Book Reviews

From Parameters,  Winter 2005-06, pp. 124-48.

The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War. By Andrew J. Bacevich. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. 270 pages. $28.00. 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.

Andy Bacevich is a scholar with edges. Director of Boston University’s Center of International Relations, his rise in academe came after graduation from West Point and a successful military career, where he gained a reputation as a soldier-scholar of the first rank.

And an outspoken one. In The New American Militarism, Bacevich argues that American policy has, since Vietnam, taken a dangerously militaristic direction that threatens to involve the United States in perpetual war, and in so doing to undermine the basis of our democracy. Bacevich positions himself on the right of the political spectrum, but also alienated from “what passes for mainstream conservatism” today. He writes that “fiscal irresponsibility, a buccaneering foreign policy, a disregard for the Constitution . . . these do not qualify as authentically conservative values.”

The beginning of America’s flirtation with militarism, Bacevich suggests, came from Woodrow Wilson, who believed not only that American principles and ideals were universally shared, but that they were fundamental to his vision of a world community of peaceful nations. The belief that American principles are universal, Bacevich writes, is the conceit that underlies all subsequent American policy henceforth and, particularly since the end of the Cold War, gives American foreign policy its dangerously messianic and militaristic tilt.

The US defeat in Vietnam, Bacevich believes, spurred the determination of the officer corps to restore both the prestige of the military profession and their claim of supremacy in matters related to war. He traces the now-familiar story of the Army’s comeback, and in particular the role played by General Creighton Abrams, who, he says, was taken by the Army’s officer corps as a moral example as well as a professional one. “Long after he had passed from the scene, Abrams exerted continuing influence as inspiration, model, touchstone, and source of folk wisdom.”

Abram’s real legacy, Bacevich writes, is more mixed. Abrams rebuilt the Army in ways that tied the hands of civilian decisionmakers when issues of war or peace were being debated, and restored the standing of military leaders—lost during the tenure of powerful Secretaries of Defense like Robert McNamara—to weigh in on what previously had been civilian decisions. The reforms begun in the 1970s and culminating in Operation Desert Storm, Bacevich avers, were as much about the institutional self-interest of the officer corps as they were about serving the national interest, although he suggests that senior leaders probably drew no distinction between the two. The Weinberger doctrine and, subsequently, the post-Desert Storm


Powell doctrine (after then-Joint Chiefs Chairman, General Colin Powell) with their “exit strategy” and emphasis on overwhelming force, were aimed at limiting the authority of civilian leaders and expanding the authority of military professionals to weigh in on vital questions of war and peace. Powell, in particular, comes in for criticism as a military professional determined to maintain a large post-Cold War defense establishment and to ensure that military leaders, not civilian, had the final say. The result, Bacevich says, was a military whose purpose was more in being than in being used. Hence, when the services were dragged into action in Bosnia, Kosovo, and other contingencies, the operational imperative became not audacity and boldness, but force protection and risk aversion.

With the election of President George Bush, though, the military’s carefully-crafted authority began to wither. In Donald Rumsfeld the services found an unintimidated Secretary of Defense with his own reform agenda. The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq expanded the Secretary’s authority, reducing the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs—Powell’s previous job—to a “mere spear-carrier.” Although the Secretary called the operational tune, the failure of military leaders to deal with the Iraqi insurgency and the disaster of Abu Ghraib blew a hole in the military’s carefully constructed image of competent, professional leadership. “Whether for good or ill,” Bacevich writes, “by the first decade of the twenty-first century the effort to restore the authority of the officer corps . . . had collapsed. Senior officers advised and implemented, but they did not decide.”

From the rebuilding of the military services after Vietnam, Bacevich turns to the rebuilding of conservative thought after the political firestorms of the 1970s. The defeat in Vietnam was seen by the New Left as proof of the folly of American power. But it also spurred their critics to reverse the gains of the left in the 1960s and 70s, to restore the American social fabric ripped apart by a decade of unrest, and to concomitantly return American power and assertiveness, which they believed to be a force for good, to the world stage. This was the birth of the neoconservative movement, “neo” because their objectives differed from those of the traditional conservative movement sidelined by the 1970s. The objective of the neocons, Bacevich says, “was simplicity itself; to fuse American power to American principles, ensuring the survival of those principles and subsequently their propagation for the benefit of all humankind.” While neoconservatism has many facets, he believes, its influence on defense affairs has been to support intellectually the new American militarism.

A “second wave” of the neocon movement—with a second generation of thinkers including Kagan, Kristol, Cohen, and Krauthammer—was disposed to use force even as a first resort, leading, among other things, to a doctrine of preventive war. During this second period, neoconservative thinkers moved from the sidelines to policy positions inside the government or to the editorial pages of influential newspapers. They viewed the events of 9/11 as reflecting a sickness that was infecting the Muslim world, and one that American power had to address. Indeed, confronting radical Islam offered the chance for a new rebirth of American confidence, a purifying of the American soul in a titanic struggle against a suitably implacable and ominous enemy.

Resurgent military influence and a supportive political philosophy, Bacevich writes, joined with other powerful societal influences to support the new Amer-


ican militarism. One was a shift in America’s attitude toward its military forces, from the low point of the failed Iranian hostage rescue mission to Ronald Reagan’s deliberate insertion of soldierly virtues as the best embodiment of citizenship. “Thus too did the soldier—now set apart from his or her fellow citizens—become the preeminent icon of the Reagan recovery,” Bacevich asserts. “Soldiers refurbished the nation’s ideals and embodied its new sense of purpose.” Bacevich goes on to point to a series of popular movies to illustrate the shift in attitudes from antiwar themes to hits like Top Gun and Hunt for Red October. The election of Bill Clinton, with a famous anti-war background, only accelerated the use of soldiers and military themes as props. Clinton not only used Reaganesque rhetoric and stage-managing (to the point of learning how to salute, a Reagan innovation), but he also proved more willing to use force overseas, though usually with reluctance.

At the same time that Presidents were stage-managing the military back into popular acclaim, Bacevich writes, the Christian Right emerged as a powerful force in the nation’s life—and in its politics. Again as a reaction to societal confusion during and after the Vietnam War, the evangelical movement touched something deeply felt in a part of America far removed from Woodstock and Berkeley. Evangelical Christians had not always been pro-military, but beginning with World War II, Christian leaders had begun a process of identifying religious values with anticommunism, American principles, and the vision of the “City on the Hill.” In a manner remarkably similar to the original neocon movement, the Christian Right early on identified the loss of American military preeminence as a challenge of evil versus good. Proof, Bacevich writes, is seen in the manner in which the religious right fell out with their coreligionist Jimmy Carter, who, in their eyes, proved too weak. Reagan’s “evil empire” speech resonated with the Christian Right, as did President Bush’s “Axis of Evil.”

At some point, Bacevich says, the military and the evangelical right began to share common viewpoints, notably on “traditional values” and common themes of patriotism and America’s role in the world. The religious outlook of the officer corps, previously restrained Episcopalianism, tilted toward evangelical Christianity, and the makeup of the Chaplains’ Corps followed suit. This is not to say that the officer corps has become a radicalized Christian body. To the extent that the officer corps reflects society at large, the corps has moved in the direction of fundamentalism, but the orientation of the average officer is far more pragmatic and professional than religious. More important, evangelicals have created a predisposition in American society to think of American military power as inherently good, and to support the use of American power overseas as morally justifiable. In doing so, they support American militarism.

Bacevich then traces the evolution of American strategic thinking from the end of World War II through Bernard Brodie, to Albert Wohlstetter, dean of American strategic nuclear thinkers, and his and others’ influence on American policy before and after Vietnam. As military leaders began their reform, Wohlstetter set out to reform the way American leaders thought about war. He became an early proponent of a ballistic missile defense. Further, he quickly saw that precision weapons offered new ways to fight that not only provided a discriminate way to use force, but also opened up new op-


portunities for high-tech militaries to transform the nature of war itself. Indeed, Bacevich points out, the theorists saw that the real problem was the removal of despotic regimes, now possible with precise weaponry that avoided unnecessary civilian casualties by collapsing command structures, rather than by attrition.

