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Comments on

A History of Warfare

by John Keegan

Critique prepared by John Sloan

I propose to examine Keegan's book on the three levels in which it is written: that is,
(1) the presentation of specific facts describing the content of military history,
(2) the development of generalizations about the nature of warfare in specific times and places as well as the course of its development during prehistoric and historic times, and
(3) the philosophical outlook and conclusions Keegan wants the reader to draw from his exposition.

From even a quick read, someone who has read very many books on military history will realize this book is quite different from the usual sort, that in general seek to present the development of military affairs over time by narrative exposition, treating subjects sequentially in relation to their importance on subsequent developments, without attempting to make judgements or to draw any moral conclusions from their narration. Here the factual material is organized thematically. Although the major themes are introduced in roughly chronological order, within each topical discussion the author draws on examples from any time and place he deems appropriate and relevant. Keegan is quite explicit in making judgements and in seeking to draw moral conclusions that will serve as a basis for action in the future. There is nothing wrong with this purpose, and Keegan can be congratulated for having such an objective as well as for having written such a powerfully passionate treatise to achieve it. I only wish to caution the casual reader that there is something "for sale" here and he should be consciously aware of what it is throughout.

Keegan's line of argument is so effectively and densely presented with a welter of facts, comments, generalizations, and conclusions, that it can only be analyzed on a line by line basis. A chronological or even topical analysis is inadequate because the author jumps around in time and place and draws on such a rich lode of ideas that each of his remarks can only be evaluated "in situ" in the context of the page on which it appears. Thus I will provide a page-by-- page commentary, skipping most of his points with which I agree and largely ignoring the many sections (such as Chinese warfare) about which the reader should rely in Ralph Sawyer.

At the level of specific facts I find Keegan has made a number of errors, whether many or few in a work of this scope I won't judge. These include such simple points as - the role of cannon in the battle of Fornovo, - the location of the headwaters of the Dnieper - the location of Dacia - the weapons and organization of the army of Middle Kingdom Egypt - the role of chariots in the later Persian army - and etc. Some of the errors can be traced directly by the footnotes to the secondary sources from which the author derived his information. As a history of warfare the coverage is episodic and highly selective, rather than comprehensive. The topics of interest to the author's purpose are explored in great detail. The question to ask is not the number of mistakes but rather is there a pattern in their nature. Do mistakes of fact serve to support generalizations that are crucial links in Keegan's line of argument? The second question is what purpose does the extent of coverage of topics serve? Why are some topics, usually not found in a standard military history, covered in very great detail, while others are hardly mentioned or ignored. To my way of thinking every word written has a purpose and equally every word not written serves the same purpose. I will attempt to point out all the specific factual points with which I disagree, limiting myself to fields that I have studied at some depth. Others readers doubtless will find more errors from the fields with which they are familiar.

At the level of generalizations I find that Keegan has based his theory on three major hypotheses, which I consider contentious, as a minimum. There are many other broad generalizations as well, some of which I think are brilliant. The three foundation stones as it were are:
(1) that the Greeks developed a peculiarly "western way of warfare", which underlies "total" or "absolute" warfare. A corollary to this is his statement that there was a "line" he draws through Greece and that peoples living north-west of the line fought in hand-to-hand fashion while those living south-east fought only with missile weapons. Number (2) is that this "western war of warfare" was transmitted via Romans, Teutonic barbarian successors, medieval knights, etc. down to modern Europeans who then exported it around the world.
Number (3) is that Clausewitz somehow became the prophet calling his followers to practice this "total" warfare, which they did with disastrous results for mankind.

As is typical in this kind of writing, the author employs plenty of caveats of the form "might have been" "surely was" "could be seen" etc. Some generalizations are breathtaking in sweep. Some are well supported by information provided in the book. Some appear quite at variance with the very data supplied by Keegan. I will discuss the generalities I consider most dubious.

The third order of meaning in the book is the author's general philosophy of the nature of war itself and its role in human history. The author's thesis and point of the book is to denounce Clausewitz or at least the foolish masses who have blindly followed him. Keegan passionately believes war must be eliminated by international action. He especially denies the idea (that he ascribes to Clausewitz) that (war is "the continuation of politics").

