aideed. There was shock in the United States at these deaths and at the sight of Somali crowds playing with the corpses of American soldiers. Almost immediately, President Clinton changed his policy on Somalia and, after negotiating with Congress, promised that American forces would be out of Somalia within six months.

This event is now taken to be a defining moment of the post-Cold War world, making clear that the American people have a very low threshold for casualties. Its influence is said to have affected every use of the US military since.[10] It is now widely believed that if American forces are engaged in an operation other than war and suffer more than a few casualties, the United States will be forced to give up the operation. Some have gone even further, suggesting that our aversion to death and suffering is so great that the American people would not bear up under the demands even of a war for a vital interest.[11] If this assessment is true, then not only are we incapable of acting as a great power, we cannot even defend ourselves. The prevalence of this view explains why the President recently addressed this issue and a congressman mused that the United States might need "to create a corps of mercenaries,"[12] to do what the American people are no longer willing to do.

If mercenaries become necessary, then the traditional relationship between the American people and its military will have ceased to exist. Such an outcome would have incalculable consequences for our character and our liberty. Fortunately, the opinion that the American people will run at the first casualties is mistaken. Start with Somalia. One analysis of polling data shows that only a third of those polled wanted the United States to withdraw from Somalia immediately as a result of the 18 Americans killed in action on 3 October (average of six polls, 36 percent). In fact, three polls found that a majority of those polled (average 57 percent) wanted to take more assertive action in Somalia after 3 October. Furthermore, those who wanted to withdraw immediately and those (47 percent in one poll) who wanted to withdraw in six months, according to the President's plan, may not have been influenced to leave Somalia primarily by the casualties. Americans supported the humanitarian intervention in Somalia but as that operation turned into an effort to stabilize and rebuild Somalia, months before the 3 October fighting, public support had begun to decline. Casualties did not force us out of Somalia, and they may even have produced at least an initial desire to get more assertive or to get even with Aideed.[13]

The pattern of public response that formed around our intervention in Somalia has been evident at least since World War II. Historically, the American people have been concerned about casualties, as they should be. But they have been willing to suffer them as long as they believed that the casualties were taken in a worthwhile cause and that there was a good chance that the military operation in which they occurred would succeed.[14] We must at least consider the possibility that if the American people recently seem less willing to suffer casualties than before, it is not because of a growing aversion to suffering and death but because so many of our recent military operations--Haiti, Bosnia, and the effort to rebuild Somalia--have been of dubious worth. Operations related to no matter of national importance--or, as in the case of Bosnia, when the means did not seem likely to achieve the desired end--are unlikely to be considered worth US casualties.

Compare these more recent operations with the Gulf War, where strong majorities supported the war even when they knew of predicted casualties in the tens of thousands.[15] On a different scale, consider public reaction to the deaths of 24 American citizens and military personnel and the wounding of hundreds of others in 1995 and 1996 from terrorist bombings in Saudi Arabia. There have been no calls for the United States to withdraw from Saudi Arabia. The American public understands the importance of the Middle East; as long as the US government pursues sensible policies there in a prudent fashion, the public is willing to accept casualties.

This attitude does not seem a sign of weakness or cowardice but a sensible, rational approach to the very difficult issue of what costs should be borne in pursuit of our foreign policy objectives. Citizens' demands that their government not waste lives and resources in places of little significance should be recognized as matters of prudence and reasonableness, not cowardice. It is not cowardly to require that the government have sound policies and plans for those places in which it is sensible for us to engage. Nor is it cowardly to expect that the military will take care not to get its personnel killed unnecessarily. Finally, although some have suggested otherwise,[16] it is not cowardly to want to limit, if not avoid, the destruction of other human beings in the pursuit of US national interests. By the end of the Gulf War it was clear that our power was enormous compared to Iraq's and that Iraqi soldiers were at our mercy. "It is excellent to have a giant's strength," wrote Shakespeare, "but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant." How the strong treat the weak goes a long way toward determining if the strong are civilized. Restraint in the use of force is not a vice, but a virtue.

Americans are reasonable, not cowardly, when it comes to the loss of life through military action outside the United States. But what about the case of direct attacks on the American public, possibly including chemical or biological weapons or some other weapon of mass destruction? If one is imagining here a terrorism campaign, then history suggests that the response of the American people would be the demand for an entirely justified and quite thorough revenge, even what one author has described as "healthily disproportionate action."[17] If one is imagining the unconventional equivalent of a strategic missile strike, it is harder to say because of the unprecedented nature of such an attack; once again, however, history suggests that the likely response would not be surrender. Interwar theorists notwithstanding, mass bombings of civilians during World War II did not break their will to resist.[18]

The accepted view that the American people are unwilling to suffer casualties and pain for the sake of foreign policy objectives underestimates them and could have three pernicious consequences. It may deter us from doing what we need to do overseas or persuade us to use means that avoid casualties but which are less effective than alternatives and thus in the long run lead to higher casualties. Worse, it may cause the US military to hold the American people in contempt. Worse still, it may slowly corrupt the American people if they come to accept as true what they are being told about themselves.


