The Politics of Military Strategy
Kingseed, Cole C., Army
The Politics of Military Strategy Defeating Japan: The Joint Chiefs of Staff and Strategy in the Pacific War, 1943-1945. Charles F. Brower. Palgrave Macmillan. 231 pages; photographs; maps; notes; bibliography; index; $90. Publisher's website: www. palgrave.com.
Contrary to the popular misconception fostered by wartime allies that American military leaders of World War II were amateur strategists who failed to understand the integral relationship between war and politics, soldier-historian Charles F. Brower offers a compelling alternative interpretation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) in Defeating Japan. In Brower 's view, the JCS evolved into seasoned strategists who "found political and military considerations, both American and Allied, to be inseparable in the global coalition war that they were fighting. ... They recognized that war was not an autonomous, independent phenomenon but the product of political forces that would continue to exert their influence as the war progressed."
Brower is a lifelong student of political and military affairs. A 32-year Army veteran, Brower is the former chairman of the U.S. Military Academy's Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership and the former dean of academics at Virginia Military Institute (VMI). Brower currently serves as professor of history and international relations at VMI, where he teaches courses in American foreign policy and strategy and holds the Henry King Burgwyn chair in military history. He also edited World War II in Europe: The Final Year and George C. Marshall: Servant of the American Nation.
Defeating japan is Brower 's "effort to understand the relationship between such 'political and morale considerations' and American strategy-making in the war against Japan." He focuses principally on strategic planning at the national level - that is, at the juncture between the commander in chief and his principal military advisors. Consequently, America's great battle captains from World War II, with the exception of GEN Joseph W. Stilwell - whose China Theater responsibilities inevitably drew him into the political sphere - make only an occasional appearance in Brower 's study.
Brower begins his narrative with an examination of the political considerations that governed the conduct of the war against the Japanese empire, claiming that disagreements over policy and strategy never disappeared entirely. Brower asserts that American military policy and strategy-making in World War II remained a "'model of quiet, uncomplaining military acceptance' of the primacy of national policy and civilian supremacy." Accordingly, the JCS willingly accepted "their subordination in the difficult collaboration and 'unequal dialogue' with their civilian masters that led to the shaping and execution of wartime military strategy."
Brower also sees an evolving sophistication within the JCS as they attempted to cope with the political dimensions of military strategy in 1943 and 1944. In 1943, two strategic issues proved paramount: the development of a long-range plan for the defeat of Japan and the need to stimulate action in Burma to lift the siege of China, which was critical in President Franklin D. …