At this level, a philosophical conclusion and call for action, the book is a sophisticated effort to blame the "horrors" of modern warfare on Western culture of warfare itself and its practitioners. In my opinion it is the crisis of modern culture and the all encompassing nature of its hand-maiden, politics, that is the actual source, and it is certainly not limited to 'western culture'. Keegan's effort is based on several propositions.
1. politics is not related to warfare, or warfare is not related to politics;
2. modern politics and the culture that spawns it is liberal, hence benign, and even humanitarian in purpose and nature;
3. the horrors besetting modern society therefore are generated by an autonomous "warfare" run amok in a cultural setting that fostered it;
4. this situation may be corrected by establishment of a class of "warriors" dedicated to the common good of world civilization who will be able to suppress whatever violence is manifested by evil minded individuals.

As support for this effort, Keegan attempts to blame the escalation of the scope and violence of warfare in the 20th century on the uniquely horrific "Western Way of Warfare" and its remarkably all-powerful prophet and proponent, Clausewitz.

The solution, only hinted at in the final pages, is to turn all control over to a one world state, which will deploy a corps of specially trained "warriors" who, like Plato's Guardians, will enforce civilized behavior on recalcitrant mankind.

Keegan will no doubt prove to be the darling of the deconstructionist set who blame dead white European males for all evil. Feminists, however, may be ambivalent in that Keegan not only strongly exempts women from having had anything to do with the sorry state of modern society, but also at the same time refuses to accept that they could ever be proper soldiers.

A general examination of the footnotes and bibliography reveals that the author relied heavily, if not exclusively, on tertiary or secondary sources, including some works of broad synthesis similar to his own. For example he clearly has not read (or perhaps remembered) Machiavelli's views on a well ordered army as they appeared for instance in his _Art of War_. Keegan's comments about Machiavelli don't even cite major secondary studies but are from a third order essay (granted a fine one). His quotations on Clausewitz's views of the Cossacks and the campaign of 1812 are drawn from Roger Parkinson's biography and not from Clausewitz's own memoir on the campaign. (More on that later.) And he seems totally ignorant of the extensive corpus of academic study of Chinese warfare.

At the third level, my main objection is that he seems to confuse or merge combat and warfare. They are separate and distinct categories. He also fails to define politics or even discuss what he thinks politics is as a category. Thus his denial that war and politics are related or linked is based on one-sided analysis.

Keegan shows extremely effectively that the forms in which warfare has been practiced in various times and places are related to the "culture" of the society in question. This is all fine. The problem is that he leaves it at that by saying in essence "see how different warfare was in different cultural settings". This links warfare directly to culture, without the complementary category - POLITICS. For politics too assumes different forms and methods in different cultural settings. The book is actually filled with examples of the way the nature of war was directly related to the nature of politics in a cultural setting at a given time and place, but Keegan glides right past these examples. I suspect that my own argument with Keegan on this score is not due to a different view of what war is about, but to a different view of the essential characteristics of politics. I will endeavor to illustrate the differences while commenting on Keegan's text.

In addition I have to question Keegan's view of the influence of Clausewitz and his book - On War. I also question if Clausewitz actually believed what Keegan says he believed. It has been many years since I read _On War_, but I don't remember that Clausewitz's ideas about warfare were as one- sided as Keegan presents them. From more recent reading of Roger Parkinson's biography of Clausewitz, I retain the impression that Clausewitz did not believe what Keegan says he did. Before commenting on Keegan's views on Clausewitz I will have to reread at least major portions of _On War_. On top of that, I question if people who really adhered to Clausewitz's ideas were that influential and conversely if the influential people Keegan rightly mentions were close adherents of Clausewitz.

Comments by page number


Page xi: Acknowledgments:
Keegan starts out fast on the first page of acknowledgements, revealing several themes that are developed throughout the book. He writes that these are reflected in the recent wars in Yugoslavia and the Persian Gulf. "In the Gulf a Clausewitzian defeat was inflicted". "robbed the coalition's Clausewitzian victory of much of its political point". (This is written in 1994).

