In chapter 1 the author begins by analyzing start of WWI & how Austria’s and Serbia’s activities resulted to Europe into the state of war. He held the belief that all leaders have distorted perception of themselves in that they think greater of themselves and lesser of their enemies than they really are. As a result of this distorted perception, Stoessinger pointed out that it is among the primary contributing factors to the war. In the book, the author pointed out that the participants suffered from huge or lesser distortions in their images of themselves. Viewed themselves as honorable and virtuous and their enemies as diabolical (Stoessinger, 2011, p 24). Austria believed that they might defeat Serbia with the help of the Germanys & that Russia shall not intervene since it was compassionate for Archduke’s loss & the punishment was necessary.
In chapter 2, the book focuses on Hitler’s invasion of Russia. Stoessinger stated that:
The aim in understanding of Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Russia is found in the circles of psychology than in political science or strategic thought. (Stoessinger, 2011, page 31). Hitler did not care about the conquering of Russia, he was interested in destroying Russia. He feared that they would interfere in the construction of his 3rd Reich. Hitler’s arrogance and ego blinded him to the realities of an unwinnable war. The main reason for war is based on the leader’s feelings (psychology) of another nation.
In chapter 3, the book focuses on the Korean War. Stoessinger pointed out that motivating factors that resulted to this war were: the probing actions by Stalin west and North Korean attack was as a result of internal affair of Korean Peninsula. The aggressive nature of Korean was brought about by an aggressive UN led to a war which had no winners (Stoessinger, 2011). The Political leaders, each with his own perceptions, fears and hopes drove the war until exhaustion wiped out any illusion of victory held by the leadership. The main reason for war according to Stoessinger is brought about by aggressive leaders/nations and which forces other nations to join in with the aim of countering the aggressive nature of this nation against other nations.
Chapter four is based in Vietnam. The chapter is based on longest war in US history and the most divisive conflict internally since the start of the civil war (Stoessinger, 2011). Stoessinger focused on how five consecutive US presidents dragged America down the abyss of war. All the five presidents of USA based their policies of exaggerated fears and hopes plus each of them left the situation in a worse state for their predecessor. A case in point is when President Kennedy began direct US involvement which planted the seeds to make Vietnam a military instead of politico-diplomatic case. This militarization and Vietnamization military-wise took shape. The legacy of President Johnson left President Nixon with the burden of a huge military extraction without losing face (Stoessinger, 2011). With this regard, Stoessinger argument is that nations goes to war based on the mistakes/policies they inherited from previous regimes and the heavy involvement (militarization) in the affairs of other nations.
Chapter five focuses on three battles over God: Pakistan and India. West Pakistani, East Pakistani, Bangladesh, Kashmir and India are earlier and present political regions which invoke emotional terms and which frames the war within South Asia (Stoessinger, 2011). Stoessinger provides a detailed account of three wars that were fought between India and Pakistan. The author pointed out that the war was brought about by religious conflict, territorial conflict, economic imbalance, clash of personality and nationalist aspirations (Stoessinger, 2011). The Leaders of these nations steeped their culture and religion and gave way for violence to become the final arbiter and to escalate with the notion of defeating their opponent. The better part of the contest was based on individual competition between the leaders of Indian and Pakistan. Based on the above information, Stoessinger seemed to allude to that nations go war due to personal competition from their leaders. Moreover, each of these leaders is of the opinion that their cultures and religion is superior hence they want it to be adopted by other nations.
Chapter six focuses on the 40 years’ war within the holy land and which was between the Arabs and Israel. Stoessinger covered on the 4 wars that was between the Arabs and Israel plus touched on the causes and conduct of the conflict based on the trouncing attitude and hatred shown by these groups on one another (Stoessinger, 2011). At the start of the 21st century, the reigning perception of right vs wrong shifted to the war between Israeli and Arab. The leadership of Arab and Israel played their roles in taking their nations to war since they held deep zero-sum perceptions which made war appear very attractive. As a result of these, War became a productive alternative for the leadership of Israeli (1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973).
