SAVAGE PEACE: Americans at War in the 1990s by Daniel P. Bolger

SAVAGE PEACE: Americans at War in the 1990s

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An insightful investigation of ""Operations Other Than War"" (OOTW) -- military jargon for the plethora of unconventional warlike operations in which the US has engaged in recent years. Although he holds a doctorate in history from the University of Chicago, Bolger (Feast of Bones, 1990, etc.) is no chair-bound theorist: He is currently an infantry battalion commander, and he served in the area known in official Orwellese as the Korean ""Demilitarized Zone"" but to Army grunts as ""Infiltration Alley."" The author opens his narrative with a detailed, gripping description of a night operation against North Korean infiltrators in which he participated, using this experience as a launching pad to explain military doctrine as he understands it: American military planning is evolving from the traditional Western idea of war, in which armies of different nations fight each other in legally declared conflicts according to prescribed rules of engagement, to the guerilla struggles, civil conflicts, and ""peoples' wars"" that typify the hundreds of wars fought today. Bolger describes a world of economic and ethnic conflicts in which four billion have-nots are pitted against one billion haves and led by the only remaining military superpower, the US. He then describes in detail America's changing military role in the Middle East (from the 1982-84 debacle in Lebanon to the success of the Gulf War), its failure in Somalia, and the limited involvement in the former Yugoslavia. The author concludes that OOTW is seldom tidy and lends itself to few generalities. In each case, the military must develop ""rules of engagement"" that achieve America's military goals while taking into account the situation's unique characteristics. Despite occasional flashes of jingoism, Bolger emerges as a military thinker of rugged intelligence, and his conclusion -- that the rules of war are changing rapidly and American military doctrine must change accordingly -- appears accurate.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1995
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Presidio