Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Spiller’s ‘Six Propositions’: Some mighty tasty observations here

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 ...

Flickr
Flickr
Flickr

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)

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)

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.