Victory in War: Foundations of Modern Military Policy

Article excerpt

Victory in War: Foundations of Modern Military Policy by William C. Martel. Cambridge University Press (, 32 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10013-2473, 2006, 432 pages, $35.00 (hardcover).

Fighting and winning the long war against global terrorism are critical priorities of the United States Air Force. We share a stake in this fight with every security-focused agency in the nation and those of our allies. Since this war began, arguably on 11 September 2001, strategies and plans have been written and rewritten at all levels. Through these iterations, however, no one has defined victory. Few need reminding of the significant expenditure of national prestige, treasure, and blood. Given the nature and cost of the long war, why do we have no clear concept of what it means to win?

Victory in War: Foundations of Modern Military Policy by William C. Martel, associate professor of international security studies at the Fletcher School of Tufts University, presents an engaging and thoughtful analysis of the concepts and questions encompassing a topic artfully captured in the book's title. Before turning the first page, one sees on the cover a highly recognizable picture that imaginatively frames Martel's premise. The image of a large banner prominently displayed on the USS Abraham Lincoln in May 2003 behind President Bush reads "Mission Accomplished." Since that day, over 4,000 Americans have been killed, and almost 30,000 have been wounded in Iraq alone.

The premise of Victory in War is straightforward. No modern theory of victory exists, yet it should. The author poses pertinent questions and displays keen analytical rigor as he rapidly moves through a review of ancient and modern military strategists and theorists to arrive at chapter 4-the heart of the book. Here Martel develops "four conceptslevel of victory, change in status quo, mobilization for war, and post conflict obligations-which jointly provide the foundation for a pretheory of victory" (p. 94). Readers should not be confused since the author successfully explains the definition and rationale for using the social-science term pretheory. …