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Luttwak's become the unthinkable. And here he has succeeded magnificently. For peacemakers and warmakers alike." -- Harry G. Summers, Jr., New York Times Book Review.
Posted July 16, 2007
This is a very good book for novice students of this subject. Definitions such as preclusive defense ,paradox of strategy etc. are very well defined and explained.These are generally hard for beginners to understand. There are some outright errors such as Billy Mitchell bombed Tokyo in 1942.No he did not Doolittle did. Another one is not stating that naval power sometimes DOES win wars such as in the Pacific in WW2. But in all it is a very good read and very useful as a starting book on strategy. I would recommend reading this in conjuction with Lidell Hart's classic book 'Strategy'. Colin Gray and some other advanced authors should be read after this book is digested.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 6, 2004
In this dazzling book, Luttwak presents `the dynamic, paradoxical process of strategy¿. He studies the logic of strategy, its five levels (technical, tactical, operational, theatre and grand), and its two dimensions, the vertical, where the levels interact, and the horizontal, where the conflict of wills unfolds within each level. He presents activity¿s typical sequence: action, culminating point of success, decline and reversal. He approvingly notes that in World War Two, the Soviet Union followed each of its successful advances with a deliberate pause, to avoid overshooting the turning point. Luttwak explores the paradox of deterrence, that the utility of the most lethal weapons ever devised lies in their non-use; that governments threaten Armageddon to prevent it, so the Soviet bomb, then the Chinese bomb, stopped the USA from starting World War Three. Nuclear bombs secure the safety of the states possessing them: Israel¿s 200 nuclear bombs make absurd Sharon¿s claim that Israel can only survive if he attacks the Palestinians. Notably though, incremental political change can outmanoeuvre and negate even `the excessive weapon¿: the US government could not use it against Korea or Vietnam, and Sharon cannot use it to destroy the Palestinians. Luttwak shows that `peacekeeping¿ interventions - so beloved by the moralists whom we allow to run Britain¿s affairs - don¿t work; instead they extend wars by preventing their resolution: for example, United Nations relief efforts sustained Pol Pot for years, and Non-Governmental Organisations¿ relief efforts sustained the Hutus¿ genocidal leaders. In a brilliant new section, Luttwak examines the Gulf War. Only 10% of US bombs were guided (30% of the unguided were cluster bombs). But over half of the guided bombs landed within three feet of their targets - key weapons, bridges, aircraft shelters, command posts, radar equipment, telecommunications. Yet the bombing did not destroy the morale either of soldiers or civilians; it was damaging, not decisive. Finally, air war cannot deliver what ground war has not won: Iraqi forces withdrew from Kuwait, Serb forces from Kosovo, the Taliban from Kabul, but in each case the targeted governments survived physically. Again, the wars were suspended, not ended.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.