America's Splendid Little Wars: A Short History of U.S. Military Engagements: 1975-2000

Article excerpt

An Account of U.S. Military Actions at Century's End An Excellent Analysis of Contemporary Militaiy-Political History America's Splendid Little Wars: A Short History of U.S. Military Engagements: 1975-2000. Peter Huchthausen. Viking. 254 pages; photographs; maps; notes; bibliography; index; $25.95.

Peter Huchthausen's America's Splendid Little Wars is a must read for serious students of contemporary military-political history and for those serving in national defense or military leadership positions and a good read for those who have served in our nation's armed forces for the last quarter of the 20th century.

Although the coverage of events starts with 1975 and ends in 2000, it is in some ways prescient of the 21st century. The author's purpose is to give an account of what conflicts America was involved in during this period, but also to adroitly mix national dialogue with the individual fighting man's observations of each event.

What is particularly nice for the reader is the organization of the book's "splendid little wars" by presidential administration. Starting with Gerald Ford and ending with Bill Clinton, Huchthausen builds the events that culminate in the military action taken. There is not only tactical reporting, but also excellent analysis from a geopolitical, political-military and historical perspective.

For the 13 "little wars" of the five presidencies for this period, one can observe the differences in the way that national parties use military force. This accounting gives today's military planners and commanders a record of the past behavior of national leadership on military involvement and should assist in understanding how national party politics and military leadership at the Joint Chiefs of Staff level and combatant command level interact in policy formulation, war planning and execution. …