All this added up to a revolution in military affairs, and the person who took up the challenge of moving the new strategies from theories into reality was Andrew Marshall, who sought to spell out the implications of these new technological possibilities, to build a consensus for military reform, and to weaken the hold of conservative military practices so the new weapons and new strategies could be reality. Marshall’s research not only found favor among military intellectuals, Bacevich points out, but the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) also fit the mood of the 1980s and 90s, when the old international order was changing, and columnist Thomas Friedman of The New York Times would write, “The emerging global order needs an enforcer. That’s America’s new burden.”

In his penultimate chapter, Bacevich traces the United States’ involvement in the Middle East, beginning with the winding down of the Soviet Union and the collapse, in the early 1980s, of America’s strategic position in the Persian Gulf. Bacevich labels the ensuing struggles in the region, to which every recent American administration has contributed, as the “true World War IV, begun in 1980 and now well into its third decade.” In cataloguing US policy in the region over the past 25 years, Bacevich provides a useful history of how the Mideast became a major theater for American military strategy.

Bacevich’s final chapter sums up his views: America has become so accustomed to using military power that it has “so mangled the concept of the common defense as to make it all but unrecognizable.” He suggests a return to the original intent of the founders—to employ military power for the benefit of the American public, and not to reform the world; to revitalize the separation of powers; to view force as a last resort; to enhance US self-sufficiency; and other points, one most critical— to revive the concept of the citizen-soldier with encouragements and inducements to promote service, and to break down barriers between the military and civil society. “The twentieth century was a shipwreck,” he says, “The new American militarism materialized as a reaction to profound disorientation and collective distress. . . . The ailments were real, but the remedy turned out to be toxic.”

What should one make of this book? Clearly, it should be on professional reading lists as a thoughtful, if dark, view of the American military experience. Few now remain on active duty who remember the transition to the all-volunteer military services, or the public moods and attitudes that prevailed before Vietnam began the chain of events in American society that Bacevich says were the springboard for today’s military environment.

Bacevich’s scholarship suffers when the text becomes polemic, which happens too often for comfort. He sees history darkly, for example, in his assertion that General Creighton Abrams designed the post-Vietnam Army to tie the hands of civilian policymakers. (Confronted with a very real NATO mission, Abrams was also wringing as much combat power as possible out of deep cuts in Army force structure.) Likewise, President Carter was confronted with a profound strategic


challenge in the Persian Gulf; not only was our closest ally overthrown by a hostile theocracy, but the Soviets, newly aggressive in the post-Vietnam world, were believed on the brink of invading Iran and driving to the neck of the Gulf. By using selective history—not the first to do so—Bacevich undercuts his arguments.

The author’s solutions also disappoint. If American militarism is the result of fundamental social currents resulting from the humiliation of Vietnam and the unrest of the 1960s and 70s, then remedies should also address changing social and strategic outlooks, not urging Congress to change itself or to suggest greater inducements to enlist. If the neoconservative movement can attain positions of influence and power in so short a time, and can carry with them American policy, then some countervailing notion will have to follow the same path. Certainly the creation of a contrary idea to unchecked Wilsonian interventionism should be both an intellectual and a national priority, and could well underpin a new conservative manifesto. Similar arguments can be made for a revitalization of post-RMA strategic thought and for the Army’s intellectual underpinnings when the post-Iraq reconstruction begins—in fact, it has already begun.

Andrew Bacevich’s efforts so far have yielded a thorough analysis and a credible thesis, but antidotes are still wanting. That said, this is an immensely interesting and provocative study, and one which should be read by every military and civilian professional with an interest in the role of the military services and their influence on American policy.

1776. By David McCullough. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005. 400 pages. $32.00. Reviewed by Colonel Cole C. Kingseed, USA Ret., Former Chief of Military History, US Military Academy, 1999-2001.

Writing to General George Washington on New Year’s Day, 1777, Robert Morris wrote, “The year 1776 is over. I am heartily glad of it and I hope you nor America will ever be plagued with such another.” The commander-in-chief of the Continental Army most likely would have concurred. Though the year began with such promise with the British evacuation of Boston and concluded with a surprise victory against the Hessians at Trenton, Washington had endured a series of catastrophic defeats on Long Island in August and during the subsequent withdrawal from New York City and the retreat across New Jersey. In the wake of a British proclamation promising free and general pardon to anyone who took an oath of allegiance to the King, thousands in New Jersey flocked to the British camps to declare their loyalty.

In his latest history, Pulitzer Prize-winner David McCullough transfers his literary focus from the revolutionary ideals that characterized his award-winning biographies of John Adams and Harry S. Truman to the lives of the American soldier and the dramatic events on which the war hinged in 1776. The result is a superb analysis of the human dimension of war from the perspective of the senior commanders on both sides to the individual soldiers who bore the primary responsibility of waging the war. As with his other major works, McCullough writes for the general public, weaving a provocative tale around a small army of ardent nationalists who refused to submit to


British rule. McCullough’s description of American camp life in early 1776 is particularly interesting.

Unlike the author’s previous works, this book concentrates on individuals rather than political events as McCullough opines that the events that occurred in Philadelphia in July 1776 would have come to nothing had it not been for the soldiers marching with Washington. At that level, the ultimate American victory was hardly inevitable, and the revolutionary spirit could have been extinguished several times in the summer and autumn of 1776. Why it was not is the heart of McCullough’s story.

At the center of the drama is George Washington, whom McCullough views as neither a brilliant strategist or tactician, nor a gifted orator or intellectual. The commander-in-chief who emerges in these pages is one who consistently made serious mistakes in judgment and one who displayed marked indecisiveness during crucial moments of battle. Despite these failings, Washington learned steadily from experience and never forgot what was at stake. Perhaps his greatest achievement was keeping the Continental Army intact as it evolved into the most visible symbol of American resistance.

Surrounding Washington is a remarkable cast of supporting characters, including two untried New Englanders, Nathanael Greene and Henry Knox. The Continental commander considered these officers “the best of the raw materials” with whom he had to work. Greene is certainly one of McCullough’s favorite commanders. Of the American generals who participated in the Siege of Boston, only two were actively engaged at the war’s conclusion, Washington and Greene. Though illness prevented Greene from participating in the Battle of Long Island, he returned to perform invaluable service in the subsequent campaign. Despite Greene’s disastrous recommendation to defend Fort Washington, which capitulated on November 16, the commander-in-chief retained Greene in command—a decision that McCullough opines was one of Washington’s wisest. In the campaign in the south during 1780-1781, Greene repaid Washington’s confidence and evolved into America’s “most brilliant commander of the war.”

McCullough holds Knox in equal esteem and posits that the two officers found themselves “increasingly important in the overall command and nearly always in agreement on matters of consequence.” McCullough is particularly impressed with Knox’s success in transporting the captured cannon from Fort Ticonderoga to Dorchester Heights outside Boston. Such a feat seemed straight from a Homeric epic. At Trenton, Knox served brilliantly as Washington’s crossing-force commander and then played a pivotal role in the British defeat at Princeton.

On the British side, General William Howe receives low marks, while Generals Henry Clinton and Charles Cornwallis emerge as the most adroit commanders in the war. It is Clinton who devised then executed the tactical plan that routed Washington’s forces on Long Island. Later Clinton ran afoul of Howe, the British commander-in-chief in North America, and was transferred to an inconsequential post until 1778, when he replaced Howe as overall commander.

McCullough reserves his greatest praise for Cornwallis, whom he portrays as “enterprising and aggressive” in his pursuit of the Continental Army. At


Princeton, Cornwallis briefly falters and allows Washington to slip away to fight another day. Four years later, it is Cornwallis who crushes Horatio Gates’s army at Camden, South Carolina, and pursues the retreating Continentals into neighboring North Carolina.

Ultimate American victory was years ahead, but it was Trenton where the Americans persevered in their country’s darkest hour. The subsequent American triumph at Princeton notwithstanding, the Battle of Trenton marks the war’s first turning point. After months of military defeats, Washington demonstrated his audacity and tactical acumen in transporting his army across the Delaware and annihilating the Hessian outpost. With the victory of Trenton came the realization that Washington’s army had bested the enemy and so might do so again. According to one British observer, Washington’s “rabble must henceforth be regarded with new respect.”

