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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not In My Name !, 14 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Direction of War: Contemporary Strategy in Historical Perspective (Paperback)
Whoosh ! This is a high-powered, painstakingly researched, and precisely pitched tour-de-force about the sweep of war – going back certainly since the time of Clausewitz and right up until today. It’s by no means an easy read and I found that it demanded infinite levels of concentration in order to follow and understand the intricate threads, which it weaves. Though I am in no doubt about the prowess and expertise of the author, ultimately it was more difficulty than delight, and at its end I could not say that I understood more than when I started.
The danger is that, though I accept that war is a complex and multi-faceted enterprise – something that this book demonstrates unfailingly – I suspect most people, like me, have a varied, but ultimately quite simple, assessment to make of war. I believe, unlike politicians from all political parties, that Joe Public can understand and discern far more than they are given credit for. So, what would be our tests for war, for instance.

That it’s a ‘just’ war.
That it has clear and readily demonstrable points for entry and exit with clearly defined objectives.
That the leaders who call for war do so with a popular rather than a personal mandate and are worthy of the sacrifice that they call for from the magnificent military machines they deploy and of course the brave and worthy young men and women who may be killed or maimed.
That the civilians in the invaded country can look forward to a better or more stable existence - post-war.
That the invading troops are supported and show at all times that they are never so exposed as to demonstrate a shameful level of conduct which may damage the entire force to which they belong and the people who sent them.
That political leaders are honest.
That home nations can look forward to peaceful and more secure times as a result of their actions …
For me the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts fail just about all these tests and the sight of George Bush which his grandstanding on the aircraft carrier – with magnificent printed banner ( I wonder that he must have brought this with him ! ) is hard to view.

The Suez crisis, many would accept, was not our finest hour. Political leaders, who called for this, paid the final price when the Americans, probably correctly, pulled the plug on our escapades. It’s such a shame that Tony Blair did not have the moral courage to do the same rather than deviously following George Bush, in what was to many a misguided and ill-founded campaign that cost us dear in every sense. Even our special relationship was soon forgotten when PM Cameron was not given leave to launch into Syria - how glad we all are now that he wasn’t – and UK criticised by the Americans as they lauded their new best buddies, the French.
My only moment of delight was the press conference when President Bush found himself dodging shoes thrown at him. I was just sorry that Tony wasn’t standing next to him and of course that they didn’t hit him!
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 5 Mar 2014 14:53:23 GMT
Hywel James says:
Maybe just a bit more about the book itself, please.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2014 18:23:24 GMT
Duncurin says:
Hi Hywel,

Many thanks for posting. You are correct, of course, and I do try to correct my loquacious tendencies. You can see now why one of my hobbies is writing. It was beautifully written, but really hard work to get through, and I suppose I was trying to pep the debate up a bit. I will do my best in future, and thanks again for constructive feedback !
John

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2014 20:06:53 GMT
Hywel James says:
Thank you for that. I was curious about the book because earlier in the week Hew Strachan had appeared on television in a programme about the First World War. He seemed pretty impressive and, hence, I was keen to have an insight into this particular book from you.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2014 20:45:13 GMT
Duncurin says:
Hi, again, Hywel,
Be in no doubt the author has a masterful command of English and I am more than happy to conclude that he also has a towering intellect. I thought at one point that if he used the word 'existential' again I was going to scream, but leaving that aside: a couple of years ago I read a book by Philip Mansel about the Levant. One reviewer said that 'he was not writing for the common man' and whilst I saw the merit in this; the book was wonderful 'sparky' read and this lifted a 'dry' subject beautifully. I think this is what I should have been trying to convey (!) in my review. Happy Reading - John
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Duncurin
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Location: Manchester

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