Friday, June 15, 2007

William Martel's "Victory in War"

William C. Martel is Associate Professor of International Security Studies at The Fletcher School, Tufts University, and author of, most recently, Victory in War: Foundations of Modern Military Policy.

He applied the "Page 99 Test" to the book and reported the following:
“The Page 99 Test” is so intriguing that I couldn’t resist the offer to tell readers more about Victory in War.

While page 99 captures the main arguments in Victory in War, it discusses only one aspect of victory, which for me, rests on four conditions.

1. Level of victory. My study proposes three levels of victory.

First, we have tactical victories. These narrow victories, defined as success in battle or control of an area, occur routinely. In Iraq, for example, U.S. forces track down and kill insurgents.

Second, political-military victories represent most victories in war. States achieve their basic political and military goals, armies surrender or just fade away, and peace terms are negotiated. Saddam Hussein’s government was destroyed and his military disappeared into the countryside.

Third, grand strategic victories, which everyone recognizes as events that fundamentally reorder global politics. Historically, the “gold standard” is World War II.

2. Change in status quo. Victory reflects how much war changes the pre-war conditions. Those changes can be great or small. The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 comprehensively changed the status quo.

3. Level of mobilization. Victory is shaped by how much of a state’s political, military, economic resources are mobilized for war. States can mobilize everything for all-out war or a small fraction of its power. In Iraq, the U.S. engaged in a moderate level of mobilization.

4. Post-conflict obligations. Events after hostilities shape victory by imposing political and economic costs on the victor. In Iraq, the US has protracted obligations to rebuild Iraq.

To illustrate these concepts, Chapters 5-11 examine U.S. wars from the Revolutionary War to the invasion of Iraq.

So why did I write this book? Historically, victory is an inexact and universally misused term for success. Policymakers and strategists (Chapters 2 and 3) must precisely define what they want to achieve in war, not just vaguely express their intent to prevail.

Another is to help citizens, policymakers, and scholars understand what victory means for everyone in society.

Finally, we need to get victory right, or sharpen our language on defeat.

The next question? Why victory in Iraq is so difficult, but that’s another blog…

Page 99:

Change in the Status Quo

The second organizing principle in this pretheory of victory is the change in the status quo in the defeated state that the victor attains by the use of military power. This concept was evident in Hans Morgenthau’s Politics among Nations when he addressed the relationship between “victorious war” and “inducements to imperialism.” As he observed, “the nation which anticipates victory will pursue a policy that seeks a permanent change of the power relations with the defeated enemy.... It is the objective of this policy of change to transform the relation between victor and vanquished ... [which can lead to] a permanent change in the status quo.”103 In this pretheory of victory, the change in the status quo can be located along a continuum that ranges from limited to comprehensive changes. At the limited end of the scale, the state uses force for limited aims to compel a change in the adversary’s actual or declared policies. This can increase to the point where the state is able to use force for unlimited aims to defeat an adversary’s military capability to conduct war. At the next level in this progression, the change in the status quo occurs when policymakers use force to transform the institutional, constitutional, or economic foundations in the state that contribute to the adversary’s power and legitimacy. The most comprehensive degree of change in the status quo is the case of the occupation of the defeated state and regime change. At its most extreme, the change in the status quo could be a “Carthaginian peace,” in which the state is annihilated and has no hope that its current government, leadership, and economy will survive. 104 A change in the status quo on this scale occurs when the state uses force to destroy the enemy’s military chain of command, replace its political head of the state, demolish its existing system of governance, and in the extreme case occupy its physical territory.105 Using a contemporary example, the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003 (see Chapter 11) exemplifies a war that produced a comprehensive change in the status quo.

As might be expected, the relationship between the change in the status quo and the level of victory is analytically imprecise. The problem is that although higher levels of victory are likely to coincide with comprehensive changes in the status quo, this is not always true. Using the case of political–military victory, limited changes in the status quo are likely to occur when the state uses military force to compel another state to stop its practice of, say, supporting terrorist organizations. Largely as a result of U.S. military strikes against Libyan government facilities and military targets in March 1986 (see Chapter 6), the government of Muammar al-Qaddafi slowly but measurably (yet discontinuously – witness Lockerbie) reversed its policy of sponsoring terrorism.106

This military intervention was at best a raid, but it sparked changes in Libya’s willingness to support terrorism. A second example of a change in the status
Learn more about Victory in War at the Cambridge University Press website, and read an excerpt.

--Marshal Zeringue