West Point: Two Centuries and Beyond. Edited by Lance Betros. Abilene, Texas: McWhiney Foundation Press, 2004. 623 pages. $29.95. Reviewed by Dr. Conrad Crane (LTC, USA Ret.), Director, US Army Military History Institute.

After 20 years as Professor and Head of the Department of History at the US Military Academy (USMA), Brigadier General (Ret.) Robert Doughty left that post this summer. This volume is one of his many legacies, the record of a scholarly conference conducted to celebrate West Point’s rich history on the occasion of its bicentennial in 2002. Edited by his capable successor, Colonel Lance Betros, this book is a model for a compilation of symposium presentations. It features a lively selection of the best products of the gathering, contributions from the most distinguished scholars in the field, tight editing, and a more than reasonable price.

Colonel Betros highlights five general themes that emerge from the 24 articles included in the collection. The first is that USMA has done much more to influence the military profession than just providing commissioned officers. The second and third are that the institution has traditionally been very conservative and favored continuity over change, but once leaders realize that change is unavoidable, they normally respond well. The fourth theme traces the nation’s ambivalence about West Point and emphasizes that Americans still remain uneasy about a college devoted exclusively to producing military professionals. The last thread woven through the selections is that despite many trials and tribulations, overall the Academy’s educational programs have been successful at preparing its graduates for the complex demands of their military careers.

The compendium is divided into five sections. The first features articles by renowned scholars William B. Skelton and Theodore J. Crackel, analyzing West Point’s contributions to officer professionalism during the periods 1817-1877 and 1877-1917, respectively. The most entertaining part of this volume comes next, as distinguished biographers of famous graduates reflect on their subjects’ exploits. Dik Alan Daso’s description of Hap Arnold’s years as a cadet, including his leadership of a group of pranksters known as the “Black Hand,” is particularly illuminating. Carlo D’Este provides a similar analysis of George Patton’s cadet days, while


Robert S. Norris writes about Leslie Groves and his work with the atomic bomb, and Lewis Sorley closes the section with a piece on how Creighton Abrams’ principled leadership reflected the values instilled at West Point.

The middle grouping of articles focuses primarily on attempts to reform West Point and the Academy’s response to change. Especially noteworthy is Brian McAllister Linn’s insightful look at West Point during the Cold War, a period of lost opportunities that highlights many of the institutional obstacles that have beguiled reformers since the Academy’s inception. Another particularly informative piece is Gerardo Meneses’s description of post-Cold War challenges, including a revealing discussion of the debates over the costs of a West Point education. The fourth section covers the issue of minorities at USMA, with provocative essays on Henry O. Flipper, buffalo soldiers at West Point, Chinese cadets, and the integration of women. The closing segment, which makes up a third of the volume, allowed serving deans and department heads to provide historical summaries of the evolution of their discipline in the USMA curriculum. Subjects covered include history, geography and environmental engineering, sociology, law, foreign languages, national security studies, computing, and mathematics.

Anyone interested in the history of West Point should own this book. However, it also has much of interest for general military historians and military sociologists, as well as for anyone dealing with issues of leadership and military professionalism. Colonel Betros has provided an insightful examination of the institutional evolution of USMA. One hopes his History Department will continue to conduct periodic gatherings on the subject, and not wait until his own retirement, or the tricentennial, for the next one.

China’s Rise in Asia: Promises and Perils. By Robert G. Sutter. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005. 297 pages. $69.00 ($24.95 paper). Reviewed by Richard Halloran, formerly with The New York Times as a foreign correspondent in Asia, who writes about Asia and US relations with Asia from Honolulu.

This is a carefully researched, well reasoned, and balanced assessment of the most pervasive security challenge of our times, the emergence of China as a political, economic, and military power. Even more than the threat from Islamic terror, the strength of China will go far in determining how our children and grandchildren live out their hopes and ambitions.

The author, Robert G. Sutter, a scholar at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., asserts an intriguing argument: “China’s approach to foreign affairs after the Cold War is strongly influenced by and related to the United States. Chinese leaders consistently view the United States as the greatest power in Asia and the most important power affecting Chinese interests in the region.”

At the same time, he writes, “China’s behavior toward the United States varied between postures of confrontation and cordiality.” For the most part, China’s leaders have calculated that they “needed the United States for economic and technological progress.” In particular, China’s export market in the United States in


2004 ran to $197 billion, second only to Canada’s $256 billion and well ahead of Mexico’s $156 billion and Japan’s $130 billion.

Even so, confrontations pop up frequently. As this review is written, a Chinese general, Zhu Chenghu, has stirred up a good bit of dust by stating that China would employ nuclear weapons against American cities if the United States interfered with a Chinese assault to conquer the island of Taiwan. Several commentators brushed off the warning as so much bluster, but the State Department took it seriously enough to declare it “highly irresponsible” even if the general said it was only his personal view.

Sutter, who served as a national intelligence officer at the Central Intelligence Agency from 1999 to 2001, faults the Bush Administration for failing to frame a cohesive policy on China’s rise. “The Bush Administration,” he writes, “entered office without a clear China policy.” Sutter said Administration officials recognized the increasing prominence of China but were unsure whether China would emerge “as a friend or foe of the United States.”

When a Chinese fighter collided with an American EP-3 reconnaissance plane in April 2001 and spiraled into the South China Sea, the Administration “was prepared to see US-China relations worsen if necessary.” Then, Sutter contends, Chinese leaders “seemed to recognize that if US-China relations were to avoid further deterioration, it was up to China to take steps to improve ties.”

“Beijing saw its interests best served by a stance that muted differences and sought common ground,” Sutter says. In response, he writes, the Bush Administration sought “to calm the concerns of friends and allies in Asia over the state of US-China relations and to pursue areas of common ground in trade and other areas with the PRC [People’s Republic of China].”

After 9/11, the Bush Administration sought Chinese cooperation against terrorists and especially in dealing with North Korea’s provocative nuclear weapons program. Sutter traces the ups and downs in US-China policy after that, concluding that the Bush Administration “has done a better job than the Clinton Administration in balancing a firm US posture against possible or real Chinese pressure.”

Despite its merits, Sutter’s book is marred by two serious flaws. The first is the absence of Chinese voices as primary sources to support what seem to be realistic conclusions. The author relies too much on the analyses of American specialists and other outside observers, rather than treating the reader to the thoughts and words of the Chinese themselves. Of the 52 endnotes to the vital chapter on the Taiwan issue, for instance, only three refer to sources with Chinese names. One endnote, in particular, says: “The author met with fifty government and non-government specialists in the PRC and forty such specialists in Taiwan during late May 2000.” This reviewer longed to know the positions they held, even if they could not be named, and to read exactly what they had to say.

The second flaw is the chapter on Taiwan, which was relegated to the back of the book, Chapter 8 of 11 chapters. That made the Taiwan question seem to be just another problem rather than the most serious issue between China and the United States, as the Chinese have insisted since President Richard Nixon and Chairman Mao Zedong met in 1972.


Moreover, for an old China hand, Sutter seemed careless in some of his language about the Taiwan issue. He wrote of the possible “reunification” of Taiwan with China or the “return” of Taiwan to China. Many people in Taiwan, of whatever political persuasion, argue that Taiwan has never been part of Communist China and thus “reunification” and “return” are inappropriate words.

Sutter says President Bush has told the Chinese that he “opposes” Taiwan independence, which is erroneous. The President has said he “does not support” Taiwan independence, which is different in nuance—and nuance is the lifeblood of diplomacy. As another old China hand once said, the international debate over Taiwan has risen to the level of “theology,” a theology worthy of the finest Jesuitical or Talmudic elucidation, and should be examined as such.

What We Owe Iraq: War and the Ethics of Nation Building. By Noah Feldman. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2004. 200 pages. $19.95. Reviewed by Lieutenant Colonel Raymond A. Millen, Director, Regional Security Affairs, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.

