Waging modern war : Bosnia, Kosovo, and the future of combat /
Wesley K. Clark.
1st ed.
New York : Public Affairs, c2001.
xxxi, 479 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm.
More Details
New York : Public Affairs, c2001.
general note
Includes index.
Maps on lining papers.
catalogue key
A Look Inside
First Chapter

Chapter One


I entered military service during the Cold War. Fortunately, we never had to fight the war in Europe that NATO was formed to deter. Nevertheless, we saw a continuing evolution in the conduct of war. Modern war, as defined here, emerged as a function of history and culture, as a result of NATO, the media, and technology. Local factors, such as the environment or the particular characteristics of the enemy forces, had a significant impact as well. From the Korean War of 1950-53, through the American war in Vietnam, and into the United Kingdom's 1982 campaign in the Falklands, the U.S. 1989 intervention in Panama, and the 1991 Gulf War, and into Kosovo in 1999, the divergence from the World War II model of warfare has grown more and more pronounced. The evolution hasn't been linear or particularly well understood, even within the armed forces in most Western countries--but it's there.

    The divergence began with the Soviet Union's acquisition of nuclear weapons. After the wholesale tragedy of World War II and the advent of the nuclear age, it soon was obvious that many conflicts could not be pushed to "unconditional surrender." It was too risky, or too expensive, or too much in conflict with other goals and priorities. Lesser objectives usually had to suffice. When contemplating conflict with the Soviet Union, it became axiomatic in the West, as the Soviet Union acquired greater numbers of nuclear weapons, that nuclear war wasn't winnable in the usual sense; the consequences of widespread use of nuclear weapons by both sides would simply be too destructive. The point was to deter it. The absence of war was the victory; because if you fought, you couldn't win. If fighting did begin, the idea was to defend as long as possible using conventional weapons without resorting to the use of nuclear weapons. Then, if conventional defense wasn't succeeding, use nuclear weapons in some limited way and hope the other side would see the results as so terrible that the conflict could be terminated. You would have to convince the other side that if the aggression wasn't called off, we would use all of the nuclear weaponry in our arsenal. To put it another way, crossing the threshold to use force wasn't necessarily a decision for all-out war. Hearkening back to World War II and the mutual decision among the major belligerents not to use chemical weapons in Europe, this theory rested on the belief that if the belligerents were rational, both sides would see that that it was in their best interests to limit a war once it had begun.

    This strategy in NATO was known as Flexible Response. Defend with conventional weapons for as long as possible, then use nuclear weapons selectively, keeping full-fledged nuclear strikes in reserve. Naturally, the strategy had to be trained and rehearsed. In its nuclear exercises, NATO had established procedures for political decisionmaking and ordering the use of nuclear weapons, and these were extensively practiced. The procedures were immaculate: clear, carefully controlled, double checked, and carefully secured. Entire communications systems were constructed to meet the needs of "nuclear release." NATO was defensive. It didn't seek victory, it sought "conflict termination."

    As a major at Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in 1978-79, I watched NATO go through training and exercises for this strategy. Observing the heavy emphasis on the decisionmaking and procedures for the first nuclear releases, I was one of many who sensed that our approach was incomplete. We never seemed to work our way through what happened after the first nuclear release. Disturbingly, during this period and into the 1980s, the evidence began to accumulate that the Soviets didn't always have the same view, but rather might believe that with adequate preparations and stout, integrated air and missile defenses around Moscow, the center of their military-industrial complex, nuclear war might be survivable and for the best prepared, "relatively" won.

    We recognized a growing asymmetry in the Western and Soviet view of the problem, but NATO stuck with its strategy. There was another strand of thought that had crept into the thinking of some of the European members of NATO, from work done in the United States in game theory. This work aimed to take the influence of the military beyond "deterrence"--causing someone to refrain from doing something by threat of punishment or threat of taking away his means to act--and into something called "compellence," which was to cause someone to act in a certain way. It was a peculiar, or perhaps more generalized form of limited war, a conflict not necessarily fought for territory or to turn back aggression but perhaps for other purposes. In military terms compellence seemed to translate into a certain implicit or explicit bargaining through the graduated use of force, inflicting ever increasing punishment to convince an opponent to change his behavior. It was to be applicable against the smaller, nonnuclear states.

