1. J.M.Hackman says:

    Great post, guys! Thanks for giving us a behind-the-door look at what happens before war ensues.

  2. notleia says:

    Tho I’m not sure if you should accredit Travis C on this topic by way of saying that he teaches ENGINEERING at the Naval Academy, but still better than implying by omission that he teaches tactics or history there. Means we have to evaluate his input on its own merits rather than his authority.

    Mostly the joke is lol engineers think they know everything.

    • Travis Perry says:

      I’m simply saying my fellow Travis is a smart and accomplished guy. And, for what it’s worth, he is already keeping me from wandering too far afield from standard thinking on this subject. (Being an out-of-the-box thinker is not always a good thing–sometimes the answer is actually IN the box. 🙂 )

    • I’ll upvote that! The irony is never lost on me; I love engineering and systematic, logical thinking, and, when given the outlet, I love writing and using my creative side. Mom & Dad always knew to buy both Legos & a drawing pad for Christmas! If it makes you feel better, I teach a breed of thermodynamics for warfighters, so they know how their machines are aiding their tactics (grins)

  3. Very interesting. One of the fun parts is thinking about how different groups(or even individuals) might try to maintain their balance of power. Encouraging or ignoring certain conflicts in other nations, for instance, or even trying to encourage certain nations to remain neutral instead of joining the fray would be just a few ways. (And then, depending on the circumstances, attacking/taking advantage of the nation busy with its civil war)

    Actually, that was kind of a concern in Naruto and((Spoiler alert)) a reason why the Uchiha clan got eliminated: The Uchiha were going to rebel, and that would start a civil war, which would greatly weaken their village and nation. As a result, other nations would want to take advantage of the situation and attack the nation. Rather than risk that, the higher ups decided to destroy the Uchiha before they could attack and endanger their village and nation’s welfare.

    Love The Horse and His Boy, so it’s fun to see it used as an example 🙂

    Linking this as well since it’s on war and people might find it interesting:

    • Travis Perry says:

      Shad’s mention of the study of WW2 (where most people weren’t shooting at anyone) is something I would disagree with–not in me saying that it didn’t happen, but disagreeing that it only happened in WW2. Not true–in fact, studies of earlier wars also revealed the same pattern, including the US Civil War.

      Humans show a general pattern of not liking warfare–however, culture does make a difference, as Shad correctly points out. Some cultures venerate war, which does make it easier for people to push past a natural aversion to killing. He also points out that people were used to death and that made it easier for them to accept death on the battlefield–yes, I agree with that.

      His comments on getting rich were quite good. In fact, the things he said applied to all wars prior to modern times–and even for modern wars, taking lands and goods of other nations has been a major motivation for warfare, no matter how much people would appeal to their cause being right as a justification for war.

    • Thanks Autumn! It remains my personal favorite of the series (only slightly edging ahead of The Last Battle). King Lune represents the kind of man I want to be.

      • 🙂

        I think Horse and His Boy has some of the best characters in the series. Aravis is probably my fave, though I like all the others as well. Also, that book does the travel scenes well enough that they didn’t bore me, like they tend to in other stories.

        I love The Last Battle, too. Ironically, it was the first Narnia book I ever read. Back then it was very common for me to read book series out of order.

  4. Ned Barnett says:

    Again, as the author of three traditionally-published speculative fiction novels and the self-published author of a ten-novel series about the air war in the Pacific, 1941-42, I find this fascinating and instructive. What I didn’t see, however, is how often a weaker country will attack a stronger country (or coalition of countries), confident in their “martial spirit” to make up for a weakness in overall forces. Four examples can be found in the 20th Century: Germany (WW-I), Germany (WW-II), Japan (WW-II) and North Korea.

    In the first global war, Germany counted on a two-front war. Their plan was to hold off Russia (Tannenberg) in the east while they used a modified Schlieffen Plan to overcome France before Britain could become a factor, then use their strong internal railroad system to rush troops from the now-peaceful Western Front to take on the Czar. This almost worked, but it didn’t, and after six weeks of unstoppable aggression, they were forced into trench warfare on both fronts. Having beaten France quickly in their last war (1870-71) and taken and held Alsace-Lorraine by treaty after a fast war, this was not out of the realm of possibility. However, when the plan failed, a sensible Germany would have sued for peace (they occupied most of Northeastern France and were in a good position to talk armistice). Instead, national pride led to four years of war and devastation beyond comprehension.

