cover image The Future of Warfare

The Future of Warfare

Bevin Alexander. W. W. Norton & Company, $22 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-393-03780-7

At the core of Alexander's book are case studies describing 20th-century conflicts in which small, poorly equipped forces operated successfully against materially superior armies: the Boers against the British, the T.E. Lawrence-led Bedouins against the Turks, Chinese Communists against Nationalists and--most instructive for the future--the Vietnamese Communists against first the French, then the Americans. Because the U.S. will likely encounter comparatively ``little'' wars in the coming decades, fought mostly against guerrillas whose doctrines will derive from the teachings of Mao Zedong and Vo Nguyen Giap, we no longer need our heavy divisions designed to fight the Soviet Army. Alexander recommends downsizing to small, highly mobile battle groups trained in counterguerrilla tactics. The U.S. can gain its most significant victories by negotiation and diplomacy, he believes, and argues that we should intervene militarily only when protecting our strategic imperatives. In his view, the U.S. would do well to assume the role of ``honest broker,'' working through third parties rather than continuing to serve as the world's police officer. A thoughtful survey of the probable future of U.S. military strategy by the author of Korea: The First War We Lost. (June)