    Many of us in the United States and the Armed Forces had seen early on the fallacies of gradualism. It was, after all, the thinking that lay behind the early, unsuccessful years of the deepening American involvement in the Vietnam War. My personal concerns stemmed from an analysis of the 1965-68 air campaign in Vietnam known as Rolling Thunder. Writing a thesis for a master's degree in military art and science as a captain and student at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, I reviewed as much as I could find about Vietnam, reread the Pentagon Papers, and researched the problem of contingency operations--operations in unanticipated areas that had political aims less sweeping than unconditional surrender.

    It was clear that the U.S. effort to halt North Vietnamese support of the fighting in South Vietnam by "signalling" U.S. resolve through carefully constrained, politically designed bombing, which avoided seeking decisive military impact, had been a failure. The question was, why? The answer seemed to have to do with the pace and intensity of the campaign, in relation to North Vietnamese willpower and determination, and North Vietnam's ability to build up resistance to the strikes and repair the damage even as it was being inflicted. To successfully "compel," I realized, the force applied must be much greater than we had been willing to commit at the time, must be intensified more rapidly, and must be directed at achieving significant military ends. Only when the targeted state realizes that its military efforts cannot succeed will it be "compelled" to consider alternatives.

    But apparently this was quite difficult, as I reflected on such operations, because in modern democracies, the political leaders were usually too hesitant, imposing tough constraints on military actions, and military leaders were not bold enough in pushing for the real military muscle required to achieve significant military objectives. The results, I thought, were extended campaigns that could leave democratic governments vulnerable to their own public opinion. Forbearance in the strikes could be misinterpreted at home or abroad as irresolution or incompetence. As mistakes and losses accumulated, the policy would appear incompetent in application and foolish in design. Campaigns like this were therefore subject to domestic political defeat. And that was part of what happened to the United States in Vietnam. Once fighting had begun, you had to escalate rapidly and achieve "escalation dominance" over an adversary, if you were to succeed. And you had to go after meaningful military objectives.

    I came out of the study convinced that the United States would again find itself engaged in problems of not only deterrence but also "compellence." Little did I suspect that I would be in the middle of the action as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, when it occurred.

    I had my first chance to weigh in with my concerns about gradualism when I was a lieutenant colonel. One afternoon in late May 1983, I sat in a basement office of the Pentagon with Brigadier General Colin Powell as we put the finishing touches on a transition plan for the incoming Chief of Staff of the Army, General John Wickham. Powell was a rising star, even then, a man who had commanded a brigade in General Wickham's division in the mid-seventies and was considered one of the best among his contemporaries. He had been put in charge of the project. The papers had been prepared, addressing such topics as personnel, relations with Congress, force structure, and so on. The group of fourteen officers who had worked the report had broken up. But as we put the papers together in a substantial volume, I noticed that we seemed to be missing an introduction.

    I suggested to Powell that we add a "one-pager" up front, containing the two or three most important things for the new Chief to consider, and he agreed. Emboldened, I suggested a line of argument: "Isn't the most important thing never to commit U.S. troops again unless we're going in to win? No more gradualism and holding back like in Vietnam, but go in with overwhelming force?" Again, Powell agreed, and we put it in the introduction. This argument captured what so many of us felt after Vietnam. Perhaps this idea made it into U.S. military action, when we intervened with overwhelming forces in Grenada in 1983. Certainly the work General Powell did leading up to the Gulf War and the Powell Doctrine of decisive force were a wholehearted refutation of the failed gradualism of Vietnam.

    Unfortunately, the idea of decisive force never quite made it into NATO thinking. It seemed incompatible with nuclear realities, and perhaps the limitations of the armed forces of our European allies. And, if not well understood, it could seem to be a kind of naïve throwback, to an earlier, simpler era of warfare that saw a relatively clear separation between the political and the military: the fighting started when the talking ended, it seemed, and the talking would resume when the fighting stopped. This was the kind of misinterpretation that American military students and some of their leaders could hang onto, though, because it seemed to reflect our American military traditions--that when the war begins the civilian leadership will turn us loose to win it, applying all the skills and judgment of our many years of accumulated professional military experience. In fact, that was a misinterpretation: the doctrine of decisive force was not incompatible with continued diplomacy, explicit or implicit. On the contrary, decisive force--rather than gradualism--was precisely what was required to make "compellence" a sure success, along with the diplomacy to produce the "way out" for the loser.

