MH: The first person I consulted was the then Professor of the History of War at Oxford, Cyril Falls, a retired soldier and a very fine operational historian. He put me in the way of various books, especially Makers of Modern Strategy, edited by Edward Mead Earle. That gave a fascinating introduction to all kinds of aspects of the study of war with which I was totally unfamiliar – including a seminal article about Clausewitz. I realised that Clausewitz was the vital person to study, in the same way that if one wanted to study economics one had better have a look at Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations or, for philosophy, Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.
The emphasis on military virtues becomes more palpable when we recognize the unique manner in which Ethiopians chose to fight off their external enemies. From earliest times, both women and men were encouraged to participate in mobilization and preparation efforts. Depicting the atmosphere during the battle of Adwa in 1896, historian G.F. Berkeley observes how the Ethiopian army was not merely organized as a segment of the population, but rather as an entire collective that had integrated the occurrence of war into its normal day-to-day activities. He points out, “It’s not an army [it is] an invasion, the transplanting of the whole people.” No one was left behind. While men served as soldiers they brought along with them their wives who in turn became involved either as civilian participants or as military combatants. What rights, titles, honors men claimed for their valor women were able to do the same.
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Surveys Middle Eastern history from 1800 to the present. Topics include: the late Ottoman Empire; World War I and state creation; western imperialism; Arab nationalism; Zionism; state building; modern economies and traditional societies; Islam and the modern state; and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
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John Tirman, “Why do we ignore the civilians killed in American wars?” Washington Post, January 6, 2012. See also “Casualties,” in Spencer C. Tucker, ed., The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: A Political, Social, and Military History, Vol. 1 (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2011), p. 175.
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The historian Henry Steele Commager expressed a similar view in an article in the New York Review of Books, October 1972. Comparing the U.S. war in Vietnam to the Confederacy’s war to preserve slavery and Germany’s war of aggression in World War II, he wrote, “Why do we find it so hard to accept this elementary lesson of history, that some wars are so deeply immoral that they must be lost, that the war in Vietnam is one of these wars, and that those who resist it are the truest patriots.” Cited in Neil Jumonville, Henry Steele Commager: Midcentury Liberalism and the History of the Present (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999), p. 177. Of course, the peace movement’s quest was to prevent the war and stop the war, irrespective of American victory or defeat.
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Ronald Reagan, as a presidential candidate speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Chicago on August 18, 1980, was more adamant in asserting American righteousness, twisting history into conformity: