Book Reviews

From Parameters,  Spring 2005, pp. 123-50.

Abandoning Vietnam: How America Left and South Vietnam Lost Its War. By James H. Willbanks. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004. 287 pages. $39.95. Reviewed by Colonel Stuart A. Herrington, USA Ret., author of Stalking the Vietcong: Inside Operation Phoenix, Peace with Honor: An American Reports on Vietnam: 1973-1975, and Traitors Among Us: Inside the Spy Catcher’s World.

As American and coalition military forces struggle to combat a burgeoning insurgency in Iraq, this timely volume is well worth a read. James Willbanks is a 23-year veteran of service in the Army as a commissioned officer in the infantry, including a tour in Vietnam’s Binh Long Province during the 1972 Easter Offensive. Currently a professor in the Combat Studies Institute at the US Army Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, Professor Willbanks has produced a well-sourced, readable, and sound account of the Vietnamization phase of the war that culminated in the defeat of our South Vietnam ally in 1975.

Having served almost four years in Vietnam during the period that is the focus of Willbanks’ book, and with the memories of my 30 April 1975 departure from the roof of the United States Embassy in Saigon still as fresh as if those sad events were yesterday, I found the book a bit painful to read, retracing as Willbanks does the regrettable series of American and South Vietnamese missteps that characterized Washington’s well-intentioned efforts to help the South Vietnamese.

Willbanks’ recounting of the origins of Vietnamization is sound. He retraces the Nixon Administration’s dilemma—the inescapable conclusion reached by the President and Henry Kissinger that the war had to be ended due to failing public support. Equally important to the President and his National Security Advisor was that Vietnam had become a nagging hindrance to the Administration’s ability to fully execute the global strategic vision that Richard Nixon had brought to the White House (symbolized by the opening to China). Readers can be excused for shuddering at the seemingly harsh pragmatism of Nixon and his advisors recounted by Willbanks, but the President’s Vietnam dilemma in 1969 was almost intractable. As Henry Kissinger is wont to quip, “By the time we inherited the Vietnam War, the people who got us into the war had joined the peace movement.” History is clear that Nixon either had to end the war on the best terms he could obtain (forced to negotiate from weakness in the middle of a strategic withdrawal), or the Congress was prepared to unilaterally withdraw all American forces in exchange for the repatriation of our prisoners of war.

Willbanks’ conclusion that “Vietnamization failed and failed miserably” should surprise no one. His analysis of the reasons for this failure includes that the South Vietnamese did not fight, except in exceptional cases when they were well-led, such as during the two-week defense of Xuan Loc by the ARVN 18th Division in


April 1975. This said, even though the 1975 rout of the ARVN was almost total, and showed our ally at that time to be unable and unwilling to fight, readers of the book might overlook the fact that between 1960 and 1975, the war cost the South Vietnamese military 275,000 combat deaths, as compared to American combat deaths of 46,000, or the fact that, during the three- to five-day evacuation of Danang in March 1975, the estimated South Vietnamese military and civilian deaths of 60,000 described by Willbanks exceeded the total losses of the US military for the entire war. History should honor South Vietnam’s fallen, whose sacrifices are even more admirable (and tragic) when one considers the flawed political system for which Saigon’s soldiers laid down their lives.

The author appropriately observes that one of the principal reasons for the failure of Vietnamization was that it was begun too late. There simply was insufficient time to turn the ARVN into a quality, well-led fighting force beginning in 1969. The massive infusions of military equipment that accompanied Vietnamization could not be integrated into the force, or even maintained and utilized. In addition, politically motivated Vietnamization withdrawal schedules forced the Pentagon to prematurely pull out assets that were essential to grooming newly reequipped Saigon forces. Simply put, having wasted more than three years (until 1968) pursuing a flawed strategy, the Pentagon lost the support of the American population, and was not given the time to get it right, even when it was clear that General Creighton Abrams’ pacification and Vietnamization approach might have worked.

History is not supposed to repeat itself, but one is drawn to some sobering similarities between our current attempts to create a stable and secure Iraq and the legacy of the failed policy of Vietnamization. In Iraq, we are attempting to accomplish a difficult mission involving reestablishing security (pacification), while concurrently creating an Iraqi military and police force that will permit US and coalition forces to depart (“Iraqification”). At the same time, we are attempting to lay the groundwork for a form of government in Baghdad that is alien to that region, and doing so without sealing the borders, gifting the insurgency with sanctuaries from which external support can be provided. (Sound familiar?) In spite of military experts who absorbed the lessons of Vietnam and warned of the sizable commitment and time required to consolidate the initial military victory and achieve a stable, revitalized, and democratic Iraq, since the fall of Baghdad we have stubbornly attempted to accomplish these goals with too few forces. Worse yet, having lost almost two years since the masterful campaign that toppled Saddam Hussein, the proverbial clock is ticking, and the Bush Administration is at real risk of losing popular support at home.

As shameful and difficult as it is to contemplate, unless we get it right in the next year in Iraq, regardless of what it costs or how many troops we must commit, we may wind up relegating the Allawi government to the fate of the Thieu government. For just as Hanoi correctly reckoned in 1968 that the American center of gravity was the will of the American people, so too have the Iraqi insurgents and their al Qaeda allies made the same calculation. One hopes that planners in Washington understand this, and that the Commander-in-Chief will use his second-term political capital to hang tough.


The Moral Warrior: Ethics and Service in the U.S. Military. By Martin L. Cook. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004. 174 pages. $54.50 ($17.95 paper). Reviewed by Shannon E. French, Ph.D. (Brown University), a Professor of Ethics in the Department of Leadership, Ethics, and Law at the US Naval Academy and author of The Code of the Warrior: Exploring Warrior Values, Past and Present.

Martin L. Cook’s deceptively slim volume, The Moral Warrior: Ethics and Service in the U.S. Military, is so densely packed with issues and analysis that it could easily sustain a semester or two of intense study in military ethics by itself. It is certainly a must-read for anyone struggling to disentangle the many troubling, interconnected questions that worry all those who hope to see the United States retain its global supremacy without undermining its moral foundations. Cook, a gifted teacher who has recently moved from the faculty of the US Army War College to that of the US Air Force Academy, is a master of the rare art of clarifying complex problems without minimizing their depth and significance or losing sight of their vital real-life implications.

The nine-chapter book is divided into two parts: Part One, “Moral Facets of Military Service,” and Part Two, “Moral Soldiers and Moral Causes: Serving the Needs of Justice in the New World Order.” The chapters in Part One primarily address the moral responsibilities of individuals—particularly officers—who choose to serve in the military. Cook is able to bring a unique combination of “insider” knowledge (from his years of teaching to and learning from all ranks of military officers) and objective “outsider” insight (from his perspective as a civilian scholar) to his critique of recent debates about how to define the military profession in the 21st century and what should be expected of the modern military professional.

One of the most vital issues Cook raises in this section is the responsibility of military professionals to offer nonpartisan advice to political leaders and policymakers regarding decisions on the use of military force. Cook notes that, on the one hand, “As the direct custodians of the health of their services’ cultures and the lives of their soldiers, sailors, marines, or airmen, military professionals are rightly reluctant to send them on what they deem to be ill-considered missions.” Yet, on the other hand, it is not appropriate for military leaders to outright refuse or intentionally undermine missions chosen and properly authorized by their civilian political leaders. Senior officers may have the option of resigning in protest, but they never have the right to subvert the constitutional requirement of civilian control of the military. Cook offers valuable suggestions, supported by historical examples, of how military officers can fulfill their moral obligation to make their voices heard in order to prevent blunders or even tragedies without overstepping their roles within the democratic state. With characteristic realism, he observes that this balancing act “requires the maturity of judgment to grasp that while [the military leaders’] world would be neater if political leaders would just define the mission and then get out of the way, that will almost never be the world within which they live and work out their professional obligations.”

Part Two of the book is focused mainly on ethical issues that arise while conducting missions, such as the challenge of weighing force protection concerns against the need to preserve noncombatant immunity. Here again, Cook displays a


sharp understanding of the stakes involved. Military leaders have both the inclination and the obligation to try to preserve their troops from harm. However, if this drives officers to employ tactics that increase the likelihood of severe collateral damage and high death tolls among civilians, they may be guilty not only of violating jus in bello rules of discrimination and proportionality, but also of surrendering the politically essential moral high ground and of damaging the prospects for peace.

Also in Part Two, Cook examines the struggle to overcome outdated notions of inviolable state sovereignty in order to perform humanitarian interventions and to effectively and ethically prosecute the Global War on Terror. State sovereignty and territorial integrity are cherished concepts that have been used as the basis for international order and stability since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Yet it is that very order and stability that is now threatened by members of non-state global terror organizations who seek to escape justice by crossing borders and claiming sanctuary.

One of the appealing qualities of Cook’s writing is the skill with which he relates present-day problems to those that have been encountered in other eras. In Part One he compares the United States to ancient Athens, and in Part Two he compares the Pax Americana to the Pax Romana to make an urgent appeal for us to learn from the past and not repeat its mistakes. The striking—or perhaps chilling—parallels he draws between the policy decisions of Athens before and during the disastrous Peloponnesian Wars and those of America today are truly eye-opening. So are the comparisons Cook makes between barbarian assaults on the Western Roman Empire and modern terrorist attacks against the West. Rome, of course, fell to the barbarian hordes, and the West of that era was plunged into the Dark Ages. To prevent a repeat of that devastating historical cycle, Cook warns that we in the modern West must not spend all our energy merely criticizing ourselves and the world order that we dominate. The question is not whether we are perfect. As Cook sternly enjoins, “Moral seriousness requires, instead, asking, ‘If this civilization falls, what come next?’”

The Moral Warrior includes one of the most neatly laid-out summaries of the development of the Just War tradition from ancient times to the present that can be found in any single text. Cook has provided a fresh and accessible examination of issues in military ethics that should demand the attention not only of those in the military and those who play a direct role in affecting policy decisions, but also of general citizens. Terrorism is a global phenomenon that can reach into our homes, our schools, our places of work and of worship. We want our professional warriors to protect us, but it is our moral responsibility to try to understand exactly what that does—and does not—entail, what we are willing for them to do on our behalf and in our name, and what costs we have a right to ask them to bear.

Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship. By Jon Meacham. New York: Random House, 2003. 490 pages. $29.95. Reviewed by Dr. David Jablonsky (Colonel, USA Ret.), Professor of National Security Affairs, US Army War College.

Jon Meacham considers the relationship between Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt during World War II to be “the most fascinating friendship of


modern time,” a judgment buttressed by this extraordinary study. Meacham, a managing editor of Newsweek, provides Plutarchian analysis of the interaction of the two great lives and thereby proves with great success that it does matter who is at the helm of the ship of state at critical times in history. From September 1939 until Roosevelt’s death in April 1945, the two statesmen exchanged almost 2,000 letters. They also spent 113 days together during the war in locations from Canada to Morocco and from Malta to Yalta. They celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s together in Washington, Hyde Park, and Shangri-la (the presidential retreat, now Camp David). The meetings were always hectic and entertaining, involving subjects that could range from politics and strategy to health and families.

From the records of these meetings as well as their correspondence, Meacham creates a sympathetic, nuanced picture of two men with great similarities and differences. They were both extremely ambitious politicians, expert at their jobs, physically courageous, and superb actors. They shared a sense of destiny and were both pragmatic and optimistic. Both were democrats, although Churchill, eight years the senior, remained tied to the past as a conservative, while Roosevelt focused progressively on the future. These similarities, as Meacham recounts, were reflected in their more fundamental preferences: “They loved tobacco, strong drink, history of the sea, battleships, hymns, pageantry, patriotic poetry, high office and hearing themselves talk.” Finally, both men understood the stagecraft of statesmanship played out in a global theater. “Being with them,” Churchill’s only surviving child, Lady Soames, informed Meacham, “was like sitting between two lions roaring at the same time.”

The differences were equally striking. In terms of methods of operation, Roosevelt believed in flexibility and improvising while practicing a highly personal form of government. As a consequence, his own office was not tightly organized and his bureaucracy was often chaotic, perhaps by design. Churchill structured his government on clear principles, and operated his private office in a highly disciplined manner. Moreover, his habits, although unusual, were normally regular. More fundamentally, Churchill was spontaneous and forgiving in his relationships—an attractive, larger-than-life personality of great decency and openness. “He was trusting and very genuine,” Lady Soames observed. “He could be wily if he had to, but it did not come naturally.” Roosevelt, on the other hand, often concealed behind his confident demeanor a detached outlook and a tendency to deceive and manipulate—“a man of shadow,” in Meacham’s words. Truman described him as “the coldest man I ever met.” And there was Eleanor Roosevelt’s revealing observation: “A man in high public office is neither husband nor father nor friend in the commonly accepted sense of the words.”

All these traits converged in what was basically an asymmetrical relationship, reflecting the political reality of the United States as a power on the rise and Great Britain as a power in decline whose future depended on the alliance with America. In such circumstances, Churchill was the suitor and Roosevelt the often-elusive quarry, as Lady Soames described to Meacham with a quote from a French proverb: “In love, there is always one who kisses, and one who offers the cheek.” Churchill would have agreed. “No lover ever studied the whims of his mistress,” the Prime Minister wrote, “as I did those of President Roosevelt.” At times, this meant


accepting snubs, insults, and outright deception. But if FDR were sometimes duplicitous, it was also true, as General Eisenhower and the British Chiefs of Staff well knew, that it was not easy dealing with the self-absorbed Churchill. “I’m nearly dead,” the President told Labor Secretary Francis Perkins. “I have to talk to the [Prime Minister] all night, and he gets bright ideas in the middle of the night and comes pattering down the hall to my bedroom in his bare feet.”

Despite these tribulations, as Meacham convincingly demonstrates, the friendship between Churchill and Roosevelt was one of genuine affection and warmth, of easy intimacy without pomposity and cant. Both men were proud of this relationship, a pride tempered by a sometimes amused, but never ironical, perception of the other’s peculiar qualities. It was this mutual pride that made their meetings and correspondence occasions to which both consciously rose. “It is fun to be in the same decade as you,” Roosevelt wrote the British statesman at the height of the war. And in Cairo, after watching the President straining to rise on his crippled legs, Churchill turned to his daughter, Sarah, with tears in his eyes. “I love that man,” he said. In early 1945, the Prime Minister summed up the relationship in a letter to Roosevelt. “Our friendship,” he wrote, “is the rock on which I build for the future of the world so long as I am one of the builders.” Within a few months, Roosevelt was dead, and by July, Churchill was out of power.

In presenting this compelling picture of a complex relationship, Meacham relies on the huge primary and secondary printed record. He also has found sources that were either neglected or unavailable before, and uses recent interviews with surviving staff and family members such as Lady Soames to great effect. The quotations are numerous and in some cases overly long. But in dealing with the spoken and written word of two masters of the English language, it is difficult to conceive of paraphrasing as a solution. There is no revisionist history in Meacham’s account, only an informed reverence as part of a sophisticated examination of two complex men of giant egos and intense charisma. Like most friends, he demonstrates, they were sometimes affectionate and sometimes cross, “alternatively ready to die for or murder the other.” The world they confronted of warfare and tenuous alliances is a not-so-distant mirror of today. From that earlier chaos, the two brought order. Leaders do count, Meacham concludes, ending with a description of the memorials to the two leaders in Westminster Abbey, illuminated by light streaming through stained-glass windows “from a world Roosevelt and Churchill together delivered from evil.”

The Wars of German Unification. By Dennis Showalter. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. 362 pages. $72.00 ($18.95 paper). Reviewed by Colonel Robert A. Doughty, USA Ret., former Professor and Head, Department of History, US Military Academy.

Professor Dennis Showalter is a highly respected historian who has added considerably to our understanding of the German military. His first book, Railroads and Rifles, was published more than three decades ago to national acclaim, and his latest book, The Wars of German Unification, builds upon the research and synthesis of that earlier book, adding considerably to his already outstanding reputation. His


latest book also should be of particular interest to today’s military professionals because he clearly and effectively explains how the various armies of the German Confederation organized and prepared for war, along with how the army of Prussia emerged as the most significant force in the unification of Germany.

Showalter emphasizes several themes early in his book. The first is that the Prussian army reformed itself through “increments.” That is, their success was not due solely to the General Staff, but to other reforms in areas such as officer education, cartography, and railway transportation that provided the army the mental and operational flexibility to address and solve problems as they appeared. Second, the Prussians proved to be open-minded and willing to compromise in their adoption of conscription. In terms that will bring a smile to his friends who have long enjoyed his colorful language, Showalter explains, “The purpose of the military reforms was to strengthen the army by making it younger, fitter, and better trained—not to emasculate it by filling the ranks with disaffected time-servers kept in order by threats of the guardhouse and military prison.” Despite incremental reforms and numerous compromises, the Prussian military continued, as Showalter explains, to make other changes in its attempt to achieve a balance between “firepower, shock, and moral force.”

As for the various campaigns that defeated Europe’s greatest powers and permitted the unification of Germany, Showalter argues that they were not part of a master plan crafted by Bismarck but were instead a series of separate actions. In each case the Prussian and German military formations proved equal to the demands of the “contingency” they faced, even though the campaign and the battles often were “near-run things.” The Austrians, in particular, made mistakes that “maximized” the Prussians’ advantages. As for the French, they proved more difficult to conquer than to beat in battle, especially after the Prussian siege of Paris and crushing of partisan groups required much more effort than anticipated. Moreover, friction between Bismarck and Moltke, as Showalter explains, foreshadowed the clashes between civil and military authorities that have characterized similar relationships in recent decades.

Professor Showalter’s new book thus adds considerably to our understanding of the role of military force in the unification of Germany. Though his book is not based on extensive archival research, it does rest upon 30 years of reflection and synthesis by an extraordinarily bright and well-read military historian. His explanation of how the Prussian army, organized on lines different from other European armies, could accomplish what many Europeans had worked against for centuries merits serious consideration by all military professionals.

Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy From Napoleon to Al-Qaeda. By John Keegan. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. 448 pages. $30.00. 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 Keegan’s latest book, he says, sets out to answer a simple but very fundamental question: How actually useful is intelligence in war? For the modern


reader, born and bred to believe in information-age intelligence as the basis for all military success, the question may seem a little odd, if not downright heretical. But through case studies and his own insights, Keegan leads the reader to conclusions that, if not heretical in their own right, are downright contentious.

Beginning with war in the ancient world, Keegan traces the efforts of great military leaders in history to obtain knowledge of the enemy, both strategic—from merchants, expatriates, and travelers—and tactical, from deserters, scouts, and personal reconnaissance. (Julius Caesar, for example, sometimes went to see for himself, and leaders of his special corps of scouts had the right of immediate access to his person.) Intelligence was reported, often in formats familiar to us today, recorded, and passed on in documents and maps; leaders from Roman times to the early 19th century used similar methods and practices.

But while strategic intelligence could be gathered and analyzed, tactical intelligence in “real time” was difficult to obtain, simply because it could not be carried far enough ahead of friendly forces—speed is a factor in intelligence. There were exceptions, and commanders were trained to read significance in natural phenomena— the sounds of gunfire, dust clouds that indicated marching troops, and the like. But by and large, tactical intelligence was hard to get and harder to get in time to affect operations. The advent of electronic intelligence, in particular the ability to read an opponent’s operational signals, was potentially a decisive development in battlefield intelligence; Keegan believes the ability to communicate quickly and securely is at the heart of modern intelligence, and counterintelligence, practice. But even after the advent of intercepted signals and broken codes, successful commanders often won battles in spite of good or bad intelligence, thus setting up Keegan’s thesis: that in war, force is the ultimate and indispensable requirement for victory; intelligence, the junior partner. His analysis of eight case studies, from Nelson in the Mediterranean to the British victory in the Falklands, develops his argument.

The first two case studies in the volume deal with Nelson’s vigorous pursuit of Napoleon in the Nile Campaign of 1798, and with Jackson’s Valley Campaign of 1862, both dominated by ruthless commanders with a consuming thirst for operational intelligence, and who were allowed to develop their own without substantial interference from higher headquarters—London, in Nelson’s case, and Richmond in Jackson’s. Both leaders developed their own sources—in Nelson’s case by stopping ships and calling for information from British allies in the Mediterranean, and in Jackson’s by his superior knowledge of the Valley, aided in no small part by his mapmaker, Jedediah Hotchkiss (the Shenandoah was largely unmapped in 1862). And in both cases the intelligence was aided by genius—superior deductive skills and the ability to focus on the main event. Bad information and bad guesses occasionally humbugged both, which they overcame by determination and the fighting qualities of their forces. In terms of “modern” intelligence, though, both commanders were acting on operational intelligence that generally moved no faster than the galleys and horsemen of Caesar (in 1862 the telegraph had begun to appear, though not yet on the battlefield).

Keegan’s subsequent case studies, beginning with the Battle of Coronel in 1914, focus on the use and misuse of electronic intelligence. While Nelson’s and Jack-


son’s campaigns will be familiar to many, the naval war between Germany and Great Britain in the winter of 1914, and in particular the discussion of Britain’s far-flung network of undersea cables and wireless stations, provide a fascinating insight into the use of emerging technologies to inform and misinform naval forces. The British Admiralty’s successes and failures in maneuvering fleets at strategic distances make for gripping reading and thoughtful analysis. Keegan’s insight into the Admiralty’s struggle to realize the potential of wireless intercepts, particularly in regard to the battle of Jutland, is particularly interesting. In the case of Crete in 1941, the British commander, a battle-seasoned officer of excellent reputation, had access to the famous Ultra decrypts of German operational messages; he knew a German invasion was imminent. The British and Greek defenders outnumbered the German attackers, 42,500 to 22,000. Yet Crete was lost. Why? Mostly, says Keegan, because of the near-suicidal ferocity of the German assault troops. But partly also because, he asserts, the Ultra decrypts may—there is only inferential evidence—have been “smoothed out” by inexperienced analysts, with essential elements of information being lost. Also in this section is a fascinating discussion of the long effort by Polish and British cryptologists to break the German Ultra codes, and what those accomplishments eventually meant to the Allied war effort.

The Navy’s Midway campaign and the Battle of the Atlantic both come under scrutiny, Keegan commenting that although operational deception and intelligence were brilliantly used by the US Navy to trap the Japanese fleet, a series of lucky accidents actually gave the United States the victory. In this, the author reinforces his central theme that ultimately power can override intelligence lapses. In the Battle of the Atlantic, German, British, and American intelligence battled over the locations and vulnerabilities of various forces, but in the end, the war in the cold Atlantic was won by ships and men. “The Battle of the Atlantic could have been won without the assistance of the codebreakers, greatly though they helped to tip the balance in the favour of the defenders.” In his final case study—of the role of intelligence in finding, recognizing, and defeating the secret German V-weapons, Keegan highlights the intelligence community’s confusion, uncertainty, and internecine battles over what those strange objects in the aerial photos meant. The trail—from human intelligence and agent reports to the most up-to-date intelligence of the time—is fascinating. (Not least because the Germans eventually turned the V-2 rocket into a mobile SCUD-like weapon that was used almost exactly like modern mobile missiles, and the Allies had little success in finding them.)

Keegan concludes with a discussion of the British campaign in the Falkland Islands in 1982, as the only recent war in which a generally complete picture of all aspects of intelligence is available. His final chapter, “The Value of Military Intelligence,” is an opportunity for the author to return to his theme: “Foreknowledge is no protection against disaster. Even real-time intelligence is never enough. Only force finally counts . . . .The ability to strike sure will remain the best protection against the cloud of unknowing, prejudice, and ignorance that threaten the laws of enlightenment.”

What is one to make of this book? One can usually count on Keegan for focus and brevity, but this text wanders, occasionally, as though the author has found


an interesting little alley from the main boulevard. Parts of the case studies read as though the author had bits and pieces left over from previous works. And he spends too much time debunking the idea of the spy or secret agent’s impact on operations.

But Intelligence in War is well worth the sidetrips and back alleys. His case studies, wander though they might, illustrate a powerful and moving theme for modern defense thinkers. Informed readers may think of other historical examples of intelligence coups and failures—the lost orders at Antietam, the radar warnings before Pearl Harbor—but this book convincingly argues that intelligence is only a handmaiden to victory, not the ultimate arbiter.

Dark Victory: America’s Second War Against Iraq. By Jeffrey Record. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2004. 203 pages. $25.95. Reviewed by Mary Ann Tétreault, Ph.D., Una Chapman Cox Professor of International Affairs at Trinity University and author of books and articles on Middle East politics, US foreign policy, and globalization.

Jeffrey Record’s analysis of the Iraq war finds the roots of the current conflict in “unfinished business” left behind by what some, myself included, saw as the untimely halt of coalition military operations against Iraq following the US-led liberation of Kuwait in February 1991. When the second President Bush entered the White House nearly a decade later, Saddam Hussein had more than demonstrated the costs of the first President Bush’s 100-hour victory. Saddam participated enthusiastically in helping to make a shambles out of United Nations weapons inspections and was consigned to charter membership in the Axis of Evil in the midst of an audacious campaign to unravel what remained of UN economic sanctions against Iraq. Saddam was not just “still there”; he seemed to be reveling in his own game of rollback. This was surely galling to the new President. Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill told author Ron Suskind that planning for war against Iraq was on the table at the first meeting of George W. Bush’s National Security Council principals in January 2001.

Record offers a balanced account of the first year and a half of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I read his book in part as an indirect argument in support of the reluctant warriors of the first Bush Administration, who today look wiser and more prudent than they were given credit for in 1991. Even so, Record faults the senior President Bush for having closed his war down unilaterally, without demanding any quid pro quo from Saddam, and for having encouraged an Iraqi popular uprising he had no intention of supporting. Record also has withering criticism for the Clinton Administration, charging that its inner circle was as willing as the first Bush Administration to “[subordinate] the fate of an entire people to the fate of one man” by engaging in sporadic bombing of populated areas and enforcing sanctions that inflicted hardship and death on the Iraqi people while supporting a growing criminal class of regime allies who profited from flouting them. Record’s examination of the “second war against Iraq” thus begins from a strongly negative assessment of the moral, material, and political shortcomings of the policies that preceded it.


The shape of the second Iraq war was foreshadowed in a new national security doctrine, published in September 2002, which outlined the Bush Administration’s intention to devote considerable military resources to maintaining American primacy in world affairs, including by “act[ing] against . . . emerging threats before they are fully formed.” Record notes that this frank indication that the United States would include “preventive war” in its foreign policy repertoire “disconcerted allies and adversaries alike,” and he traces the role of the Bush doctrine in the decision to go to war with or without UN backing.

Record regards the evolution of the Bush doctrine as part of a neoconservative agenda developed over a period of years by protégés and colleagues of Dick Cheney and Richard Perle; he identifies ten members of this group who took top positions in the George W. Bush Administration. Most “neocons” advocated discarding interest-based policies for goals dictated by values. But some of the values they have promoted are at variance with those traditionally reflected in US diplomatic history and foreign policy. Record points out that the United States had resorted to preemptive and perhaps even to preventive war in the past, but he notes that most instances were covert (Guatemala in 1954) or represented as responses to attacks (Vietnam in 1964). Thus, the explicit inclusion of preventive war in the National Security Strategy evoked concern around the world, not only because of what it portended for future US behavior but also for the invitation it extended to others to do the same thing.

Another tendency exhibited by the Bush Administration is unilateralism. It was signaled early on by the Administration’s positions on international treaties to ban land mines and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, its later renunciation of US support for the International Criminal Court, and then US withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty with Russia. In the same vein, the coalition assembled for Operation Iraqi Freedom did not achieve the degree of broad-based international political, economic, and military support that George H. W. Bush had mobilized for Operation Desert Storm. Record deplores these changes toward preventive war and unilateralism.

The costs of the current war have dwarfed the cost of the earlier conflict, and the lion’s share has been borne by the American people. Other costs weigh even more heavily: the American service men and women—and the uncounted Iraqi civilians as well—who have been killed or wounded. The most far-reaching cost, especially galling in light of the others, may be continuing and even rising insecurity for the United States and its allies. Contrasting the interest-grounded war in Afghanistan to depose the Taliban and capture Osama bin Laden to the values-grounded war in Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein, Record joins security analyst Richard Clarke and others in identifying the major source of danger to the United States—and its interests—as the spread of anti-American/anti-Western terrorism spearheaded by al Qaeda. Although Record does not devote much space to an analysis of the Afghan campaign, he does note, quoting Frederick Kagan, that “it is possible, as we saw both in Afghanistan and in our earlier campaign against Iraq in 1991, to design military operations that are brilliantly successful from a strictly operational point of view but that do not achieve and may actually hamper the achievement of larger po-


litical goals.” This conclusion is brought forward to the Iraq campaign, where Record contrasts the interests and rationales for each war. There he shows in detail why he finds wanting much of what led up to the decision to invade Iraq, along with the strategy guiding the totality of the war’s prosecution, especially the inadequacy of planning for the aftermath of “regime change.”

Jeff Record’s book merits a large readership, especially in the policy community. It is notable for its concise, well-argued, well-documented analysis, and also for its highly readable prose. Despite the interval between writing and publishing (and unfortunately for the principals, the United States and Iraq), none of the criticisms Record makes in this first pass on the war has been superseded by events. But Record’s volume is more than a timely account of the Iraq war. It also clears the ground for further examination of the post-Vietnam Syndrome which, as Record shows clearly although he does not say it outright, remains an albatross around the necks of many of those responsible for making and implementing the foreign policy of the United States.

Peacekeeping in the Abyss: British and American Peacekeeping Doctrine and Practice After the Cold War. By Robert M. Cassidy. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 2004. 284 pages. $67.95. Reviewed by Lieutenant Colonel Kimberly C. Field, a Strategic Planner at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.

“Can, and how, do great powers adapt their military organizations to prosecute small wars, or operations other than war, successfully?” This is one of the author’s questions in Peacekeeping in the Abyss: British and American Peacekeeping Doctrine and Practice After the Cold War. Indeed, the book’s greatest contribution is its consistent demand that the reader reflect on the current trials of our military forces in places like Iraq and Afghanistan in answering such questions. The book is timely and relevant.

Peacekeeping in the Abyss connects international relations with military history and strategy to explain British and American military culture with regard to a preference for the use of force. The author, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Cassidy, makes the argument that the first iteration of post-Cold War peace operations doctrine, as well as the conduct of operations in Bosnia and Somalia, was a direct outcome of long-standing military culture and the great powers’ inability to keep tempo with changes in the international environment. The argument is well-supported and so well documented that its dissertation-in-disguise feel is palatable to the reader. Lieutenant Colonel Cassidy has a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, has served in Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq, and speaks French and Russian fluently. His command of the English language is noteworthy, as well, to the point that the reader may want to say, “huh?” to phrases like “an Uptonian paradox and a Cardwellian conundrum.”

Peacekeeping in the Abyss is logically laid out, but reader be warned—pay attention within chapters, as the arguments jump back and forth in time and points that appear to be mere details become important later on. In Chapter One, the author


presents an overview of the relevant literature, setting the reader up for the next two chapters on the origins and evolution of British and American military strategic culture. He then describes the weak state of existing peacekeeping and operations other than war (OOTW) doctrine at the end of the Cold War in both Great Britain and the United States. Application of this doctrine and its adaptation (or failure to adapt) to address the complexities of operations in Bosnia (British) and Somalia (US) comprise the next two chapters. The main thrust of the book is fully developed in Chapters Seven and Eight. In Chapter Seven, the first British and American post-Cold War peacekeeping operation doctrines are compared and analyzed for continuity or change; and in Chapter Eight, the relationship between the major restructuring of the international system, change or continuity in the military strategic culture, and doctrinal outputs are examined, as are the implications of that relationship for further adaptation of doctrine and future policy decisions. Cassidy concludes with a few cogent recommendations for military and political policy direction in the Global War on Terrorism.

The comparison of the British and American experiences in their doctrine and on the ground in armed humanitarian and other low-intensity operations is enlightening. One comes to clearly understand that the British enjoy broader success in such operations for reasons beyond the much touted British-soldiers-wear-softcaps explanation (vice helmets, American style) when speaking with a theretofore hostile Serbian population in Bosnia. In the same vein, the fact that many British peacekeepers have served in Northern Ireland is just one of several explanations for the British ability to adapt to the challenges of the past decade. The irony of the recent British peacekeeping story, however, is that British successes are no more a result of adaptation than was the American success in using overwhelming force to quickly topple Saddam Hussein. History, albeit growing distant, is on their side. Many years of policing a vast empire imbued in the British several important tenets of operations other than war and insurgency operations: the primacy of politics; the need for flexibility in military response; restraint in the use of force; the direct subordination of the military to political masters; and the recognition that the military is only one instrument used to execute a broader strategy.

The author suggests that the United States has much to learn from the British despite the fact that, in actuality, both countries have more experience with small wars than big wars. The American military has been shaped by geography and the corresponding tendency to favor the strategic defense, an aversion to casualties, the strong influence of a few thinkers like Emory Upton, and the unique relationship that the professional military has developed with its civilian masters. While one may argue (and be correct) that the Vietnam War had a profound effect on the US Army and Marine Corps, in reality it had little effect on strategic thinking and the deeply embedded culture of the American armed forces. To this day, impediments to innovation remain a result of the cultural predilection for maneuver warfare, a strong aversion to casualties, the division as the ultimate building block, and a big-army mindset.

Another related point of interest in Peacekeeping in the Abyss is the author’s assertion that while the US military “ostensibly worships Clausewitz as the


principal philosopher/oracle of war on the one hand . . . on the other hand it exhibits a Jominian predilection to divorce the political from the military when the shooting starts.” Likewise, a specific application of force may achieve a short-term victory but jeopardize the long-term strategic objectives. Somalia has become the modern-day case in point.

In his final assessment of US and British peacekeeping strategy, Lieutenant Colonel Cassidy makes the argument that OOTW doctrine, under which peacekeeping is subsumed, exemplified more continuity than change from the Cold War until 1994. If one were to criticize the author’s analysis (and I make a distinction between his final conclusions and those targeting only Bosnia and Somalia), it may be that the evidence of an inability to overcome cultural preferences for the use of force lies too heavily on the shoulders of doctrine. His argument is well made that the Cold War OOTW principles were merely stretched for application to peace operations (perseverance, legitimacy, restraint, objective, security, and unity of effort) and that doctrine subsumed Armed Humanitarian Operations under the higher-intensity Peace Enforcement Operations. Nonetheless, one could make an argument that over the course of the five years on which this study primarily focuses, a new Peace Operations manual was written, and that the words captured therein did indeed say many of the right things.

Readers will appreciate this book’s well-researched facts and analysis, but my strong recommendation to read it is based rather on the applicability of the questions it raises to current operations. The concepts, historical facts, and recommendations succinctly laid out by Lieutenant Colonel Cassidy will surely add strength and substance to the ongoing transformation efforts partially aimed at boosting the US military from its peace operations and small wars abyss.

The Diffusion of Military Technology and Ideas. Edited by Emily O. Goldman and Leslie C. Eliason. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2003. 415 pages. $75.00. Reviewed by Dr. William J. Gregor, Professor of Social Sciences at the School of Advanced Military Studies, US Army Command and General Staff College.

During the decade of the 1990s, the “Revolution in Military Affairs” (RMA) was the subject of a great deal of debate and speculation. The RMA offered the prospect of altering the nature of warfare by harnessing new technologies and dramatic improvements in command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) to innovative operational concepts and organizational structures. The debate was between those who believed the United States was on the verge of a new way of war and those who believed warfare had innate characteristics, particularly uncertainty, that no amount of technology could dispel. Rather than engage directly in an RMA debate, this book seeks to answer the question, What would be the consequences were the United States to succeed in achieving a dramatic increase in military effectiveness? How would friends and adversaries respond?


Emily Goldman and Leslie Eliason have collected a number of essays dealing with the question of how military revolutions spread, to whom, how quickly, and with what consequences. The introduction defines the theoretical and comparative perspectives needed to assess the forces and factors that explain the diffusion of technology and ideas. The reader might expect the methodology to guide the selection and presentation of the case studies that constitute the core of the book. However, that is not to be. The case studies seem driven instead by the personal interests of the contributors, and the contributors do not explicitly follow the method established in Chapter One. In fact, at least one case study included in the book was published in a journal two years before the book appeared. Thus, the case studies share the book’s common interest but vary greatly in period, content, and focus. Each should be read and assessed alone.

There are 11 case studies grouped into four themes: Culture and Diffusion, Managing and Controlling Diffusion, Diffusion and Military Transformation, and Diffusion and the Information Age. The cases range from adoption and adaptation of European military practices in South Asia in the 18th century to the spread of information technology in the contemporary world. However, the book’s attention is split between the diffusion of technology and the diffusion of ideas. Consequently, only a few chapters actually address issues related to the adoption of new technology and improvements in military effectiveness. The best case studies are those directly related to military technology. William C. Potter provides an interesting distillation and assessment of the manifold explanations of nuclear proliferation. Timothy D. Hoyt addresses the role small states can play in technological innovation by examining the Israeli development of anti-ship missiles and missile boats. In contrast, the case studies concerning the adoption of operational concepts are too broad. Force development and doctrine development are complex bureaucratic processes that entail a manifold number of decisions over a considerable period. The authors simply do not have the detailed record of those decisions with which to isolate the factors that led to adoption or rejection of a concept. Consequently, the conclusions that are drawn are not well supported.

Professors Goldman and Eliason make a good effort in the conclusion to tie together the disparate essays. They report that the extant literature posits four motivations for the diffusion of military knowledge: strategic necessity, economic pressures, technology-push dynamics, and institutional pressures. Not surprisingly, they conclude that strategic considerations emerge as a powerful driver of diffusion in all the case studies. Beyond that, there appears no clear explanation of how states learn of innovations or acquire the necessary knowledge to adopt them. Here again, diffusion among competitors seems to focus on the competitor of greatest concern. The editors find culture an important factor shaping the process of diffusion, and they single out this aspect for special mention. To the extent that culture prevents adopting scientific norms for employing a military innovation, culture impedes the exploitation of an innovation. Unfortunately, nations locked in strategic military competition are not free to select their culture, and none of the case studies suggests the conditions under which a nation will abandon its cultural predisposition to address a compelling strategic threat. The book thus concludes that diffusion is highly


contingent. “Its scope, speed, and extent depend upon the interaction of strategic necessity, culture and doctrine, and institutional and organizational mindsets.” Clearly, the conclusion will frustrate policy analysts looking for some generalizations to answer the book’s opening question.

The real difficulty faced by this book, however, is not of its own making. Interest in military technology and the Revolution in Military Affairs has waned in the aftermath of the war in Iraq. References to weapons of mass destruction in both the introduction and conclusion reflect the concern the world and the United States placed on those systems before the invasion of Iraq, while the discussions of the historical diffusion of conventional military capabilities seem irrelevant to fighting the current insurgency and to plans for combating it. Thus, The Diffusion of Military Technology and Ideas is not a book for the general reader. Its concerns seem now entirely academic, though not irrelevant.

The Battle of Salamis: The Naval Encounter that Saved Greece—and Western Civilization. By Barry Strauss. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004. 294 pages. $25.00. Reviewed by Dr. J. Boone Bartholomees, Jr., Professor of Military History, US Army War College.

Barry Strauss, Professor of History and Classics at Cornell, has published the new standard work on the naval battle between the Greeks and Persians in the Straits of Salamis in 480 B.C. Strauss is modest about his achievement, saying, “So much has been written about the battle of Salamis, and it is of such high quality, that one approaches the scholarly literature with respect, gratitude, and humility.” Yet the only book-length account he mentions is a French work published in 1915. It was high time for a new in-depth study of Salamis, and this book admirably fills the bill.

Strauss uses individuals—some famous like Themistocles and Herodotus and some lesser known like Queen Artemisia of Halicarnassus and the Persian eunuch slave Hermontimus—to tell the story. These players add the human interest that turns a simple narrative into a great and engaging tale. The result is a manuscript based on the solid scholarship of good history with the readability of a good novel. One can almost smell the stench below decks as the rowers silently pull their oars, and the terror on a sinking ship is palpable (especially if it was Persian and the crew could not swim).

Strauss tells the story of Salamis in all its political and military complexity. There are, of course, no new sources or recently discovered manuscripts to consult, although modern archaeology and data from trials of the replica trireme Olympias do inform the discourse. Instead of new material, Strauss presents a fresh and comprehensive interpretation. He treats Salamis not simply as a naval battle, but as a significant political-military event. He describes the inner workings of the Persian court where fear of and toadying to the king predominated and how that affected the campaign against Greece. Strauss contrasts that approach with the rough and tumble politics of ancient Greek city-states and the delicate workings of the im-


probable alliance they cobbled together to protect their freedom. Strauss portrays Themistocles as the political and military genius who authored the Athenian and thus the Greek strategy; however, he also paints the famous Greek statesman as the scheming, conniving, manipulative, and perhaps treasonous politician he was. That there was no direct counterpart of Themistocles in the Persian court perhaps helps explain the eventual Greek victory.

In the military realm, Strauss begins with the story of the battle at Artemisium—the three-day naval counterpart to the much more famous land battle at Thermopylae—and shows how those two concurrent battles shaped the subsequent campaign. He then maneuvers the fleets into the Salamis straits as the Athenian population flees the city. Themistocles wins the strategic debate over whether to fight, and the fleets clash. Strauss has a few twists in his narrative of the battle—some fairly standard like rejecting the idea that the Egyptian contingent of the Persian fleet rowed around the island of Salamis to seal the western approaches; some more unconventional like a Corinthian diversionary feigned retreat at the onset of fighting. Strauss has to speculate extensively on tactical detail; however, his interpretation and speculation hang together, make sense, and are consistent with the sources.

The battle always has been recognized as one of the largest and most important naval engagements of the ancient world, but Strauss claims even more significance for it. He asserts that had the Greeks not won at Salamis, the subsequent history of Western civilization almost certainly would have been different. With command of the sea and Athens crushed, the Persians probably would have overrun the Peloponnesus and completed their domination of Greece. In some of the potential sequels, classical Greek civilization might still have flourished—perhaps in Italy or even, after regaining the homeland, in Greece. However, the democratic imperialism that characterized Athens after the Persian wars would never have materialized without Athenian control of the seas. Strauss argues it was that democratic imperialism that led to the later clash with Sparta that shaped much of the region’s subsequent history, and it was the contrast between the ideal of democracy and the reality of imperialism that sparked the development of Western political philosophy as seen in such authors as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Professor Strauss contends the debate over democracy was the ultimate legacy of Salamis. Readers may consider his assertion either intuitively accurate, vastly overblown, or grossly simplistic, but no thoughtful reader will ever again underemphasize the significance of Salamis after reading this book.

The D-Day Companion. Edited by Jane Penrose. Oxford, Eng.: Osprey Publishing, 2004. 288 pages. $29.95. Reviewed by Colonel James R. Oman, Chairman, Department of Command, Leadership, and Management, US Army War College.

The D-Day Companion is a must-read for those serious students of history interested in gaining an overview of Operation Overlord. Published to coincide with, as well as to commemorate, the 60th anniversary of D-Day, the book is a wel-


come addition to the body of knowledge and to the libraries of all, whether recreational military historians or professionals. Operation Overlord—the plan to invade the coast of Normandy and initiate the liberation of Europe—stands to this day as the largest military operation ever executed in terms of forces committed, materiel, and geographical dimension. All of these factors guarantee its place in history as the most complex amphibious landing ever conducted. This book not only encapsulates the enormity of the effort, it also provides an interesting and useful analysis of a historical event already thoroughly studied.

Contributing to the overall uniqueness of the work are three areas that add a depth rarely found in a general overview. The first is the personal accounts of the German experience from those attempting to defend against the Allied juggernaut on 6 June 1944. The account of Leutnant Arthur Jahnke so ably described in the chapter entitled “With Unbelieving Eyes” provides a telling glimpse into the experiences of one soldier. Many German soldiers, a large percentage of whom did not survive their first encounter with the Western Allies, probably shared a similarly harrowing experience. Jahnke’s story begins on the evening of 5 June, as he looks anxiously skyward at the massive aerial armada. He was located on what the Allies called Utah Beach. With trepidation Leutnant Jahnke responded to reports of enemy paratroopers in his midst by mobilizing his force. He sent out a patrol that succeeded in capturing 19 paratroopers. This was to be the only positive event Jahnke experienced, as he quickly became isolated from his higher headquarters. Jahnke describes in graphic detail the Allies’ softening-up process, which began with the heavy bombers delivering a massive aerial bombardment, transitioning to the fighter-bombers, which then gave way to the cruisers, battleships, and destroyers delivering precision naval gunfire. The culmination of these efforts ended with the amphibious tanks coming ashore and landing craft disembarking thousands of infantrymen. The war would soon be over for Leutnant Jahnke. His position was shelled, he was knocked unconscious, and soon he was captured.

The second appealing feature of this book is the moving foreword written by Major Richard Winters. Major Winters is forever associated with the 101st Airborne Division and the paratroopers he so ably led from D-Day through VE-Day. Now, writing 59 years after D-Day, he provides a vivid series of glimpses into the world of a combat leader. His memories provide a remarkable firsthand account and he superbly sets the stage for the chapters that follow. In a sense his foreword provides the perfect bookend and serves as the literary foundation for the stirring final chapter written by the well-known military historian Carlo D’Este.

That leads to the third feature that sets this work apart from most works on D-Day, the eloquently written closing chapter. This chapter provides the historical context for what the invasion truly meant from a strategic perspective in 1944 and how the significance of the invasion has grown with the passage of time. D’Este rightly observes that looking back from the 21st century, D-Day seems as if it were a sure thing; but he correctly points out that there were numerous actions and events that could have resulted in a catastrophic failure. His look back through time focuses on the D-Day veterans, both Allied and German, and their remembrance provides a fitting closure to the operation and to the “greatest generation.”


One of the many other strengths of this work is the insight provided by the 12 leading military historians who contributed to this remarkable volume. Their efforts move between the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war. The reader is able to gain an appreciation for the level of detailed planning that went into Operation Overlord and its sheer magnitude. Many of the contributing historians will be familiar names to interested readers. Samuel J. Newland, Professor of Military Education at the US Army War College, masterfully sets the strategic stage with his introduction. Duncan Anderson, the Department Head of War Studies at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, examines the planning and often-overlooked critical buildup phase. Professors Williamson Murray and Allan R. Millett, both affiliated with Ohio State University, explore the role of airpower and the amphibious operations on each of the beaches, with Millett discussing the impact of the airborne phase of the operation. Ronald J. Drez masterfully tells the story of the consolidation and breakout from Normandy as described by many of the participants through lively vignettes from both the Allied and German perspectives. Professors Dennis Showalter and Russell Hart provide a view from the German side through the lenses of senior field marshals down to lieutenants. Dr. Christina J. M. Goulter reports on the deception and intelligence efforts. Dr. Steven A. Hart writes on the Allied command structure; Dr. Andrew Gordon details Operation Neptune, which encompassed all the naval activities associated with Operation Overlord; and Dr. David I. Hall describes the events leading up to the decisive German defeat at the Falaise pocket. And, as noted earlier, D’Este expertly concludes the book.

The editor, Jane Penrose, has done a masterful job of ensuring that the 13 chapters examining some unique aspect of Operation Overlord flow in a logical manner and that all the strands are tightly woven together. The D-Day Companion continues the tradition associated with Osprey Publishing through its superb illustrations, colorful graphics, detailed maps, and placement of high-quality black-and-white photographs. Each of these visual aids adds value and clarity and contributes markedly to the reader’s understanding.

To paraphrase D’Este’s words, the focus on Normandy during the anniversary observances in June 2004 drew the world’s attention back to the sacrifices made by a generation of service men and women. The D-Day Companion will document their accounts and achievements for future generations long after the commemorative events in Normandy and the veterans have faded away.

Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War. By Thomas de Waal. New York: New York University Press, 2003. 337 pages. $35.00 ($19.00 paper). Reviewed by Dr. Amer Latif, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy (OUSDP), Eurasian affairs, Washington, D.C.

Numerous accounts have been written about the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. However, few of these accounts seem to be able to measure up to the standard of serving as a dispassionate,


impartial examination of the origins of the conflict in the late 1980s and how events unfolded during the war in the early 1990s. Thomas de Waal, noted British journalist and specialist on the Caucasus, has corrected this record by producing a book that is both a poignant chronicle and a lucid, evenhanded analysis of the intricacies of this conflict.

It is an understatement to say that Nagorno-Karabakh is of tremendous importance to Armenians and Azerbaijanis alike. For Armenians, Karabakh both epitomizes Armenia’s Christian origins and defines today’s border between Christian Armenia and the Turkic lands of present-day Azerbaijan. For the Azerbaijanis, Karabakh is important for a number of reasons, first because the territory is the birthplace of its most famous musicians and poets. It also is a place that contains towns such as Shusha that hold great sentimental value for many Azerbaijanis. Karabakh, moreover, represents a constant reminder of the unfinished process of nationhood for Azerbaijan. Without Karabakh, many Azerbaijanis feel the country is not complete geographically or economically.

After a cease-fire was established in 1994, Armenia remained in control of nearly all of Nagorno-Karabakh and wide swaths of Azerbaijani territory surrounding it. In all, Armenia occupies an area that represents almost 15 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory. Hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis were expelled, creating one of the largest refugee migrations in the post-Soviet era. In response, Azerbaijan, working with Turkey, has kept its borders sealed, which has inhibited Armenia’s economic growth. Over time, both sides have had their economic prospects diminished due to a lack of cross-border trade and interaction.

De Waal synthesizes these issues skillfully. The author arranges the book in chronological order with interludes that examine attitudes toward Karabakh from both the Azerbaijani and Armenian perspectives. The author begins by examining how Karabakh became a rallying cry for the Armenians as the Soviet empire was beginning to crumble in 1988. What began as a drive for reuniting the autonomous Azeri enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia unfortunately spiraled out of control and eventually culminated in war, ending with the 1994 cease-fire. Here de Waal is superb in detailing the events on both sides as he distills key insights from different sources. He provides the reader with a riveting, impartial, and chronological account of events on the ground.

The author also includes personal accounts of the war, the ongoing sense of tragedy that is felt on both sides, and attitudes toward Nagorno-Karabakh today. These chapters are the most interesting because they show on a personal level the human cost of the conflict. The reader is struck by the combination of rage at an abstract level toward the opposing side, juxtaposed with fond memories of Azerbaijani or Armenian neighbors during more peaceful times in the Soviet era. Azerbaijanis and Armenians lived as neighbors, worked together, socialized together, and not-too-infrequently also intermarried—not unlike the situation between Croats and Serbs in the former Yugoslavia. De Waal poignantly shows how this harmonious coexistence was ripped asunder by the conflict.

The book also discusses the present-day struggle of each side to lay historical claim to Karabakh. The author introduces us to historians from both sides who


devote considerable energy to crafting maps and writing historical accounts aimed not only at bolstering their respective claims to Karabakh but also at manipulating public opinion in the process. Popular sentiment on both sides has become more nationalistic in recent years, with a new generation of Azerbaijanis and Armenians feeling strongly that Karabakh is rightfully theirs.

This increase in nationalism has made it even more difficult to settle the conflict. Leaders from both sides must always take the public reaction into account before making any concessions. Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossian lost power in February 1998 after the public perceived that he was compromising on the status of Karabakh. Similarly, Azerbaijani leader Heidar Aliyev, fearing negative public reaction, backed away from a deal at Key West in 2001 that would have settled the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.

Resolving Karabakh would be important for US security interests as well. After the attacks of 11 September 2001, the Caucasus assumed great importance for the US military as coalition aircraft overflew this region on their way to bases in Central Asia and operations in Afghanistan. The subsequent security cooperation with Azerbaijan and Armenia has attempted to focus on issues related to defense reform, countering terrorist transit, and other issues related to regional security. Unfortunately, both of these countries cannot adequately focus on these key issues because of the preoccupation with Karabakh. A resolution to this problem would greatly facilitate greater security cooperation with this strategically important region.

This book is helpful because in order to craft a final resolution to the conflict, one must understand what events transpired in the first place. De Waal’s book significantly contributes to this purpose and establishes itself as one of the standard works for understanding this conflict.