    One factor that did make its way into the diplomatic and military dialogue within the Alliance was the century-long trend to establish legal and diplomatic barriers against the outbreak of war, and then to limit war's destructiveness. Extraordinary institutions were established to smooth the flow of communications between governments. The European Union was itself first and foremost a means of binding nations' interests together so that they would never again want to go to war against each other. For states outside the EU, various legal and political confidence-building measures were put in place, intrusive measures that made it awkward and difficult for nations to take the opening moves of conflict. Building on precedents set at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials of 1946, the prosecution of war crimes became a fact, in several different venues, and the standards of permissible military actions--the so-called accidents of war--were tightened. The use of military force was increasingly constrained. The Allies' hideous firebombing of Dresden, which reduced the city to ashes and rubble in February 1945, would never recur.

    Hand-in-hand with the growing effort to restrict, hobble, and outlaw war-making was a revolution in communications. American and European leaders were acutely sensitive to the vast change in the flow of information. In Vietnam the battlefield was isolated in space and time from the policymakers at home. Instructions and guidance from Washington was transmitted electronically, of course, but in what we would consider today very small "pipes." Military communications thirty years ago flowed in organized channels, controlled and monitored by the military itself. The TV reports and press copy that came out of Vietnam were also delayed for hours or days. It took years for the media to build the reporting networks and data flow to bring battlefield events in Vietnam out to the public.

    In the 1990s, all of the information age technologies were available--satellite transmission of TV imagery, fax, the Internet, a plethora of long-distance phone lines, and cellular telephones.

    The new technologies impacted powerfully at the political levels. The instantaneous flow of news and especially imagery could overwhelm the ability of governments to explain, investigate, coordinate, and confirm. We called it the "CNN factor," and people began to speak jokingly of the need to follow the itinerary of CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour, whose stunning on-the-scene visuals and reporting could make a distant crisis an instant domestic political concern. It was clear that the new technologies could put unrelenting heavy pressure on policymakers at all levels from the very beginning of any operation.

    New technologies also changed warfare for the military. The advent of twenty-four hour news coverage and satellite relays for TV meant that the world would certainly be present on every battlefield where Western forces were engaged. During the U.S. operation against Manuel Noriega in Panama in 1989, the entire focus of attention for several hours was the action by U.S. forces to rescue a civilian aircrew and others trapped in a hotel. Then the whole world heard the daily doses of psychological warfare as Noriega attempted to take refuge inside the Papal Nuncio's residence and was bombarded out with unrelenting rock music. The bright lights of the TV crews that observed the U.S. Marines coming ashore in Somalia in December 1992 were a foretaste of the spotlight under which all NATO actions against Yugoslavia would be assessed. Future actions could anticipate even more intrusive information collection and more intense top-down, media-driven focus. There would be few spaces in which blunders or mistakes could remain unnoticed.

    The technical side of war changed, too. The Gulf War brought the first public awareness of new precision-guided, aerial-delivered weapons. Though only a small percentage of the total weapons used, these systems accounted for a disproportionate share of the targets destroyed. It was clear within the U.S. Armed Forces that these were the weapons of the future. The Navy, which had possessed only a limited precision-strike capability in 1990, rushed to retrofit the capabilities of much of its air fleet.

    Consider the almost revolutionary impact of precision strike weapons. These pinpoint bombs and missiles were able to strike within a few feet, and sometimes a few inches, of the designated aim point on a target. The first-generation weapons were optically guided, and they required clear weather conditions for some portion or perhaps all of their flight. The second generation used lasers for precision guidance and also required clear weather. The third generation, available during Operation Allied Force, relied on the satellite-based Global Positioning System, enabling the weapons to work at night or in bad weather. Precision weaponry greatly reduced the number of weapons and aircraft needed to bring destruction to the battlefield or to a strategic target array. This meant that the days of the massed air fleets were over. And this, in turn, meant a more rapid buildup of forces against a potential adversary, a buildup that could occur without national mobilization--political, economic, or military.

    Long-range delivery of precision weaponry further extended the reach and blurred the distinctions between war and peace. With air-to-air refueling, long-range strike aircraft can strike across continents and around the world, reducing even further the preparation time before launching an attack. The U.S. Air Force reformulated its doctrine, titling it Global Reach-Global Power.