Noah Feldman’s What We Owe Iraq is a thought-provoking and enlightening study of modern nation-building. As a former constitutional advisor for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, Feldman witnessed the ardent yet tumultuous process of reconstructing Iraq as a liberal democracy. The brevity of this 131-page book, organized in just three chapters, belies the profundity of the author’s insights and conclusions regarding the apparently irreconcilable notions of morality and realpolitik. In essence, each chapter addresses the rectitude of nation-building in terms of end-state, rationale, and means. Although the book is a bit dated (published before the Iraqi elections), Feldman’s main points transcend the current situation in Iraq, providing an intellectual roadmap for possible future nation-building endeavors.

Chapter One, “Nation Building: Objectives,” encompasses the core of Feldman’s thesis, underscored by realist deductive reasoning. In the post-Cold War era, nation-building has become integral to national security because terrorist organizations operating out of weak or failed states pose a significant threat to others. Weak and failed states as well as states with perceived illegitimate governments are the most likely breeding grounds for terrorist organizations. Since terrorist organizations are amorphous, the logical objective is “to build stable, legitimate states whose own citizens will not seek to destroy us . . . [hence] the creation of reasonably legitimate, reasonably liberal democracies.”

Feldman next proceeds on a non-realist track by observing that the traditional realist rationale of supporting friendly but unjust regimes, as part of the war on terror, is no longer ethically supportable or strategically practical, because the question of governmental legitimacy is the keystone of counterinsurgency strategy. Hence the US objective in Iraq “ought to be restricted to creating a reasonably just and democratic state that is acceptable to the Iraqis.” The author’s most insightful point is the recognition that national self-interest can be compatible with moral motivation if the outcome serves the interests of the indigenous population. Hence, any


denunciation of nation-building as simply serving national self-interests, even when it promotes prosperity and representative democracy, is intellectually bankrupt. A national security goal which serves both national security interests and moral principals is the definition of ethical responsibility.

Feldman does not claim that nation-building in Iraq will be easy. Rebuilding a destroyed state is inherently time-consuming and costly. Nevertheless, once embarked on this course, it becomes the duty of the United States to meet its obligations. More ominous, he points out that failure in Iraq by virtue of a premature withdrawal would create a sanctuary for terrorists with access to oil, resulting in a humanitarian disaster and creating endemic regional and global instability.

The second chapter, “Trusteeship, Paternalism, and Self-Interest,” addresses past strategic errors of postwar periods, victorious European powers, the League of Nations, and subsequent United Nations actions related to nation-building, and concludes with a calculus for success. Feldman observes that in the past occupying powers assumed an international mandate of trusteeship, which provided the authority to govern a nascent state until an established government assumed the reins. Unfortunately, in many cases, either out of frustration, arrogance, or political expediency, paternalism and overriding national self-interest tainted the concept of trusteeship, undermining true self-determination and basic freedoms. Feldman does not believe that the concept of trusteeship is unredeemable; rather, his model charges the occupying power with the duty to subordinate its interests to the governed and permit citizen participation through “public speech, assembly, and participation in the administration of the government.” Ethically, the nation-builder is on much firmer ground when placing greater faith in the abilities of the indigenous people. This does not imply a total hands-off attitude, for a need exists to assist the new state by providing a security guarantee, an environment of law and order, and the “formation of basic institutions necessary for a stable, democratic state.” Feldman believes this approach is the best way to avoid the stigma of paternalism and subordination of the people’s interests. In essence, trusteeship means letting the people find their own way under the trustee’s guiding hand.

As the title of the final chapter implies, “The Magic of Elections and the Way Home,” elections promise the most effective and ethically supportable means of establishing an enduring and functional liberal democracy in Iraq, permitting the eventual withdrawal of Coalition troops. However, Feldman points out that elections are not the end-state nor the end of the nation-builder’s obligation to the client. They are simply a means to an end and must provide definitive milestones if they are to have any merit. He again emphasizes that the fundamental and enduring duty of the nation-builder is to provide security until the political institutions can operate on their own. This obligation means resisting temptations to depart quickly, since a premature withdrawal will in all likelihood result in a failed state and the possible need to return. With security established, reconstruction of basic utilities accomplished, and time for the formation of political parties, Iraq can build on the elections to develop a true representative government. Feldman concludes that the nation-builder has the responsibility to provide the conditions and opportunity for nationhood and sovereignty, but in the end, only the Iraqis can “keep it, if they can.”


Feldman’s book is a valuable tool for political-military specialists as well as strategists. He has successfully distilled the essential principles required for nation-building, the likely political and ethical dilemmas, and the milestones needed to achieve Iraqi sovereignty. The author’s logic is well-grounded, addressing America’s national security concerns without compromising its ethical obligations. In short, Feldman has succeeded in providing a useful primer for nation-building, regardless of the context or state.

The Future of Arms Control. By Michael A. Levi and Michael E. O’Hanlon. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2004. 191 pages. $44.95 ($18.95 paper). Reviewed by Stephen Blank, Professor of National Security Studies, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.

Arms control, in the sense of first regulating and then diminishing the number of nuclear weapons that the superpowers could use in a war and in reducing tensions that could lead to a war, was the leitmotif of the Cold War. As that strategic environment has vanished, the function, utility, and importance of a different kind of arms control has risen to the fore and supplanted the old definition of this term. This new definition and agenda revolve around preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, nuclear materials, and destructive pathogens—i.e., weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Consequently, with the transformation of the strategic landscape since the 1990s, an entirely new agenda centered around nonproliferation of WMD now drives international politics.

There has been an efflorescence of literature on the altered strategic environment since the end of the Cold War, on aspects of this new arms control agenda, on why deterrence as classically conceived either works or does not work. Yet this reviewer is not aware of any single book that comprehensively addresses the entire agenda of contemporary arms control, until this one. In that sense this is a work we have been waiting for, and it is well worth the wait. This is not to say that this reviewer or any other reader, for that matter, will agree with every assessment and policy recommendation made by the authors. That is not the case, nor would the authors’ case necessarily be well served if everyone simply nodded in agreement.

The virtues of this book lie elsewhere. In addressing the totality of issues connected to the new arms control and nonproliferation agenda, the authors have written a work that is a masterpiece of comprehensiveness, concision, and lucidity. They have addressed all the key issues clearly and fairly, even when they adopt a policy stance or intellectual position that is subject to debate and criticism. In this manner the authors have created a book that will be a foundation and reference, and possibly a textbook, for several years to come in all discussions of how to address the new arms control agenda.

However, as noted above, not everyone will agree with everything in its pages. For instance, the authors make clear that in some cases war may well be preferable to an illusory peace and that “arms control can help establish the legal, moral, and strategic predicates for taking coercive action, including military action.” They


rightly insist that enforcement is essential to any successful arms control program and that the lack of it vitiates international peace and security. These are not necessarily popular views among much of the arms control fraternity. But unlike much of the former arms control community, which tends to see arms control as an end in itself, the authors insist that arms control should be part of a broader American national security strategy, not a substitute for it or an adjunct.

Thus, their definition of arms control—which centers on the need to prevent the spread of WMD by international action to constrain the development, production, and use of dangerous technologies—is a robust definition that does not shrink from force where necessary. Even if we should prefer to find negotiated settlements for arms control, those settlements will always be coercive in that the offending party will be obliged to give up certain actions and policies in response to superior pressure, or possibly the threat of force or its actual use. In other words, the authors refuse to accept the idea that arms control can be divorced from strategy or politics, a common failing among many writers who focus exclusively on that aspect of international security. As a result, Michael Levi and Michael O’Hanlon have produced a work that will be a starting point for all future debates on this subject and which itself will probably be the target of many debaters. That is no small achievement, and one for which we should heartily thank them.

The Heirs of Archimedes: Science and the Art of War through the Age of Enlightenment. Edited by Brett D. Steele and Tamera Dorland. Dibner Institute Studies in the History of Science and Technology Series. Jed Z. Buchwald, general editor. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 2005. 397 pages. $55.00. Reviewed by Dr. J. Boone Bartholomees, Jr., Professor of Military History, US Army War College.