Politically, the Arabs (more so Palestinians) gained g moral ground as Arab leaders noted after 5 trials that going to war didn’t bring out the desired political results. Stoessinger suggested that building coalitions with moderates seemed to be a best political answer for war and which makes less and less political benefits. The death and destruction of war (within a broader image of political solutions) might have played its role (Stoessinger, 2011). However, according to Stoessinger, political leaders usually get it wrong by underrating and misjudging their opposition or misperceiving the opposing leadership. For the present leaders within this regions, however, concentration on war to establish or find political solution is faltering. Saddam Hussein (portrayed to love war) took part in many wars against his neighbors and fellow citizens only to discover that he (and Iraq) befitted less from war fighting over a period of roughly three decades. Just like in World War 1, nations that were bent on and in the momentum of war as a solution hardly appeared to be backing down and eventually drag other nations into unwanted wars (Stoessinger, 2011).
From the above cases, Stoessinger argues that leaders of nation opt for war as the last resort to solve any issues that they might be having with their neighboring nations. The leaders of this nation view war as the only remedy which can resolve all issues but their surprise, it does not.
Towards the end of the book, “New wars for a new century”, Stoessinger focuses on the legacies of Osama and George Bush via the lenses of religious fanatics, realistic and crusaders. Though it appears that the religious fanatic’s acceptance of war is rooted in a culture that is not open to change, the personality of the realistic crusader shifts and is susceptible when compared to the fanatic. Based on this facts, Stoessinger notes many political leaders. He singles out George W Bush of America to show the shift from Realistic to crusader as his crusade against the axis of evil, the subsequent attack on Iraq, and the nuclear wars with Iran and North Korea passed his response to 9/11.
At the end of the chapter, Stoessinger shows his findings on wars of the 20th century. 1st, those countries (leaders) that start war rarely come out as winners. 2nd, temperament of leaders are essential and which informs their decisions to start war as a policy option. 3rd, misperception seemed to be at the center/pivotal during outbreak of wars. The misperceptions of leaders remains linked to the temperaments in four varying ways which Stoessinger ties to each case study: expectation of faster campaigns which results to victory, having a distorted perception of the enemy, having the belief that the enemy will attack first, and overestimating the actual power of the enemy.
The history of war can be traced back to the early days of human civilization (Dyer, 2005). Weapons have in the previous centuries years changed and so has the method of using them. Previously, bows and arrows were the common weapon used to sneak up on the enemy and shoot an arrow them or throw a spear at them. Later on, armor and shields minimized the usage of bows and arrows and which inspired people to develop new warfare equipment’s. In the 21st century, arms and ammunition of warfare’s have come a long way from the mere usage of the spear, bow and arrows to highly advanced tech war equipment’s (Turitto, 2010).
Advancements in technology have resulted to inventions and utilization of nuclear weapons, space weapons, stealth air crafts, missiles, laser-guided weapons, submarines and drones among other weapons. Of late, scientific and technical Advancements have given rise to unprecedented ways and methods of warfare (Dyer, 2005). When compared to the wars fought in the WW1, WW 2 and currently, the military casualties has declined significantly. The main reason for this is that the advancement in technology has resulted to the development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle which are controlled in a remote areas. Rather than nations sending troops to the battlefield, this UAV’s are used to strike/bomb the territories occupied by enemies hence leading to minimal military casualties and defeat of the enemy.
In the 21st century, technology has grown to become more precise and lethal. The cruise missiles have been given much importance since they are able to strike with pinpoint precision. The war fare weapons built currently are more advanced to such an extent that one is unable to comprehend/imagine how wars shall be fought in the future (Turitto, 2010). With the ever rising numbers of weapon for mass destruction and which have attracted a lot of attention, it has motivated nations to develop smaller, quicker and more evasive weapons so as to minimize detection by the enemy.
The current century has undergone quicker communication times and closer international networks, increase in the number of people taking part in the warfare and complicating the dynamics of war (Turitto, 2010). This in turn, has resulted to the expansion of the battlefield. Technological developments within the previous two decades has been responsible for driving this change in several ways.
1st, varying actors who are taking part in conflicts have adopted the usage of cutting-edge weapons in warfare. America has been at the forefront when it comes to the development of conventional military weaponry (Turitto, 2010). According to an article that was written by Andrew Callam “Drone Wars: Armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Modern Warfare”, America’s military depended significantly on drones to target al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders in ungoverned regions of Pakistan and Yemen (Turitto, 2010). Through DARPA, the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, the military is developing newer models of drones, some of which are in the form of hummingbirds and spiders and which are used for surveillance against the enemies.
