Political Victory: The Elusive Prize of Military Wars
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Success in war has always been difficult to measure. What is judged successful by military leaders may not be judged so by political leadership, nor by the wider public, at least in a Western-style democracy. The public is generally inclined to applaud military victory, but it instinctively reserves the right to ask afterwards: Was it really worth it? In Political Victory, Brian Crozier looks at modern wars involving democracies to evaluate victory and defeat by the success or failure of political outcomes.
Crozier begins with the two world wars, where in both cases the German aggressor was defeated by three key democracies: the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. In World War I military victory was squandered by treaty terms that led to the advent of Hitler and Nazism. By contrast, the total defeat of Nazism in 1945 left the Western Allies in charge of some two-thirds of Germany's population, thus enabling the victors to convert the vanquished to democracy. Crozier also deals with the break up of empires following World War II, comparing how Britain avoided full-scale war in contrast with France's violent confrontations in Southeast Asia and Algeria.
America's involvement in Vietnam is analyzed in the wider context of the Cold War and the mounting challenge of international communism to Western democracies. His assessment stresses the lack of popularity in America for the idea of democratizing a region to which the U.S. has no historical or sentimental attachment. Among the smaller conflicts considered in this volume are the Suez crisis of 1956, the Falkland Island war between Britain and Argentina, and the fateful Soviet involvement in Afghanistan that helped bring about the collapse of the Soviet system. Crozier concludes with analyses of the 1991 Gulf War and the Western intervention in the former Yugoslavia.
Crozier's final chapters focus on looming threats around the world with particular emphasis on international terrorism and the challenge of radical Islam. Both historical and timely, Political Victory will be of interest to military historians, political scientists, and foreign affairs specialists.
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