January 18, 2013
For a student of military history, the most astonishing fact about the current international scene is that there isn't a single conflict in which two uniformed militaries are pitted against each other. The last one was a brief clash in 2008 between Russia and Georgia. In our day, the specter of conventional conflict, which has dominated the imagination of the West since the days of the Greek hoplites, has almost been lifted.
But the world is hardly at peace. Algeria fights hostage-takers at a gas plant. France fights Islamist extremists in Mali. Israel fights Hamas. The U.S. and its allies fight the Taliban in Afghanistan. Syria's Bashar al-Assad fights rebels seeking to overthrow him. Colombia fights and negotiates with the FARC. Mexico fights drug gangs. And various African countries fight the Lord's Resistance Army.
January 16, 2013
During the Vietnam War, Sen. George Aiken, a Vermont Republican, was famous for suggesting that we declare victory and go home. (What he actually said is a little more nuanced, but that was the popular perception.)
By Mark Thompson
January 14, 2013
Hawkish historian Max Boot is out with a book on insurgency. In Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present, the emphasis is on the epic – the tome weighs in at 750 pages. It’ll be released Tuesday, Jan. 15.
Seeing as the campaigns in both Afghanistan and Iraq have been more irregular than regular, perhaps it’s an apt time for a primer on the topic. And who’s a better guide than Boot, author of 2002′s The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power, and 2006′s War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today. Battleland conducted this email chat with Boot, who hangs his helmet at the Council on Foreign Relations, last week:
January 8, 2013
Writing is generally a solitary undertaking, but with my latest book, Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present, I received an invaluable assist from my editor at W. W. Norton & Co., Robert Weil. Instead of tooting my own horn here, I'd much rather tell you how great Bob is, and how much he added to my manuscript.
January 6, 2013
Modern generals' memoirs are mostly ghostwritten these days and follow a familiar template: open with a battle scene to hook the reader, then flash back to the author's youth, before bringing the story up to the present day, focusing most of the attention on the last and highest-profile assignment. "My Share of the Task" by Stanley McChrystal follows this general outline, but it is considerably more thoughtful and better crafted than most.
December 23, 2012
The Obama administration appears determined to vacate Afghanistan as fast as possible. If the latest leaks are to be believed, officials are willing to leave as few as 6,000 U.S. troops behind after 2014, concentrated at the Bagram air base and a few other installations around Kabul. The mind boggles at what this would mean in military terms.