The Yom Kippur War: The Epic Encounter that Transformed the Middle East. By Abraham Rabinovich. New York: Schocken Books, 2004. 543 pages. $27.50. Reviewed by Robert S. Bolia, a scientist at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Human Effectiveness Directorate, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

While much has been written about the Yom Kippur War in the 31 years since it was fought, a good general history has yet to emerge. To fill this gap, Abraham Rabinovich has given us The Yom Kippur War: The Epic Encounter that Transformed the Middle East. As a former soldier in the US Army and a reporter who covered the war for the Jerusalem Post, as well as a prolific writer on Israeli history and culture, Rabinovich certainly has the credentials to write the story of the Yom Kippur War. He also has the sources, including the report of the Agranat Commission—made public only a decade ago—as well as recent military biographies by and about Israeli leaders, and interviews with more than 130 participants. Five years of research and 30 years of perspective make The Yom Kippur War a much more complete account than was possible in the works of Herzog and the Times Insight Team, both of which appeared shortly after the war’s conclusion. Despite the continued


relevance of those sources, Rabinovich’s work will unquestionably supplant them as the standard history of the conflict.

In addition to being well researched, this account is superbly written. The flow of the work is so natural that it reads like a novel, a difficult accomplishment given the necessity of describing military action on two fronts as well as political machinations in Cairo, Tel Aviv, Washington, and Moscow. In addition to providing the standard fare, Rabinovich covers aspects of the war that have been neglected elsewhere, such as the logistics of mobilization. Furthermore, because of the increased availability of primary sources, he is able to fill in many of the gaps left by previous studies, especially where the interactions between Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff David Elazar and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and their generals are concerned.

While there is much to commend this book, it also has its drawbacks. Chief among these is the dearth of maps. There are seven in the book, none of which provides a suitable level of either geographic or tactical detail. Rabinovich includes in his narrative detailed descriptions of combat at every level from squad to division, but it is difficult to place these actions within the appropriate operational and strategic context without useful maps. The only other major fault of the book is the fact that it assumes an almost uniquely Israeli perspective, due to the relative lack of Arab sources. The author addresses this issue in the bibliography by referring to the paucity of the written record in Arabic, but fails to account for the fact that he has interviewed more than a hundred Israelis and only two Egyptians. A caveat to both of these criticisms is that neither is unique to this book. It is the exception rather than the rule in military history when the maps measure up to the text of a book, and perfectly balanced accounts are almost as rare.

Its minor faults notwithstanding, The Yom Kippur War is easily the best and most complete general history of the conflict. As such it is essential reading for students of the Arab-Israeli wars. It also brings home to military and civilian leaders lessons about the potentially disastrous consequences of arrogance and overconfidence, and the necessity for strategic decisionmaking based on solid, unbiased intelligence, both of which seem to have been unlearned many times since the Yom Kippur War. In addition, Abraham Rabinovich’s work provides some of the background necessary for understanding the present military and political situation in the Middle East.

German Panzers on the Offensive: Russian Front, North Africa, 1941-1942. By R. H. S. Stolfi. Atglen, Pa.: Schiffer Publishing, 2003. 224 pages. $35.00. Reviewed by Dr. Samuel Newland (LTC, ARNG Ret.), Professor, Department of Distance Education, US Army War College.

In 1992, R. H. S. Stolfi’s earlier book, with the pretentious title Hitler’s Panzers East: World War II Reinterpreted, was published offering an intriguing thesis. It postulated that despite the opinions of many skeptics, the German campaign against


the Soviet Union—Barbarossa—could have been won before the onset of the 1941 winter. With his new book, German Panzers on the Offensive: Russian Front, North Africa, 1941-1942, Stolfi returns to World War II and the topic of German armored operations but, as is obvious by the title, he expands his thought on armored warfare to both the sands of Africa and the plains of Russia.

The new book is divided into three main sections, “Maneuver War on the Plains of the Western Soviet Union, 1941,” “Panzer Maneuver in the North African Desert 1941-1942,” and “Panzer Maneuver War in the Forests and Lakes of the Baltic, 1941.” In terms of coverage, the third section is the most limited, covering only the operations of the 8th Panzer Division. Each section has an introduction, although only one, the second, specifically includes a conclusion and application section. The endnotes citing the works used for the book are impressive, demonstrating an excellent command of original German records, Russian military literature, and appropriate supplementation based on interviews with German officers. Appropriate photos of German Panzer operations are included, as are maps of selected operations.

The strength of the book is the research that the author has done, obvious in terms of citations and detail related to unit strengths, losses, and weapons capabilities. The accompanying tables and charts make it obvious to the reader that the author has mastered the details of many tactical operations on the sands of North Africa, the forests and lakes of the Baltic, and the plains of the western Soviet Union.

There are, however, some minor problems with the book. For example, it is rather difficult to determine the thrust of the book because there is no general introduction or preface by the author to inform the reader of his intent. The book gives the appearance of being virtually three separate monographs or separate lengthy studies strung together. Thus, the reader is initially faced with what appears to be three distinct presentations without benefit of the author’s thesis or any transitional sections. Without an articulated theme or purpose, the reader is forced to evaluate the three separate sections independently with very little guidance.

The first section does begin with hints that there are lessons included in the case studies that are applicable to US forces today. For example, the almost unbelievable encirclements conducted by the German Army, particularly actions conducted by Panzer Group 3, offer lessons in mobility. Unfortunately, these lessons are not well articulated, and the reader is left to his or her own devices to determine what these lessons are and how they might be applicable to today’s US Army. All three sections do in fact contain significant lessons for the military reader. For example, in the first section, one finds that a unique part of the German way of war was the practice of forming ad hoc organizations, Kampfgruppen or Marschgruppen. These groups were tailored, self-contained fighting units designed to move and to fight engagements, rather than using the larger and more unwieldy divisions. Stolfi goes on to emphasize that German division commanders led from the front, an important factor that was neglected by all too many American generals in the fall of 1944.

Perhaps most important for today’s leadership, the Germans recognized that a doctrinal rulebook could not be devised for every contingency. Thus, Stolfi notes that the Germans made “quicker decisions from more advanced positions seeking opportunity in the province of chance and taking advantage of it.” The au-


thor however fails to enlighten the reader about what it was in German military culture that allowed the German Army to function in such a fashion. Was it the culture in Rommel’s command alone, or was it because Rommel, Guderian, Manstein, and many others went to war with a philosophy of war that permitted a commander latitude, encouraging boldness and initiative?

Just as the author fails to provide a detailed introduction, he also fails to provide the reader with a conclusion linking the three case studies. Given the amount of data provided, and the amount of original research that went into the project, a solid conclusion would have been a welcome touch. If a reader is seeking a study that provides a wealth of data on the Panzer arm, this is a good and well-documented one, but in terms of organization and conclusions it is regrettably lacking.

Stalin’s Secret War: Soviet Counterintelligence Against the Nazis, 1941-45. By Robert W. Stephan. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004. 349 pages. $34.95. Reviewed by Dr. Stephen Blank, Professor of National Security Studies, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.

It is only recently that Western historians have been able to render more or less full accounts of the Eastern Front, the decisive front in World War II. Only after Soviet historiography and archives opened up to some degree did it become possible to go beyond self-serving German and Soviet accounts of the war that were as notable for their distortions and omissions as they were for their information. But they were not alone in these offenses against Clio. Western historiography too showed an unwarranted tendency to play down the epic drama of this front which, in Churchill’s words, “Tore the guts out of the German Army.” This omission in our historiography led to a neglect of the lessons to be learned as well as an unmerited depreciation of the front’s strategic significance.

Robert Stephan’s book is one of the many that have come out in the last decade or so to fully rectify this omission. While we have had an enormous outpouring of literature on the intelligence war in the West, we have had very little on the dimensions of this aspect of the war in the East. And if one wants to see what information warfare really looks like, with deception operations materially contributing to operational success on the battlefield, or if one wants to understand the strategic importance of intelligence, the Eastern Front is the place to look. As Stephan points out, this front was host to the most brutal war in history. Apart from an unparalleled brutality of combat operations, most of the Holocaust happened here, taking place in what the French historian and ex-communist Boris Souvarine rightly called a counterintelligence state. And this unremitting investment in intelligence and counterintelligence paid off for the Soviet Union during the war, notwithstanding Stalin’s catastrophic disregard for intelligence in the period 1939-41.

Stephan’s work, deeply researched from sources on both sides and punctuated by his own experience as a CIA employee, recounts the Soviets’ attention to the importance of intelligence and counterintelligence, their growing ability to use


these tools effectively in the conduct of combat and deception operations, and the penalties that the Germans incurred because of their blithe disregard for both forms of secret operations. Not surprisingly, the German invasion of Russia was in itself an act of staggering disregard for intelligence, and this hubris was only compounded by the incompetence, schisms, and insouciance of German spymasters. It is also safe to say that in a real sense the Nazi high command did not know what it was doing in Russia or against whom it was fighting until it was far too late. Moreover, the importance of this dimension of the war is brought home to the reader in the recounting of individual operations and in the author’s equally masterful depiction of the general climate and modus operandi of Soviet counterintelligence actions.

