Drawing heavily on the wisdom of hindsight, the lessons of history and the brain trust at Rand (where he heads the Social...

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EVERY WAR MUST END

Drawing heavily on the wisdom of hindsight, the lessons of history and the brain trust at Rand (where he heads the Social Science Department), Ikle tries to fathom how wars are brought to an end. A complex subject. It seems that in the heat of battle it's difficult to make rational decisions so combat sometimes drags on much too long, to the advantage of no one. Consider the sorry mess that was World War I. To shorten a war escalation will sometimes work (dropping bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki did the trick) and sometimes not (Germany's decision to launch unlimited submarine warfare on England in 1916 backfired). And there's the deplorable fact that a leader's sense of reality seems to shrink when faced with the choice between abject surrender and destruction -- just look at what happened to Hitler in the last days. And a ""unitary view of the nation's interest"" is difficult to arrive at because every country has its hawks and doves and generals and civilians do disagree, note the case of Truman and MacArthur. But here's some helpful advice for Pentagon planners: always consider (a) the potential on both sides for mobilizing men and resources, (b) the possibility of outside intervention, (c) the nation's willingness to endure the economic and psychic strains of war. And be advised that these factors are difficult to assess because of imperfect data, ""logical fallacies,"" and ""distortions."" By the way, loose talk about ""honor"" and ""vital interests"" and ""a second Munich"" is bad, because it can be inflammatory. You know, on the whole, all things considered, in most cases, in the long run, it's much better and safer to ""end wars before they start."" And Ikle's recommendations on how to do that are equally eye-opening.

Pub Date: April 1, 1971

ISBN: 0231136668

Page Count: -

Publisher: Columbia Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1971