The defeat at Isandhlwana did not cost the British control of South Africa, let alone their empire. They regrouped and went on the offensive. At Ulundi, the Zulus attacked vastly inferior but well-disposed British forces supported by Gatling guns and artillery. The Zulus were destroyed, their power irrevocably broken. The Mongols ruled Russia for centuries, but when their larger empire broke up after internal squabbling, the threat they posed to Europe dissipated. Nomadism gave the Mongols the advantages of fierceness and mobility but created vulnerabilities that a trained professional force exploited, defeating them at Ain Jalut. Roman power lasted several centuries after the defeat in the Teutoburg forest. When the empire fell, it did so not because the Roman military could not handle unconventional barbarian strategy or tactics; their attached cavalry, light infantry, and missile throwers made the legions reasonably good at handling such threats. The empire fell, at least in part, because it could not solve the deeper strategic dilemma posed by the possibility, and increasingly the reality, of two simultaneous wars. These results are in keeping with the historical pattern that the sedentary, civilized, and conventional typically prevail over the nomadic, barbaric, and unconventional.[19] This is why, generally speaking, it is better to prepare for the conventional and adapt to the unconventional.

The conclusion that the civilized typically prevail over the barbaric does not mean that we can ignore unconventional strategies and threats. Ultimately, they may not help the barbarian win, but they can cause pain and create distractions. More important, when used by the civilized over time, like the skirmishing that precedes a battle, they may help establish the setting in which victory becomes possible or defeat likely. Neither should the historic superiority of the civilized nor the recent evidence from Haiti and Bosnia of our adaptability to the unconventional make us complacent. Complacency seems unwarranted in a world where weapons of mass destruction exist. It is more uncalled-for, however, when we remember that the advantage of the civilized depends on three things: an ability to assess accurately the threats before them, the possession of a strategic sense subtle enough to distinguish between the trivial and the essential, and, on the part of their leaders, an informed judgment of the character of the led. We may, in these matters, pose the most significant risk to our own well-being.


1. This paragraph is a composite of the views of two writers, Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., and Ralph Peters. Dunlap focuses on how our enemies might counter our technological superiority in major theater war, while Peters examines an array of issues affecting the character of future conflict. Despite this difference in emphasis, these writers share important assumptions and attitudes. I discuss in detail in the text the three most important. See, Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., "How We Lost the High-Tech War of 2007," The Weekly Standard, 29 January 1996, pp. 22B28, and "21st-Century Land Warfare: Four Dangerous Myths," Parameters, 27 (Autumn 1997), 27-37; Ralph Peters, "The New Warrior Class," Parameters, 24 (Summer 1994), 16-26; "After the Revolution," Parameters, 25 (Summer 1995), 7B14; "The Culture of Future Conflict," Parameters, 25 (Winter 1995-96), 18-27; "The Perspective from 2021: A Quarter Century's National Defense," Strategic Review, 25 (Spring 1997), 51-59. Other writers share some of the views of Dunlap and Peters or support various aspects of their arguments. See, for example, Daniel P. Bolger, "The Ghosts of Omdurman," Parameters, 21 (Autumn 1991), 28-39; Edward N. Luttwak, "Toward Post-Heroic Warfare," Foreign Affairs, 74 (May-June 1995), 109-22 and "Twilight of the Great Powers, Why We Will No Longer Die for a Cause," The Washington Post, 26 June 1994, p. C1; and Robert D. Kaplan, "The Coming Anarchy," The Atlantic Monthly, February 1994, pp. 44B76 and "Special Intelligence," The Atlantic Monthly, February 1998, pp. 61-62.

2. The first and most influential statement of this view was Robert Kaplan's "The Coming Anarchy."

3. See, for example, David Snyder and Charles Tilly, "Hardship and Collective Violence in France, 1830 to 1960," American Sociological Review, 37 (October 1972), 520-32; J. L. P. Thompson, "Deprivation and Political Violence in Northern Ireland, 1922-1985," Journal of Conflict Resolution, 33 (December 1989), 676-99; Ashley J. Tellis, Thomas S. Szayna, and James A. Winnefeld, Anticipating Ethnic Conflict (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND, 1997), pp. 86-99; Wayne A. Cornelius, Jr., "Urbanization as an Agent in Latin American Political Instability: The Case of Mexico," The American Political Science Review, 63 (September 1969), 833-57; and Abdul Qaiyum Lodhi and Charles Tilly, "Urbanization, Crime, and Collective Violence in 19th-Century France," American Journal of Sociology, 79 (September 1973), 296-318.

