Book Reviews

From Parameters, Winter 2004-05, pp. 131-55.

Surprise, Security and the American Experience. By John Lewis Gaddis. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004. 160 pages. $18.95. Reviewed by Colonel Robert B. Killebrew, USA Ret., who served in Special Forces, mechanized, air assault, and airborne infantry units, and held a variety of planning and operational assignments, during his 30-year Army career.

John Lewis Gaddis, professor of history and political science at Yale University and eminent historian of the Cold War, has produced a small and pristine essay on the American experience that will change the reader’s view of American history, the current war in Iraq, and the outlook for the future.

Gaddis’s theme is that from 1814 to the present Americans have historically responded to threats by enlarging, rather than contracting, the nation’s security perimeters. Starting with John Quincy Adams, “the most influential American grand strategist of the nineteenth century,” and spurred by the British destruction of Washington in 1814, the security policies of the United States for two centuries were based on three principles that sound familiar today: preemption, unilateralism, and hegemony. Preemption because the United States had vast borders to defend and few resources, so taking the fight to the enemy (Spaniards in Florida, Indian tribes on the frontiers) was the only practical course; unilateral because the United States, in its geographic isolation from Europe, could not rely on powerful friends to look after its interests; and hegemony reflected the determination of the United States not to share power on the American continent with a competing, powerful state. While acknowledging that these principles led to ambiguities in American history that make us uncomfortable, Gaddis points out that “comfort alone . . . cannot be the criterion by which a nation shapes its strategy and secures its safety.” Rather, he says, readers should ask themselves what could have been done differently that would have resulted in a secure America.

By the arrival of the 20th century, American policymakers began to be concerned with the question of how far out America’s security perimeters had to extend in order to preserve security. The international telegraph, railroads, and, above all, the powerful steam-driven warship had caused a shift in the actual circumstances of the nation’s security strategies that were not generally appreciated by policymakers and the body politic. America’s entry into World War I was a direct result not only of the evolving reach of modern weapons, but also because President Wilson had come to realize that the United States’ security perimeter now had to extend beyond the oceans. The American people, though, and their elected representatives, rejected this expanded view of American security, causing a drift in American security strategy until the election of Franklin Roosevelt, the second great American strategist after Adams.

Roosevelt changed the historic formulation of preemption, unilateralism, and hegemony. American isolationism, the depression, geography, and the European


democracies’ passivity in the face of rising threats rendered stillborn any thoughts of preemption against the rising threats of the 1930s. With the exception of the American conquest of the Philippines, American preemption always had been conducted to secure American interests in this hemisphere alone. FDR rejected unilateralism for a number of practical reasons—the threat, the world situation—but also because he both expected America’s allies to do most of the fighting and because he understood that postwar security could never again be guaranteed by unilateral strategies. As a result, the United States emerged from World War II not only stronger than its allies, but stronger even than before the war had begun—an unprecedented historical accomplishment that garnered the greatest of Adams’ aims—hegemony, if not of the world, certainly far more than just of the American hemisphere.

Preemption went into abeyance in the aftermath of World War II, even though the postwar American monopoly of nuclear weapons gave the United States unprecedented power. One reason, Gaddis suggests, was a Rooseveltian principle that to maintain hegemony “there should always be something worse than American domination.” “Power is far easier to maintain,” the author points out, “when it’s there by consent instead of coercion.”

The attacks of 9/11 changed all that, Gaddis says. Instead of dealing with a traditional enemy with traditional estimates of costs and benefits, one who would react to diplomatic or military pressures in predictable ways, the United States was attacked from “the sanctuary provided by anonymity.” More than anything else, the terrorists destroyed the idea of an American sanctuary. “There was once more, as there had been early in our history, a homeland security deficit, unlike anything we’d been led to experience in either of the World Wars or the Cold War.”

Gaddis’s analysis of the Bush Administration’s response to the attacks of 9/11 has been the subject of comment among defense intellectuals. He at first is strongly supportive, noting that the Bush post-September National Security Strategy redefined, for only the third time in the nation’s history, what it will take to protect the nation from surprise attack. Beyond attacking directly the source of the 9/11 attacks—al Qaeda’s bases in Afghanistan—the Bush team decided on a truly grand strategy: a process that would undermine and eradicate illegitimate regimes in the Middle East that harbored terrorists, and ultimately thus transform the region and the world. Gaddis writes, “There’d been nothing like this in boldness, sweep, and vision since the Americans took it upon themselves, more than half a century ago, to democratize Germany and Japan, thus setting into motion processes that stopped short of only a few places on earth, one of which was the Muslim middle east.”

Though other reviews of Gaddis’s work focus on his appreciation of the President and his strategy, he does express some reservations. The “grandness” of a strategy, he points out, doesn’t automatically ensure success. The collapse of allied consensus has led to a loss of the United States’ role as the principal stabilizer in international affairs; indeed, it is now regarded in many quarters as the principal destabilizer. The Administration, he suggests, must confront the difficult task of switching from an aggressive strategy of international “shock and awe” to one of conservatism, consolidation, and repair. Bad strategists, he asserts, don’t know when and how to make this switch.


In his closing appraisal of the Bush Administration and its strategy, Gaddis’s support is restrained by his historical perspective. Though Bush’s strategy to protect the United States is strongly reminiscent of Adams’ original strategy in the early days of the Republic, Adams himself worried that eternally pushing the US security frontiers outward would eventually produce an America that became “the dictatress of the world.” Although the Bush Administration’s purpose is benign—to secure liberty throughout the world—there is a certain arrogance, Gaddis writes, about insisting that one nation’s security depends on the security of everyone else. “What space is left for the United States to expand into the next time there’s a surprise attack?” he asks. His solution to the immediate challenge is not an empire of “liberty,” but a world made safe for a federalist international system that would safeguard local differences while enveloping all in an international system of checks and balances—much like the alliance systems created by the United States after World War II.

In a larger sense, though, Gaddis is cautiously optimistic. It’s far too early to judge the success of the Bush strategy, he says, but it’s right for the United States to assume the responsibility for keeping hope and liberty alive in the coming century, provided we remember that the United States assumed leadership in the world partly by skill and partly by luck, and because America offered, better than anywhere else, the hope for a better life. Keeping that hope alive is the task facing the United States in the new century. Because of that, he tells his Yale students, it’s okay to be patriotic again.

Though not all will agree with Gaddis’s ambivalent views on the United States’ current course, the reader can’t help but respect the historian’s brilliant analysis of America’s past and present security strategies, and his penetrating and honest perspective of current events. This book is a small, tautly-told, and invaluable addition to any historian’s or strategist’s bookshelf.

Arguing About War. By Michael Walzer. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2004. 208 pages. $25.00. Reviewed by Dr. Martin L. Cook, Professor of Philosophy, US Air Force Academy.

Michael Walzer’s 1977 book Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations is, in every sense, a modern classic. More than any other book, it is responsible for the rebirth of the vocabulary and discourse of the just war tradition not only in academic circles, but even in military and public policy debate. Written by a liberal philosopher in the immediate aftermath of the Vietnam War, Just and Unjust Wars was a masterful attempt to find balance between uncritical acceptance of every military engagement and the equally uncritical antimilitarism that Vietnam had spawned in some quarters of the American public. It was, as Walzer himself would insist, not so much a self-contained and definitive statement of a theory as it was an exercise in disciplined and careful discourse and discernment of where the moral judgments of thoughtful people would arrive if they took hard cases seriously. It is fair to say the book has become a mainstay of military ethics education at all levels of professional military education, from the academies


to the war colleges, and it is the one book about just war theory a large fraction of the officer corps has at least been exposed to.

