Women At War

For the first time in U.S. history, women are fighting alongside their male their male counterparts—so far 110 have died in Iraq and Afghanistan

Early on March 20, 2003, when the desert sky was still shrouded in darkness, stadium lights shone down on Al Jabar Air Base in Kuwait and lit the path to the flight line for a 28-year-old Marine captain whose jumpsuit ID tag bore the name “McGrath.”  Read more »

“The Shah Always Falls”

A soldier-historian looks at how the world has changed in the past decade and finds that America is both hostage to history and likely to be saved by it

Military historians sometimes write biographies of people they call military intellectuals. Such people are interesting because they can have a vast effect on history, and also because they combine in one career two modes of life normally considered incompatible, the life of thought and the life of action. Read more »

Who We Fight

A year after the September attacks, it has become clear that ours is a very old enemy.

“His temperament lacked joy and good will toward men . . . and his soul gorged on two dishes, his ego and his god. Egotism and religion formed the content and the contours of his life, and he felt no sympathy with other human beings, since his eyes looked only upward, never down. His faith was gruesome and dark, for his god was a terrifying being, and the only lesson he drew from religion was fear. His respect for his god was all the deeper and more profound since he lacked respect for every other creature.

 
 
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September 11 Vs. December 7

DID AMERICANS BEHAVE BETTER BACK THEN?

Remember September 11? Or rather, remember how it was supposed to change us all, and for the better? Among all the predictions was one that held that it would lead to “the end of irony,” the sort of earnest prognostication that is bound to seem ironic in retrospect. Yet an even more civic-minded call came from Robert D. Putnam, who let us know that this was our chance to get back to the spirit of World War II. Read more »

The New Warfare And Old Truths

How our technologies are still our allies

In the early 1880s, a Maine-born inventor named Hiram Maxim, who had tried and failed to become a leading figure in the young electrical industry, met a fellow American in Vienna who told him, “Hang your chemistry and electricity! If you want to make a pile of money, invent something that will enable these Europeans to cut each other’s throats with greater facility.” Maxim took the man’s advice. He invented the first truly automatic machine gun.Read more »

Are Our Liberties In Peril?

Facing a nearly invisible enemy, we all may be subjected to new kinds of government scrutiny. But past wars suggest the final result may be greater freedom.

Almost as soon as the planes struck their targets on September 11, there was renewed debate about a question Americans have grappled with since our country was born: How do we preserve the balance between personal liberty and collective security? There were immediate calls for loosened restraints on vviretapping and tighter controls on the citizenry.Read more »

Fighting The Last War—and The Next

Our government called the terror attacks on our country an act of war and replied with a declaration of war on terrorism. What can history teach us about our prospects in such a war?

Generals are always prepared to fight the last war, as the durable and scornful proverb goes. But preparing to fight the last war is not necessarily a foolish thing to do. If military technology is stable—as was the case, for example, in the long age of black powder and fighting sail—the lessons of the last war probably retain their authority. There are exceptions: In a world in which firearms had barely changed for a century, Napoleon consistently beat opponents who tried fighting the last war. But Napoleons are rare.Read more »