THE FUTURE OF WARFARE by Bevin Alexander


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Contrary to its title, this book is not about the future of warfare, but rather the types of war the author expects the US to get involved in next. Sections of Alexander's (Lost Victories: The Military Genius of Stonewall Jackson, 1992, etc.) far-flung book deal miscellaneously with Korea, Mao's military theories, Lawrence of Arabia, the Boer War, and Vietnam. The two chapters about Vietnam vividly describe lesser-known engagements that capture, as the author sees it, much of what went wrong there. On the important question of the extent to which regular North Vietnamese troops increasingly fought a conventional war, the author argues that the main purpose of the regular units was to draw US forces into the highlands, leaving the more populated parts of the country vulnerable to the Vietcong. Alexander makes the very striking claim that the Vietcong carried the main burden of the fighting from first to last. Regrettably, when it comes to the future, Alexander falls into the age-old rut of assuming that the next major war will be essentially much like the last -- that is, almost certainly ""low intensity"" conflicts rather like Vietnam -- though he also allows for the possibility of a war for hegemony over Eurasia or even, it seems, a major naval war. Worse still, while one may argue about whether the disintegration of the USSR has left the US more or less secure, its seems more than a little odd to say, as Alexander does, that we face no threat from Russia -- an unstable country that still has the nuclear power to obliterate us. On Yugoslavia, the most controversial military question facing the US today, the author tellingly has nothing to say. While some chapters here would make good magazine articles, as a whole the book lacks perspective, and with its silence on the human catastrophe in Bosnia, it fails the key test of relevance.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0393332403
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Norton