    The precision bombs and long-range delivery platforms were just the tip-end of a system that relied on precision intelligence, much of it imagery, that enabled the weapons strikes to be planned, checked, and approved. This system, in turn, was a result of long-term, sustained investment in high-speed global communications, imagery, and analysts. And this technology made more detailed and stringent civilian, political-level control possible. When political leaders can receive updates in real time, they can take a more active role in directing the pace and conduct of military engagements.

    Ground forces had a few new weapons also, but they lacked the combination of reliable striking power, action from a distance, and controlled risk-taking that airplanes and missiles can provide. Ground combat retained the possibility of turning nasty and unpredictable at close quarters; its weapons--tanks, ground artillery, and infantry fighting vehicles--tend to be more numerous and less controllable than the air platforms; and the crews are less experienced, and more vulnerable. No wonder that political leaders conditioned by the twentieth century's profligate losses of military manpower tend to opt first to use airpower.

    One consequence of all these factors was that the old separations in time between the military and the political and between the echelons of military command were no longer the same. Political leaders don't give orders and wait days and weeks for results. What we discovered increasingly was that the political and strategic levels impinged on the operational and tactical levels. Or, to put it another way, any event in modern war has four distinct, unequal components: tactical, operational, strategic, and political. Sometimes even insignificant tactical events packed a huge political wallop. This is a key characteristic of modern war.

    These common perceptions of the needless slaughter of warfare, the impact of NATO and its Cold War doctrine, the efforts to restrict the violent nature of war and to limit its effects, and the impact of the new technologies on policymakers and the military itself converged to shape the operations in Kosovo. Modern war is the response developed by the democratic West after a century of trauma in Europe. It is the answer to the trenches and wholesale slaughter of World War I, and it is the answer to the devastation of civilian populations by the "total war" of World War II. But its concept has been incomplete, and the application of military and diplomatic means to wage it and win it have not been well understood.

    Modern warfare is likely to recur in the years and decades to come. It remains a fact that military force is the ultimate arbiter in international affairs. Diplomacy, the process of international relations, has always required the use of influence and power, played out to achieve gains or protect against losses. In classic diplomacy, military power has always been the ultimate card. But there were also diplomatic suasion, economic relations, and all other measures of intercourse between nations. Ideally, diplomacy relies on the positive, as nations cooperate for their mutual benefit. But sometimes issues arise for which positive inducements to cooperation don't suffice, or in which positive inducements are simply inappropriate. International legal pressures, such as war crimes indictments, have now also begun to be used to augment diplomatic pressures.

    In recent years, economic pressures, such as trade and investment restrictions, and even cutoffs of trade have become a staple of international affairs. During the past decade and a half the United States has become accustomed to using its economic muscle to sanction nations whose behavior we wish to change. But the limitations of the economic instruments of power have become increasingly apparent. In the Balkans, for example, the economic sanctions implemented against Serbia during the early 1990s are widely credited with helping Serb President Slobodan Milosevic strengthen his control, through the encouragement of black market and smuggling activities. At the same time these sanctions imposed burdens on neighboring countries like Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Romania, whose leaders were unanimous in opposing any extension of the sanctions regime.

    The imminent entry of China into the World Trade Organization will spell the end of trade sanctions as an element of coercion against that country. Iraqi oil is back on the world market today, though the proceeds are supposed to be used only in procuring humanitarian goods. The experience with the total economic embargo imposed against Haiti was also instructive, in that after the Aristide government was restored to power in 1994, economic recovery was made far more difficult by the impact of the preceding embargo on small and family-owned businesses. While economic sanctions have certainly produced punishment for the affected nations, the punishment has often been indiscriminant, causing economic deprivation and in some cases contributing to more hunger and poverty without impacting those directing the offensive policies and practices of the targeted state.

    If other means of diplomatic suasion fail, the limited efficacy of economic sanctions will leave military power as the last recourse when pressure is required. It may not be used, or even threatened, overtly. In Korea, for example, U.S. forces have been stationed in the south for almost fifty years, since the end of the Korean War, and demonstrate the determination of the United States to assist the Republic of Korea in the event of renewed aggression from North Korea. Though the troops have never been used, there can be no doubt in the minds of potential adversaries what they represent.

    And there are cases where the deployment of military forces can be threatening but still ambiguous. In March 1996 Chinese missiles fired toward Taiwan led to American naval deployments into the immediate area. No specific public threats were made, and no commitments were given, so far as is known, to Taiwan. But the deployments nevertheless gave leverage to achieve the desired Chinese de-escalation of the crisis.