Arguing About War is a collection of essays written mostly in response to specific conflicts and international developments since the publication of Just and Unjust Wars. This is a most welcome addition to the literature because, invaluable though the earlier book is, it has not had any substantial addition since its first publication (only the addition of new prefaces which commented on emerging events and trends). In the introduction to this volume, Walzer flags two important respects in which his own thinking and the challenges of world events have caused him to reassess the fundamental stance of Just and Unjust Wars. The first is his strong presumption against military interventions. Readers will recall that the section of Just and Unjust Wars dealing with jus ad bellum issues frames the whole discussion around the “regular verb” conjugations of the “legalist paradigm” which restricts justified use of military force to responses to aggression, strictly defined. Although Walzer goes on to offer “qualifications” of that paradigm to include justified humanitarian interventions, counter-interventions, etc., the core of his argument rests on the assumption that a given people must as far as possible be left to work out their own “common life” and their own political tensions, free from outside interference in all but the most dire of circumstances. In this book, as Walzer writes, “I haven’t dropped the presumption against intervention . . . but I have found it easier and easier to override the presumption.” Primarily, this change is driven by the widespread phenomenon of state failure, and the evident need to meet the human rights and survival needs of individuals in environments and political situations where the emergence of effective governance seems far in the distance. For that reason as well, Walzer has become “more willing to defend long-term military occupations, in the form of protectorates and trusteeships, and to think of nation-building as a necessary part of postwar politics.”

These considerations push reflection on just use of military force to add jus post bellum (right/justice after war) as an element of a comprehensive account of justice in conflict—a necessary addition to just war’s classic requirements of jus ad bellum (right/justice in entering into war) and jus in bello (right/just conduct of war). The number of cases where the justification for entering the conflict and even the relative care with which military operations were conducted, but in which the ultimate result fails fundamentally to improve the situation on the ground, drives moral reflection in this direction.

The book is divided into two sections. The first consists of essays of a generally theoretical nature, while the second contains essays on specific military-political situations (the First Gulf War, Kosovo, issues involving Israel/Palestine, terrorism, and the most recent conflict in Iraq).

The theory section is especially helpful on two of the most controversial arguments offered earlier in Just and Unjust Wars. In his discussion of the classic principle of double-effect (which is offered as a way of thinking about foreseen but unintended evil consequences of otherwise justified military action), Walzer argues strongly that military personnel are required to go beyond the traditional formulation of double-effect and even to accept increased risk to themselves in pursuing protection of innocent life. Years of experience teaching Just and Unjust Wars to


military personnel have shown this reviewer that this is an argument which flies in the face of military practice and intuition. The essay “Two Kinds of Military Responsibility” advances this discussion considerably.

Similarly, Walzer’s defense of an ethic of “supreme emergency,” which allows the rules of just war to be set aside in the face of imminent defeat by powers deeply threatening to essential values, is considerably clarified by the essay found here, “Emergency Ethics.”

The essays on specific cases of contemplated or actual use of military force are models of how to think carefully and critically about their moral justifications. The essence of just war vocabulary, properly used, is that it should be able to be used with precision, care, and discrimination, so that some emerge as justified and justifiable and others are criticized or condemned. Often, it is not used in that way, of course, but is merely a verbal smokescreen of apparent justification, generated for political purposes solely. When used in that way, it provides (as Walzer eloquently put it in Just and Unjust Wars), the “unchanging character of the lies soldiers and statesmen tell.” As such, Walzer’s essays are usefully to be read on two levels. Of course the specific assessments and judgments he offers on recent military-political events are worth reading and knowing in their own right. But ultimately and probably more importantly, they provide the reader with concrete examples of morally serious reflection on real-world events. In other words, they show by example precisely the conceptual work that just war discourse, properly and carefully employed, is meant to do.

Finally, this is the greatest contribution Walzer has to offer us: a way to avoid a simple rejection of objective moral standards by which to assess moral issues in the sphere of international relations, and the equally misguided attempt by some (especially some elements of the Roman Catholic and Liberal Protestant traditions) to interpret the strictures of just war in such a way that no actual use of force could be shown to be justified. If just war discourse has a useful purpose, it is precisely to make discriminating and judicious judgments applicable to the real world of statecraft and military affairs. In Arguing About War, Walzer has provided us another set of important and useful models of precisely such use. The book as a whole, and its individual essays, offer valuable readings to serve as the basis of serious discussion in academic or officer development settings—in particular, the essay entitled, “Two Kinds of Military Responsibility.”

The Regulars: The American Army 1898-1941. By Edward M. Coffman. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004. 517 pages. $35.00. Reviewed by Colonel Cole C. Kingseed, USA Ret., Former Chief of Military History, US Military Academy, 1999-2001.

Few books on military history will be received with as much interest as Edward M. Coffman’s The Regulars: The American Army 1898-1941. The long-awaited sequel to Coffman’s The Old Army, this volume tells the story of the American Army’s evolution from a frontier constabulary force on the eve of the Spanish-American War to a professional force that prepared to wage global warfare against the forces of fascism. At the heart of this remarkable transformation was the Army’s


officer corps, which Coffman posits provided the character of the Regular Army. Spurred by an organizational revolution that created a professional Army staff and an institutional education system that gave the Army’s leadership the vision of what modern war required, the US Army entered World War II with a rapidly expanding force led by officers who had earned their collective spurs in an interwar military characterized by austere budgets and slow promotions. When the United States entered the war in 1941, it was the Regulars who commanded all but two divisions that eventually served in combat.

To explain how the Regular Army met this challenge, Coffman describes the evolution of the nation’s land force by focusing on its leadership and its culture. Similar to his approach in writing The Old Army, Coffman relies extensively on oral histories and interviews, as well as official records and government reports. The net result is social history at its best, expressed by one of the premier military historians of his age.

What makes this particular volume so interesting and engaging is Coffman’s comprehensive approach to his subject. His description of the Army’s recruiting practices is especially interesting. Each active regiment contributed an officer on a two-year assignment, later supplemented by retired officers recalled to active service, and an appropriate number of enlisted personnel to carry out this mission. Recruiters and Army doctors rejected nearly 75 percent of the applicants prior to World War I. Applicants were generally attracted by economic necessity, the possibility of advancement, and the desire for adventure and the glamour of military life, not that much different from America’s current force.

Coffman also examines the contributions of Secretary of War Elihu Root, whose managerial revolution converted the Army’s senior leadership into a highly professional core of officers. Root’s greatest battle was for the establishment of a general staff that would centralize both planning and coordination and “avoid such a debacle as the mobilization in 1898.” Backed by President Theodore Roosevelt, Root got his General Staff in 1903. He then created the Army War College and began a revolution in Army education. Next he persuaded Congress to make the first major change in the federal government’s relationship with the state militias since George Washington’s administration.

The Army was still struggling with these organizational changes when the Military Academy class of 1909 entered the Army. Members of that distinguished class included George S. Patton, Jr., William H. Simpson, and Jacob L. Devers, all destined to command armies or army groups in World War II. When this trio graduated, they were extremely pleased that Congress had raised the Army base pay for the first time since 1870. Second lieutenants now received $1,700 as their annual base pay. West Pointers now comprised roughly 43 percent of the officer corps, slightly less than those commissioned from civil life, while the remaining 13 percent were commissioned from the ranks.

Secretary Root’s visionary reforms also found expression in the Army’s emphasis on institutionalized progressive education. Coffman traces the Class of 1909 through their initial garrison schools—which every lieutenant and captain with less than ten years of service had to attend for two hours a day for 90 days— which Root labeled “the foundation of the whole system.” The next step in the edu-


cational system was the General Service and Staff College, which evolved into a sophisticated study of tactics. Summing up the Leavenworth experience, future Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall said, “I learnt how to learn.”

The final step in the Army’s education system was the War College. The students were rigorously selected and the curriculum included practical work on map problems, war games, military history, and mandatory work on plans in the War College Division of the War Department General Staff. Following the classroom instruction was a six-week staff ride over Civil War battlefields, which hardened the recent graduates both physically and mentally. Officers on duty in the nation’s capital might also be fortunate enough to attend the Industrial War College in addition to the standard senior service college.

Coffman reserves his most intriguing analysis for the Army of the interwar period, what he terms “the Army in limbo.” World War I had clearly demonstrated the need for a larger Army, a vast citizen army that Douglas MacArthur noted would be the “ultimate reliance for the nation’s defense.” Following the Great War, budget limitations and the lack of hostilities caused the Army to focus on garrison duties with correspondingly relatively little field service. The regular officers of this period had the following characteristics: the largest group (33.4 percent) came from the Midwest, followed by southerners (29.2 percent). Twenty-eight percent spent time in the enlisted ranks. Over 37 percent of the officers were West Pointers, yet 71.1 percent of the generals were academy graduates.