    Fast forward two decades and Hitler swore that he’d never fight a two-front war … until, after beating France in six weeks as the Kaiser had planned in 1915, he backed out of his planned invasion of England after Churchill refused terms. Instead of building up an invasion force in France and maintaining an air war until England crumpled, he moved his forces East, betting on another six-week war that would allow him to control European Russia, giving him the resources needed to turn back against England. However, his 1939 peace treaty with Stalin gave him those resources without a war, showing that he failed to learn the signal lesson from the first global war – Germany cannot win a two-front war.

    Then, adding insult to injury, he gratuitously declared war on the US on December 11, 1941, when his treaty with Japan required no such thing, and when he had no casus belli to justify such an action. Between June 22nd and December 11th, Hitler decided to go to war with both of the two largest industrialized countries on earth – each country which then proceeded to out-produce Hitler and ALL his allies in terms of tanks and aircraft. Further, Stalin had seemingly inexhaustible supplies of men, allowing him to essentially lose two entire armies while learning how to fight the Germans, then to raise a third army large enough to defeat the bulk of Hitler’s ground forces.

    So twice within two decades, Germany created wars against coalitions of larger allies which they could not hope to beat based on numbers (soldiers or productivity), trusting instead on martial spirit and superior technology, neither of which were German exclusives.

    Also in 1941, Japan chose to attack the United States when it wasn’t necessary. Because of the strong anti-war movement in America in 1941 (the America Firsters), Roosevelt would have had the devil’s own time persuading Congress to go to war against Japan because Japan attacked both Great Britain (Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaya) and Holland (Dutch East Indies). Japan was vastly smaller than the US (about the size of California, with not much more than half the population, and with almost no natural resources – let alone an internal infrastructure (rail lines, roads) still mired in the 19th century. America’s industrial might was no surprise to Japan – that can’t be an excuse. At the time, the Japanese Pacific Fleet was larger than the US Pacific Fleet, but that was about to change (the Essex carriers and Iowa battleships were already on the construction ways), and America could in a month outproduce Japan’s aircraft production for a year. There was no match.

    Japan depended on one thing, and it was the wrong thing (in two ways). In every war since the Revolution (with the sole exception of the Civil War), America settled their wars at the negotiating table, which made Japan think that perhaps they could settle the war (in their favor) at the table. However, whenever the US negotiated (with the possible, debatable exception of 1812), it did so from strength, not weakness. Mistake number one. Mistake number two is that the one war that ended with unconditional surrender was the one that the other side provoked with an unwarranted assault (the US Civil War, South Carolina’s firing on Fort Sumter without cause or provocation). It can also be argued that the Civil War was, for the Union, an existential war (as we faced in the Cold War), because to lose the war was to lose the Union (as it had been). Still, we did have a tradition of unconditional surrender, and by launching a surprise attack while supposedly negotiating in good faith, Japan had demonstrated a “treachery” that the US sense of fair play would not tolerate.

    Also, Japan forgot that America did not fight for empire. The settlements with Mexico (1848, when we bought and paid for the land we took from Santa Ana) and 1898 (basically the same deal, but with Spain) notwithstanding, in the first global war, America sacrificed hugely in blood and treasure for equitable principles and freedom of all people, with no material gain for the US. This allowed us to fight a noble, just war – and when Japan provoked us with a raw territorial land-grab, we could trot out that Great White Horse and mount him again for another just war.

    Under no circumstances could Japan win a modern tech-war against the largest economy on earth, backed up by (as allies) the third largest economy (UK). Yet they thought they could, and were the most thoroughly devastated loser in modern warfare’s history. Such is hubris (especially since Japan probably could have worked out a deal with the Dutch East Indies to buy the oil instead of conquering them and take it – but that’s beside the point).

    Finally, North Korea. Listening to the US diplomat that specifically excluded South Korea from America’s sphere of influence (reinforced to Stalin by a broken US diplomatic code that said basically the same thing), they decided that it was safe to attack South Korea while US forces remained in-country. Big mistake. Regardless of what diplomats say when there’s no shooting, once American soldiers come under fire, the US tends to react with less than equanimity. Which meant that within a day or two, Truman started sending reinforcements, even while evacuating US personnel from Seoul via air (and defending the airfields with US fighters based in Japan. The results were the successful defense at Pusan, the successful invasion at Inchon, the drive to the Chosin, China’s intrusion into the war (something agreed to in advance of the war by Stalin and Mao), and a three-year stalemate that wound up with status quo ante. In the process, North Korea was bombed into the stone age, almost literally, creating havoc in what could have been a reasonably prosperous third-world country.

    Bottom line – time and again, weaker powers think that through strategem or martial spirit (or some equivalent thereof), they can defeat larger powers or coalitions of powers. Except for a very short war that begins and ends before the larger power can mobilize, this never seems to work.

What do you think?