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Chapter 8 analyzes the thinking of Harry Summers, especially his critique of the Vietnam War. Summers was an outspoken military practioner who exposed the harmful effects of applying academic (and untested) strategic theories in Vietnam. He believed most armed conflicts would be fought below the nuclear threshold and hence he maintained the principles of war, which he regarded as timeless, were still sound guides for crafting military strategy. This chapter discusses his model of war’s nature, which retreated somewhat from that of Eccles and Wylie because it paid less attention to war’s sociocultural dimension. It did, however, bridge to the modern model by reemphasizing the importance of the concept of Clausewitzian friction.
Chapter 6 analyzes the thinking of Henry Eccles, one of America’s underappreciated military intellectuals. It describes his life and his "America," which again was the golden age of the middle class. It discusses how Eccles and his colleagues led a counterrevolution against the revolt of Brodie and the other strategy intellectuals. Eccles stressed rigorous examination of all principles and concepts. This chapter also explains Eccles’s model of war’s nature, which, though largely traditional, included traces of the modern model and incorporated a broader perspective that saw war not just as an extension of human competitiveness but of competition among social groups.
Chapter 3 analyzes the thinking of Bernard Brodie and Robert Osgood, who were among limited war’s earliest theorists. It describes their lives and their "America," which was the golden age of the middle class. They assumed armed conflict, by its nature, would escalate almost automatically to the maximum possible level of violence. Ergo, Brodie rejected the notion that military imperatives should ever guide strategy, especially in an era in which “second-strike” nuclear weapons could render concentration, offensive action, and decision by battle suicidal. In his view, the only way to restore the utility of military force was to ensure it served only limited aims. Osgood likewise insisted America’s political leaders had to contain the aggressive instincts of the military as well as the explosive passions of the populace. His solution involved replacing the military’s imperatives with a set of principles that emphasized political control and close circumscription of all parameters of conflict. They saw war’s nature not as a violent extension of human nature, but as a coiled spring ready to explode.
Chapter 1 analyzes the ideas of the naval strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan. It describes his life and his "America," which was socially and politically at war with itself. This chapter also discusses how the core principles Mahan borrowed from the Swiss military theorist Jomini – concentration, offensive action, and decision by battle – were brought from the nineteenth century into the twentieth. It ends with an explication of the traditional model of wars nature, which saw armed conflict as an extension of the competitive side of human nature.
Chapter 10 analyzes the thinking of John Warden. It describes his life and his America, which transitioned from malaise to rebirth. Warden saw enemies as integrated but targetable systems. His theories set the stage for twenty-first century airpower theorists who would build on his model of war’s nature, which was materialist because it assumed one’s will to fight could be diminished, if not completely reduced, by attacking one’s material capacity to resist.
Chapter 4 analyzes the ideas of Thomas Schelling, especially his bargaining model of war and his concept of strategic coercion. His "America" was also that of Brodie and Osgood. This chapter examines the limitations of both bargaining, which presupposed a shared process of arriving at tacit and explicit agreements, and coercion which assumed consent was a binary – yes, no – process. Both implied US commanders might need to exercise restraint in war just as they were gaining the upper hand, an idea most would have found ridiculous. Schelling’s model of war’s nature was also that of a coiled spring, though he introduced greater uncertainty into the model because tacit agreements can be broken without warning, or might never have existed in the first place.
War’s Logic provides a fresh perspective into twentieth-century American strategic thought. More to the point, it offers unique insights into how several of America’s prominent strategic theorists conceived of armed conflict. The title stands for a general way of thinking about war. It refers to the reasoning that underlies a theorist’s critical concepts, core principles, and basic assumptions regarding the nature and character of war. As Carl von Clausewitz observed, war’s logic is invariably political in nature. Similarly, readers of this book will note the American way of thinking about war was frequently political in nature. While War’s Logic covers ground similar to that of Russell Weigley’s classic, The American Way of War, it differs from his work in three important respects.
Chapter 2 analyzes the ideas of the airpower theorist William (Billy) Mitchell. It describes his life and his "America," which in the words of period novelist, F. Scott Fitzgerald, was "careless and confused." Mitchell, like his America, pursued his goals aggressively regardless of the consequences. This chapter also discusses how Jominian first principles – concentration, offensive action, and decision by battle – figured in Mitchell’s thinking. It ends by explaining how Mitchell’s model of war’s nature was essentially the same as Mahan’s, the traditional model.
Chapter 7 analyzes the ideas of Joseph Caldwell Wylie especially his theory of strategy as control. It describes his life as well as his practitioner perspective, which served to inform his theory of strategy and his idea that war is a discontinutation of policy as much as it is a continuation of it. This chapter also discusses his contribution to the traditional model of war’s nature, which he helped to enlarge.