The Army also had a number of black and Jewish officers, but the Official Army Register did not indicate either race or religion. Until his son graduated from West Point in 1936, Benjamin O. Davis was the only black line officer from 1930 to 1936. Maurice Rose, whom Patton named as “the top armored commander in the Army” from his corps commanders in World War II, was Jewish, but he later kept his religion secret so as not to impede his chances for promotion.

Promotion in the interwar Army was glacial at best. In 1933 the mean age of lieutenants was 32, that of captains 43, that of majors 45 and a half, that of lieutenant colonels 52, and that of colonels just over 59. Pay was slightly better, Congress having authorized a pay increase in 1922, but prior to the Great Depression, Army pay increased only 11 percent while other federal government agencies enjoyed salary raises of 25 percent to 175 percent and the Consumer Price Index rose almost 87 percent.

The Depression resulted in an unexpected boon for the Army as President Franklin Roosevelt’s Public Works Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps created unparalleled opportunities for the Army to improve the quality of its housing and to get involved in the experience of a large mobilization. Indeed, the Army assigned 3,109 officers (a fourth of the officer corps) and more than 5,000 soldiers to the CCC. One of the officers who earned his stars working with the CCC was Marshall, whose enthusiastic support for the program endeared him to senior officials in the Roosevelt Administration.

In the final analysis, Coffman has once again produced a riveting account of the Army as an institution in change. Remarkable in its scope and unparalleled in its clarity, The Regulars will long serve as the definitive social history of the United States Army in the first half of the 20th century.


China Hands: Nine Decades of Adventure, Espionage, and Diplomacy in Asia. By James Lilley with Jeffrey Lilley. New York: Public Affairs, 2004. 418 pages. $30.00. Reviewed by Richard Halloran, formerly with The New York Times as a foreign correspondent in Asia and military correspondent in Washington, who writes about US and Asia relations from Honolulu.

This excellent book takes off about a third of the way into it where the author asserts: “When dealing with China, it was important to keep one’s head on straight.”

That is sage counsel from James Lilley, who has served his country well as Ambassador to China, Ambassador to South Korea, and de facto ambassador to Taiwan after an intriguing career as what he calls “a covert foot soldier” in the ranks of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Too often in America today, those who deal with China, whether in politics, government, academia, or the public prints, are polarized into neoconservative demonizers who contend that China can do no right or leftwing panda-huggers who assert that the United States must accommodate China as it acquires more power. Too rare are China hands who have kept their heads on straight.

Lilley, with the help of his journalist son Jeffrey, strolls down memory lane in an account of his childhood in China and the tragic death of his older brother, Frank. He ranges over his education at Yale and his intelligence work in Japan, Hong Kong, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand, although without telling much about operations there. He recounts his close affiliation with George Bush the Elder, who was Lilley’s boss as Ambassador to China, Director of Central Intelligence, and of course President from 1989 to 1993.

The cohesive thread woven through this well-written memoir, however, is Lilley’s association with China. He was the first US intelligence officer to serve in the People’s Republic of China when liaison offices were opened in 1973. “In my approach to China,” he writes, “I tried to eschew romanticism and excessive emotion.” Instead, “I developed a certain remoteness in my scrutiny of the country and its motives.”

During his childhood in Tsingtao, Lilley says, “I had begun to understand the Chinese as an appealing but manipulative people with kind of a raw, easily agitated nerve from having been squashed by foreigners. My sense is that China’s mixture of grievances derives from a self-centered nationalism—deeply rooted in the Chinese past—which can assume an anti-foreign tone or cast.”

Lilley has stern words for the way President Jimmy Carter and his Administration broke diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established them with the PRC in 1979, although he supported the idea of normalizing relations with China. “Secrecy, timing, and disrespect toward Taiwan,” he said in a policy paper, had produced “a bungled, compromise agreement.”

“You do not put dilettantes up against pros and come up with favorable results,” he concluded in a private memo for Mr. Bush. “We were taken to the cleaners on Taiwan.”


Today, a quarter-century later, Taiwan is still the most troublesome issue between Washington and Beijing, and no resolution is in sight. Lilley says that Taiwan has been “outperforming the mainland in many ways” and is “a new kind of Chinese society—prosperous and democratic.” American policy needs to reflect this, he says, and he delivers an uppercut to the ill-defined “one-China” policy that has supposedly governed US relations with Beijing for three decades: “There was no need to choose sides between Taiwan and China. You could get along with both.”

Lilley is at his best in his chapters on the democratic protest in Tiananmen Square and its aftermath in 1989. He arrived in Beijing on 2 May and “stepped on a volcano.” Two days later, he rode his bike to Tiananmen. “Making sure to keep my identity as the American Ambassador secret, I engaged students in conversation, querying them about their hopes and dreams for China.” (How a middle-aged Caucasian well over six feet tall kept his identity secret amid a gathering of Chinese is not explained.)

In contrast to his reluctance to write about intelligence operations in Asia, Lilley gives a vivid account that surely adds to the historical record of the Tiananmen episode. He describes how Chinese-speaking embassy officers and their colleagues in the Australian, British, Canadian, French, German, and Japanese embassies fanned out over Beijing to observe, listen, question, and count casualties.

In a particularly hair-raising episode, a Chinese military officer called an American Army attaché to warn him to stay away from his apartment from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. the next day. Lilley called a meeting of all embassy people and their families for that time, getting all but two small children out of the way as Chinese soldiers raked the apartments with machine guns. Those children were spared when their Chinese “amah” covered them with her own body as bullets crashed through the windows.

In another revelation, Lilley discloses that on his 63d birthday in 1991, an Iraq hit squad entered China to assassinate him as other teams went to Bangkok, Manila, and Jakarta on similar missions to sabotage American diplomacy. Washington sent a security specialist to guard Lilley, and he began to wear a bulletproof vest and to keep a loaded revolver next to his bed. “I talked with the head of the Chinese Public Security Bureau and he assured me that he could handle the situation,” Lilley says. He adds, dryly: “This was one time when I was grateful that I was living in a police state.”

Lilley also tells-all regarding how the US embassy gave safe haven to Chinese dissident Fang Lizhi and his wife, Li Shuxian. They were hidden in a spare room behind the embassy’s dispensary, fed and clothed surreptitiously for more than a year, and finally flown out of the country on a US Air Force C-135—after the Chinese insisted that they go through passport control. Looking back, Lilley writes, “Fang was a living symbol of our conflict with China over human rights. It’s a battle we have been fighting with the Chinese since normalization more than two decades ago.”

Consistent to the end, Lilley has this pragmatic word for all who would have diplomatic, military, or business discourse with China: “China is as it is,” he says, “not as we want it to be.”


An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror. By David Frum and Richard Perle. New York: Random House, 2003. 284 pages. $25.95. Reviewed by Dr. W. Andrew Terrill, Research Professor, US Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute.

Since the 9/11 attacks upon the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, America’s leaders have been seeking a new strategy to protect the United States and to ensure that its citizens are never exposed to such dangers again. This effort has created a vigorous and often bitter debate. Richard Perle and David Frum inserted themselves into this debate early, with Frum as a presidential speechwriter coining the phrase “axis of evil” and Perle tirelessly advocating a sweepingly interventionist policy with an invasion of Iraq as the first step in cleaning up world evil. Now these two have put their thoughts into print and outlined an agenda as sweeping as the title of their book and every bit as unrealistic.

An End to Evil bills itself as a manual for victory in the war on terrorism. It warns that America’s citizenry is weakening in its resolve and needs to buck up to face a multiplicity of threats. It also warns the reader to beware of the counsel of small-thinkers, defeatists, bureaucrats, and other bad sorts that the authors feel are standing in the way of an easy victory. So who are these bad types? Well “defense planners” apparently engaged in too much worst-case analysis (none of that from Frum and Perle). CIA and DIA analysts are unprofessional and vindictive, and both the CIA and the State Department have severely harmed our national interest by their skepticism about Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi. The authors’ bitterest venom is directed at the State Department, but they also have some hard things to say about the military, whose leaders are described as nothing more than bureaucrats in uniform. Does this mean that these people have lost sight of the importance of protecting the nation they have pledged to defend? Maybe we should give them a little more credit.

