Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Hey, it's my first book-related post. 

A couple years ago (okay, four) I picked up Waging Modern War by the-word-made-flesh Wesley Clark, partially out of military history interest, and partly out of some sort of personal library affirmative action for non-fiction, which I typically ignore.   It seemed like it would be a good read, being a story of the Kosovo campaign (which he was SACEUR for) and the lessons drawn about modern warfare, and how they'd be applied to the War on Terror that the US found itself involved in at the time of the book's publication (2002).   A choice quote:

The range and intensity of the challenges we face is increasing.   They defy easy solutions or simple responses.  The fight against Al Qaeda is not finished.  Long-standing quarrels in the Middle East are boiling, amidst the continuing efforts by several states to acquire more potent weapons of mass destruction.  There are even longer-term problems associated with political and economic development if we are so [sic] survive and prosper in a global community.  In developing the right strategy to meet these challenges, we would be well-advised to digest the experience of the 1990s and the lessons of the Kosovo campaign.

I can't read this book.   It'll be too painful.   It's hopelessly irrelevant now-- not only did the War on Terror take a path that Clark at least isn't going to admit to knowing about in this book, it makes us look so bad. Who knew that the problem wouldn't be ignoring the lessons of Kosovo, but ignoring the lessons of goddamned Vietnam?  

I'll soldier on a little way, mostly to get his perspective on the Big Dog, and hell, to read Clark talking about himself (I have a sizable man-crush on him, as I do on any Rhodes Scholar who gets wounded in Vietnam, teaches at West Point, goes to the Army War College, then commands a battalion, brigade, then division before really getting started) although when I read things like this I just want to cry:

Why did this new style of warfare emerge, this aversion to casualties, the reluctance to put ground troops into the fight, the reliance on airpower, the continued tension over unintended civilian casualties, and the frictions and constant scrutiny by the press? 

I don't know, Wes.   But it didn't stay around for long. 

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