While Tom Ricks is away from his blog, he has selected a few of his favorite posts to re-run. We will be posting a few every day until he returns. This originally ran on January 27, 2011.
On the metro into DC I read Roger Spiller's essay on how wars end, in the Col. Matthew Moten volume about how wars end that I mentioned a few weeks ago. Spiller is a mighty quotable writer, so here are some of the things I underlined:
--"military doctrine is above all a modern army's way of thinking out loud about what it must do next." (p. 20)
--"wars are defined not by their extremes but their limitations" (p. 25)
--"The Civil War was to all intents and purposes a West Pointer's war: Academy graduates commanded on both sides in fifty-five of the sixty largest battles, and on one side in the rest." (p. 28)
--"From Tet onward the United States was on the strategic defensive." (p. 39)
--"the course by which a war ends, if embarked on without care, can be as dangerous to a nation's vital interests as the war itself, regardless of the war's military results." (p. 41)
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.