By attacking the State Department, uniformed services, and intelligence community, Frum and Perle are moving against the potential voices of caution that they desperately want to silence. Such attacks against diplomatic and intelligence professionals hope to undermine the sources of expertise that usually inform and vet foreign policy initiatives. But is it really so unwise, for example, to trust the uniformed services to deliver meaningful advice on military matters?

Frum and Perle call for confronting all terrorism everywhere, regardless of whether or not it threatens Americans. To them, Islamic terrorism is monolithic, and the United States must do much more to confront organizations that are currently caught up in local concerns. In particular, Frum and Perle call for the United States to move against the Lebanese terrorist group Hizballah and the Palestinian terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. This would presumably have to be done in partnership with Israel, although it is not clear which of the two nations would lead the struggle. They also call for a Cuban-style blockade of North Korea if it doesn’t shape up, and they have a long list of “make my day” demands for Syria, Libya, Iran, and other unfriendly states. This very long list has a military “or else” waving around in the background of comprehensive demands for surrender. Yet, is the Americanization of all local struggles in which terrorism is employed really a good idea?


The book also reflects the current problems that exist between the United States and Saudi Arabia. During the height of the Cold War, these two nations were drawn together by anti-communism. Now relations are not as good, and Frum and Perle maintain that the Saudis are enemies. So why haven’t we gone after them if they are that bad? According to Frum and Perle, one key reason is because a variety of retired generals, diplomats, and lawmakers are covering up for them. This is usually done in exchange for hefty consulting contracts and other such remuneration. World evil is certainly difficult to defeat with so many nefarious allies. Yet, the authors have a plan. Threaten Saudi Arabia by supporting successionist Shi’ites in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia where a great deal of the Kingdom’s oil is located. This idea assumes without proof that Shi’ites in eastern Saudi Arabia are dying to form a US client state and that they have completely renounced the pro-Iranian radicalism apparent there in the late 1970s.

The book’s dust jacket claims that Richard Perle is the “intellectual guru of the hard-line neoconservative movement” and also states that he has “profound influence over Bush policies.” The authors themselves praise the President frequently in a manner that suggests that their agenda is his agenda, while simultaneously attacking not only Democrats but also other Republicans and conservatives (too numerous to mention) who disagree with them. The other implicit claim for this agenda is that it is representative of “hard line” conservatives. If conservatives favor using military force to solve a multiplicity of the world’s problems, including those that are unrelated to the US national interest, then that statement might be correct. But that is not how conservatives usually define themselves. Rather, conservatism can be defined as defending this country with courage and vision, while being realistic and safeguarding the lives of American military men and women.

Does this book have any value? Maybe it does. For one thing, it is a clear and comprehensive presentation of neoconservative ideology. Readers who are traditional conservatives, moderates, and liberals will therefore be able to judge neoconservatism on its merits and make an assessment of the extent to which they can agree to these principles and policies. This consideration will be especially relevant for traditional conservatives, who must decide if Frum and Perle reflect mostly compatible values or if they are a destructive and dangerous aberration from conservative thought.

In summary, this book presents shallow and supercilious answers to complex questions and in doing so threatens to create more problems than it solves. Nevertheless, some of the problems that Frum and Perle identify are serious. Their extreme solutions may therefore be the catalysts for cooler heads to solve the same problems more creatively. If so, this book has performed a useful service. Nevertheless, the formulas for victory put forward in this book are completely wrongheaded. They call for Americanizing conflicts that can be addressed more readily by local forces. They demand a heavy-handed American approach that can only multiply our enemies and push neutrals into the enemy camp. Even allies may want us to fail in such efforts because they fear success will lead the United States to continue on an even more unrestrained interventionist path. Thus, if we allow ourselves to embrace Frum and Perle’s manual of victory, we may well provide victory to our enemies.


By Their Deeds Alone: America’s Combat Commanders on the Art of War. Edited by Richard D. Hooker, Jr. Foreword by Rick Atkinson. Novato, Calif.: Presidio Press, 2003. 254 pages. $13.95 (paper). Reviewed by Colonel David R. Gray, Army Federal Executive Fellow, Brookings Institution.

The Global War on Terrorism has underscored several key truths about the military profession. The military profession performs its craft infrequently, largely at unexpected times, in unlikely places, and under assorted conditions. The character of combat often confounds pre-war expectations. Victory or defeat in future battles, therefore, hinges upon the quality of peacetime military training and education of the profession’s leadership. The fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq clearly reinforces these points, especially the need for flexible and adaptable leadership in changing circumstances. Because no curriculum in the military education system can possibly cover every conceivable contingency, military leaders must rely on other sources to supply them with instruction and intellectual preparation for combat. The study of combat leadership in past campaigns affords one such avenue, and that is the thrust of By Their Deeds Alone: America’s Combat Commanders on the Art of War.

To illuminate the value of vicarious experience in the preparation of future military leaders, Colonel Richard D. Hooker, Jr., has compiled an excellent anthology of essays by 11 serving or recently retired Army officers. Hooker is author of 26 articles on national security topics and coauthor of Maneuver Warfare: An Anthology. He has tapped ten other soldier-scholars as contributors for this slim volume. Active readers of military history and theory will recognize the skilled scholarship of John Antal, Jr., Robert Leonhard, Peter Mansoor, H. R. McMaster, James McDonough, and Dan Bolger, all well-published authors. Dana Pittard, Michael Fenzel, and Jack Tien are less well known in scholarly circles, but their well-crafted essays reflect the same thoughtful analysis as the more experienced contributors. By virtue of their professional expertise—all have commanded at battalion or higher levels—the authors are able to approach their subjects from the perspective of experienced practitioners who understand the complexities of battle command in war.

In the Preface, Colonel Hooker lays out the major premise of the book— that “leadership [is] the supreme element in war.” To prove the case, the book’s 11 case studies examine battle in cross-cultural context, spanning the breadth of the 20th century. Whether discussing Mustafa Kemal’s stubborn defense at Gallipoli during the First World War, Major General Erwin Rommel’s improvisations to cross the Meuse River in 1941, or Lieutenant Zvi Greengold’s brave leadership by example on the Golan Heights in 1973 Yom Kippur War, decisive combat leadership was pivotal to the outcome of a critical battle. A commander’s ability to make purposeful decisions under the stresses of combat, to improvise in the chaos of battle, and to exploit the strengths of his organization by matching them against enemy vulnerabilities emerge as common themes, regardless of time period or environment. Additionally, the most successful commanders always attempted maneuver to gain maximum advantage over their enemies.


The essays in By Their Deeds Alone cover the full range of conflict that military professionals are likely to encounter in the future. Nine of the essays examine conventional combat in arctic, mountain, desert, forested, jungle, and urban environments, where the value of synchronized combined-arms operations remains the same regardless of terrain. The essays by McDonough and Bolger examine the evolving character of contingency operations caused by bloody upheavals in Africa. As fighting continues in Afghanistan’s mountains and Iraq’s cities, as well as in persisting contingency operations in Haiti and elsewhere, the various chapters offer important insights into how past commanders successfully mastered the challenges they faced in similar types of demanding circumstances.

By Their Deeds Alone is a well-crafted collection of insightful essays. The contributors’ scholarship relies mostly on standard secondary works, published memoirs, and the occasional primary source document and personal interview. The strength of the volume principally lies in the authors’ successful weaving of source material with their professional judgments into well-balanced assessments of combat leadership. The scope of the book is especially relevant as today’s military professionals are actively engaging in full-spectrum operations across the globe. Although each chapter contains a general map for orientation, the book’s map selections are a shortcoming. Readers interested in detailed movements of forces will have to consult each essay’s cited references for specifics.

This volume will appeal to the general reader as well as to military professionals. By Their Deeds Alone would be a welcome addition to military history courses in civilian universities and the various service schools as a source of case studies across the spectrum of conflict.

At the Abyss: An Insider’s History of the Cold War. By Thomas C. Reed. New York: Ballantine Books, 2004. 368 pages. $25.95. Reviewed by Joseph R. Cerami, Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University.