The Heirs of Archimedes is a collection of essays on the development of science and technology in relation to warfare in the period between roughly 1350 and 1800. The thesis is that early-modern mathematicians, chemists, and natural philosophers; mechanics, architects, and engineers; and military engineers, artillerymen, and navigators adapted contemporary scientific theory to military practice. The editors refer to Archimedes in the title because the ancient Greek, who is best known today for his mathematical and scientific accomplishments, was more famous during the early Renaissance as the designer and coordinator of the defenses of Syracuse against a Roman siege in 212 BC—a defense that ultimately failed and cost Archimedes his life. The point is that Archimedes did not invent any new defensive works, engines, or systems; instead, he integrated the existing science and technology to better exploit its capabilities. For the editors he thus represents a personal union of science and the art of war. Their contention is that Renaissance and Enlightenment scientists continued the Archimedean tradition of infusing military practice with rigorous scientific reasoning, and modern historians have overlooked or ignored that trend. The editors assert, “While historians of science are ambivalent about tackling early modern military issues, military historians conversely choose to ignore early modern science.” The col-


lection of essays, which originated as papers at two academic conferences in 1998 and 1999, aims to begin correcting that imbalance.

The essays fall in four general groups. The first deals with the introduction of gunpowder and frankly finds no connection between scientific thought and the introduction or acceptance of gunpowder. The articles are interesting, but basically are military history for the specialist. The science theme emerges much more strongly in the second section about naval warfare. Unfortunately, there is little connection there to the military or warfare. An excellent article on the Mary Rose addresses the evolution of the warship, but not in terms of the evolution of science. Articles on the development of navigation, particularly the challenge of determining longitude at sea, show mathematicians working diligently to solve problems with military implications; however, the examples are all work done for private entrepreneurial enterprises (like Walter Raleigh working for the Virginia Company).

The third section on the production of gunpowder really begins to draw the promised link between science and the art of war, although the linkages are tenuous. Most of the material in respective articles about English and Swedish saltpeter production is about policy, technology, or mechanical considerations. In Seymour H. Mauskopf’s excellent article about 18th-century English and French gunpowder production, we get direct coupling of science and the military. However, the linkage is still less than spectacular. Louis XVI appointed Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, one of the founders of modern chemistry, as one of four directors on the French national commission for gunpowder. Lavoisier had been conducting classic experiments on gunpowder composition using Priestley’s discovery of oxygen as a theoretical basis and was appointed to the commission specifically to leverage his chemical background. Mauskopf also shows systematic experimentation in both England and France in attempts to improve the quality of gunpowder.

The fourth section of two essays on military engineering and artillery shows the most direct and extensive linkage between science and the military art. An excellent article by Janis Langins of the University of Toronto on French fortification theory after Vauban ties science closely to warfare in terms of strength of materials, topography, soil mechanics, and descriptive geometry. Langins shows where scientific investigation and military application supported one another and where they did not—deciding that historians may have actually overemphasized the connection. For example, exercises in determining defilade were popular instructive tools in descriptive geometry; however, practicing military engineers did not use the technique for building forts. And pseudo-science crept into the picture when people started trying to quantify the effectiveness of fortifications in terms of the “moment of the fortification” that related the cost of construction to the expected duration of siege it could withstand. One of the editors, Brett Steele, contributed the final essay. Not surprisingly it deals most directly and specifically with the announced thesis of the book. The essay is a survey of 18th-century scientific development and its application to military affairs. Steele concludes, however, that the links were tenuous although they intensified in fields like ballistics and navigation during the century. He suggests a more profound impact of the sciences on how military men thought, but admits that is not proven.


In sum, The Heirs of Archimedes appear to be pretenders. The essays, although consistently good and occasionally superior, simply do not add up to demonstrate a major connection between the sciences and the art of war during the late Renaissance and Enlightenment.

Bridging the Gap: Ethnicity, Legitimacy, and State Alignment in the International System. By Cindy R. Jebb. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2004. 380 pages. $80.00. Reviewed by Dr. W. Andrew Terrill, Research Professor of National Security Affairs, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.

Cindy Jebb’s Bridging the Gap is a useful and moderately interesting study of Egyptian and Syrian foreign policy decisionmaking during both the Cold War and post-Cold War eras. The title of the book refers to the author’s efforts to bridge the gap between the theoretical literature on comparative politics and that of international relations as they relate to foreign policy behavior. The title is unfortunate since it fails to mention Egypt and Syria, although their political activities are the central focus of this book. The title is descriptive of the author’s general thesis, however, which examines how ethnic and sectarian religious divisions influence state legitimacy and how either a reserve or lack of state legitimacy influences international behavior by the nations in question.

Jebb employs the case study method to examine domestic inputs into foreign policymaking in the Arab World. She uses Egypt and Syria as her subjects, selecting two examples of each nation’s key international decisions. These examples are Egypt’s decision to realign from the Soviet to the US sphere of influence, Syria’s decision to seek and obtain a treaty of friendship and alliance with the Soviet Union, and the decision by both states to participate in the 1990-1991 US-led international coalition against Saddam Hussein. Jebb chose Egypt and Syria as subjects for her research because there are strong differences between the regimes and political cultures of the two nations. She identifies Egypt as a nation with an impressive level of national unity and Syria as a society that has been badly fragmented by sectarian religious cleavages. These nations are therefore usefully contrasted with each other to examine the variables in question.

The most interesting aspect of the study is probably the contrast between Egyptian and Syrian behavior during the 1990-91 Gulf War and crisis. President Mubarak is viewed as having a much greater range of options in dealing with foreign policy due to Egyptian national unity and what Jebb describes as an Egyptian popular proclivity to support the state reflexively and then to ask questions. By contrast, she maintains that Syrian President Assad was a deeply cautious leader who painstakingly sought to build a domestic consensus on foreign policy decisions prior to implementing them. Nevertheless, her chosen example of the 1990-91 Gulf crisis does not quite clinch her case that Assad was overly constrained by domestic politics. Jebb illustrates only that Assad wanted to build a popular consensus before he supported the 1991 US intervention in Iraq and not that he was prepared to allow the continuing popular sentiment against the Iraq intervention to derail his policy. It


could equally be argued that having failed to convince his countrymen of the need to do so, Assad supported the anti-Iraqi coalition anyway and was vindicated in this decision by a largely successful outcome. Unaddressed in this work is the Syrian intervention in Lebanon in 1976 that was praised by President Gerald Ford but was also apparently quite unpopular with many Syrians. Here again, Assad appears to view the domestic consensus that Jebb speaks about as a very worthwhile luxury but not an absolute necessity for undertaking decisive and controversial actions.

Throughout the study, this work has the appearance of a lightly-edited doctoral dissertation. It is written with extensive references to the scholarly literature on Egypt and Syria in the time frame under examination as well as various theoretical discussions of ethnicity and legitimacy. Unfortunately, some of the theoretical literature the author identifies uses the concept of ethnicity and religious sectarianism in a more or less interchangeable way, and Jebb fails to challenge this approach in a clear and open way. Her treatment of the area studies literature is much better. Much of the Middle East studies literature she considers is from the 1980s and early 1990s, since this is the period where the case studies she has identified were most extensively considered. Her analysis of studies by such fine scholars as R. D. McLaurin, Lewis W. Snider, and Gregory Aftandilian during this time frame is almost certainly an exercise worth undertaking, and she does a good job of synthesizing and summarizing a great deal of complex material. Some of her data are outdated, such as when she projects outward to the population of Cairo in 2000, but this does not seriously mar the work.

Despite the clear value of this work, it is not always clear who is the intended audience for this study. As noted, it is an excellent review and reiteration of area studies issues and may at least sharpen our thinking about Egyptian and Syrian decisionmaking. It may also be helpful for those scholars considering challenges and issues related to legitimacy and ethnicity in the modern nation-state. This study is also valuable for international security specialists, although the reasons for such value may not be obvious and in some ways it may even be accidental. By considering the policymaking constraints on various Middle Eastern nations, and particularly a religiously divided Syria, one is again warned of complications that will face any emerging Iraqi government at both the foreign and domestic levels as it struggles with issues related to sectarianism, ethnic diversity, and state legitimacy. Such a government (it is hoped) will not have a dictatorial leader such as Hafez Assad to impose some sort of resolution in deciding controversial foreign policy matters, so it will have to devise very different approaches to the crisis of legitimacy that Jebb considers.

