Tag Archives: Military Studies

The Failure to Prevent World War I – a guest post from Hall Gardner

This is a guest post from Hall Gardner, author of The Failure to Prevent World War I

The failure to rpevent world war 1The Failure to Prevent World War I: The Unexpected Armageddon originated in my PhD research (1987) at the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, which had compared and contrasted the geopolitical, political-economic, military technological and diplomatic dynamics between Great Britain and Germany that led to World War I in the period from 1870 to 1914 to the US-Soviet rivalry during the Cold War. Following Soviet collapse, my first book, Surviving the Millennium (1994) then updated the multiple dimensions of US-Soviet rivalry during the Cold War. Although I then began to focus more on the post-Cold War period, my study of the World War I period was not, however, entirely left in limbo. I began to engage in deeper research on the subject, particularly as I realized that most studies on the origins of WWI written in English tended to focus primarily on Anglo-German relations, but of course with a number of important studies on Austrian and Russian perspectives. And yet there seemed to be relatively fewer studies written on the French perspective.

Ashgate research companion to warMy first step was consequently to update my previous research for one of the chapters of the Ashgate Research Companion to War: Origins and Prevention, which I edited with Oleg Kobtzeff in 2012. But in working on that chapter, I realized that a truly systemic and long-term historical approach to the origins of World War I, which brought in the French perspective on Alsace Lorraine since the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian war, was crucial to an understanding of the causes of the Armageddon of 1914-18. It is consequently in researching through official French documents that I discovered that French sources had reported in March 1911 that Berlin and Vienna had hoped to place the eldest son of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the House of Habsbourg-Lorraine and heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Maximilian, as the royal governor of Alsace-Lorraine. If Maximilian was made royal governor of Alsace-Lorraine, it would, in effect, provide a royal legitimacy to Austro-German control over the annexed territory, and help solidify the Austria-German alliance against their rivals. I then discovered, too late to include in the book that had already gone to press, that the secret meeting of Kaiser Wilhelm II with the Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Konopischt on 13-14 June 1914 (which was relayed by the Tsarist secret police) reconfirmed those secret French reports dating from March 1911. In effect, this represents a smoking gun (but not conclusive proof) to argue that the Russians, Serbs, as well as the French, all had reasons to eliminate the Archduke Ferdinand. The problem, and what requires deeper research, is that all French documents dealing with the relationship between the Archduke and Alsace Lorraine—in addition to reports on those who were involved in that assassination—were removed from the public domain. The smoking gun is there. But will the truth ever be revealed?

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About the Author: Hall Gardner is Professor and Chair of International and Comparative Politics at the American University of Paris. He received his PhD in 1987 at the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Washington DC. He is a member of the World Association of International Studies, Stanford University and is on the Advisory Boards of the New Policy Forum (Mikhail Gorbachev); Cicero Foundation: Paris/ Maastricht; Journal, Géostratégiques; Online Bibliography, Oxford University Press.

Read more about Hall Gardner’s new book, The Failure to Prevent World War I, including reviews and excerpts from the book on the Ashgate website. Read more about Ashgate’s Military and War publishing programme at www.ashgate.com/military.

Gender in a Global/Local World

Posted by Michael Drapper, Marketing Executive

International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900s, a turbulent period marked by rapid industrialization, huge population growth, and the rise of new radical political ideologies. At its inception International Women’s Day and its activists campaigned for women’s right to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and to end discrimination. Over time these inequalities, to a great or lesser extent, have lessened with women’s rights improving almost universally.

But as the world gets smaller, new challenges to gender equality have come to the fore. The Gender in a Global/Local World series critically explores the uneven and often contradictory ways in which global processes and local identities come together. Much has been and is being written about globalization and responses to it but rarely from a critical, historical, gendered perspective. Yet, these processes are profoundly gendered albeit in different ways in particular contexts. The changes in social, cultural, economic and political institutions and practices alter the conditions under which women and men make and remake their lives. New spaces have been created – economic, political, social – and previously silent voices are being heard.  North-South dichotomies are being undermined as increasing numbers of people and communities are exposed to international processes through migration, travel, and communication, even as marginalization and poverty intensify for many in all parts of the world.  The series features monographs and collections which explore the tensions in a ‘global/local world’, and includes contributions from all disciplines in recognition of the fact that no single approach can capture these complex processes.

Gender and ConflictRecent volumes in this series include Gender and Conflict, which examines how cognition and behaviour, agency and victimization, are gendered beyond the popular stereotypes. Conducting in-depth case studies into such topics as women’s violence and gender relations in the Israeli Defence Forces and the role of female combatants in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the armed conflict in Sri Lanka, the book offers insight into worlds that are new and often surprising and unconventional.