Thomas Reed has done a great service in writing his insider’s Cold War history. As a member of the generation-just-after the greatest generation, he has a unique view of the story’s beginning, middle, and end. During his promotional tour, he points out that he wrote this book because other recent Cold War authors have “wrote it wrong” (to paraphrase Yogi Berra’s criticism of a best-selling Joe DiMaggio biography). So, like Yogi, as someone who was there, he felt a duty to set the record straight.

Reed’s resume includes top-level assignments, including Secretary of the Air Force, Director of National Reconnaissance, Special Assistant on the National Security Council, and Consultant to the Director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The story covers the Cold War by tracing Reed’s career, starting off as the young Cornell engineering graduate (top of his class) who enters the Air Force as a lieutenant, works in nuclear development labs, observes a nuclear test, rises as a public manager, is present at the creation of the cyber/information age, becomes a Republican Party fundraiser and campaign manager, joins the Reagan Revolution as a member of the National Security Council staff, and runs high-tech companies in-between. Few


have had a comparable range of experiences in the complex military, industry, scientific, and government networks that teamed up to win the Cold War.

There are, as would be expected, insider accounts of Washington and White House politics and insights on the Cold War Presidents, as well as the careers of influential figures like Edward Teller, James Schlesinger, Harold Brown, William Perry, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, and many others. Becoming one of the Cold War’s best and brightest was an insider’s game, and Reed’s mix of politics and policy illuminates both the scientific and social sides of government service. The former Air Force Secretary also provides interesting anecdotes to explain the roles of members of the armed forces, technicians, and bureaucrats—both US and Soviet—who did their duty while avoiding Armageddon. Often showing off his good sense of humor, Reed also includes less-well-known figures and stories at the tactical level of Cold War warfare. His writing acknowledges the critical roles played by pilots, missile officers, and keepers of the nuclear codes.

As a nuclear engineer and government official, Reed provides an account that also is significant for its insight on science and technology, and on the research and development communities. In addition, it includes some gripping spy stories and illustrates the realities of bureaucratic and organizational politics involving the Pentagon, the CIA, and the White House. The nexus of technology, intelligence, and defense policy and programs has not received sufficient attention. As more records are opened for scholars and public audiences, additional interesting insights are bound to appear. More transparency on government affairs can only help citizens understand the significance, sacrifices, challenges, and heroism of our armed forces, government officials, and public servants in peace and war. For instance, there is a serious revisionist history and growing appreciation for President Eisenhower’s crucial role in enhancing US national security by nurturing the scientific and intelligence communities in the 1950s (often at the expense of the Department of Defense).

The book’s 22 chapters move along at a fast pace. Reed is a natural storyteller, and the variety of the episodes, from Stalin’s alleged murder, to Admiral Stockdale’s bird’s-eye view of the Tonkin Gulf incident, to the nuclear bombs dropped on Spain (safely), all make for interesting reading while making important points. Reed also works in an account of the destructive potential of a strike on the World Trade Center with weapons of mass destruction as a timely reminder of the threats facing our current generation.

At its core, Reed’s history is a case study in ethical leadership. Reed’s Acknowledgements page recognizes his parents, “who tried to instill the values of right and wrong that constitute the foundations of Western civilization.” The Introduction, by former President George H. W. Bush, continues this theme in his opening sentence: “The Cold War was a struggle for the very soul of mankind.” The 41st President echoes Reed’s main point regarding the significance of “the honorable men and women on both sides who kept their cool and did what was right—as they saw it—in times of crisis,” which, as we now know, helped avoid the abyss of nuclear war in a time of great international tension and ideological competition.

In addition to the high political drama of major personalities and critical events, At the Abyss is a highly readable and personal story of quiet professionalism,


selfless service, and achievement. Let me end by repeating Reed’s dedication: “To the Cold Warriors who did their duty, protected their honor, and defended their countries. They did so with a vengeance, in the service of their gods, but they never lost their respect for the fires of hell that would surely follow any careless act at the edge of the abyss.” Let’s recognize the Cold Warriors for a job well done. We all should look forward to more insider accounts of this historic era—and more illustrations of playing to win in our nation’s defense with intelligence, patience, dignity, honor, heroism, and a very large dose of common sense—and accounts of individuals who lived their lives guided by admirable values of right and wrong.

Meuse-Argonne Diary: A Division Commander in World War I. By William M. Wright, edited and introduction by Robert H. Farrell. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2004. 174 pages. $29.95. Reviewed by Dr. Douglas V. Johnson II (LTC, USA Ret.), Research Professor, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.

Robert H. Farrell is in the process of becoming the leading editor in the publication of excellent World War I memoirs. This, his second such, is an excellent example of his editorial skill. It also helps if the memoir is written by a literate man, as Major General William M. Wright most certainly was.

The recently deceased Professor Russell F. Weigley is quoted on the rear cover: “As our only document of its kind, Wright’s diary shows in detail how a division headquarters operated and what its commander did day by day.”

The 89th Division’s history is one of a relatively few comprehensive World War I division histories. That history was made possible in part by the contributions of this division commander and several of his subordinate officers. Wright’s diary was evidently written by him rather than dictated as some are, and it reflects his frustrations, anxieties, and satisfactions well beyond a mere recounting of events.

Farrell exercises a fine hand in compressing events where and when compression is appropriate and, conversely, where the diary lacks explanatory background details, in providing them from other 89th Division sources when possible. Through this diary we see what a division commander saw and may be surprised to find that he saw relatively little outside his immediate zone of action.

Wright’s personality emerges in bits and pieces, but there is enough to permit the reader to see a man who is quite thorough in his planning and in coordinating his units’ actions both internally and with adjacent organizations—something of paramount importance and not done at all well by the average American division. He was evidently a man of fairly regular routine, as if conscious that he had only so much in the way of energy and strength. In this, he is one of a relatively few leaders who sets a good example of how to conserve that energy for the time when it is needed. Wright also was unusually patient as a coach and mentor, praising or finding fault where it existed and coaching one particular brigade commander through a multitude of difficulties. He appears to have been a quick judge of men and accurate in most of his judgments. As one might expect from a diary, he does not come across as a “yes man,” and the facts seem to confirm his self-portrayal, which makes the memoir that much more satisfying.


Wright appears to be the type Pershing sought in his division and for his higher commanders—a man given to attention to detail without becoming captive to those details, and an active and forceful leader, leading with energy and the ever requisite “push” so essential in Pershing’s eyes. He was not a mindless pusher, however, in contrast to some more notable figures. His division got the job done quite handily, and when it appeared to stumble, Wright was there to counsel, encourage, admonish, or fire if necessary—all of which are evident in this excellent little diary.

Beyond all the above, what I see in this diary is an example of what Pershing sought as a successful division commander. The key features were energetic attention to detail, push in the execution of combat activities, and leading from as far forward as the situation required, but without losing control of the unit as a whole. Pershing never cared if his commanders wore themselves out or died trying to do all he asked of them, but Wright seems to have known just how much would be demanded, stored his energy for those times, and was so much more effective as a consequence.

All in all, this is an excellent book for the study of effective leadership in the American Expeditionary Forces and adds a great deal to our understanding of the life of a successful division commander in time of war.

Support Any Friend: Kennedy’s Middle East and the Making of the U.S.-Israel Alliance. By Warren Bass. Oxford, Eng.: Oxford University Press, 2003. 336 pages. $30.00. Reviewed by Christopher Hemmer, author of Which Lessons Matter: American Foreign Policy Decision Making in the Middle East, 1979-1987, Assistant Professor, Department of Strategy and International Security, US Air War College.

In the historiography of US policy toward the Middle East and the Arab-Israeli conflict in particular, the Kennedy Administration often garners little attention. What mention it gets is usually limited to a pro forma recognition that the Kennedy Administration approved the first major US arms sales to Israel. Into this relative void steps Warren Bass with his excellent study, Support Any Friend: Kennedy’s Middle East and the Making of the U.S.-Israel Alliance. The central argument of Bass’s book is that Kennedy’s policies were pivotal in the development of the US-Israeli alliance. Whereas Truman may have started the special relationship between the Unites States and Israel, it was Kennedy, Bass argues, who turned this relationship into an alliance. In his close study of the brief Kennedy years, Bass succeeds in demonstrating that Kennedy’s Administration does deserve to be treated as more than a mere “place-marker between Suez and the Six Day War.”