The Pentagon and the Presidency: Civil-Military Relations from FDR to George W. Bush. By Dale R. Herspring. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2005. 490 pages. $45.00. Reviewed by Dr. Richard M. Meinhart, Associate Professor, Defense and Joint Processes, US Army War College.

If one wants to gain an understanding and appreciation of civil-military relations between our nation’s military leaders and the presidency, then reading this well-organized book is definitely worth the effort. Herspring bases his assessment of the


degree of conflict experienced between senior military officers and civilians on how well a particular President and other senior politically appointed administration members understand and respect individual service cultures and the military overall. The characteristics he uses to determine whether civilian leaders respect that culture are primarily based on the President’s overall leadership style and on how well the presidency and military interact in the following four areas: the use of force; roles, missions, and resources; personnel policies; and responsibility and honor. In essence, his thesis is that the processes associated with decisionmaking are more important in determining the degree of civil-military conflict, rather than whether the actual decisions made by civilian leaders diverge from professional military advice or adversely affect the military.

Herspring defines the preferred presidential leadership style and four related cultural characteristics in sufficient detail in the first chapter, giving the reader a basis to understand and critically assess the material presented in subsequent chapters. For leadership style, the author posits that if military leaders are consulted and given an avenue for meaningful input into the decisionmaking process, then the likelihood of conflict with civilian leaders is much lower. Within the use-of-force characteristic, conflict is lessened if civilians provide the military with a clear and unambiguous chain of command, where civilians clearly set the strategic political goals but military leaders have an appropriate level of operational and tactical autonomy. Within the roles, missions, and resources characteristic, military leaders expect their technological knowledge related to missions and resources to be respected by civilian leaders; otherwise, conflict is bound to increase. Within the personnel policies characteristic, military leaders appreciate the political role in appointing military officers to positions of senior leadership, but believe these appointments must be based on competency, and that these military leaders should then have the authority to control their internal personnel policies. The last characteristic, and perhaps the most nebulous, is responsibility and honor. In essence, Herspring contends that the military will respect and consequently have less conflict with civilian leaders if these leaders assume personal responsibility for the final outcome of military operations. Additionally, it is important that civilian leaders conform to the same standards outlined in the military code of conduct.

In examining this complex and challenging civil-military relationship issue, Herspring appropriately allots a chapter to each President starting with Franklin Roosevelt and ending with George W. Bush. This permits the reader to focus on a particular administration to determine the nature and magnitude of any conflict. The author concludes each chapter with a brief summary of the presidential leadership style, whether civilian leaders violated service or military culture, and finally whether there were any major changes in service or military culture during their tenures. This summary affords the reader an economical use of his or her time; if a particular administration is not of great interest, skipping to a chapter’s conclusion provides a quick perspective. Finally, in his last chapter, Herspring uses a simple scale of high, moderate, and minimal to categorize the degree of conflict each President had with the military. The author qualifies this scale with an acknowledgment that “this notional taxonomy makes no claim of exactitude.”


The chapter organization, along with the overall framework used to qualitatively assess civil-military relations based on culture, contribute to the book’s strength. Another of its strengths is that the historical examples the author uses, many of which relate to developing crises or actual war, are simply explained without bludgeoning the reader with details. One shortcoming is that sometimes the author uses secondary source material to analyze historical events, a condition the author acknowledges in the first chapter. Finally, the conflict scale revealed in the last chapter, which places each presidential administration into simplistic minimal, moderate, and high categories, was somewhat surprising and disconcerting. This scale should have been identified earlier, possibly addressed at each chapter’s conclusion as was other material. Additionally, as the author admits, there was no degree of exactness to the scale.

Audiences that would benefit from reading this timely work include military and political leaders at the higher hierarchical levels, along with members of the media or groups who write about or interact with these leaders. The book provides superb insight into the nature of civil-military relations, the overall change to military culture over time, and how military culture affects decisionmaking. Simply, this historical perspective on an important topic allows one to learn from history and then apply the lessons of the past to effectively respond to a complex and uncertain future.

German Strategy and the Path to Verdun: Eric von Falkenhayn and the Development of Attrition, 1870-1916. By Robert T. Foley. Cambridge Military History Series. Hew Strachan and Geoffrey Wawro, general editors. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. 301 pages. $70.00. Reviewed by Dr. Douglas V. Johnson II (LTC, USA Ret.), Research Professor, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.

I like this book because it takes the original thesis beyond mere intellectualizing. While it is very useful in describing the development of intellectual support for two contending schools of thought—Vernichtungsstrategie (a strategy of annihilation) and Ermattungsstrategie (exhaustion warfare or attrition strategy)—several major enabling factors are also developed. The first is a refreshing discussion of the impact of changes in the geopolitical landscape, and the implied need to monitor that landscape closely. A combination of demonstrated performance (the Russo-Japanese War), population growth, and growth of infrastructure (railroads in particular), worked together to have a direct effect upon the relevance and potential application of theory. Falkenhayn understood that shift better than most of his contemporaries, Hans Delbrück excluded. It was Delbrück who first suggested that Volkskrieg (war by total populations) was reemerging, and that put Germany at a strategic disadvantage, especially for pursuing Vernichtungsstrategie.

The second is the connection of tactical realities to strategic theory. For example, in a tactical approach at least as old as Napoleon, there is such a thing as key terrain, and without its possession, a higher-level plan is likely to fail. Also, when the power of the defense is ascendant, as was the case in the first three years of


World War I, the best course of action may reasonably be focused in “maneuvering to a position of advantage” (a phrase increasingly in use today when describing Future Force concepts) in order to make the enemy attack under highly unfavorable conditions. The understanding of this basic tenet was complicated by the fact that Bewegungskrieg, what we today call maneuver warfare, was being practiced during World War I with enormous success on the Eastern Front, at least at the operational level. But the failure to achieve recognizable strategic results in the east before late 1917 compromised efforts to produce decisive action in the west—or so Falkenhayn believed. This led to his third factor.

The third factor affecting Falkenhayn’s efforts to convert the German military establishment’s thinking on strategy was that not-so-often-addressed issue of internal institutional politics that limited his authority. This factor alone was strong enough to compromise both the French and German operations in the field. In Falkenhayn’s case, the near revolt of the “Easterners” was detrimental to the harmonious conduct of the war. In the west, the disobedience of the German 5th Army commander, charged with conducting the attack on Verdun, completely frustrated the plan. It was essential that 5th Army follow a tactical approach that kept casualties to a minimum, and that meant pursuing a specific doctrine, something its commander utterly ignored. Some of this may be explained by the fact that Germany had not actually existed until 1870, and the intervening 40-year period had been insufficient to bring about true unification, even in the most unified of all institutions, the army. Some of it can be explained by the royal structure that placed noble title above demonstrated competence. Foley may not have intended these issues to be key points, but they came through strongly to this reviewer.

The central matter, the portrayal and evaluation of Falkenhayn’s thinking regarding Ermattungsstrategie, and his attempt to validate it via Verdun, is handled well. Foley does an excellent job of bringing the matter to a coherent conclusion. He provides the reader with an understanding of the institutional prejudice for Vernichtungs-strategie; the lack of support for Ermattungsstrategie (a theory not congenial to main-line thinking); Falkenhayn’s personality that constrained his willingness to engage in extended, open discussion; and the realities of an enemy who would not perform according to consensus estimates. As we have come to know too well, the enemy always has a vote, or as Moltke the elder noted, we develop three courses of action and the enemy generally chooses the fourth.

