Wrapping up a couple thousand years of military strategy....

As we move into the 20th century, Dr. Freedman quickly moves through four distinct "phases" of examination of strategic thought:
  • Restoring mobility and firepower to the battlefield in the wake of the carnage of trench warfare and World War I.  Here he quickly examines JFC Fuller, BH Liddell-Hart, and other tank and maneuver warfare theorists, although he spends practically no attention to Heinz Guderian or the German Reichswehr between the world wars.  
  • Airpower and the writings of Douhet and other proponents of strategic bombing replacing traditional ground and naval warfare.
  • The rise of the "think-tank" and game theory to grapple with the issues of nuclear weapons and the great MAD debate
  • The post-Cold War era of the Revolution in Military Affairs, COIN, and 4GW.  
All of these are covered in a very cursory manner which seems to indicate that Dr. Freedman doesn't consider that there has been much movement in the general area of strategy and warfare since Clausewitz.  AND, I have to say I don't disagree with him.  Most of the writings and authors he discusses don't really contribute much to an understanding of war and politics at the strategic level, rather, they are significant changes to--dare I say it--the operational art of war.

This is an area of great contention, especially among those knuckleheads that like to debate the continuing utility of studying Thucydides, Clausewitz, and Sun Tzu.  There was an interesting thought comparison between the early proponents of air power and the early seers of the "revolution in military affairs".  One group figured strategic bombers would pummel your opponent into submission by bombing his cities and factories, while the other group assumed sensors and technology would "eliminate the fog of war."  <snort>...turns out both groups were wrong...with devastating consequences.  War remains a fundamentally human endeavor, and humans are brilliant, cruel, inventive, and ultimately so unpredictable that.....the nature of WAR has not changed for 5,000 years, even as the methods of conducting WARFARE have changed remarkably.

This section of the book is very timely for anyone thinking about the future of the U.S. military and warfare in general in the "post-9/11" era where alliances are shifting, new powers are rising, and the global balance of power is probably in the greatest state of flux since the 1930s.

More goodness to come......................