Posted by: cousindampier | 22 April 2010

Conduct of War

I just finished J.F.C. Fuller’s Conduct of War, 1789-1961. The book is both a history of warfare during that period of American birth to dominance and a memoir of Fuller’s life and work (he died in 1966).

The theme Fuller continually returns to is the relationship between war and policy: “of all Clausewitz’s blind spots, the blindest was that he never grasped that the true aim of war is peace and not victory; therefore that peace should be the ruling idea of policy, and victory only the means toward its achievement” (76).

The last section is on World War II, and Fuller’s analysis of the western leaders is pointed and harsh. Churchill and Roosevelt, he maintains, were so overcome with hatred for Hitler and focused on the downfall of Nazi Germany they did not look at the war in context of policy. Stalin’s view was quite the opposite – he looked at the war as an opportunity to place the Soviet Union in a place of power in Central Europe.

I’m working to compare Conduct with Armament and History, focusing on what makes a superior policy and a superior weapon throughout different ears (as each book tends to focus on, respectively). As for Conduct, its difficult to get through in places (lots of edited mass quotations, especially of Napoleon, Clauswitz, and Lenin), but thoroughly interesting.

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