When care work goes globalWhen Care Work Goes Global provides an innovative view on the new international division of reproductive labour, demonstrating how and why domestic and care work has developed into the largest occupation sector for female migrants worldwide, encompassing not only migration movements from the global South to the global North but also those from rural to urban areas.

Gender integration in nato military forcesLana Obradovic’s Gender Integration in NATO Military Forces examines twenty-four NATO member states, asking why states abandon their policies of exclusion and promote gender integration, admitting women into their military forces, in such a way that women’s military participation becomes an integral part of military force.

As the world continues to change the Gender in a Global/Local World series highlights the need for academic research to keep up, exploring the new and continued gendered tensions and conflicts between global and local cultures.

To read more about this series please visit www.ashgate.com/GGLW, where you can also read reviews and excerpts of the books, or visit our Gender and Politics page to see more Ashgate titles on the subject.

General Sir Henry Horne and the renaissance in British military thought during the First World War – a guest post from Simon Robbins

Simon RobbinsThis is a guest post from Simon Robbins, Senior Archivist at the Imperial War Museum and the author of British Generalship During the Great War: The Military Career of Sir Henry Horne (1861-1929) (2010)

This year, 2014, has seen the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, which offers an opportunity to re-examine the performance on the Western Front of the armies led by Douglas Haig, which remains one of the most controversial eras in the history of the British Army. The public still regards the German Army as the model of military excellence during the First World War while disdaining the British Army as the exemplar of military incompetence and inefficiency.  In reality, the British Army had undergone a profound, often painful, change between 1914 and 1918, becoming remarkably efficient by 1918.  It had progressed from being a small professional force organised for colonial policing to a mass army of volunteers and conscripts which fought a large-scale, high-intensity continental war against a first-class enemy.

The British performance on the battlefield improved considerably between 1915 and 1918. The Last Hundred Days campaign between August and November 1918 was one of the most brilliant offensives of the First World War.  For far too long, the historiography of the British Army during the Great War has focused on the personality of Douglas Haig, who has been a lightning rod for discontent about the performance of the British High Command and given an undue significance.  Insufficient attention has been paid to other senior military figures, notably the army and corps commanders, who led the troops on the battlefield.

The career of Henry Horne who commanded XV Corps and then First Army between 1916 and 1918 provides insights into the learning process on the Western Front and hard evidence of how effective the British Army was. Horne was a highly professional artillery officer and his career contradicts many of the commonly held assumptions about the British High Command.  He was not a chateau general but regularly visited his troops, supervised their training, looked after their comforts and minimized their casualties.  Horne was an outstanding example of the group of senior officers who rose to high command during the final two years of the war.

A renaissance in British military thought in 1916-18, which has been overshadowed by the horrific casualties of the Somme and Ypres, provided not only the basis for the achievement of a British victory in 1918 but also for military development for the rest of the century. In 1917-18 Horne was at the forefront of these developments and his assaults on the Scarpe, the Drocourt – Quéant Line and the Canal du Nord in August and September 1918 were models of combined operations, which broke through the German defences on key sections of their front, inflicting heavy casualties on the Germans and forcing them to retreat.  As an Army Commander Horne would employ the vast fire-power which was available to British commanders as a result of tactical development and innovation during 1916-17.  Along with Birdwood (Fifth Army), Byng (Third Army), Plumer (Second Army) and Rawlinson (Fourth Army), Horne deserves to be remembered as one of the major architects of victory in 1918.

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British generalship during the great warSimon Robbins is Senior Archivist at the Imperial War Museum and is the author of British Generalship During the Great War: The Military Career of Sir Henry Horne (1861-1929) (2010). Robbins’ book follows the career of Sir Henry Horne to challenge long-held assumptions that the First World War was a senseless bloodbath conducted by unimaginative and incompetent generals. He presents a new model in which men like Horne developed new tactics and techniques to deal with the problem of trench warfare, and in so doing seeks to re-establish the image of the British general.

Military Historian David French on British Generalship During the Great War in The Journal of Modern History:

‘Anyone picking up this book might be forgiven for asking whether we really need another study of the British army during the First World War, and, if we do, whether a biography of a general known to very few besides specialist military historians is the right way to approach the subject. The answer to both questions is an emphatic yes… [Robbins] has now written a study of Sir Henry Horne that not only helps to rescue his career for posterity but also sheds a good deal of light on how the army went about its business between 1914 and 1918.’

