Andrew home War

"War is too serious a matter to entrust to military men."
~ Georges Clemenceau, French premier during World War I.

"In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies."
~ Winston Churchill

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December 8, 2004 [LINK]

Rummy visits Iraq

During his visit to Iraq today, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was asked by a soldier why more armored vehicles haven't been delivered to our troops serving in the hazardous "front lines." His answer that it's simply a problem with production, and that we can't expect to have all the equipment we would like to have, struck me as lame and dispiriting. I hope that was not an indication of Bush administration attitudes toward our incredibly brave soldiers in harm's way. They deserve better, from the American government as well as from the American people. Rumsfeld was the top military official bears some responsibility for what happened at Abu Ghraib, and has a lot to answer for, in my view. The fact that he is one of the few cabinet officials being kept on into the second term, while others who have performed their jobs perfectly well are leaving, concerns me.

Guarded optimism

Andrew Sullivan has sharply criticized President Bush for failing to prosecute the war against Islamic fascists (a.k.a. "terrorists") more effectivel. Thus, his relatively upbeat assessment of the situation in Iraq, appearing in the The New Republic Online, bears reading.

The Kurds and the Shia understand that their interest today lies in a successful election. They're not unhappy to see Sunni and Baathist rebels get pummeled by American arms. In that, you see the beginning of the new Iraqi reality: a place where 80 percent of the country wants the democratic transition to succeed.

December 7, 2004 [LINK]

War escalates and spreads

The successful capture of Fallujah by U.S. forces last month was followed by terrorist counterattacks in other parts of Iraq. Today a suicide terrorist squad breached the outer perimeter of the U.S. consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, marking a possible step toward increased coordination among terrorist groups that could cause the war to spill across Iraq's borders. Many war critics feel the apparent chaos vindicates their position, which is of course exactly what the terrorists want them to feel. Max Boot provided a confident yet sober perspective last week in the, "What We Won in Fallouja":

Thus, for all their success in Fallouja, we should not expect U.S. troops to completely pacify Iraq anytime soon. What they can do -- what they are doing -- is to keep the insurgents from derailing a political process that, one hopes, will soon result in the creation of a legitimate government that can field indigenous security forces and defend itself.

In other words, no one should be under any illusion about an imminent return to "normalcy" in Iraq, whatever that is. The terrorist counterattacks are obvously aimed at getting back the momentum after their base of operations in Fallujah was dismantled. In Mosul, which is home to Kurds as well as Sunni Arabs, U.S. forces had to restore order after most Iraqi police fled their posts. That was a worrisome indicator that "Iraqicization" may be stalling, one of the few genuine parallels between this war and Vietnam. In the end, if Iraqi leaders don't step up to the plate and take charge, there is not much we can do about it. Ironically, President Bush's original skepticism about Clintonian "nation building" (or "state building," more accurately) would be validated. Government authority cannot be willed into existence from the outside.

These difficulties do not by any means signify the war has become a hopeless quagmire, but they are clear signs that American forces are stretched to the limit. No one doubts that the violence will probably get worse before it gets better, and the Pentagon announced that 12,000 additional U.S. troops will be sent to Iraq to provide extra security for the elections scheduled for late January. This will raise the total U.S. force commitment to 150,000, the highest since the invasion began in March 2003; see Bush has consistently ruled out any resort to drafting soldiers, and indeed that is not necessary or appropriate at this time. If he does not find some equivalent manner of exerting force in response to the terrorist upsurge, however, we will be back to where we were a few months ago. It is imperative that we make clear, concrete advances (such as holding elections on schedule, whether the Sunnis are ready or not) in order to maintain the vital psychological edge. Otherwise, terrorists may start making inroads in nearby fence-sitting countries with weak governments.

Smaller-scale military advances are described by W. Thomas Smith Jr. in the In Operation "Plymouth Rock" (launched during Thanksgiving week), U.S. and Coalition forces are employing new, highly adaptive tactics in the "Triangle of Death" south of Baghdad. They target particular enemy strongholds based on new intelligence gleaned from previous raids, which then provides information for the next raid on the next town, and so on. What looks to casual observers as endless, random violence is, in fact, bearing fruit, slowly but surely.

Pearl Harbor

Fifty three years ago today, hundreds of Japanese carrier-based planes bombed Pearl Harbor, destroying most of the U.S. Pacific fleet. It's a good thing the American people back then had enough gumption and determination to believe they could manage to resist the fascist onslaught long enough to rebuild and eventually win the war. What about us?