Delbrück’s role in the debate over the efficacy of which strategic approach better fit German requirements is well crafted, reinforcing the argument that it is good to pay attention to the arguments of well-informed, nonmilitary thinkers. The most important point made in this book is that theory and practice often live apart until too late. Foley is convincing in demonstrating that Falkenhayn was indeed one of those who did understand this relationship, but who, for a variety of reasons, could not persuade others to bring the two together. It probably wouldn’t have mattered to the million dead who would just as likely have died elsewhere.

There are a number of weaknesses in this work: First, for $70 the reader should be provided a good, readable map on the primary zone of action about which the tale revolves. An accurate World War I vintage, hachured map may be authentic,


but it is next to useless in a book of this size, and it is even worse when printed on plain paper. The editors are most likely at fault for this oversight, as they are with my next issue. For whatever reason, the style adopted was narrative-summation, narrative-summation, but at no point is the reader alerted that a summation is beginning. His only lead is recognition that the author seems to be repeating himself. This could have been avoided by a small subtitle. Finally, the use of numbers and factors for one side are next to meaningless without some comparable figures for the other. Comparative figures do emerge in the final chapter, but they are derived from a single source. It is this reviewer’s experience that nothing is more contentious about World War I than casualty figures, especially for the French. This fact should have been acknowledged and some effort devoted to explaining variations, particularly since casualty figures are the central measure of a particular strategy’s success. All that said, except for the issue of cost versus a useful map, these criticisms are really mere irritants. The book is truly a fascinating effort well worth reading (if not purchasing at the full retail price).

The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century. By Thomas P. M. Barnett. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2004. 389 pages. $26.95 ($16.00 paper). Reviewed by Colonel George T. Doran, USAF, Director, Strategic Management Systems, US Army War College.

In the world that Thomas P. M. Barnett sees in this book, the world is divided into two parts: those that function as modern societies and those that do not. This book postulates and examines a new version of national security for the 21st century, makes a few suggestions to the President and Secretary of Defense on policies and actions the United States should take, and theorizes what could happen in the next 50 years concerning the global landscape and the role of the United States in shaping that landscape. An unabashed optimist, Mr. Barnett draws a picture of what the world could look like if America puts its considerable resources and influence into effecting the changes he envisions.

Most of this book is devoted to how Mr. Barnett sees the global security landscape. He starts by analyzing where, and for how long, the United States has responded to security incidents around the world during the period 1990-2003. He then draws a circuitous line around the area having the majority of US responses, dividing the world into two parts. The interior half he labels the “Non-Integrating Gap,” or gap countries; the outside he labels the “Functioning Core,” or core countries. While North Korea clearly fits his definition of a gap country, he excludes it from the gap area purely because of geography—the difficulty of including it within his line of contentious areas.

Throughout the book, Mr. Barnett explains what it will take to turn a gap country into a member of the functioning core, what the consequences of failing to accomplish this are, and what the benefits would be. His continuous theme is that only the United States has the economic and military power to kick-start the process of integration and only the United States has the military power to overthrow bad-actor regimes like Saddam Hussein’s. Another theme that echoes throughout is


that the nature of war is changing from state-on-state to state-on-bad-actor. At the end of the book the author prophesizes ten changes that could be coming to alter the global landscape. Some of the short-term predictions are a free Iraq, a reunited Korean peninsula, a freer Iran, and a peaceful end to the Israel-Palestine issue. A longer-term prediction—and in my opinion, the most improbable one—is that by 2050 the United States will have expanded beyond the current 50 states and that Mexico might be one or more of the new states.

While one might not agree with all of his predictions, Mr. Barnett claims to have the ear of senior officers and officials in the Pentagon as well as in other federal departments. His briefing on the core and gap states has been given hundreds of times to senior government officials, and a number of the observations made in the book appear to be coming true. The main attractions of this book are its positive, hopeful vision of the future, an easy-to-read style, and the author’s willingness to make bold predictions without hedging. A criticism worth noting is his heavy-handed promotion of himself and his work.

I would recommend The Pentagon’s New Map to anyone with an interest in the future of national security policy across the globe. The book provides a good overview of the world, an assessment of what works and what doesn’t, and a vision of what the world could look like if the United States puts its enormous resources to work to bring about the possibilities the author describes.

Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America. By James Webb. New York: Broadway Books, 2004. 343 pages. $25.95. Reviewed by Colonel James R. Oman, Chairman, Department of Command, Leadership, and Management, US Army War College.

James Webb, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense, former Secretary of the Navy, acclaimed author, and a descendent of the Scots-Irish people, has once again produced a first-class literary product. Born Fighting represents Webb’s first foray into the historical nonfiction genre and is a significant departure from his six best-selling novels.

What has not changed, though, is the author’s skillful and masterful use of prose. Tremendously well researched and packed with facts and interesting figures, this book fills a void that has long existed. Mr. Webb richly documents the history of the Scots-Irish people, the challenges they faced, how these issues shaped their outlooks, and the significant contributions they have made, individually and collectively.

If you are one of the over 27 million estimated Americans who trace their lineage to the Scots-Irish, then this is a book you should not pass up. Even if you are not of Scots-Irish descent, it is still a fascinating read. I suspect this work may very well inspire many Americans to research their own family history to determine how and where their ancestors contributed to the founding and shaping of America.

In the opening chapters, the author lays his foundation and describes the characteristics of the Scots-Irish. In providing this background Webb discusses “who they are and where they come from” as a means to portray their shared experiences and subsequent contributions—from the military to politics to the arts and entertainment.


Sprinkled with facts and statistics, these chapters serve as an enticement that piques the reader’s interest to discover the rest of the story.

Parts Two and Three, entitled “The Making of a People—and a Nation” and “The Ulster Scots,” provide a detailed and well-documented historical perspective. Webb does a commendable job of tracing nearly 2,000 years of history in his distinctive vernacular and the phraseology of “his people.” He traces their beginnings back to the “fierce native people” who lived in northern Britain—north of Hadrian’s Wall—in what is now Scotland. From frequent feudal fights, to wars of independence, to the migration to turbulent Ulster, Webb captures the trying times and circumstances that produced those combative, independent, and hardened people.

In succeeding parts of the book the author describes the traits and contributions of those who migrated to Colonial America, a migration that would total between 250,000 and 400,000 people before the end of the 18th century. Interestingly, the perspectives, views, and experiences that were acquired and shaped in the Old World would subsequently translate into an ethnic force that would make a significant contribution to the emerging United States. While estimates vary, Webb’s estimate that the Scots-Irish made up “between one third and as many as one half” of the manpower for the Revolutionary Army is clearly on target.

Building upon the theme of military service and the warrior ethic, Webb describes the significant role that the Scots-Irish played on both sides during the US Civil War, and points out the greater significance they played on behalf of the Confederacy. He seamlessly traces this ethos forward to the service of so many in the not-so-distant past of Vietnam. Referring to that war, Webb states, “It was a war fought mainly by volunteers, [and] two-thirds of those who served and 73 percent of those who died . . . came from heavily traditionalist cultures such as the Scots-Irish.”

Webb’s ability to weave his own personal memories as well as the history of his family into the book certainly contributes to a spirited rendition. This feature keeps the entire book highly interesting, informative, and compelling.

Perhaps the author’s greatest contribution in writing this book is the insight he provides into the routinely unheralded Scots-Irish culture and how it has influenced so many areas of the American society and way of life. The Scots-Irish expansion, influence, and contributions in many ways have paralleled the nation’s own development and history. Without question, Webb has done a superb job in weaving together facts and anecdotal accounts in a story-telling fashion to create a good read that would make a nice addition to anyone’s library.

Liberty and Freedom: A Visual History of America’s Founding Ideas. By David Hackett Fischer. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. 851 pages. $50.00. Reviewed by John Whiteclay Chambers II, Professor of History, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, editor-in-chief of The Oxford Companion to American Military History.

In periods of national crisis, liberty and freedom—two of America’s foremost values—become of particular concern, this book reminds us, because reac-


tions make clear that people have different views about their meaning and their relationship to other values such as security, order, justice, and equality.

David Hackett Fischer, a Brandeis University professor and a leading historian, seeks in this sprawling volume to explain the history of these two values from the era of the American Revolution to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. He explores the way in which their meanings and relationships have varied in different places and times and among diverse groups in American society.