The United Nations, Peacekeeping and Global Governance – Kate Seaman’s book is a YBP core title for 2014

Untied nationsKate Seaman’s book Un-tied Nations: The United Nations, Peacekeeping and Global Governance has been selected by Yankee Book Peddler as a UK core title. This is a special commendation, as only 300 books a year receive this designation.

UN-Tied Nations provides a concise and analytical introduction to the ongoing debates around the development of global governance, global security governance, and the continuous impact these are having on the ability of the United Nations to act as an international peacekeeper.

With the recent developments in the Middle East the United Nations is once again making headlines. The failure to reach agreement on Security Council resolutions demonstrates the continued problems in forging a coherent international response to crisis situations. This lack of coherence continues despite recognition of the need for more cooperation to solve the growing list of global problems. With the relative success of global governance initiatives in relation to the environment, health issues, and economic problems, the focus has increasingly shifted to the problems of international security. This timely and important book represents a response to that shift and the implications this has for the wider international system.

Using a number of relevant case studies (including the UN interventions in Bosnia, Somalia, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and East Timor) Kate Seaman examines the securitisation of global governance through the prism of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and demonstrates that the development of both global governance and global security governance have transformed the environment in which international organisations, such as the United Nations, are operating. The author also brings together a number of the key academic debates surrounding both global security governance and peacekeeping, and combines an examination of the power relations of global security governance with the changing nature of peacekeeping operations. By bringing the two areas together the book for the first time bridges existing literatures and debates, from theoretical discussions of global governance, to practical examinations of peacekeeping operations.

‘As peacekeepers engage with peace-building in intensely divided post-conflict environments, they find themselves labouring in the engine room of other societies’ political systems. Should peacekeeping become a form of governance, and if it does, what becomes of the original enterprise of peacekeeping? Kate Seaman’s book argues that peacekeeping has been degraded and delegitimised by its encounter with global governance. She supports this argument with interviews with prominent policy-makers, a wide ranging review of the literature on peacekeeping and global governance, and case studies. This book makes a critical contribution to the debate about how peacekeeping and global governance should evolve.’   Hugh Miall, University of Kent, UK

‘Conceptually informed and empirically rich, Seaman skilfully unpacks recent developments in UN peace-keeping through the lens of global governance theory. This incisive work brings together and synthesises the -at times – confounding array of voices surrounding the utility of UN peace-keeping operations and brings an impressive degree of clarity to a frequently opaque discussion. The analysis presented is compelling, at times provocative and always illuminating.’   Feargal Cochrane, Conflict Analysis Research Centre, University of Kent, UK

Kate Seaman is a teaching fellow at the University of Bath.

How the First World War has been symbolized over the past century – a guest post from Stephen Heathorn

StephenHeathornThis is a guest post from Stephen Heathorn, author of Haig and Kitchener in Twentieth-Century Britain: Remembrance, Representation and Appropriation

One of the long-lasting images of the British experience of the First World War has been that the British fielded armies were filled with brave soldiers (‘lions’) led by incompetent, reckless and callous generals (‘donkeys’), the latter sitting safe miles behind the murderous frontlines.  This ‘lions led by donkeys’ image became very popular after the Second World War because it implicitly contains a then popular critique of British society: the British high command had been led by aristocrats and gentry who, because of their class position, were largely contemptuous of the middle- and working-class men they sent into battle.

This view of the war was emotionally satisfying for some as it identifies clear villains and victims of the conflict, which was especially important after the interwar years demonstrated that the war had not brought about a necessarily better Britain and the second calamity of the Second World War solidified existing doubts on the motivations for going to war in 1914 in the first place.  But the very idea of ‘lions led by donkeys’ is a myth.  It is a way of understanding the past that contains elements of the actual story, but arranged in a way that overly simplifies what had happened and apportions responsibility for tragedy too neatly and without full context.  It is also not the way in which most people in Britain understood the First World War prior to the 1950s.

A number of historians have tried to debunk the ‘lions led by donkeys’ myth, showing that as a group the British generals (of which there were hundreds who saw service, and some 78 were killed in action) learned the necessary lessons of trench warfare better and quicker than did their opponents, which is why Britain and its allies were able to defeat the Germans.  Others have argued that the generals did not learn very quickly, but that ultimately they were never in complete control of their armies’ efforts anyway, and indeed, because of the limitations of technology at the time, often could not even communicate effectively with their subordinates while battle raged.  Technological, logistical, demographic and geographical factors impinged on what the leaders of the armies could do – regardless of their imaginative frame of mind or tactical abilities.