While many authors may claim, as Bass does, that their book is “designed to be read with profit by the specialist and with pleasure by the general reader,” few are likely to be as successful in meeting these twins goals as Bass. There is much here for the specialist. Bass has done extensive archival work, has conducted some interviews, and is well grounded in the secondary literature. The result is a well-documented and important study of a relatively overlooked area. Of importance to the general reader (and to the specialist as well) is that Bass also tells a great story.


By weaving specific quotes and anecdotes with broader discussions of international, regional, and domestic political contexts, Bass produces a study that is gripping on both the policy and personality levels.

Support Any Friend focuses on three major threads in Kennedy’s policies toward the Middle East. The first is the President’s ultimately failed attempts to improve America’s relationship with Egypt, an initiative that founders on what Malcolm Kerr has called the Arab Cold War as Egypt is drawn continually deeper into the Yemen Civil War, or as Bass prefers, Nasser’s Vietnam. The second thread Bass examines is the Kennedy Administration’s decision to sell Hawk missiles to Israel, which while not the first arms deal between the two nations was an order of magnitude larger than any previous sales. Finally, Bass also looks at the difficulties Kennedy encountered in trying to gather information on and limit Israel’s developing nuclear weapons program. The book also contains a chapter on American policy prior to the Kennedy Administration, which is quite useful for putting the Kennedy years into context, and a short chapter on Kennedy’s thoughts about the Arab-Israeli conflict prior to becoming President, the highlight of which consists of Kennedy’s observations during a month-long trip he made to Palestine and Egypt in 1939. Also noteworthy in this chapter is Bass’s discussion of Robert Kennedy’s time in Palestine during the 1948 war, while on assignment with the Boston Post.

Two other facets of Bass’s study stand out. The first is his stress on the often limited role that domestic calculations played in Kennedy’s Middle East policy and the importance of not overrating the power of the Israeli lobby, especially in the 1950s and 60s. While domestic politics are not absent from Bass’s review, he persuasively demonstrates that they played a supporting, rather than a central role. Second, while praising Kennedy, Bass does not romanticize him. In place of the Camelot mystique, the President in Bass’s story is an intelligent and calculating political realist who is having a great deal of difficulty trying to balance America’s competing goals in the region.

Given the difficulties Kennedy faced in performing his regional balancing act, Bass’s study may have benefited from being a bit more charitable to Kennedy’s predecessors. While Kennedy’s efforts to square these circles are lauded for their “creativity” and “flexibility,” similar efforts by Roosevelt and Truman are dismissed as “contradictory” and “muddled.” Whereas Bass often emphasizes what he sees as the novel aspects and policy innovations of the Kennedy years, it is the continuities on this point that may be more striking.

Formulating US policy toward the Middle East is difficult precisely because the United States has competing and often contradictory interests in the region. In summing up the Kennedy Administration’s accomplishments, Bass offers the assessment of Phillips Talbot, then the Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs: “We didn’t solve any of the fundamental problems. . . . But maybe the combination of everything we were doing helped to keep it tamped down.” As none of those fundamental problems are likely to be solved anytime soon, all those interested in thinking about how the United States can best manage to keep those problems tamped down could certainly benefit from Bass’s fascinating and authoritative account of how Kennedy dealt with those dilemmas and the contradictions inherent in US policy toward this important region.


Napoleon’s Shield and Guardian: The Unconquerable General Daumesnil. By Edward Ryan. London: Greenhill Books, 2003. 288 pages. $34.95. Reviewed by Captain Frederick H. Black, Jr., Instructor, Department of History, US Military Academy.

Untold authors have written full-length biographies on Napoleon’s marshals, yet the search for a more complete list of the heroes of Napoleonic France must extend well beyond just Napoleon and his marshals. Edward Ryan has produced a book examining one such hero. General Pierre Daumesnil served admirably in Napoleon’s Imperial Guard until 1809, when wounds received at the Battle of Wagram led to the loss of his left leg. In 1814 and 1815 Daumesnil distinguished himself again as the commandant of the Vincennes Fortress, holding out against allied invaders marching toward Paris. Despite his accomplishments, Daumesnil remains relatively unknown outside France.

In the first biography on Daumesnil in English, Ryan follows a predictable biography style in recounting Daumesnil’s childhood and early years of military service. The book provides added value in the campaign summaries that accompany the narration, in that Ryan provides a brief but comprehensive overview of the strategic and operational situations during each campaign. Several extraordinary encounters between Daumesnil and Napoleon help explain Daumesnil’s rapid rise through the ranks, from a young trooper in 1793 to a major in the Imperial Guard by 1809. While serving with Napoleon’s Army of the Orient in Egypt, Daumesnil threw himself upon a bomb that fell at Napoleon’s feet. Even though the bomb did not explode, Daumesnil had certainly earned the distinction, advanced by Ryan in the title of the book, of Napoleon’s guardian. Napoleon recognized Daumesnil’s distinguished performance with further promotions and an appointment as a chevalier of the Legion d’honneur in June 1804.

Daumesnil’s good fortune finally ran out at Wagram in 1809. Then a major, he still placed himself in the middle of the battle as he always had. Unfortunately, the reader does not learn many details about his wounds or exactly what took place that morning. Ryan recounts Daumesnil’s conversation with the famous surgeon Larrey just before the amputation, but not much more detail is available. In perhaps the only fortunate result of an unfortunate incident, Daumesnil’s wounds healed well. Ryan also points out that the same was not true for another of the Emperor’s guardians, Marshal Jeanne Lannes, who died of his wounds following Wagram.

Daumesnil took his injury in stride, refusing to feel sorry for himself. In further testament to Napoleon’s admiration, Daumesnil received a title and an annual endowment. This devotion showed through yet again in January 1812 as Napoleon prepared to invade Russia. The Emperor summoned the one-legged man and said, “I need a man on whom I can count, and I thought of you.” In naming Daumesnil Commandant de Vincennes, Napoleon also granted him the rank of général de brigade. Indeed, good fortune continued to shine on Daumesnil long after Wagram. Likewise, Ryan’s theme also shines throughout the book.

As the commander of Vincennes, Daumesnil left his greatest legacy to his Emperor. The author includes a brief historical summary of the fortress itself, which


dated back to the 13th century as a royal palace prior to the construction of the Palace of Versailles in 1670. The Vincennes fortress housed a variety of state activities until 1808 when Napoleon converted the structure to house an arsenal, Imperial Guard barracks, and a prison. At the same time, it was integrated into the Paris defenses.

As the allied troops advanced on Paris in March 1814, Daumesnil stood ready to defend his fortress, his city, and his Emperor. Ryan recounts Daumesnil’s observations of the early fighting as the action neared Paris, yet even after most of the city fell, Napoleon’s guardian continued to hold out. On the morning of 1 April 1814, the Russian commander demanded the surrender of the fortress. Daumesnil repeatedly insisted that he would “only surrender his fort on the orders of His Majesty the Emperor.” Even after learning of Napoleon’s abdication on 6 April, Daumesnil continued to resist, insisting that the contents of the arsenal belonged to France and that he intended to protect it all costs. The allies eventually agreed to his terms on 12 April, and the holdings of the arsenal never did fall into the enemy’s hands. Ryan’s description of the action at Vincennes in the summer of 1815 follows a very familiar pattern, and Daumesnil once again emerged as the hero.

The latter part of the book is fascinating and well done, yet it seems too short given that Daumesnil is better known for this portion of his career. Ryan devotes only six of 22 chapters to Daumesnil’s activities at Vincennes. While the earlier parts of his uniformed service also are captivating, Daumesnil did not achieve fame as a Guard officer. Covering the most important years in scarcely more than 100 pages seems somewhat of a disservice. Regardless of this shortcoming, the book remains a fascinating addition to the rich literature in this field. While its usefulness to the average military professional may initially appear limited, Ryan’s biography of Daumesnil offers valuable lessons for everyone.