Beginning with etymology, he notes that the word liberty originated from Latin and indicated one having independence, unlike a slave. Freedom derived from Indo-European words for endearment and connoted connection through kinship or affection to other free peoples. Over time, he argues, Americans paired these different concepts—privileges of independence and rights of belonging—in various, new, and dynamic ways.

This book’s innovative approach combines history and cultural anthropology to trace the meanings of these core values through customs, traditions, and folk beliefs. Fischer’s primary concern is what the common people, not just intellectuals, thought about them. Most Americans did not think of liberty and freedom as a series of texts or abstractions, he concludes. Rather, they understood them as inherited values they learned early in life and in which they deeply believed. De Tocqueville explained this as “habits of the heart.”

Like an ethnographer, Fischer studies folk beliefs by examining empirical evidence primarily in the form of words, images, and actions in a culture. Like a historian, he does this over time. In an analytical narrative, accompanied by some 500 illustrations of symbolic artifacts relating to core values, Fischer probes the evolution of the meanings and the extent of liberty and freedom in America. His narrative stresses the frequent diversity of views on these core values, their often contested nature, and their continual enlargement. The illustrations reinforce this theme; they also indicate how iconic representation can change over time.

The illustrations, many of them in color, were obtained from dozens of museums and other collections by Fischer and his collaborators at the Virginia Historical Society. They include early flags and emblems, paintings, cartoons, posters, newspaper illustrations, magazine covers, photographs, ceramics, quilts, coins, song sheets, campaign buttons, bumper stickers, and much more, from the decorated powder horn of a Revolutionary War soldier to World War II bomber nose art and G.I. graffiti.

The book is organized in chronological order into some 120 brief chapters. Each analyzes both a particular period and also one or several artifacts. In highly readable prose and with fresh details, Fischer retells the origins and symbolic use of American iconography: the American Eagle, the Stars and Stripes, E Pluribus Unum, Yankee Doodle, Brother Jonathan, Lady Liberty, the Golden Door, V for Victory, and many images that are less known, right up to the present day.

As a historian of early America, Fischer seems most comfortable with the Revolutionary Era. Expanding on an earlier work of his, Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America, he demonstrates how diverse folk traditions of liberty, freedom, order, and power among English-speaking colonists led to different images that reflected varying regional cultures. The sturdy, firmly rooted Liberty Tree sym-


bolized New England’s collective sense of town-born rights. Quaker Philadelphia’s great Liberty Bell rang for all humanity. Virginia planters portrayed a hierarchical Liberty Goddess; South Carolinians adopted a Liberty Crescent. The fiercely independent Scots-Irish frontiersmen chose the tough, solitary, ever vigilant rattlesnake for their flag and the warning, “Don’t Tread on Me.” (The US Navy resurrected this 1776 banner for its warships following the 9/11 attack.)

Sprinkled within the text are treatments of some 19th-century wars. Briefly discussed are the War of 1812 (the Star-Spangled Banner and also the origin of Uncle Sam), and the Texas War of Independence (the Lone-Star emblem). The Mexican and Spanish-American wars are ignored. Fifty pages are devoted to the issues and images of the Civil War, involving a conflict between Northern visions of liberty and freedom, union, and broad rights of belonging to a free community, against Confederate views of Southern independence, states’ rights, the liberty to retain slaves, and the right of one race to rule another.

World War I is treated briefly as a conflict against German militarism and over civil liberties at home; the Second World War is covered more broadly. Its 50-page section includes Pearl Harbor, the Four Freedoms, the V and Double-V campaigns, Rosie the Riveter, unity of national effort, and egalitarian views of freedom.

Fischer dispatches the Cold War, Korea, and Vietnam in a few pages. An antiwar demonstration in 1967 is contrasted with a 1970 rally by “Hardhats for War,” and a third of the Vietnam chapter deals with Bob Dylan’s appeal to young people through his songs about freedom.

The volume unravels somewhat as it comes to the political and social movements since the 1960s. Black power is accompanied by the symbol of the closed fist; opponents of busing for desegregation employ the American flag in their cause. Two movements contest the meaning of the Second Amendment (liberty to keep and bear arms vs. regulation and even a “gun free” community), with illustrations from a T-shirt and a website. The Statue of Liberty has been enlisted in many causes, including the revival of liberty and freedom during the Reagan Era’s “Morning in America,” which Fischer illustrates with the restoration of the statue itself and quilts made by a white woman in Utah and a black woman in Alabama.

Seeking to pull the book together at the end, Fischer provides contrasting chapters about the relevant views of Bill Clinton (“a community of free people”) and George W. Bush (“liberty as individual responsibility”). He stresses America’s reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks as the perception of an assault on liberty and freedom. The main images reflect the popular slogans “United We Stand” and “Defend Freedom.”

Fischer’s chapters seldom draw large conclusions, but his thesis is clear: Despite their sometimes contested meanings, liberty and freedom have retained a central place in American life. Periodically, interest may fade, but it returns in moments of crisis. At such times, civil liberties may be restricted, but curtailment has been temporary. In the long run, liberty and freedom have expanded over the course of American history.

Unlike many glossy picture books, this pricey, beautifully illustrated volume is also a heavily documented investigation, sometimes provocative but endlessly entertaining and informative, by one of America’s foremost historians—an investigation of concepts that have never been more important than they are today.


Soldiers and Slaves: American POWs Trapped by the Nazis’ Final Gamble. By Roger Cohen. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. 303 pages. $25.95. Reviewed by Major Michael Kiene, USAR, Baghdad, Iraq.

Roger Cohen does a great service by shedding light on a little-known episode of the Holocaust, one in which the victims were Americans, not Europeans. Soldiers and Slaves tells the story of 350 G.I.s who were taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge. Separated from the other prisoners because they were Jewish, or had “Jewish sounding” names, or merely because they “looked Jewish,” the soldiers were sent to the Berga concentration camp in eastern Germany.

At Berga the men experienced the full horrors of the Holocaust. Starved, beaten, and denied medical care and adequate shelter, they were forced to work as slaves digging tunnels for an underground synthetic-fuel factory.

A mere nine weeks after their arrival at Berga, 20 percent of the prisoners were dead—victims of disease, starvation, or executed by merciless prison guards. The rest narrowly averted death thanks to a timely rescue by their fellow G.I.s. Their liberators had trouble believing that the emaciated prisoners were fellow American soldiers.

Cohen includes the painstaking war crimes investigation after the war that thoroughly documented the atrocities, as well as the frustration of the survivors as inept prosecuting attorneys ignored mountains of evidence and presented a weak case, allowing the guilty to escape with light punishment. Caught up in the beginning of the Cold War and the need to develop West Germany as an ally against the Soviets, the entire affair was swept under the rug and quietly forgotten, until now.

Most Americans are familiar with the history of the Holocaust, the Nazis’ campaign to systematically murder the Jews of Europe. We have seen images of it on television and in film, and countless books have been written about it. Yet except for those who lost family members, the Holocaust has always been viewed by the vast majority of Americans from a somewhat detached perspective.

Soldiers and Slaves, however, brings the Holocaust home in a direct way, because the victims were Americans. They came from places like New York, Cleveland, Iowa, and California. The book reduces the illusion that we were exempt from the savagery of the Holocaust, just as 9/11 dashed the illusion that we were exempt from terrorism.

Roger Cohen’s flowing prose makes Soldiers and Slaves eminently readable, and it is well worth the time of anyone interested in the Holocaust or World War II. The book is based primarily on interviews with the survivors of Berga. Because of the thorough postwar investigation, there are thousands of pages on Berga in the National Archives, as well as transcripts of the interrogations and cross-examinations from the war crimes trials. Bernard Vogel, whose nephew was killed at Berga, documented many of the atrocities in an attempt to bring the guilty to justice. The author first learned of Berga from the late documentary filmmaker Charles Guggenheim, who completed Berga: Soldiers of Another War shortly before his death in 2002.

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Reviewed 22 November 2005. Please send comments or corrections to