For once the encomiums on the back of a book are correct. This will be an indispensable account of this dimension of the war on the Eastern Front, and a valuable primer for all those who wish to understand how to conduct intelligence and counterintelligence operations. Needless to say this topic is of immense relevance to American forces and intelligence agencies today, and Stephan’s story is not just bygone history. In any account of the Eastern Front of World War II and of intelligence operations, this book deserves a very honorable mention.

The Grand Strategy of the Russian Empire, 1650-1831. By John P. LeDonne. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. 261 pages. $60.00. Reviewed by Captain William H. Mengel, Instructor, Department of History, US Military Academy.

The decade following the collapse of the Soviet Union has seen a renewed interest in the study of pre-1917 Russia, among scholars both within and outside the former USSR. On the surface, the removal of communism as a unifying ideology has ruptured continuities in Russian foreign policy and made the analysis of Russian strategic thought more problematic, while former Soviet republics searching for new identities and roles in the post-Cold War era have added complexity to the situation. John LeDonne, a prominent political scientist specializing in the history of early Tsarist Russia, has developed an analytical framework for understanding Russian “grand strategy” during the period of imperial expansion from 1650 to 1831. LeDonne’s model supports his argument for a continuity of Russian strategic goals and policies, determined to a large extent by geopolitical concerns, many of which remain relevant to 21st-century Russia.

LeDonne uses “grand strategy” to refer to Russian efforts to use political, military, and economic means to achieve hegemony over the Heartland, a vast continental area which included the territory of the former Soviet Union, as well as Eastern Europe, Turkey, and Iran. In LeDonne’s model, based on the concepts of Halford Mackinder, the Heartland is surrounded by two groups of Coastland states: the European Coastland on the west, and the Monsoon Coastland on the east. The framework of this geopolitical model is the subject of LeDonne’s previous book, The Russian Empire and the World: 1700-1917 (Oxford Univ. Press, 1997). The Grand Strategy of the Russian Empire differs from The Russian Empire and the World more


in structure and organization than in content; the second book is organized chronologically, as opposed to geographically, and has a narrower focus, examining the components of the Russian policy of expansion. The basic outlines of LeDonne’s analysis remain the same: Russia pursued an aggressive policy of expansion in the 18th century, the nature of which was largely determined by geopolitical considerations. The first book examines why Russia expanded, using an argument based on geopolitical determinism, while the second book examines how Russia expanded, analyzing the development and key tenets of the Russian strategic vision and the means of achieving this vision.

LeDonne is convinced Russia had a comprehensive, cohesive, and aggressive grand strategy, originating by the mid-17th century, with the ultimate goal of achieving hegemony over the maritime basins of the Baltic, Black, Caspian, and Aral seas, and the Arctic coast of Asia. The author argues Russia developed three pillars to support its expansionist policy: the use of deep strategic military strikes (following the Mongol model), maintaining a standing army as a strategic force concentrated in the Muscovite core region, and fostering client states and societies in border areas.

His narrative begins in 1650, when the Romanov dynasty was “ready to stake a claim” in the Baltic, resulting in a three-way zero-sum game between Russia, Poland, and Sweden. Russian expansion achieved its greatest success in the 18th century, adhering to Petrine grand strategy, which, in turn, traced its roots to the geopolitical vision of Afanasii Ordin-Nashchokin in the mid-17th century. Under Peter the Great, Russia began grand offensive campaigns in all three theaters (Western, Southern, and Eastern), using a series of long-range penetrations to destabilize opponents. LeDonne describes the 1714 expeditions of Bukhgolts and Cherkassi to Irtysh and Khiva, the 1716 expedition to Copenhagen, and the 1722-23 operations in the Transcaucasus as examples of these deep strategic penetrations. In the 1720s, the strategic military forces were concentrated around Moscow, able to deploy to any theater, while a series of fortified lines were constructed along the outer perimeters to provide a defense in depth. This deployment pattern would be altered in the second half of the 18th century, when the strategic forces were deployed in the periphery, and performed the additional role of infrastructure development, particularly in the south.

The third pillar of Russian grand strategy, the client system, allowed Russia to “maximize imperial influence and diplomatic control while minimizing the use of force by the regular army.” As Russia expanded to optimum lines of conquest within the Heartland, such as the Gulf of Bothnia, the Danube River, and the Black Sea, control of territory beyond these “moats” was maintained by accommodating client states such as Poland and Georgia, and client societies such as the Cossacks, Kalmyks, and Baltic Germans. This system was enhanced by keeping Sweden and the Ottoman Empire weak, and through collaboration with Austria and Prussia.

LeDonne also briefly describes the use of economic policy to prop up Petrine grand strategy, through the creation of a military-industrial complex in the early 18th century. Encouragement of iron production in the Urals and armaments factories at Tula were soon followed by protective tariffs in 1724. LeDonne argues an


“autarkic outlook became a necessary prerequisite to the formulation of a grand strategy seeking hegemony in the Heartland,” as economic penetration by outside powers would “undermine a hegemony based on raw military power and obedient clients.”

LeDonne argues his case well, although on a more fundamental level this reviewer finds the use of a single model to describe virtually all of Russian strategic thought from 1650 to 1831 less useful than examining each particular situation based on its own merit. However, LeDonne’s work does provide a useful analytical framework for understanding Russian foreign policy across the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, offering a sufficient level of detail while remaining accessible to the nonspecialist. This book would be a welcome addition to a library of works on Russia or strategic thought.

Washington’s Crossing. By David Hackett Fischer. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. 564 pages. $35.00. Reviewed by Robert Previdi, author of Civilian Control versus Military Rule.

This is a serious book about the Revolutionary War and how George Washington evolved into a great leader as the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. Professor Fischer makes his judgment clear on Washington when he writes: “The more we learn about Washington, the greater his contribution becomes.” The author describes how the events during the Revolutionary War affected the future direction of the world. It was Washington who understood better than anyone that if our War of Independence failed, the absence of individual freedom and the idea of self-government would be stalled.

Fischer details with impeccable research how the United States evolved based on the personality and accomplishments of George Washington. He defines Washington’s philosophy as one of “moral striving through virtuous action and right conduct.” Washington was not an intellectual, but a pragmatist who focused on what worked—for example, his view on the role of discipline in an army: “Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable.” Can it be said any better?

The author makes it clear that Washington understood that he had to fight a defensive war. Doing so was especially difficult because the Americans had little in the way of support and logistics when the war started. The author also permits the reader insight into what was happening on the strategic level of war. A prime example was the battle for New York, and Fischer’s chapter on the battle is excellent. The reader gets a complete understanding of what was going on and why—for example, Washington’s wrong decision, based on the advice of Nathanael Greene, to defend Fort Washington.

The defeat at New York starts the retreat for Washington’s army through New Jersey and on to Valley Forge. Thomas Paine’s remarkable line “These are the times that try men’s souls” summarizes what Mr. Fischer writes about this critical period of the war. It is here that the book shines. Professor Fischer provides the reader with understanding as to the importance of the battles of Trenton and Princeton, not only in our fight for freedom, but in the critical example they provided for


individuals seeking freedom all over the world. Washington demonstrated not only courage but great wisdom in the manner in which he led the American Army to victory when all seemed lost. It was during this critical period that our distinct heritage as Americans began, and Mr. Fischer makes that case with solid facts and analysis.

We see George Washington grow with the understanding that what he was doing had importance far beyond the immediate task at hand. He was creating the personality of a nation, and he took great care in how he accomplished that. He understood the importance of putting the welfare of the nation above self. He also understood the long-term need to be “always accountable to Congress” even when he was not specifically required to be. Civilian control of the military was born. Professor Fischer describes it this way: Washington “was quick to use the powers that were granted to him, but always with great care, explaining at length to Congress what he was doing and why he was doing it.”

There are many other personalities in this story, of course, and the author treats each one with care and insight. Henry Knox, for example, comes out as a star. This self-taught artilleryman did miraculous things to get firepower to where it was needed, and this accomplishment is a remarkable story in itself.

Professor Fischer provides a great service by reminding Americans again that we stand on the shoulders of Washington. General Washington was a leader who listened to his subordinates and learned from them. He presented ideas that encouraged debate and intelligent discussion. Part of his greatness was that he never let himself get in the way of sound decisionmaking. And it was his nature to understand instinctively the full meaning of his actions. Fischer writes, “He often reminded his men that they were an army of liberty and freedom and that the rights of humanity for which they were fighting should extend even to their enemies.”

In his conclusion the author summarizes, “Washington was at the center of all these decisions, functioning more as a leader than a commander; always listening, inspiring, guiding; rarely demanding, commanding, coercing.” This book is a wonderful contribution to our understanding about our founding period and about General George Washington, one of the greatest men who has ever lived.

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Reviewed 17 February 2005. Please send comments or corrections to