But the generals at the top – Field Marshals Douglas Haig and Herbert Horatio Kitchener in particular – have since the war continued to be the focus of popular fascination, regardless of whether they have been depicted (as they have at various times) as heroes, villains, unfairly scapegoated, or really quite irrelevant.  Indeed, at different times over the course of the 20th century these two men have become symbols of how the war itself was popularly understood and argued about.  Haig, for instance, was given a hero’s funeral attended by more than a million people in 1928, when the mass of the population still believed (or wanted to believe) that the war had resulted in a meaningful, if costly, victory.  The proposed statue in Whitehall (actually erected in the late 1930s) to commemorate him was controversial from the start not because Haig was reviled, but because numerous constituencies wanted it to reflect their values and sacrifices: the monument to Haig was popularly perceived as standing for more than just the man, Haig stood as a contested symbol of how the British war effort ought to be understood.  Similarly, in the 1990s when a newspaper campaign was launched to have the Haig statue removed, it was because a far more negative view of the war (more in line with the ‘lions led by donkeys’ image) had become popularly entrenched.

Haig’s example points to one of the paradoxes of how the First World War has been remembered and popularly understood.  For while it was a conflict that involved millions and operated according to a depersonalized, alienating logic, subsequent attempts to understand the war have almost invariably tried to do so through the experience and understanding of individual participants.  The experience of a few individuals in the trenches immortalized by the young officer-writers like Owen, Graves and Sassoon, subsequently came to represent for many who did not experience it first hand, what the war was like for the ‘everyman’ in the trenches.  These writers and their perceptions shaped our culture’s understanding of what the war (and indeed for some, all modern war) was like.  The changing representations (and their subsequent use, politically, commercially and academically) of the military leadership, on the other hand, points to the continuing need to have heroes/villains who might be held accountable for the events that occurred – even if such an accounting overly simplifies/amplifies these men’s actual role.  Both representations – of the everyman soldier and of the general – have telescoped a huge variety of experience and context into simple, mutually re-enforcing symbols that have changed considerably over the course of the century since the war began.  Understanding how these symbols have evolved provides us insight into how the war itself has been understood, and why those understandings have changed.

Stephen Heathorn is Professor of British History and Director of Graduate Studies of the Department of History at McMaster University, Canada  He is the author of the research monographs, ‘Earl Kitchener and Earl Haig in Twentieth Century Britain: Remembrance, Representation and Appropriation’ (Ashgate, 2013), and ‘For Home, Country and Race: Constructing Gender, Class and Englishness in the Elementary School Classroom, 1880-1914’ (University of Toronto Press, 2000), and more than two dozen peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters.

Haig and KitchenerMore about Haig and Kitchener in Twentieth-Century Britain: Remembrance, Representation and Appropriation

When Soldiers Say No: Selective Conscientious Objection in the Modern Military

“adds considerably to the literature by bringing together a range of perspectives on the merits of selective conscientious objection, as well as consideration of its application (or lack thereof) in a number of states. Its interdisciplinary nature is particularly attractive.”

Gary Wilson, Senior Lecturer in Law at Liverpool John Moores University, has reviewed When Soldiers Say No for the LSE Review of Books. You can read his full review here.

Shannon E. French, Case Western Reserve University:

‘We expect members of the military to accept civilian authority and not determine foreign policy. But what if a nation commits its troops to an unjust war? Are they then morally obligated to refuse to fight? This is a question with potentially devastating real-world consequences that should concern every citizen. Whetham, Robinson, and Ellner have produced a brilliant, provocative volume that examines the issue of selective conscientious objection from many perspectives and across several cultures to provide a balanced array of arguments from which readers can derive their own conclusions.’

David Rodin, University of Oxford:

‘The issue of selective conscientious objection is where the rubber really hits the road for recent debates about the moral status of soldiers. The real achievement of this fine volume is to connect the theoretical debate with the concrete policy challenges faced by military and government – and to substantially advance both. Essential reading for anyone working on the ethics of war.’

When soldiers say noTraditionally few people challenged the distinction between absolute and selective conscientious objection by those being asked to carry out military duties. The former is an objection to fighting all wars – a position generally respected and accommodated by democratic states, while the latter is an objection to a specific war or conflict – theoretically and practically a much harder idea to accept and embrace for military institutions.

However, a decade of conflict not clearly aligned to vital national interests combined with recent acts of selective conscientious objection by members of the military have led some to reappraise the situation and argue that selective conscientious objection ought to be legally recognised and permitted. Political, social and philosophical factors lie behind this new interest, which together mean that the time is ripe for a fresh and thorough evaluation of the topic.

This book brings together arguments for and against selective conscientious objection, as well as case studies examining how different countries deal with those who claim the status of selective conscientious objectors. As such, it sheds new light on a topic of increasing importance to those concerned with military ethics and public policy, within military institutions, government, and academia.