4. For example, in 1960 average government spending as a percentage of GDP in 17 OECD countries was 27.9; in 1980, 42.6; in 1990, 44.8; in 1996, 45.9. "The World Economy," The Economist, 20 September 1997, p. 8.

5. For additional detail and argument on the supposed coming anarchy and the fate of the nation-state, see David Tucker, Skirmishes at the Edge of Empire, The United States and International Terrorism (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1997), pp. 137-56, and Daniel Drezner, "Globalizers of the World Unite!" Washington Quarterly, 21 (Winter 1998), 209-25 and the sources cited therein.

6. Catherine Toups, "Albright Cites Moral Imperative for Bosnia Mission," Washington Times, 13 December 1995; The National Military Strategy of the United States (Washington: GPO, February 1995), pp. 2-4.

7. Jonathan Mermin, "Television News and American Intervention in Somalia: The Myth of a Media-Driven Foreign Policy," Political Science Quarterly, 112 (Number 3, 1997), 385-403. See also, Johanna Neuman, Lights, Camera, War, Is Media Technology Driving International Politics? (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996), pp. 277-78.

8. See Dunlap, "How We Lost the High-Tech War of 2007," pp. 25-26; Dunlap, "21st-Century Land Warfare: Four Dangerous Myths," pp. 29-30; Peters, "The New Warrior Class," p. 24.

9. Otto Kreisher, "Has U.S. Lost the Warrior's Edge?" San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 September 1997, p. 1; Luttwak, "Toward Post-Heroic Warfare," pp. 109-22, and "Twilight of the Great Powers, Why We Will No Longer Die for a Cause," p. C1; Michael Dobbs, "In Bosnia, A Dubious Peace Process," The Washington Post, 2 May 1997, p. 1.

10. Peters, "The New Warrior Class," p. 24; Dunlap, "How We Lost the High-Tech War of 2007," p. 24; Mark Bowden, "A Defining Battle Leaves Lasting Scars," Philadelphia Inquirer, 16 November 1997, p. 1.

11. Dunlap, "How We Lost the High-Tech War of 2007," pp. 24B25, 27B28.

12. Ernest Blazar, "Inside the Ring," Washington Times, 2 February 1998, p. 9, and 13 November 1997, p. 7.

13. Steven Kull, I. M. Destler, and Clay Ramsay, The Foreign Policy Gap, How Policymakers Misread the Public (College Park, Md.: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland, 1997), pp. 91-92.

14. Eric V. Larson, Casualties and Consensus, The Historic Role of Casualties in Domestic Support for U.S. Military Operations (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND, 1996).

15. Ibid., pp. 30B40.

16. Dunlap, "How We Lost the High-Tech War of 2007," p. 24; Peters, "The New Warrior Class," pp. 20, 24; Peters, "After the Revolution," p. 13.

17. Colin S. Gray, "Combatting Terrorism," Parameters, 23 (Autumn 1993), 22.

18. For a useful discussion of civilian response to attack, see Robert A. Pape, Bombing to Win, Air Power and Coercion in War (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell Univ. Press, 1996), pp. 22-26.

19. Edward N. Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire, From the First Century A.D. to the Third (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1976), pp. 40-46; Jozef Wolski, Le rôle et l'importance des guerres de deux fronts dans la décadence de l'Empire romain," Klio, 62 (1980), 411-23; John Keegan, A History of Warfare (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993), pp. 196, 211.

David Tucker is the Deputy Director for Special Operations in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict. Before coming to work at the Department of Defense, he served as a Foreign Service Officer in Brazzaville, Congo; Abidjan, Ivory Coast; and Paris, France. Dr. Tucker received a Ph.D. in history from Claremont Graduate School in 1981. His publications include "Facing the Facts: The Failure of Nation Assistance," Parameters (Summer 1993); Skirmishes at the Edge of Empire, The United States and International Terrorism (Praeger, 1997); and "Responding to Terrorism," Washington Quarterly (Winter 1998). As with all Parameters articles, the views expressed here are the author's and not those of the Department of Defense or any other agency of the US government.

Reviewed 22 May 1998. Please send comments or corrections to