Leaving aside for the moment what a "Clausewitzian victory" may be - in fact the survival of Iraq and Hussein is completely a result of the subordination of war to politics and the belief of the winning side that their own political interest required the continued existence of a sufficiently strong Iraq as well as the concern of the political leadership to appear magnanimous in the eyes of their own political supporters. From start to finish the Gulf War is a clear example of a war being a continuation of politics and of the subordination of war-making to politics. It demonstrates the connection of war to both external and internal politics. Hussein's survival has nothing at all to do with him being an example of "a different military culture" of his refusal to share its cultural assumptions, nor is it an example of the "in-utility" of "the Western way of warfare", (we will come back to what this "Western way" is and is not throughout the book).

Keegan continues on events in Bosnia, "the horrors of the war... are incomprehensible as they are revolting ... defy explanation....." This is absurd. Revolting as they undoubtedly are, the horrors are not incomprehensible at all. Their explanation lies precisely in the political nature of the conflict and objectives of the warring parties. They are a repetition of similar events in WWII and before. The war in Bosnia is another fine example of the inter-relation of war and politics. "Ethnic cleansing" is a political act. Machiavelli described the kind of war that results from the desire of a people to supplant another in possession of a territory in Book I, Chapt 8 of The Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy and remarks that "This is war of the most cruel and terrifying kind". It is his category of total war versus limited war fought for lesser political objectives.

The Gulf war was clearly a continuation of domestic politics in the U.S. as well. It was undertaken in large measure for its hoped for effects on domestic politics in the US. Many of the public speeches and posturing President Bush made on the eve of the war were for domestic consumption. On Hussain's side, it is obvious that his military actions during the war, from his initial invasion on, were heavily determined by domestic politics in Iraq. The conclusion of the war also demonstrates its relation to domestic politics. When the television showed the destruction wrought by American aerial firepower on the retreating Iraqi forces, it was the effect on American politics that was the deciding factor on which military decisions to end the conflict were based. The whole issue of possible casualties that were expected in some quarters prior to the campaign played a role throughout the war on the military decisions. The deployment of the Patriot missiles in Saudi Arabia and in Israel were driven by political considerations. The Allied aerial campaign in Iraq was diverted from planned military targets in a futile effort to hunt for SCUDS due to the political impact that militarily ineffective weapon was having in the USA and Israel. One can read Bob Woodward's and Rick Atkinson's books on the Gulf War to find pages filled with examples of how the war was a continuation of politics.

Not only is the war in Bosnia political from start to finish internally in Yugoslavia, but also the actions being taken by America and European powers with respect to it are driven by internal politics in each country. For instance there is no particular "state interest" for Russia in the events in Bosnia, but there are tremendous implications for domestic politics in Russia, which govern the military actions the Russian government take. And American as well as NATO actions in turn are driven by assessments of Russian sensibilities. Many of the military actions taken by the Serbs and Muslims are based on their estimate of what the political results will be in America or Western Europe.

As for the pattern of local hatreds - "they reveal being unfamiliar to anyone b..." I take that to mean Keegan has not heard of Northern Ireland or Cyprus, not to mention numerous examples throughout his book. One wonders what Keegan has to say about the killing in Rwanda.

Keegan says there is no such thing as a "nature of war" and with this I agree. War takes on many forms and has no universal "nature". But that is precisely because the "nature" of war is strongly influenced by the political culture in which it is conducted. And one of Clausewitz's main points was that the nature of war had changed with the coming of the French Revolution.

Page xiii: Introduction:
Keegan introduces the concept of "warrior", a category that appears throughout the book. This is a category he develops in his previous book Soldiers and elsewhere. He self-consciously remarks that he is no "warrior" but has cast his life among "warriors". He conjures up an "entirely different world" of the warrior.

In my opinion there is something to his view, but not to the exaggerated level he takes it. Granted the British officer still lives a very special kind of life with his regimental dinning in and all that. I too had the pleasure of living with British officers during two years duty at Whitehall and think I understand Keegan's sense of awe. I have to say that four years as a cadet, five years as an instructor and six more years as two of my sons have proceeded through their education at West Point failed to reveal to me anyone I could categorize as a "warrior" in Keegan's sense, distinct from the rest of society. Nor has 40 some years of association with the American military led me to the view Keegan expresses so eloquently in this introduction. No doubt the British Army regimental system creates much more of a "tribal" society that so enamors Keegan, than the US Army does. He writes, " soldiers are not as other men". Many commanders may wish that it were so.


