Skip to comments.Why Study War?
Posted on 08/19/2007 8:05:59 PM PDT by ventanax5
Try explaining to a college student that Tet was an American military victory. Youll provoke not a counterargumentlet alone an assentbut a blank stare: Who or what was Tet? Doing interviews about the recent hit movie 300, I encountered similar bewilderment from listeners and hosts. Not only did most of them not know who the 300 were or what Thermopylae was; they seemed clueless about the Persian Wars altogether.
Its no surprise that civilian Americans tend to lack a basic understanding of military matters. Even when I was a graduate student, 30-some years ago, military historyunderstood broadly as the investigation of why one side wins and another loses a war, and encompassing reflections on magisterial or foolish generalship, technological stagnation or breakthrough, and the roles of discipline, bravery, national will, and culture in determining a conflicts outcome and its consequenceshad already become unfashionable on campus. Today, universities are even less receptive to the subject
(Excerpt) Read more at city-journal.org ...
Its no surprise that civilian Americans tend to lack a basic understanding of military matters.
Not just military matters - ANY matter except for celebrity hair styles and sports statistics.
It used to bother me too, but I've come to believe it has always been this way, and will always be (and of course not just for Americans).
Be happy that 15% of everyone knows what the hell is going on, and that one-third of them are conservative.
Thankfully, there have been overtures to try to bridge that gap. The military has been soliciting the input of cultural anthropologists, for instance, in order to better understand the cultures of Iraq and Afghanistan. Universities, on the other hand, are starting to solicit the opinions of men like Gen. Patraeus for their perspective.
The news media are acutely ignorant on this subject. In our local weekly paper there was an article a few years ago about a man who murdered his brother with “762-millimeter rifle”(about the size of the Krupp railway gun). The reporter, who is an acquaintance of mine, just kind of shrugged when I explained the error. Since the U.S. has been in Afghanistan and Iraq I see this kind of ignorance almost daily in the media.
We avoid the study of war, and military history, at our own peril!
This is a subject of profound importance that ought to be as science as developed as economics by now, and in higher education today it is less developed than theories of mating rituals in some obscure tribe no one has ever heard of, out in the Amazon jungle somewhere.
Which is cultural and intellectual suicide...
You cannot receive a commission as an officer unless you have a Batchelor’s degree. Some go through a Service Academy (i.e., The Air Force Academy or Citadel). Some go through a college ROTC program. Some get a degree and apply for OTS.
The lack of understanding is not on the Military side.
“An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!”
But that was a single shot weapon. Are you sure he didn't mean the 76.2mm assault rifle?
(Tried to find a picture I once saw of an Oto Melara Super-Rapid test firing - 3 or 4 shell casings ejected from the turret, still in the air.)
I did a quick scan of the article - I know where he is coming from. I was a history major in the late 1960s at a liberal arts college sponsored by the Florida Presbyterian Church. With an area specialty of post-Napoleonic Europe, sub-set war and politics, I wasnt that popular in the department and oral and written finals - lets just say I took them three times.
The real problem with military history in todays colleges isnt, IMHO, the topic or even war. Any study of war leads the student into black and white value judgments. The concept of all sides being equal and all societies being equally justified dont hold up too well after your third or fifth massacre done by one side of a conflict. Little hard defending most of the European governments 1920 - 1950 because there is so much evidence that can be waved away.
It is, most unfortunately, an ignored subject at even our various military academies. Advanced degrees in arcane subjects dont match a two-hundred year review of Russian history. BTW anyone who thought the Russians could change when the CCCP fell doesnt understand the Russian culture. No new surprises (long range bomber missions, rebuilding the blue water navy, etc).
Me? Got the degree finally along with a teachers certificate. Ended up enlisting in the Air Force, getting a commission, flight training and 20 years in and out of the cockpit. Those long hours of enjoyable reading came in very handy more than once.
What the reporter meant was a 7.62-millimeter. It was an AK or SKS.
Sometimes the best thing is to read individual solders’ stories (novels, anecdotes, etc - as long as it’s not “Winter Soldier” by John Kerry) instead of plain historic scenarios.
Better not to teach something at all if they’re not going to “get it”... instead they can learn more about humans hopefully.
Raise a generation of morons - you get a nest of vipers.
The average American sincerely thinks that "The Tet Offensive" was Janet Jackson's so-called wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl.
Before the student was born (when history began), and therefore irrelevant.
“Me? Got the degree finally along with a teachers certificate. Ended up enlisting in the Air Force, getting a commission, flight training and 20 years in and out of the cockpit. Those long hours of enjoyable reading came in very handy more than once.”
Good for you sir, and thank you for your service to the USA.
Nice piece. Thanks for the posting.
Those poor young devils coming out of schools and colleges are so culturally contaminated and culturally deprived.
If Geo. Bush studied Caesar, Genghis Kahn, and Bill Sherman, he might get a clue how to win a war. Instead, looks like he is studying Hannibal on how to lose....
Actually this isnt’ surprizing since many into their late thirties were born after Tet.
I read General Westmorland’s book, “A Soldier Reports” back in the 80s. I agree with him that after Tet the Cong were no longer a viable force. That offensive brought them out in the open to be anihilated. However, our wonderful press (thank you Walter Crankcase) made it into a defeat. Just like what is happening in Iraq & Afganistan. The press only reports the “bad” news or a bad interpretation of it. Plus, way too much time is spent covering “scandels” like the prison mess and the Tillman death.
“and Bill Sherman, he might get a clue how to win a war”
Indeed, Sherman understood what “total war” was about...as did Thomas J. Jackson on the Confederate side. Sadly, these men would be considered war criminals today.
It didn’t seem like Rummy knew much about war either. I said back in 2003 that a force of 150,000 soldiers could not fully secure a metropolis the size of Baghdad without the cooperation of the citizens, As far as I know it was the only accurate prediction of the the Iraq War.
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