- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While Tom Ricks is away from his blog, he has selected a few of his favorite posts to re-run. We will be posting a few every day until he returns. This originally ran on January 27, 2011.
On the metro into DC I read Roger Spiller’s essay on how wars end, in the Col. Matthew Moten volume about how wars end that I mentioned a few weeks ago. Spiller is a mighty quotable writer, so here are some of the things I underlined:
–"military doctrine is above all a modern army’s way of thinking out loud about what it must do next." (p. 20)
–"wars are defined not by their extremes but their limitations" (p. 25)
–"The Civil War was to all intents and purposes a West Pointer’s war: Academy graduates commanded on both sides in fifty-five of the sixty largest battles, and on one side in the rest." (p. 28)
–"From Tet onward the United States was on the strategic defensive." (p. 39)
–"the course by which a war ends, if embarked on without care, can be as dangerous to a nation’s vital interests as the war itself, regardless of the war’s military results." (p. 41)