Page XVI: Keegan continues, "culture of the warrior can never be that of civilization itself". War is wholly unlike diplomacy or politics". How can Keegan explain all the military leaders who were simultaneously diplomats and politicians while leading troops in combat? What about the very ordinary Greek citizens who from time to time marched out to conduct a kind of "warfare" that Keegan takes as the archetype of the 'western way of warfare'? He mentions Socrates for instance.

This whole section is in my opinion an example of Keegan's exaggeration of an idea that has a kernel of truth into something far wider. This conception of the "warrior" is one of his fundamental tenets basic to the point that war is not related to politics.


Page 3: War in Human History: What is War:
Keegan notes that "War is not the continuation of policy by other means". Keegan's purpose in writing this book is to prove that thesis. In my opinion he not only fails, but also supplies many specific examples that tend to prove the opposite.
Is Clausewitz's _On War_ really the most famous book on war ever written?

Keegan writes, "It implies the existence of states, of state interests and of rational calculation about how they may be achieved." Why does Clausewitz's "thought imply the existence of states, of state interests, and of rational calculation"? Does politics refer only to inter state relations? Is politics only rational?

Of course Keegan is correct that war antedates the state, by millennia, but then so do diplomacy, strategy, and political activities in general. He continues "This is not an idea any easier for modern man to confront than it was for a Prussian officer..." etc. Why Not? I personally have recognized it all my adult life. Maybe my outlook was colored by reading both Clausewitz and Machiavelli by age 15. This is a "strawman".


Page 3-4:
He continues "We prefer, none the less, to recognize human nature...." .." the expression of violence is a cultural aberration". Who does this? I never have and don't believe most others do. This is the outlook of the pacifist and the person who denies the existence of evil. He says we believe the expression of violence is a "cultural aberration". Well I don't.

All this section on what "we tell ourselves" is false. The remark "the lawful bearer of arms is respected..." is a cheap shot.


Page 5:
Pacifism has been elevated as an "ideal". It seems this is true only for pacifists.


Page 5:
"War as the continuation of policy" again. It is clear from the context and rest of Keegan's remarks that he is thinking only of war between states and policy between states - foreign policy - but war relates also and most significantly also to internal domestic policy. So does foreign policy for that matter.
He goes on to put a lot of words in Clausewitz's mind about the "narrowly definable forms" of war.
Why does this concept "assume that war had a beginning and an end". I disagree.
"What it made no allowance for at all was war without beginning and end." The endemic warfare of non-state etc. Why not? In my long held view it certainly did allow for and include that and not only non-states.
The ancient Greeks believed that war was continuous and had no beginning or end, but only truces.



Page 5:
The remarks about recruitment of irregular warriors is based on a romantic view of their role - and the remark that "over drilled armies" of the time "would scarcely have been able to keep the field" without them is simply nonsense. The functions he equates to these irregulars were not exclusively performed by them.
etc not believable



Page 6:
Then "War the continuation of policy once Clausewitz had formulated the thought proved to offer the thinking officer a convenient philosophical bolt hole from contemplation of the older, darker, and fundamental aspects of his profession".

In the first place Clausewitz did not even write till well after the era of these irregulars; more significant, officers did not even read Clausewitz until many years later. Third, as Keegan notes in another context, Clausewitz did not obscure or hide the horror of war, but noted that war could reach that level of violence.



Page 6:
"..yet Clausewitz himself saw with half an eye"
This is an example of Keegan's way of ascribing to someone - Clausewitz in this case - a view the person did not have, and then quoting a passage that shows the person did not believe his own self. Thus Keegan can have it both ways. First he denounces someone for holding an abhorrent view and then he later quotes the same person to prove how terrible the first view was. Sometimes he uses this technique to show Clausewitz is confused.
"he was struggling to advance a universal theory of what war ought to be..."
Sorry, I never got that idea from the study of Clausewitz that he was advancing "what war OUGHT to be" as opposed to what it really is. It seems Keegan totally twists Clausewitz clear distinction between the idea of pure war as an unobtainable Platonic ideal and the idea of real war as its actual manifestation in the practical world. Keegan makes it appear that Clausewitz sought what in fact he declared to be impossible.
Keegan then writes that Clausewitz did not write "could have written".



