From the Editor

From Parameters,  Autumn 2006, pp. 2-4.

In This Issue . . .

We continue our examination of the vision, resources, and strategy required for victory in the “long war” against terrorism. The first of two thematic features in this issue, “Strategy for the Long War,” presents four articles detailing the military and nonmilitary factors inherent in conducting this protracted conflict.

Nathan Freier authors our first article, “Primacy without a Plan?” This insightful treatise is an impassioned call for the development of a risk-informed grand strategy to guide the rational application of the nation’s political, military, and economic power into the future. The author contends that with the fall of the Soviet Union, America’s quest for “grand strategy” died. The United States awoke to an ambiguous, post-Cold War environment absent any mainstream consensus or plan to maintain American dominance. The author provides readers with a historical perspective of why it is critical that the United States develop the appropriate ends, ways, and means, along with an informed evaluation of risk, capable of constituting a grand strategy. Freier concludes with the warning, “The greatest risk to American position is not defeat at the hands of a peer competitor, but slow voluntary retreat from international activism hastened by cultural aversion to grand strategic calculation and risk assessment.”

Our second article in this feature is “Outfitting a Big-War Military with Small-War Capabilities,” by Michael R. Melillo. The author looks back over the past four years of the Global War on Terrorism and concludes that the US military was so predisposed in preparing for conventional warfare that it failed to recognize the threat posed by irregular enemies. It was only after 9/11 that America’s military realized the character of warfare had changed radically. The author analyzes the lessons of Baghdad, Fallujah, and other Iraqi and Afghan towns to highlight the need for change in the “American way of war.” He traces the transformation of American military strategy and doctrine throughout history to conclude that a major shift in military culture is required if we are to be successful in developing the way American armed forces approach the business of war. Melillo’s analysis leaves the reader with an understanding that America’s military is indeed in the midst of a transformation, but not one based on technological evolution; rather, this transformation is fueled by nontraditional threats.

Jeffrey Record provides our third offering in this feature, “External Assistance: Enabler of Insurgent Success.” The author analyzes insurgencies throughout history from the American War of Independence to the Vietnam War in an effort to demonstrate that when insurgents have access to external assistance the power ratio between the weak and the strong can be markedly altered, even to the point where the insurgency becomes the stronger side. This thoroughly researched history of insurgencies provides tremendous insight into the


correlation between external assistance and insurgent success. The author does, however, draw the reader’s attention to the fact that external support alone is not a marker for success. The insurgents still require such intangibles as will, strategy, organization, morale, and discipline if they are to be victorious.

Our last article in this feature is Raymond L. Bingham’s “Bridging the Religious Divide.” The author evaluates the countless lessons learned from the past two years of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan and determines that the true nature of the Global War on Terrorism is focused as much on “religious ideology” as it is on economics, political will, and culture. He warns that Western values and individual and religious freedoms are not natural fits for the culture of Islam. America and its Coalition partners need to better understand the tradition of extremism within Islam and why such movements do not distinguish politics from religion. Bingham concludes that if we are to be successful in any operations in the Middle East we need to exercise a strategy that inculcates an understanding of the basic tenets of Islam. He closes with the warning that any counterinsurgency strategy to defeat Islamist extremists must begin with a religious assessment.

Our second thematic feature in this issue examines “Europe’s Strategic Future.” Stephen J. Coonen presents readers with a pragmatic, up-to-date analysis of an old problem in his article, “The Widening Military Capabilities Gap between the United States and Europe: Does it Matter?” He examines the traditional arguments that such a gap limits interoperability and encourages the United States to pursue a unilateralist foreign and security policy. Likewise, from the European perspective, the author notes that the gap may be irrelevant given today’s perceived low-threat security environment. Coonen concludes that there is indeed an undeniable gap in military capabilities, but this disparity may not be as threatening as some believe. The author suggests that a division of labor and missions based on capabilities might be the way ahead. He even hints that such an arrangement might be the savior of NATO as it searches for its strategic future.

P. H. Liotta and Taylor Owen provide our second article related to Europe, “Sense and Symbolism: Europe Takes On Human Security.” The authors’ analysis highlights the focus of the European Union (EU) on security values that promote both the rights of nation-states and the protection of the rights of individual citizens. The dilemma facing Europe as it moves forward in its quest to implement a doctrine of human security is the necessity to maintain a usable intervention capability. The authors conclude that the business of security—individual, state, community, and regional—will continue to be problematic. They adroitly point to the fact that the global community today faces many of the same problems it did in the 1990s—civil war, faltering states, and humanitarian crisis—and although Europe and the EU may not be any closer to resolving these challenges, they are at least acknowledging the need to think, act, and organize differently in an effort to prepare for the future.

Bernard Stancati provides our final article in this issue, “The Future of Canada’s Role in Hemispheric Defense.” The author addresses the future role of


Canada in the defense and security of the North American continent in light of the new mutual national security issues that have evolved since 9/11. The author provides readers with an insightful history of the US-Canada defense partnership from 1940 to the present and identifies two key factors affecting Canada’s future role in the alliance. The first is the atrophy of Canadian armed forces since the Cold War. The second challenge to Canada’s continued contribution to the partnership was the formation of US Northern Command. Canadians see this move as calling into question the future of NORAD and Canada’s overall role in the defense of North America. The author postulates that the Canadians were indeed surprised by the unilateral actions taken by America after 9/11. The inability of the Canadian government to overcome anxieties related to its national sovereignty since 9/11 has seriously damaged its military relationship with the United States. Stancati calls for greater understanding and the reestablishment of planning groups that will enable Canada to again take its rightful place in the defense of the continent.

With all the many distractions of this volatile and ambiguous world we often forget the lessons of history. We are indeed fortunate in this issue to have Sam Newland’s review essay, “The Germans and the Exercise of Military Power.” Dr. Newland reviews the works of three respected military historians to provide a German perspective on the exercise of power in World War II. German Colonel Karl-Heinz Frieser’s The Blitzkrieg Legend: The 1940 Campaign in the West; award-winning author Robert Citino’s latest book, The German Way of War: From the Thirty Years’ War to the Third Reich; and Richard DiNardo’s Germany and the Axis Powers: From Coalition to Collapse.

The Book Reviews section includes an eclectic array of some engaging and provocative books. In the lead is Andy Terrill’s review of The Assassin’s Gate: America in Iraq, by George Packer. It is followed by Robert Bateman on Greg Fontenot et al.’s On Point: The United States Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom; Andrew Scobell reviewing Alan Romberg’s Rein in at the Brink of Precipice: American Policy Toward Taiwan and U.S.-PRC Relations; Len Fullenkamp on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln; and many more.

Finally, a journal’s reputation is built on the intellectual ability and talent of the authors and staff that support it. We are indeed fortunate to have a dedicated group of professionals serving as our Editorial Board. The substantial investment of time required to support a refereed journal often means the sacrifice of weekends and evenings. One of our most valued board members is retiring following 44 years of federal service. Professor James S. McCallum’s contribution to maintaining the high standards of the journal has been an example for all to emulate. What makes Jim’s contribution truly unique is the fact that much of his board tenure was accomplished following a near-fatal accident. We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks for his unwavering contribution to the intellectual mission of the US Army War College and Parameters. — RHT

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Reviewed 15 August 2006. Please send comments or corrections to