I recently had a conversation with Gideon Rose, editor of Foreign Affairs. We discussed his book, How Wars End: Why We Always Fight the Last Battle (Simon & Schuster, October 2010). It was a great interview! Check it out, and be sure to look at the show notes below as you listen. I provide links to different articles and books mentioned throughout the interview. Enjoy!
Gideon Rose is the editor of Foreign Affairs, a former National Security Council official in the Clinton administration, an expert on national security and terrorism, and the author of How Wars End: Why We Always Fight the Last Battle (Simon & Schuster, October 2010). Here is a link to his biography.
Carl von Clausewitz was a 19th Century Prussian military theorist. He wrote a classic work on military theory and strategy called On War. Link to the book: On War, Indexed Edition
The National Command Authority is described as follows:
Directions for military operations emanate from the National Command Authority, a term used to collectively describe the President and the Secretary of Defense. The President, as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, is the ultimate authority. The Office of the Secretary of Defense carries out the Secretary’s policies by tasking the military departments, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the unified commands. (From the DOD website)
Tommy Franks is a retired U.S. Army General, who served as the U.S. Central Command commander during the planning and invasion of the 2003 war in Iraq. Here is a link to his memoir: AMERICAN SOLDIER
Anthony Zinni is a retired Marine Corps General, who served as the commander of Central Command in the from 1997 until September 2000. After retiring from the Marine Corps, he was critical of Iraq War plans. He has written several books including his latest book Before the First Shots Are Fired: How America Can Win Or Lose Off The Battlefield
Eric Shinseki is a retired U.S. Army General, who served as chief of staff to the U.S. Army in 2003 when he claimed more troops were needed for the war in Iraq. This was an opinion that contradicted the policies advocated by the Department of Defense under Donald Rumsfeld. Here is a NYT article from that period that highlights the dispute.
The book How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon was mentioned. That book was written by Rosa Brooks, and was recently reviewed on this website, here is a link the book review.
Two books that Gideon Rose highly recommended include Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime by Eliot Cohen and Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer.
Lieutenant Colonel Steven Peterson helped plan the ground campaign for the Iraq War. He wrote a paper for the National War College entitled “Central but Inadequate: The Application of Theory in Operation Iraqi Freedom.” He is quoted early in the book as follows:
Over a month before the war began, the Phase IV planning group concluded that the campaign would produce conditions at odds with meeting strategic objectives.
Richard Myers is a retired four-star U.S. Air Force General and a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the planning for the Iraq War and the 2003 invasion. He wrote a book in 2009 called Eyes on the Horizon: Serving on the Front Lines of National Security. The role of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is to serve as “the principal military adviser to the President, Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Council (NSC)” (from the JCS website).
During the interview, multiple retired generals are mentioned who came out against the Iraq War strategy in 2006. There is a good article from Vanity Fair called “The Night of the Generals” which explains this episode in detail.
Several references are made to the Berlin Airlift, the Marshall Plan, and the Truman Doctrine, which were mentioned as actions and policies that occurred after World War II and marked the beginning of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. The book The Cold War: A New History by John Lewis Gaddis is cited in Rose’s book.
Gideon Rose mentions Ambassador James Dobbins, who is a senior fellow at the Rand Corporation. He also mentions Ken Pollack, who wrote an article for Foreign Affairs before the Iraq War, and later a book called The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq (2002).
The author Thomas Ricks is mentioned as well as his book Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2003 to 2005, which is critical of the Coalition Provisional Authority and Iraq ambassador Paul Bremmer, who was in charge of the CPA.
Mark Moyar, a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, is mentioned in the discussion on the Vietnam War. He wrote a book called Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965.
Gideon Rose mentions a book on Vietnam called Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam by Fredrik Logevall. He says that Logevall is one of his favorite authors on Vietnam.
His conclusion for ending wars properly: Start with the end state first and plan backwards. As he says, “reverse engineer” the problem by judging a war’s success based on the political outcomes it produces. Ultimately, military strategy needs to be nested within national strategy. Rose is adamant that this principle has been forgotten. His challenge is for military and civilian planners to stop judging the success of wars based solely on military operations.
“There is absolutely no reason why physical violence, the use of force, especially for political purposes could not be married to the highest degree of intellectual rigor and mental acuity.” -Gideon Rose