U.S. ground forces: Deployment

Division Home base 2003
1st Infantry (Mech.) Wurzburg, Germany Wurzburg, Germany Iraq 1st brigade in Fort Riley, KS
2nd Infantry (Mech.) Camp Red Cloud, S. Korea 3rd brigade in Fort Lewis, WA
3rd Infantry (Mech.) Fort Stewart, GA Iraq Fort Stewart, GA
4th Infantry (Mech.) Fort Hood, TX Iraq (postwar)
7th Infantry (Light) Fort Carson, CO training only since 1999?
24th Infantry (Mech.) training only since 1999?
25th Infantry (Light) Schofield Barracks, HI Afghanistan 1st brigade in Fort Lewis, WA
1st Armored Wiesbaden, Germany Iraq (postwar) 3rd brigade in Fort Riley, KS
2nd Armored Fort Hood, TX
1st Cavalry Fort Hood, TX Iraq (postwar) Iraq
10th Mountain Fort Drum, NY
82nd Airborne Fort Bragg, NC Iraq (1 bde. postwar)
101st Airborne Fort Campbell, KY Iraq
28th Infantry (N.G.) Harrisburg, PA Iraq, Kosovo
29th Infantry (Light) (N.G.) Fort Belvoir, VA
34th Infantry (N.G.) Rosemont, MN
35th Infantry (N.G.) Fort Leavenworth, KS
36th Infantry (N.G.) Austin, TX (formerly 49th Armored)
38th Infantry (N.G.) Indianapolis, IN
40th Infantry (Mech.) (N.G.) Los Alamitos, CA
42nd Infantry (Mech.) (N.G.) Troy, NY
1st Marine Exped. Force Camp Pendleton, CA Iraq
2nd Marine Exped. Force Camp Lejeune, NC
3rd Marine Exped. Force Camp Butler, Okinawa, Japan

SOURCES:, Washington Post, etc.

Deaths in U.S. wars

War Began Ended Months Combat
Deaths /
Revolutionary War 1775 1781 79 4,435 4,435 56
War of 1812 1812 1815 30 2,260 2,260 75
Mexican War 1846 1848 21 1,733 11,550 13,283 633
Civil War (both sides) 1861 1865 49 214,939 59,297 274,236 5,597
Spanish-American War 1898 1898 8 385 2,061 2,446 306
World War I 1917 1918 20 53,513 63,195 116,708 5,835
World War II 1941 1945 45 292,131 115,185 407,316 9,051
Korean War 1950 1953 37 33,667 3,249 36,916 998
Vietnam War 1964 1973 101 47,393 10,800 58,193 576
Persian Gulf War 1991 1991 1.5 148 151 299 199
Iraq War 2003 >> 19 755 246 1,001 59

SOURCE: The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2004; Global Security; Washington Post

War and Peace

Revised: March 20, 2003 The wave of protests against the U.S. invasion/liberation of Iraq illustrates once again how hard it is for human beings to reach a consensus on how to keep the peace. This page is aimed at helping U.S. citizens become more aware of the uses AND limitations of the massive armed forces that their tax dollars are used to purchase. Without citizen scrutiny of the precarious relationship between our government's capabilities to project military power, on one hand, and the objectives of U.S. foreign policy on the other hand, (expansion in one tends to lead, willy-nilly, to expansion in the other), there will be a growing risk of falling prey to the age-old trap of "imperial overstretch," as described by Paul Kennedy. Hubris often blinds patriotic men (and women) to the hideous reality of battlefield carnage and postwar sorrow. Conversely, those who cringe at the very thought of mass death run the risk of neglecting the fundamental requirements of national security. The trick is, as always, to find the golden mean between these contrary perils. Since September 11, 2001 blissful ignorance is no longer an option.

Why is there such bitter, fundamental disagreement about how to handle something as important as war? My guess is that is stems from the underlying tension between the basic imperatives of order (which requires authority) and justice (which invites participation). Idealists believe that order results from peace, which results from justice, while realists believe that justice results from peace, which results from order. Idealists tend to believe that all good things go together and thus loathe to acknowledge that tough choices between competing objectives must often be made. Realists, on the other hand, generally believe that justice is only possible within the confines of a sovereign state, a realm in which lines of authority are clear and law enforcement is routine. This implies two things: first, on the international plane, severe compromises are necessary to achieve any justice at all; second, in less developed regions, war is an almost inevitable corollary of attempts to create an effective state authority. People in the United States -- who historically enjoyed a uniquely secure geopolitical position thanks to the vast oceans -- are particularly apt to get confused when trying to balance the age-old imperatives of state building on one hand, and democratization on the other. To illustrate this point, the following excerpts from Bruce Porter (1994, pp. xiii-xviii) provides considerable empirical and theoretical backing for the controversial argument that war mobilization and the modern interventionist welfare state have been mutually reinforcing phenomena:

"The battlefield itself is Chaos incarnate, the most wretched arena on earth, where death and devastation reign supreme. ... In the rear, order and regimentation reign. ... Thus, except at the front itself, war is a demonstrably organized, and organizing, phenomenon. ... No other human phenomenon, and few natural phenomena, display such a striking shift in entropy. ... From this Paradox of Organized Destruction flow other paradoxes of war. For example, by weakening or destroying traditional structures, or by compelling internal reforms, war may create conditions conducive to social change and political modernization. ... A final paradox of war, one that is peculiar to democracies and especially to the American case, is what might be called the Liberal--Conservative Conundrum: liberal and reform-minded political leaders abhor war, but recognize the opportunity it presents for social reform; conservatives revere military institutions and traditions, but are often wary of actual conflict, sensing its potential for revolutionary change."

