The Influence of Airpower upon History: Statesmanship, Diplomacy, and Foreign Policy since 1903

The Influence of Airpower upon History: Statesmanship, Diplomacy, and Foreign Policy since 1903

The Influence of Airpower upon History: Statesmanship, Diplomacy, and Foreign Policy since 1903

The Influence of Airpower upon History: Statesmanship, Diplomacy, and Foreign Policy since 1903

Excerpt

Even as early man gazed up at the winged creatures soaring above him and first contemplated the wonders of flight, he began to grapple with the concept of airpower. The primal warrior could imagine the advantages of towering above his enemy, not only to observe his every plan and artifice but also perhaps to humble him with thunderbolts striking down.

Flight entered ancient Greek mythology as the domain of Daedalus’s genius and the fatal allure that triggered Icarus’s demise. In 328 or 327 B.C. Alexander the Great cowed into surrender the defenders of the Rock of Sogdiana, a mountain stronghold, just by having unarmed volunteers scale the heights surrounding the fortress. The besieged garrison commander was so unnerved by the sight of the Macedonians perched above his troops that he capitulated at once. In ancient China the kites that were created some three thousand years ago were being cleverly used for military purposes. In about 200 B.C., during the Han Dynasty, General Han Xin dispatched a kite over city walls—a virtual reconnaissance—in order to determine how deep were the city’s defenses.

So it was that centuries before the Wright brothers ever mastered the currents of the ether, the various “monsters of the purple twilight,” along with their uses in war and diplomacy, had entered human consciousness. Visionaries began to conceive the potentials of airpower, and the first true airpower theorists appeared in the early twentieth century. Ever since, those holding the reins of political control—the statesmen of the twentieth century and beyond—have had to develop their own sense of the uses, limits, and consequences of this evolving capability.

Before the advent of airpower, grand-strategic thinking had been built on theories of sea power. Vice Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond’s . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.