Page 6:
The burning of Moscow was "an event of European significance". Really? I thought it was rather remote from the concerns of Western Europe. "Clausewitz could not believe it was deliberate." Keegan does not list Clausewitz's own book on the 1812 campaign in his bibliography. He quotes Clausewitz's words from sources like Parkinson. But when you check Parkinson's description of Clausewitz observing the burning of Moscow it turns out that Parkinson faithfully reports what Clausewitz wrote in his memoir on the 1812 campaign. Keegan grossly exaggerates Clausewitz on the idea that the Cossacks deliberately set Moscow on fire, because Keegan is trying to make a point about the "primitive" nature of the Cossacks' methods of warfare. Actually, Clausewitz reports (and Parkinson repeats) the view that from discussing the matter with Rostopchin Clausewitz concluded that the Russian governor just might have ordered the fire at that.



Page 7:
"...yet Clausewitz must have known..."
Of course he did - but why write it this way? This is the kind of writing the tabloid press indulges in. It is designed to appear that Clausewitz knew something he would not admit knowing. One only has to read Clausewitz' own description of his eye-witness to the burning to realize he knew what happened. "Cossacks was not politics but a culture and a way of life" This reveals Keegan's narrow conception of politics.
Keegan's footnotes on cossacks are to McNeal and Seaton, who themselves are 3rd hand sources, too bad he did not cite primary sources. They present a different picture.



Page 8:
"Cossack cruelty" -
This is romantic writing. Clausewitz would be better quoted from his own book. It turns out that Clausewitz left the main army after the withdrawal from Moscow and traveled via St. Petersburg to join the northern army under Wittgenstein. Thus he witnessed only portions of the French retreat phase. Moreover he describes the Cossacks going into action before his eyes at Borodino in quite a heroic fashion.



Page 9-11:
I agree wholeheartedly with Keegan that there have been decidedly different ways of fighting - heavily culturally influenced - as well as by technology etc. But Keegan does not recognize that one reason for the widely different styles of combat he notes is precisely in the different political objectives being sought by the combatants. His point that combat and warfare have taken on different forms is itself the evidence of its relation to politics, if he would only observe and analyze the correlations.
He writes, "Cossacks, were cruel to the weak and cowardly in the face of the brave..." This is simply false as Clausewitz' account of the cossack attack at Borodino shows.
The irregular cossacks and Greek nationalists, whose reluctance to fight according to the conceptions of Prussians or Englishmen he well notes, had different views on the utility of fighting, because in their own conception their political goals were not worth their lives.
Keegan says philhellenes tried but failed to make the Greeks accept their military culture. Maybe so - but the real gulf between the two was their political outlook, which in turn was influenced by their cultural outlooks.
Another issue - Keegan equates "Western way of fighting with "what is war". Keegan says Clausewitz's answer on what is war is defective at the cultural level.
It is exactly that Clausewitz's concept spans different cultures that makes it so powerful.
Keegan confuses style and way of combat with way of warfare. Combat is only part of war.



Page 11:
Keegan writes, "It is at the cultural level that Clausewitz's answer to his question, What is War? is defective."
It seems to me that it is Keegan's understanding of the relation of culture to politics that is defective.

Page 12:
He continues after some condescending remarks about Clausewitz's shortcomings, "he might have been able to perceive that war embraces much more than politics: that it is always an expression of culture, often a determinant of cultural forms, in some societies the culture itself."
It seems it is Keegan who apparently does not perceive that politics embraces much more than he seems to include in it. Although he never explicitly says what he thinks politics is all about. Politics is itself also an expression of culture and in some societies the culture itself.
We can put culture at the top in a chart. Then politics=war is on the next level down as a category - an indissoluble unity on one side - and economics is the category on the other side. Economics comprises human activities in pursuit of maximum happiness without coercion and politics=war is the activities in pursuit of maximizing happiness with recourse to coercion.



Pages 12-15
Keegan discusses Clausewitz as a regimental officer and describes the origin of the regimental system.