Russia and the West at the Millennium: Global Imperatives and Domestic Policies. Edited by Sergei Medvedev, Alexander Konovalov, and Sergei Oznobishchev. Garmisch, Germany: George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, 2003. 160 pages. Reviewed by Stephen Blank, Professor of National Security Studies, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.

This book, a collection of articles by American and Russian scholars, is the result of a series of conferences held from 1999 to 2002 and sponsored by the Marshall Center and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, both located in Germany. The conferences addressed Russia and the West at the beginning of the millennium. The articles presented in this volume both predate and postdate the events of 9/11, which clearly transformed Russian relations with the West.

According to the editors, leading Russian analysts of international affairs, the theme of the book is Russia’s return to a position of importance in world affairs and to the world that it abandoned of its own free choice in 1917—i.e. the West. However, that return takes place under conditions of the force of globalization, which affects every aspect of economic and political life. Thus Russia’s new integration with the West occurs not only on the level of interstate politics, but also in trade, finance, investment,


and in associations with international elites and nongovernmental organizations. Disregarding the relatively weak strategic resources which Russia possesses, the editors state without any reservation their belief that by 2015 to 2020, America will be turning to Russia for help. Hence the belief, expressed by the editors and several Russian contributors, that the aftermath of the events of 9/11, specifically Russian actions, have “confirmed the ‘exceptional’ or superpower status of Russia.”

While it might be “pretty to think so,” as Hemingway said, and while many of the Russian elite comfort themselves with such fantasies, the reality is rather different, as even the Russian authors admit. These authors readily observe that while Russia’s economy, especially its political economy, is that of a “petrol-state,” its political character is increasingly that of a “quasi-authoritarian-bureaucratic regime.” Likewise, the Western authors are decidedly agnostic, if not skeptical, about Russia’s pretensions to this status. They are also rather critical of their own governments’ policies, particularly those of Germany, toward Russian actions like the war in Chechnya. Hans-Joachim Spanger even characterizes German policy as being marked by “sheer ineptitude.” But he certainly does not see Russia as enjoying the importance in Western policies that the editors predict. Nor is it clear that some of the nostrums advocated by either the Western or the Russian authors—e.g., massive investment in information technology to leap ahead in that sector—are necessarily the answer to Russia’s quest for domestic growth and economic-technological integration with the West.

In sum, we have a series of mostly high-quality essays whose thematic unity is implicit rather than explicitly stated. This has forced the editors to try to impose a unity on them which may or may not be actually present. They have tended to advocate a certain view of Russia’s prospects and of the East-West relationship that may not be warranted by the actualities of the situation. While the individual essays are rewarding, they do not necessarily yield the conclusion drawn by the editors, and readers should be aware of this fact. Nonetheless, the essays themselves are of satisfactory quality and intrinsically provocative enough to justify the attention of those interested in Russia’s continuing relations with the West.

The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America’s Military. By Dana Priest. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2003. 398 pages. $26.95. Reviewed by Lieutenant Colonel Robert M. Cassidy, Special Assistant, USAREUR Commanding General’s Initiatives Group.

The Mission is a current history of the US military’s role in peace operations, small wars, and unconventional warfare in the 1990s and the early part of this decade. The author, Dana Priest, is a Washington Post reporter and a recipient of the 2001 Gerald R. Ford Award for Distinguished Defense Reporting. This is Priest’s first book, and it delves into subjects she has covered very knowledgeably and cogently in her many Washington Post articles related to the military. Her book offers a readable and useful account of the deployments of the US military in nontraditional roles and missions since the early 1990s. It is topical and germane reading for all military officers and defense experts because it examines how the combatant com-


mands have leveraged the military, in some instances successfully and in others not, in efforts to stabilize and pacify troubled regions throughout the world. Ms. Priest’s central argument, though possibly overstated, is that the US government, instead of funding and leveraging all elements of national power, has overrelied on the military and the combatant commanders throughout the post-Cold War era as well as since 11 September 2001. The American military, according to Priest, has become the auto-default option in the pursuit of peace and stability.

After an introduction that recounts both the rise of the American military’s salience in the 1990s and the advent of the Rumsfeld era in defense politics, the book comprises three principal parts: “the Commanders,” “the Special Forces,” and “the CINC and his soldiers in Kosovo.” In essence, “the Commanders” is a history of the General Anthony Zinni era at US Central Command (CENTCOM). The author evidently spent some time covering General Zinni and seems to be a member of his fan club. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, since Zinni was a prophetic commander who seemed to adapt to the post-Cold War security environment better than many of his peers. In this section, Priest describes the Zinni-era CENTCOM military-to-military engagements in Central Asia, ones that helped pave the way for the subsequent use of bases to stage for the invasion of Afghanistan. She also offers a short review of the Goldwater-Nichols Act and the role of the combatant commanders, which would be useful to military policy neophytes.

The second part of the book focuses on the roles of the Special Forces as trainers, clandestine operators, and de facto diplomats in potential and real hotspots— Nigeria, Colombia, Indonesia, and Afghanistan. It begins with a short history of the Special Forces, which again would be helpful principally to the reader unfamiliar with contemporary American military history. The most interesting and relevant chapter in this part of the book, however, is Priest’s account of the Special Forces’ role in the war in Afghanistan. She presents a very readable and colorful description of the Special Forces’ actions during the opening phases of Operation Enduring Freedom. Beginning with the insertion of small special operations teams which initially linked up with CIA paramilitary elements, and continuing to the Special Forces team-led attacks on Kandahar, Priest’s account of this part of the war effectively illuminates the human and tactical side of the action.

The last part of The Mission is a short history of two aspects of Operation Allied Force (the war for Kosovo): General Wesley Clark’s leadership of that effort and the 3/505 Parachute Infantry Regiment’s (PIR) operations, behavior, and transgressions in Kosovo. Priest seems to have distilled many of her Washington Post articles on the war in Kosovo into this part of her book. The section begins with a short biography of Clark and a brief history of the Balkans. This provides for interesting reading, with plenty of anecdotes that highlight the friction between the Pentagon and Clark, and between Clark and his subordinate commander, Lieutenant General Michael Short. Priest also offers a short anatomy of the tribulations of Task Force Hawk. She then devotes an entire chapter to an Albanian interpreter assigned to the American forces—a nice human-interest chapter, but one that’s not particularly valuable for this journal’s readership. Her account of the performance of Lieutenant Colonel Michael Ellerbe and the 3/505 PIR, however, is the second-best portion of the book, as it illumi-


nates the challenges associated with sending steely-eyed paratroopers—carnivorous warriors—into a nebulous netherworld between war and peace.

As a book that traces the US military’s role in the zone of turmoil and instability over the last decade, The Mission presents two principal themes that have implications for the next decade of prosecuting a war against terrorist networks. First, the United States tends to rely too heavily on the military alone in endeavors that require the unified application of all the elements of national power, often with the military not as the preponderant element. Second, a decade-long reluctance by the military to genuinely embrace peace operations and small wars has caused it to learn the same lessons over again in Afghanistan and Iraq. What’s more, the United States has yet to form a standing corps of civilian volunteers with expertise in economic, agriculture, and development that is capable of being integrated in a deliberate way with the military.

Priest’s book contains some factual errors that are mildly distracting. For example, she states that General George Joulwan was Commander of US Southern Command from 1993 to 1997, when actually he was Supreme Allied Commander, Europe at that time. In another instance, the author misstates GSG 9 (Grenzschutz-gruppe), the German counter-terrorist unit, to be Grenzschutz “grugge” 9. These types of errors may be attributable to the fact that the author is a civilian journalist delving into the lexicon and culture of the military, but such imprecision is not excusable. Nevertheless, taken in its entirety, The Mission is an enjoyable and worthwhile account of the employment of the US military and the role of the combatant commanders over the past decade.

Blitzkrieg to Desert Storm: The Evolution of Operational Warfare. By Robert M. Citino. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2004. 418 pages. $39.95. Reviewed by Colonel Gregory Fontenot, USA Ret., former Commander of the Battle Command Training Program.