When Soldiers Say No is edited by Andrea Ellner, Defence Studies Department, King’s College London, Paul Robinson, professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, the University of Ottawa, and David Whetham, Senior Lecturer in Defence Studies, King’s College London, based at the Joint Services Command and Staff College at the UK Defence Academy.

Contents:

Foreword, Jeff McMahan

Introduction, Andrea Ellner, Paul Robinson and David Whetham

Part I Arguments For and Against Accepting Selective Conscientious Objection:

The duty of diligence: knowledge, responsibility, and selective conscientious objection, Brian Imiola

There is no real moral obligation to obey orders: escaping from ‘low cost deontology’, Emmanuel R. Goffi

Selective conscientious objection: a violation of the social contract, Melissa Bergeron

Who guards the guards? The importance of civilian control of the military, David Fisher

An empirical defense of combat moral equality, Michael Skerker

Selective conscientious objection and the just society, Dan Zupan

Part II Case Studies in Selective Conscientious Objection:

Selective conscientious objection in Australia, Stephen Coleman and Nikki Coleman (with Richard Adams)

Conscientious objection to military service in Britain, Stephen Deakin

Selective conscientious objection: philosophical and conceptual doubts in light of Israeli case law, Yossi Nehushtan

Claims for refugee protection in Canada by selective objectors: an evolving jurisprudence, Yves Le Bouthillier

Conscience in lieu of obedience: cases of selective conscientious objection in the German Bundeswehr, Jürgen Rose

Part III Conclusions:

Selective conscientious objection: some guidelines for implementation, J. Carl Ficarrotta

War resisters in the US and Britain – supporting the case for a right to selective conscientious objection?, Andrea Ellner

The practice and philosophy of selective conscientious objection, Andrea Ellner, Paul Robinson and David Whetham

A new review article by Geraint Hughes, of British Generals in Blair’s Wars

A Review Article by Geraint Hughes, of British Generals in Blair’s Wars, was published in the November 2013 issue (6) of The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs

Here’s a short extract:

Over the past 15 years the British armed forces have almost constantly been in a state of war. At the time of writing Britain has fought in seven external conflicts: the joint US–UK bombing campaign against Iraq in December 1998, the Kosovo War (March–June 1999), the intervention in Sierra Leone (April 2000–September 2001), the NATO-led mission to end the Macedonian civil war (August 2001), the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan (October 2001 onwards) and Iraq (March 2003–July 2011), and the multinational air campaign in Libya (March–August 2011). At the beginning of this period, the British armed forces—the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force (RAF)—were hailed by the Labour government of Tony Blair as a ‘force for good’ in world affairs, and the ‘New Labour’ ideology emphasised UK involvement in humanitarian intervention in overseas conflicts.

Currently, however, there is widespread fatigue and disillusionment among Britain’s politicians, senior military commanders and the general public, arising from the legacy of the Iraq war and Britain’s embroilment in Afghanistan, and the parliamentary vote blocking UK participation in any US-led air strikes against Syria (29 August 2013) can be seen as evidence of a widespread and fundamental hostility towards military interventions overseas. Above all, the laudatory and often self-congratulatory commentary about the inherent skills of the British armed forces has become a casualty of the fighting in Basra and Helmand.

Thousands of servicemen and women have served in demanding overseas tours, with hundreds giving their lives in the process, and thousands more dealing with the physical and psychological traumas that come from engagement in combat. The three armed services—and in particular the Army—are now tarnished with a word rarely used since 1942: ‘defeat’. If success can encourage complacency, failure often leads to soul-searching, introspection and recriminations.

British Generals in Blairs WarsIn this volume, two former British Army officers (Major General Jonathan Bailey and Colonel Richard Iron) and a military historian (Hew Strachan) have collected a series of essays from serving and veteran senior commanders, based on papers originally delivered at the ‘Campaigning and Generalship’ seminars held at the University of Oxford’s Changing Character of War Programme between 2005 and 2012. These provide a professional analysis of the armed forces’ performance—and that of the Army in particular—in ‘Blair’s Wars’. Collectively, they make for illuminating and sobering reading…

British Generals in Blair’s Wars is a valuable contribution to the debate surrounding Britain’s recent experiences of war, and on the future of both the UK’s armed forces and its national strategy. It is required reading for historians and political scientists interested in the UK’s politico-military relationships, and is also of relevance for comparative purposes for scholars interested in the foreign and defence policies of other states.

If you subscribe to this journal, this is the link to the full review article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00358533.2013.857810

More information about British Generals in Blair’s Wars