The New American Way of War
Military Culture and the Political Utility of Force
This book explores the cultural history and future prospects of the so-called ‘new American way of war’. In recent decades, American military culture has become increasingly dominated by a vision of ‘immaculate destruction’, which reached its apogee with the fall of Baghdad in 2003. Operation Iraqi Freedom was hailed as the triumphant validation of this new American way of war. For its most enthusiastic supporters, it also encapsulated a broader political vision. By achieving complete technical mastery of the battlefield, the US would render warfare surgical, humane, and predictable, and become a precisely calibrated instrument of national policy.
American strategy has often been characterised as lacking in concern for the non-military consequences of actions. However, the chaotic aftermath of the Iraq War revealed the timeless truth that military success and political victory are not the same. In reality, the American way of war has frequently emerged as the contradictory expression of competing visions of war struggling for dominance since the early Cold War period. By tracing the origins and evolution of these competing views on the political utility of force, this book will set the currently popular image of a new American way of war in its broader historical, cultural and political context, and provide an assessment of its future prospects.
This book will be of great interest to students of strategic studies, military theory, US foreign policy and international politics. It will be highly relevant for military practitioners interested in the fundamental concepts which continue to drive American strategic thinking in the contemporary battlegrounds of the War on Terror.
Table of Contents
Introduction: American Ways of War, Old and New 1. No Substitute for Victory: the Separation of Politics and Strategy in the American Military Tradition. 2. The Science of Strategy: War as a Political Instrument in the Nuclear Age. 3. Overwhelming Force: the American Military and the Memory of Vietnam. 4. Immaculate Destruction: the Impact of 9/11 on American Military Culture. 5. The New American Way of War: Vision and Reality in Afghanistan and Iraq. Conclusion: the Rise and Fall of the New American Way of War. References. Bibliography
Recommended by CHOICE (Sept 2008 Vol. 46 No. 01)