Non-state actors, such as al-Qaeda and Hezbollah operated outside the territorial boundaries of the nation-state system, did also made good use of new technologies for their own tactical and strategic impact in warfare. Since the non-state actors needed to be nimble and operate in the shadows, these technological tools went beyond conventional military weapons (Turitto, 2010). They include apart from the usage of improvised explosive devices and suicide bombers, but also activities via the web to recruit new members, raise funds, disseminate information, and create public awareness.
The swift transfer of information through the web has raised the number of participants inside the war. Unarmed actors who are miles away, are able to take part in the war even when they are sited at their computer (Turitto, 2010). In a spread of a millisecond, satellite pictures showing depicting population migrations is shared from the office of Refugees International in Washington, D.C. to a remote computer in El Fashir and Sudan; video from Darfur refugee camps can be shared through the web for the whole world to see. In the same time frame work, a disaffected Somali-American staying in Illinois can send remittances to kismayu, Somalia to boost the activities of the Al Shaba. In summary, the battlefield has grown to become virtual. The battlefield is not only fought on the ground but also through the internet (Turitto, 2010). Any willing individual may become a belligerent in war, not just by fighting, but also by promptly transferring information, cash, or technology.
Military technology has been described to be the game of haves, have-nots and catch-ups. If nation B invests a weapon, then nation C shall invent a counter to it. If nation B invents an unjammable radio, then nation C shall search for means and ways to jam it. If nation B comes up with a way to collect intelligence, then nation C shall find a way to counter it (Kosal, 2016). If Nation B and C have nuclear bombs, then the two nations shall be scared of the other and not risk a major confrontation. If Nation B has nuclear bombs and nation C doesn’t have, then nation C will be careful on the way it deals with Nation B until it is in a position to get its own nuclear bombs. However, Nation B, will go to greater lengths to ensure that Nation C remains a have not.
All system have weakness and strength. Military Policy has always, and will always be to maximize the strengths of its weapons and minimize its weaknesses. It’s also Military Policy to anticipate National Policy (Kosal, 2016). Wars have always been fought over beliefs that Nation B is right, or Nation C has something that Country A requires.
Information Technology has not only been included in the weaponry of modern warfare, but it has had a heavy influence on the process of gathering and storing intelligence information and strategic planning. Information has grown to become essential since it has increasingly become challenging to identify enemies owing to the lack of uniforms plus the blending of enemies in civilian locations. This invisibility comes about primarily due to the fact that majority of the enemies (terrorists) are not a national entity (Brooking, 2015).In the past, we have witnessed rise in “guerilla” warfare in several. Currently, the war in Syria is a perfect example. The Strategic usage of Information Technologies like satellite images, drone broadcasts and messages on Facebook and Twitter are now being utilized to research more about the enemies, their locations and movements (Nicks, 2015). A perfect example is the ISIS Commander who posted a selfie on Facebook in one of the IS hubs. U.S. Intelligence crawled this message from social media and within a span of 22 hours, the location was successfully bombed (Ernst, 2015).
Several weapons have altered how battles are fought. As newer weapons are used in the battle, the battlefield continues to grow. As 21st century evolution of warfare continues, it becomes sophisticated daily (Dyer, 2005). Understanding the way technology has changed warfare and the way it’s viewed is vital to the wars of the future.
Dyer, G. (2005). War: The lethal custom. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers.
Ernst, D. (2015), “Terrorist ‘moron’ reveals ISIS HQ in online selfie; U.S. Air Force promptly destroys compound’ The Washington Times – Thursday, July 31st, 2017, Retrieved from: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jun/4/air-force-bombs-islamic-state-hq- building-after-the
Hamilton, Richard (2015). “Precision guided munitions and the new era of warfare”. Air Power Studies Centre, Royal Australian Air Force. Retrieved 31-07-2016
Kosal, M. (2016). Science, Technology, and the Future of Warfare. Retrieved from Modern War Institute: https://mwi.usma.edu/science-technology-future-warfare/
Nicks, D. 2015, “New Zealander ISIS Fighter Accidentally Tweets Secret Location” January, 1st 2015, Retrieved from: http://time.com/3651559/new-zealand-isis-twitter/
Stoessinger, J. G. (2011). Why nations go to war. Boston, MA: Wadsworth.
Turitto, J. (2010). Understanding Warfare in the 21st Century. Retrieved from The International Affairs Review: http://www.iar-gwu.org/node/145