In some ways the title to Robert M. Citino’s Blitzkrieg to Desert Storm is misleading. It really should be “The Evolution of Operational Warfare from World War II to Desert Storm.” That is his subject. This is not a narrative history of combat operations since the German blitzkrieg, but rather an essay on the evolution of the operational level of war as practiced since 1940. This distinction is important since the title suggests tanks thundering around a relatively open battlefield. Citino is insightful, provocative, and unstinting in his analysis of doctrine and the facts surrounding the combat operations he uses to make the case that, at the operational level, it is the intellectual component rather than platforms that make the case. Put another way, perhaps god favors the strong battalions, but they do not always win. Citino argues also that while Western theorists and soldiers may have some claim on the “invention” of the operational level of warfare, they do not have a monopoly on excellence in the field and have in the last decade walked away from the concept in theory and practice.

Citino begins as promised with the evolution of German doctrine that led to the blitzkrieg while accounting for similar developments in Russia. Fundamentally, the author asserts that the stunning German success in Poland and Western Europe


stemmed from a concept that capitalized on mobility, effective use of combined arms, and careful planning. The Germans won not only because they achieved penetration and moved rapidly, but also because they could sustain attacks to the operational depth of their opponents. Citino is not, however, captured by the Western model. He rightly points out that to understand the operational art, American soldiers should not confine their studies to the Germans or to Western sources alone.

Citino’s accounts of the Chinese infiltration of X Corps and 8th Army in Korea in the early winter of 1950 and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 clearly illustrate two of his salient points. First, things or platforms do not a revolution in military affairs make, and “The great powers of the world have not had a monopoly on operational excellence in the twentieth century.” His chapters on the US Army concisely and brilliantly recount the Army’s failures in Vietnam and the post-Vietnam renaissance. Citino is equally fearless in challenging the Army’s thinking and conventional military historiography. He debunks the late Russell Weigley’s influential but mistaken view, based on his jaundiced analysis of Grant’s campaigns in 1864 and 1865, that the Army and America eschewed maneuver for attrition.

American soldiers who have trained at one of the combat training centers will read Citino’s section on the importance of the National Training Center and the OPFOR with some pride and perhaps a bit of chagrin when they recall their summons to Eccles Wadi or some other equally difficult-to-find site to hear from the observer/controllers how they had done. But any remaining glow about how good their Army is will wear off when Citino turns to analyzing the 1993 FM 100-5 and the current FM 3.0. He argues that the Army has moved away from serious consideration of the operational level of war since 1991 based on what he refers to as several “highly dubious notions.” Among these, Citino includes the notion that no foe will ever challenge the United States in conventional warfare, that “friction” will disappear as the Army fields better intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance (ISR) tools and technology, and finally that technology has changed the very character of war.

The author believes this muddled thinking stems from a number of sources, including the Army’s decision to reduce funding in the US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), which ostensibly does the Army’s thinking about the theory and principles of the operational level of war. In his view, there are too few people left at TRADOC to do what TRADOC should do. But he reserves his harshest criticism for the gurus of defense “transformation,” noting that the current infatuation with light, speedy forces reflects classic interwar cost-reduction strategies. According to Citino exactly this kind of thinking following World War I led the British and others to favor small, fast tanks and “tankettes” that went to their doom in 1939 and 1940. In short, Citino does not subscribe to the idea that it is the end of history and that some new order is at hand which will no longer require thinking at the operational level.

Citino concludes his fascinating if occasionally vitriolic essay with a two-page reduction of the “shock and awe” campaign in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In his summary he argues that there was little in the operation that was new. To Citino the operational level of war remains important, and failure to think clearly at the operational level still matters. Although the author notes that it remains too early to tell what Operation Iraqi Freedom will mean with regard to understanding the practice


of the operational art, he hints at what it might mean when he notes that behind the lightning drive on Baghdad was not “occupied territory, but a yawning void.”

Soldiers who take the time to read Robert Citino’s book carefully will find themselves sometimes irritated, sometimes embarrassed as they recall their own shortcomings, but always stimulated by Citino’s fast-paced narrative and logical argument.

Napoleon: A Political Life. By Steven Englund. New York: Scribner, 2004. 575 pages. $35.00. Reviewed by Colonel James P. Herson, Jr., Director, Commander’s Advisory Group, US Central Command.

Steven Englund has succeeded in producing one of the most definitive works on the political philosophy, growth, methodology, and hubris of Napoleon Bonaparte seen in modern times. This work may become, in the political sense, what David Chandler’s opus work, The Campaigns of Napoleon, is recognized as in the military.

Most contemporary works focus on Napoleon’s battlefield prowess and broad impact on European warfare and landscape; Englund however, takes a different tack. While he acknowledges the unique military feats of one of history’s greatest captains, he deftly weaves the military exploits of Napoleon and the Grande Armée within a fascinating and rich political tapestry that fleshes out Bonaparte’s goals, relationships, and personal biases. He does not settle for popular myth or infatuation in his assessment, but instead pulls aside inaccuracies from many sources and positions his opinion with precision—all the while bringing fresh thinking and perspective on the less visible but arguably more important aspect of dual military and political command.

This scholarly work is not for the casual reader, but neither is it a grinding read without personality. Englund’s balanced assessment of Bonaparte provides the reader with thoughtful insights not only on the wider political machinations of Bonaparte’s Europe and of the French Emperor’s rationale for his actions, but also offers comparison with other leaders and soldiers of past centuries like Alexander, Charlemagne, and Caesar. He does a good job of keeping what he says in context, no easy feat for a man who loves his subject and could easily slip into worship.

Englund, a noted scholar and long-term resident of France, begins his work by tracing the childhood and adolescence of Napoleon and the events of his time that shaped his political style and gave form to his ambition. A native Corsican who yearned for his island’s independence from France, Napoleon possessed his father’s political instincts and pressed for a role in the island’s politics. Eventually pushed from the independence movement, he threw his loyalties entirely to France and concentrated on military studies and self-discovery. Englund correctly styles Napoleon as a natural born “autodidact,” one who could discern political opportunity and, once decided on a course of action, was unstoppable. As a general in his twenties, Napoleon was able to weave his way though an extremely complex and often dangerous domestic political jungle, using personal connections and nascent French propaganda to build a base of support. He successfully leveraged his battle-


field victories, especially the Italian campaigns and expedition to Egypt, to make him both the most admired and most worthy of trust by a French public that was weary of the chaos of revolution and post-revolution governmental tumult.

Englund carefully traces Napoleon’s political maturation from First Consul, to Consul for Life, and finally to Emperor, and the corresponding rise in political skill without attaining commensurate wisdom. He does this from Napoleon’s perspective and from the views of contemporaries, family, and others of note. Generous in addressing Napoleon’s many foibles, Englund nonetheless paints the remarkable picture of a dynamic renaissance man of action who drove himself to lead the greatest empire seen in Europe since Rome, displacing autocracy with meritocracy. His genius proved no substitute for his ego, nor a vaccination to prevent ultimate political failure. Englund comments, “The crimes imputed to Napoleon for suppressed liberties, raised taxes, and endless conscription were well-known complaints; no revelation came forward about genocide, personal corruption, or vice. What weighed now, and weighed heavily, in the balance—perhaps nowhere more than the balance in the Emperor’s own mind—was the crime of military defeat.” Napoleon was France, and until the end of the 100 days, France was more Napoleon than republic, Bourbon kingdom, or Thermidor dream. He personified the party, parliament, politician, and body politic; he failed to convert his power into political security, his uniform notwithstanding.

Although the author gets diverted down some philosophical rat holes that detract from the generally smooth style of this important work, he nonetheless exhibits mastery of the subject and can be forgiven for some slight errors in the text. At almost 500 pages, coupled with a valuable notes and bibliographical section of almost another 100, Englund’s almost exhausting level of detail leaves few areas uncovered or uncommented-upon (some of which could be eliminated for easier reading).

In summary, Englund’s excellent contribution to Napoleonic studies and literature is a worthy and valuable addition to the field. The book offers both entertainment and insight and addresses a serious and long overdue examination of the political Napoleon.

Go to Winter issue Table of Contents.

Go to Book Review Index.

Go to Parameters home page.

Reviewed 23 November 2004. Please send comments or corrections to