Magazine March 11, 2013, Issue

The Right to Command

The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today, by Thomas E. Ricks (Penguin, 576 pp., $32.95)

Writing in World Affairs in 2009, eminent military historian Richard Kohn observed that “nearly twenty years after the end of the Cold War, the American military, financed by more money than the entire rest of the world spends on its armed forces, failed to defeat insurgencies or fully suppress sectarian civil wars in two crucial countries, each with less than a tenth of the U.S. population, after overthrowing those nations’ governments in a matter of weeks.” What, he asks, accounts for this lack of military effectiveness?

This is not exactly the way Thomas Ricks formulates the question in The Generals, but

Mackubin Thomas Owens is senior national security fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) in Philadelphia, editing its journal Orbis from 2008 to 2020. A Marine Corps infantry veteran of the Vietnam War, he was a professor of national-security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College from 1987 to 2015. He is the author of US Civil–Military Relations after 9/11: Renegotiating the Civil-Military Bargain.

In This Issue

Articles

Politics & Policy

Benedict’s Legacy

History will most likely treat Pope Benedict XVI more kindly than his chattering-class contemporaries, who held him in barely disguised (or undisguised) contempt, caricaturing him as a former Hitler Youth ...

Features

Politics & Policy

USPS, R.I.P.

In 1691, Thomas Neale was given a 21-year concession on postal services in Their Majesties’ prospering American colonies. Neale never set foot in the New World and was an epically ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

The Empty Cradle?

Jonathan Last has just added one more cloud to the darkening sky that many conservatives see on America’s horizon. To growing conservative concerns about an entitlements crisis, fiscal ruin, soft ...
Politics & Policy

Take the Noir Pill

Steven Soderbergh has been making movies lately at a pace that feels almost compulsive, and his recent announcement that his latest film will be his last should probably be understood ...

Sections

Politics & Policy

Letters

A Fighting Chance In “The Right to Bear Arms and Popular Sovereignty” (February 11), Charles C. W. Cooke reports that the Second Amendment was designed to protect the right of the ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ In a delicate operation, Hugo Chávez was removed from a cancerous tumor. ‐ The 2011 deal to raise the debt ceiling included an across-the-board cut to planned spending on defense ...
The Long View

News Clips from the Past

From the Manchester Poste, January 1774: . . . after a muche learned and complikated discourse, Mr. John Adams of Bostowne took a small breathe, and pursuant to continuing in his ...
Athwart

Put Down the Controller!

We need to have a national conversation about national conversations. There aren’t any guidelines. Do arguments in our heads with people who have different opinions count? Does “conversation” actually mean ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

OAK LEAVES She had a studious-sprightly walk, this wren, this girl ahead of me, she on the way to the brick, and so, to her eyes, alien library, nearly empty that weekend day. She didn’t ...

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