    Finally, there are likely to be cases where, for one reason or another, it will be necessary to make a more open statement of possible military action. U.S. actions against Iraq are a case in point, where a continual series of air strikes have been conducted since the four-day series of strikes against Saddam Hussein's special weapons programs in December 1998. Here the United States and its allies have continued to enforce the no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq that were established after the Gulf War. When Iraqi forces challenge the air patrols with air defense radars or manned aircraft, American and British aircraft are directed to strike designated targets. These actions serve as a continuing reminder to Hussein that military power will be brought against any move to threaten his neighbors, or the Kurdish tribes in the north that have been protected by the West since 1991.

    In each of these cases, U.S. and Allied military power is in use, will be, or could be, in order to deter, to dissuade, or to compel. These, too, are examples of actions that could become modern war: not a fight for national survival, but carefully restrained and limited action, widely observed and reported by the media, and under real-time political control.

    When it can, the United States will use military power in conjunction with its friends and allies. It is a matter of distributing the risks and burdens of military action, as well as securing essential access and support. And in the case of allied action, the United States will have to recognize that its own national interests will seldom be the same in nature, intensity, scope, or duration as those of its allies and partners. This is the unchangeable truth about groupings of states: they have differing interests. These may derive from different degrees of exposure to the damages of war, varying economic interests in the affected region, historical or cultural relationships with adversaries, or even different national election procedures or timing. Sustaining a common interest sufficient to support military power and its use is therefore a matter of high statesmanship. The United States will be fortunate indeed if it has alliance political and military "machinery" like NATO to assist in forging and sustaining shared interests and common commitments.

    NATO has survived numerous crises over its half century of existence, crises arising from the differing perspectives and interests of its member nations. There was a crisis in 1956, caused by the U.S.'s refusal to support British and French military actions against Egypt, a crises in the early 1960s associated with the U.S.'s reneging on promises to share nuclear weapons technology with allies, and a crisis in 1966 when France withdrew from the NATO military structure. There were longstanding European questions about whether Washington would really risk American cities to deter attacks on Western European cities. There was a perception of neglect as the United States turned its attention to Vietnam, and another crisis brought on by the buildup of Soviet theater nuclear forces and NATO's need to respond in the late 1970s and early 1980s. With the end of the Cold War and the breakup of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, there was concern that NATO would have no purpose, and that the profound underlying differences between nations on each side of the Atlantic would overshadow their common interest in security.

    Yet, NATO has survived and adapted, binding together member nations on both sides of the Atlantic through its Charter document, its consensus-building institutions and procedures, and the continuing common interests of its members. NATO is a "consensus engine." It was designed and has evolved to harmonize varying opinions into a workable, cohesive whole. Economics, language, culture, and politics create rifts and rivalries from time to time, but on military matters the Atlantic Alliance has proved a durable force for teamwork. Leaders and staff from its nineteen member nations know each other through the frequent--some say, too frequent--meetings. There are summit meetings for heads of state, meetings for foreign ministers and defense ministers twice each year, and a third meeting only for the defense ministers. The top military leaders in each country, the Chiefs of Defense, or CHODs, meet separately three times per year and then accompany their defense ministers to their meetings. And each meeting has its social event the evening before, with the transatlantic participants sometimes numbed by jet lag and looking for the door early.

    The mechanics of the Alliance are designed to promote agreement on essential minimums. NATO is led and represented on the diplomatic level by the Secretary General, always a European, normally someone with previous experience as a defense minister or foreign minister. The military work at the headquarters is led by the Chairman of the Military Committee, always a European general who has led his nation's military. This military work is the essential preliminary in generating agreement. Issues are identified, parsed out, worked, and resolved at the military level first in order to facilitate the subsequent political-level discussions and agreements that then become orders for NATO's military. The Supreme Allied Commander, Europe--known as the SACEUR--commands the Alliance's European-based military forces on land, sea, and air in accordance with approved directions and restrictions from NATO headquarters. He is always an American, due to the leading U.S. role in the Alliance and the coupling of its deterrent mission in Europe to the American strategic deterrent elsewhere.

    NATO operates bilingually, with English and French as its two languages. But in truth, NATO has its own language of acronyms, out-of-syntax constructions, and insider code. There is a subtlety that reflects not only the nuances of complex issues but also the tortuous process of consensus building. Agreements are not voted; they are place "under silence." Disagreement is noted by "breaking silence" on a proposal. The North Atlantic Council meets in different groupings, "ambassadors only," or "ambassadors plus four," tailored to promote the most effective exchanges.

