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Stealth and low-observability platforms enabled the coalition to disable the Iraqi air defense system and destroy key command and control targets in the early days of the air campaign. The apparent lessons of the Gulf War transformed the George H. As the Cold War ended, the administration sought a strategic concept to replace containment. Before the Gulf War, U.
This strategic approach reflected several lessons of the Gulf War — lessons that continue to define U. Having recognized its military-technological advantage — a gap that Moscow and Beijing also noted — U. As a result of the capabilities that proved effective in Iraq, the United States invested more aggressively in stealth, precision, and other high-end military technologies in a bid to increase its advantage even further.
Moreover, countering the proliferation of advanced weapons technology, and especially weapons of mass destruction WMD , assumed even greater importance as an organizing principle for U. The grand strategic implications of American military capabilities revealed by the Gulf War were profound. Second, the Gulf War introduced Iraq as the central preoccupation of U.
Early in the George H. Bush administration, Central Command chief Gen. After the Gulf War, U.
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Regionally, it elevated the importance of Iraq and the Persian Gulf. Functionally, it increased the priority of counter-proliferation of all advanced weapon technology, including weapons of mass destruction.
The Long Shadow of the Gulf War
These no-fly zones, which remained in place until the invasion of Iraq, placed U. Just as the Soviet Union was collapsing, Iraq came into focus as a new threat.
The legacies of the Gulf War continue to pervade U. Twenty-five years later, it is time to revisit those legacies, as a guide to both understanding the past and producing better strategy going forward. Maintaining a military advantage over current and prospective adversaries rightly remains a strategic priority for the United States.
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Though the U. Enthusiasm for the peace dividend and subsequent Global War on Terror interventions largely directed investment away from advanced conventional systems. Technologies that were rare and sophisticated in are now commonplace. Russia and China played catch-up with costly modernization programs while also seeking asymmetric counters to U. Even as the Obama administration sought to diminish U. While Iraq surely has intrinsic strategic importance, it would be difficult to argue that its bearing on the U.
For much of the past 25 years, U. He deserves to be honored and to be given a medal—but one with the image of a man who is scowling and holding a knife. Henry Kissinger was a success—a true, American success—but he can only be called an idealist if he can be called despicable too.
The notion that Kissinger was fundamentally an idealist is, to me, utterly preposterous. Indeed, during his period in office he reveled in his realism. The best to be said for him was that he was creative in his diplomacy, shaking up old patterns and relationships across the globe.
Inside Washington he was also, along with Donald Rumsfeld, one of the two or three most skillful bureaucratic warriors of modern times; his most consistent trait was to amass as much power and control as possible in his own office and person. But his claims to brilliance often fell apart on closer scrutiny. The China initiative, for example, began with Richard Nixon, not Kissinger—and Kissinger concealed for years some of the concessions he made in Beijing.
On the whole, he was and is vastly overrated as a statesman. I think that Kissinger has been a quintessential s U. Cold War intellectual. He was not particularly original or bold, once we scratch away from his writings the deliberately opaque and convoluted prose he often used, possibly to try to render more original thoughts and reflections that were in reality fairly conventional.
And post America loved, for a while, that kind of message, which appeared to offer the solution necessary to get out of Vietnam and finally abandon quixotic crusades in the name of democracy, modernization and development. Was he a war criminal? I am afraid that by the standards some of his critics have applied to Kissinger numerous post U. What the archival record has so far revealed is that Kissinger was often simplistic, binary and even uninformed during his tenure as national security adviser and secretary of state.
His often broadcasted realism notwithstanding, he tended to adhere to a dogmatic, zero-sum-game of the international game. History benefits from layers and layers of new brush strokes.
Manual Military Legacies: A World Made By War (Global Realities)
My own view and it will be interesting to see if Niall reflects this in his second volume is that when Kissinger comes to power he is more of a classic realist in his outlook. He focuses on an unsentimental assessment of national interests and is able to balance smartly relations with Russia and China. I think that approach was not perfectly suited to the impulses of the American public of that time, and it caused problems with both neo-conservatives and the left.
But I believe that nowadays, we could use a much larger dose of Kissingerian realism in our discussions of foreign policy. Bangladesh is now the eight-largest country in the world, with a population larger than Russia or Japan, as well as a major Muslim country with considerable strategic importance in South Asia. Henry Kissinger may be the most overrated public figure of our times.
Nixon was the grand strategist, Kissinger the tactician. Kissinger is overrated, second, by Washington society and the punditocracy, which treat him as some kind of great mind. In fact, most of his ideas have been fairly conventional. Nixon and Kissinger deserve severe condemnation for many elements of their foreign policy, but to suggest that Kissinger is the equivalent of Hitler or Milosevic is to engage in juvenile sloganeering.
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