One remarkable consistency that marks nearly every war that has ever been fought is that the country initiating armed action makes a concerted effort to justify resorting to force. Even Hitler felt compelled to cook up a bogus border incident to justify invading Poland in 1939. The fact that many of these cases include some of the most despicable dictators makes cynics doubt the whole idea of "justifying" war, but the flagrant hypocrites might be considered upholding the notion of just war by bothering to heed moral sensibilities at all. It is an example of what is meant by the phrase, "Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue." It took me many years before I really grasped what that saying meant, but it basically just boils down to the fact that moral norms do carry weight in the world, even if they are only observed intermittently.

If norms and morality count in armed conflict, then we must consider to what extent it is possible to define any given war as morally justified or not. According to classical Just War Theory, which originated in the late medieval era as European princes were gaining a full measure of sovereignty over their respective domains. There are two sets of criteria: Jus ad bellum are the rules that pertain to the initiation of war -- whether the other country committed a serious harm, whether the decision to attack was made by proper authorities, etc. Jus in bello pertains to the rules by which wars may be fought -- discriminating between combatant and civilians, proportionality of means, etc. The best contemporary work on this issue was Michael Walzer's Just and Unjust Wars.

The "War on Terror"

Oct. 2, 2001 Call it a crime against humanity, call it what you will; the reality is our country is at war. Don't listen to simplistic explanations of Osama bin Laden's "real" motivations: It's a mixture of religion, nationalism, material envy, and sheer hatred for our free way of life. Our enemy is not Islam (at least not yet), and it is not "terror;" it is a fanatical, charismatic movement with global ambitions, not unlike Naziism. Thus, it would be foolish to wring our hands over whether past U.S. interventions in the Mideast might have led to this. So far, President Bush has responded with the correct balance of firm resolve and delicacy. As he said, the course of the long struggle ahead is very uncertain, and there will be no clear-cut moment of "victory." Whether it escalates into World War III or an apocalyptic "clash of civilizations" depends as much on what fence-sitting countries like Saudi Arabia and China do as what we do. We will never eradicate all terrorism or "rid the world of evil," but we can at least make sure that no country contemplates harboring mass murderers. To that end, we must keep in mind that this is above all a contest of human willpower: We are all on the frontlines against the forces of evil and barbarism. Since civilization itself is under threat, we should not rule out any means at our disposal.


James F. Dunnigan, How to Make War In the early 1970s Mr. Dunnigan was the co-founder (along with Redmond Simonsen) of Simulations Publications, Inc., the original publisher of Strategy & Tactics magazine and many wargames. He has since become a military affairs consultant and is often seen on television. He presently oversees the StrategyPage web site.

Geoffrey Blainey, The Causes of War (New York: Free Press, 1973).

Eugence Dyer, War (New York: Crown Publishers, 1985). For those who recoil at the very notion of studying war, this book is a good pacifist-leaning historical and philosophical examination of the subject.

Sir Basil H. Liddell Hart, Strategy (New York: Praeger, 1967). Along with Germany's Heinz Guderian and France's Charles DeGaulle, Liddell Hart was one of the leading exponents of the strategy of "indirect approach," in contrast to the Clauswitzian notion of striking at an enemy's center of power. This was one of the keys to the success of blitzkrieg in the early years of World War II. (Thanks, Dad!)

John Keegan, The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme (New York: Vintage Books, 1977). Prof. Keegan has written prolifically about military history, and this book is distinguished by examining what fighting has been like for front-line infantry troops in various historical eras.

Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 (New York: Random House, 1987). This book inspired me to apply my knowledge of economic matters to the study of the grand strategic questions of national survival and collapse.

Peter Paret (ed.), Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986). This thick textbook has excellent chapters on the military leaders and thinkers whose innovations brought about victory.

Bruce Porter, War and the Rise of the State: The Military Foundations of Modern Politics (New York: The Free Press, 1994). This book deals with "state building," the long process by which fractured regional powers become unified into nation-states as a collateral effect of waging war.

Thomas Schelling, Arms and Influence (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964).Prof. Schelling is a leading scholar of strategic studies, having applied game theory to analyze nuclear deterrence policies.

Sun Tzu, The Art of War trans. Samuel B. Griffith (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971).

Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations (New York: Basic Books, 1977).

Russell F. Weigley, The American Way of War (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1973).