A QUICK AND DIRTY GUIDE TO WAR: Briefings on Present and Potential Wars by James F. & Austin Bay Dunnigan

A QUICK AND DIRTY GUIDE TO WAR: Briefings on Present and Potential Wars

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The authors of this resource work, both of whom deal in war-making scenarios as full-time freelance occupations, assume that lots of people are fascinated by the briefing books they see presidents and cabinet members or their aides carrying around on the evening news. What's in those things? According to this common man's version, not a whole lot of depth, to begin with. Dunnigan and Bay run down 15 actual or potential wars or armed conflicts, giving population statistics for the countries or regions involved, and a superficial sketch of who the parties to the conflict are, what they want, what the superpowers see in it for themselves, and so on; then they make wholly unsubstantiated guesses, expressed in spurious percentages, of what the potential outcomes might be. In a chapter on the Middle East and Israel, for example, they foresee a 38 percent chance that Israel will withdraw from Lebanon with everything else remaining unchanged, but only a 17 percent chance of an Israeli-Syrian war. (They give Israel a 95 percent chance of victory, which makes you wonder why the Syrians are so stupid.) For some reason, they rate a Syrian-Jordanian war as a 12 percent probability. And so on. Things really degenerate when Dunnigan and Bay introduce a section on Spain and Catalonia with dire recollections of the ethnic and nationalist origins of World War I, only to go on to conclude (after the requisite historical background and statistics) that neither Madrid nor Barcelona is about to fan war fires, and that the superpowers couldn't care less. Charts at the tall end purport to tell us all about the current capability for war-making of the world's nations; problems of collecting data on nuclear-weapons manufacturing capability, ground forces, economic output, and other factors were solved, we are confidently told, by a computer model ""utilizing the 123 spreadsheet program."" This one's for hobby model-builders or fantasists.

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 1984
Publisher: Morrow