    Javier Solana, NATO's Secretary General, proved himself to be a master at using the machinery and language to shape policies and build consensus. In a rare quiet moment, I once asked the Secretary General the secret of his success. He reflected briefly, then said, "Two things. Make no enemies. And ask no question unless you know what the answer will be and it is the answer you want."

    The complexities of forging common purpose are today compounded by the emergence of the European Union's efforts to create a Common Foreign and Security Policy and by the fact that Russia is no longer perceived as a military threat to Western Europe or the United States. Many in the United States, over the past decade, looking at the rapidly growing economic strength of countries in the Pacific and east Asia, and especially China, have sought to reduce American foreign policy's long-term orientation toward Europe. This has added to the stress on transatlantic relationships and institutions like NATO.

    War, of course, is first and foremost a political act. The U.S. Constitution assigns the power to declare war to the Congress, while the President serves as the U.S. Commander in Chief. Other Western nations see the problem similarly. During World War I, French Premier Georges Clemenceau famously said, "War is too important to be left to the generals." In fact, this realization is one of the points of origin for modern war. Political leaders make the ultimate decisions, decide the key policies, develop or approve the strategy, and supervise the execution. Even limited war requires the acceptance of risks and losses, embarrassment, and potential failure. Warfare disrupts peacetime patterns of commerce and political discourse and can consume alternate political goals and efforts. Warfare is thus one of the supreme tests for political leaders, and for leaders in democracies, it is something to be avoided if possible.

    Each NATO nation has its own system for providing national guidance on matters affecting its security, including direction of its armed forces in war. In some parliamentary governments there are special groupings of ministers. In France the president had unique responsibilities in foreign affairs. In the United States, the Armed Forces are directed by the National Command Authority, consisting of the President and his Secretary of Defense. But the directives and orders themselves usually emerge from a system of interagency coordination that brings together the information, perspectives, and resources of the Department of State, the intelligence agencies, the Department of Defense, and sometimes others, under the coordination of the National Security Council staff. Issues are raised and developed, options considered, and consensus is formed. In some cases, where differing agency positions cannot be reconciled or the stakes are so high, the decisions are pushed upward, for resolution in small meetings of the cabinet secretaries or in the Oval Office itself. Of course, differing agency perspectives always remain, to bedevil policy execution or to resurface when similar issues arise in the future.

    Thus within the U.S. system, military leaders receive their orders from a clear chain of command, but the orders may be influenced by a broader set of personalities and agencies. The military chain of command provides the hierarchy of leaders, institutions, and communications that actually commands the forces. Military leaders must give information and advice, prepare plans as directed, and respond to queries. However, this exchange of information also goes beyond the strict confines of the military chain of command. While it may seem desirable in theory to separate the military decisionmaking from policy formulation, in practice it is impossible. At the top levels the generals and admirals stay abreast of the issues and arguments, anticipating requests for information or orders for action, and engage in a variety of informal exchanges with members of the diplomatic community, policymakers in other agencies, and members of Congress and their staffs. The top leadership therefore not only carries out the orders it receives, it may heavily influence their formulation.

    Military advice is not without profound professional and personal implications for the military itself, as well as civilians. War risks the loss and destruction of carefully honed armed forces, the disruption of well-laid plans for the future, and of course, personal embarrassment, failure, defeat, and loss of life. None knows better than the military leaders themselves the dangers of war; consequently, they are usually the last to advocate it.

    The difficulties and complexities of modern war can be measured in part by the difficulties faced by the American military in coming to grips with Kosovo. The top leaders in the American Armed Forces were still heavily impacted by their early experiences in the Vietnam War. We knew about the dangers of "political micromanagement," when bombing targets were picked by Lyndon B. Johnson's White House and pilots were restrained from attacking key enemy airfields and air defense sites. All of us knew from personal experience the incredible power of the media, which, at least in Vietnam, turned increasingly adversarial to the Pentagon and the leadership of the Armed Forces as the long war continued. And in the Army, it had long been an article of resolve that there would be "no more Vietnams," wars in which soldiers carried the weight of the nation's war despite the lack of public support at home.


Copyright © 2001 Wesley K. Clark. All rights reserved.

Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2001-08-01:
A New York Times reporter who has served as bureau chief in both Mexico and Canada, DePalma presents an astute picture of the fundamentally diverse histories and national characters of these two countries and the United States. He examines the political, cultural, and economic consequences of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), drawing on his own experiences and observations. This policy, he argues, has revealed shared economic objectives and irrefutable philosophical links, but it has also exposed deep political and class differences, unrealistic attempts to control porous borders, the threat of U.S. cultural domination, and economic chicanery. But DePalma also reports that unshackling the continental market has doubled continental trade, added 16 million jobs, inspired enthusiasm for governmental reform, improved financial reporting, and produced a common currency. DePalma writes with eloquence and subtle humor, seasoned by the personal experience of having lived in all three countries. This is a story of the divergent histories, converging values, and emerging character of a new North America. Highly recommended for academic and larger public libraries. John E. Hodgkins, Yarmouth, ME (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 2001-12-01:
There was a time in US history when retired generals wrote relatively short, self-deprecating but poignant accounts of their military service. One thinks of Eisenhower's Crusade in Europe and Ridgeway's A Soldier's Story. Alas, more recently we have the efforts of Wesley Clark, retired four-star general who was commander of NATO during the war in Kosovo. Clark has written a self-centered, seemingly endless account of that war and indeed his entire military career. Details, many of which are irrelevant to even the most dedicated military buff, come thick and fast for 500 pages. We are told, for example, that after a particularly grueling negotiating session President Milosovitch tried to give General Clark a beautiful pen! This is historical detail well beyond the call of duty. Still, the work is not without humor or insight. In the middle of the war, after Clark has been on TV for many press conferences giving his opinions on myriad subjects, often at odds with his civilian authorities, Clark is summoned to the phone by the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Shelton, who relays the pithy and pungent directive of then Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen. "Stay the **** off TV," says the exasperated Cohen. Good advice. General readers. C. Potholm II Bowdoin College
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2001-06-04:
U.S. Army General Clark describes this account of his tenure as commander of the 1999 Kosovo operation as a personal memoir. But the book, Clark's first, uses a narrative of the campaign as the springboard for a provocative analysis of contemporary war. Clark, in contrast to other American military leaders, places protecting human rights among U.S. vital interests. By the time diplomatic and political options have been exhausted and armed force is employed, he notes, the stakes have become too high for defeat or withdrawal to be acceptable. The military effort is thus impelled by political factors (and political failures), which in turn renders difficult the application of traditional "principles of war" that focus on quick, decisive victory. Military options are further restricted, Clark notes, by dynamics within both the general public and the armed forces that make unacceptable both taking casualties and inflicting them in any number. Clark correspondingly regards air campaigns, along the lines developed in Kosovo but with improved technology, better intelligence and a more sophisticated public-relations element, as the most generally acceptable future form of large-scale military action. Ground operations, he declares, are currently too slow, too costly, too indecisive and too unpredictable to be a first choice in the complicated political and diplomatic matrices of modern warmaking. Instead, Clark favors developing a more mobile, more deployable U.S. army, and urges considering Europe's relatively successful experience in constabulary-type missions. In the same context, Clark disparages the prospects of unilateral action, instead arguing for the overriding importance of maintaining integrated, allied military operations. Clark's affirmation of the continued importance of NATO is, however, balanced by his demonstration that, as supreme allied commander, Europe, he still retained ample authority to protect U.S. interests. Complex and controversial, this work merits wide public discussion for its analysis of a superpower's role in a regional conflict the sort the U.S. will most likely continue to face in the coming decade. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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Table of Contents
Cast of Charactersp. IX
List of Abbreviationsp. XV
Introductionp. XIX
Into the Balkans
The Cold War Is Overp. 3
Crisis Managementp. 29
To Dayton and Backp. 46
The Road to War
Wearing Two Hatsp. 77
Carrots and Sticksp. 107
Diplomacy Backed by Threatp. 131
The Three-Ring Circusp. 162
The Air Campaign
Battle Rhythmp. 193
Apaches and Targetsp. 221
The Strategic Battlefieldp. 243
The Ground Optionp. 268
Resistance and Persistencep. 293
Holding Steadyp. 325
Diplomacy Backed by Forcep. 345
Pristina Airfieldp. 375
The Good Fightp. 404
Conclusionp. 417
Acknowledgmentsp. 463
Indexp. 467
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