Page 16:
Keegan discusses the categories "real war" versus "true war", but when he says that the Cossacks waged "real war" in contrast to a "true war" that Clausewitz "convinced himself a professional soldier should make his end" he shows he misunderstands Clausewitz completely. For Clausewitz "true war" was an abstraction like Plato's "real table".



page 17:
The whole discussion of Clausewitz's motives in supposedly advancing "true war" as opposed to "real war" is fallacious.
Keegan notes that Clausewitz has been much a favorite of Marxists, especially Lenin, but he fails to understand why and gives a fallacious reason.



Page 18:
Keegan compares and contrasts Marx and Clausewitz as well as their books - On War and Kapital. He says Clausewitz was a "apostle of a revolutionary philosophy of warmaking, which sought to depict war as a political activity to a caste that held politics to be anathema." The two books are "ultimately of a kind." He ignores the many differences including that Marx published and had an active influence during his lifetime, while Clausewitz's book was not influential until much later. (He points out that it was a "book of long-delayed effect" on the next page.



Page 19:
Keegan finally notes that Clausewitz pointed out the difference between "true war" and "real war", but Keegan persists in claiming that Clausewitz advocated the former to the extent possible.



Page 20:
Keegan writes that it was after von Moltke mentioned he had read On War that "the world seized on the book itself, read it, translated it, often misunderstood it, but thereafter believed that it contained the essence of successful warmaking."



Page 21:
Keegan writes, "Politics played no part in the conduct of the First World War worth mentioning." It was "an aberration" "the outcome of a decision to turn Europe..... into a warrior society."
Every history book I can recall studying about the origins of World War I stressed various political causes and none even mentioned Clausewitz or his theories.
However, the political theories ascendent during the 19th century, which hailed the glory of the nation state, certainly did have a lot to do with its militarization. It was Engles who pointed out that the wars and military policies of the governments in Europe were doing more to advance the cause of socialism than all the agitation of the 1st or 2nd International.
Keegan again, "The purpose of war, Clausewitz said, was to serve a political end; the nature of war, he succeeded in arguing, was to serve only itself. By conclusion, his logic therefore ran, those who make war an end in itself are likely to be more successful than those who seek to moderate its character for political purposes." Keegan tries to make "Clausewitz into the ideological father of World War I."
I just
can't understand where Keegan gets these notions from.


Page 23:
Keegan remarks, "Good historian though he was, Clausewitz allowed the two institutions - state and regiment - that circumscribed his own perception of the world to dominate his thinking so narrowly that he denied himself the room to observe how different war might be in societies where both state and regiment were alien concepts."
I don't see the point of this comment. If true, it would be irrelevant for a theory of war in Europe. But Clausewitz's concepts do not rest on the existence of either states or regiments. Keegan's brief remarks on this page about Easter island, Zulus, Mamelukes, and samurai Japan are summaries of views he expresses in more detail later, so I won't point out their fallacies here.
But Keegan's comment that Clausewitz's "decision to ignore Ottoman military institutions flawed the integrity of his theory at its roots," is wrong. I know of nothing about Ottoman military history that places it outside the universe of Clausewitz's concepts.
He continues that looking at these societies "whose forms of warfare defied altogether the rationality of politics as it is understood by Westerners, is to perceive how incomplete, parochial and ultimately misleading is the idea that war is the continuation of politics."
In the first place, what makes Keegan think politics is rational. I find nothing in the forms of warfare as conducted by any of his example societies that is outside the explanatory power of Clausewitz's theory.

Page 24: War as culture:
With this section Keegan launches into anthropology. I won't attempt to evaluate his descriptions of these societies or their military methods.
I have to say that Keegan's idealistic view of Polynesia is questionable.



Page 26:
Keegan writes that "the islanders appear to have taught themselves the full logic of Clausewitzian warfare by bloody experience."



page 27:
Keegan continues "Politics is practiced to serve culture". Whatever gave him that idea.
He describes Bougainville's reports about Tahiti and their effect in creating the myth of the noble savage as if this conception was still believed today.
The rest of the discussion on this page about Clausewitz is speculation and supposition. He says the regiment was a device for restraining warriors, a peculiar notion. He faults Clausewitz for failing to see that "his philosophy of warfare was a recipe for the destruction of European culture." And I fail to perceive it also.



Page 28: Zulus:
Keegan feels it necessary to point out that Clausewitz can be excused for not knowing about the Zulus. I won't comment on his description of Zulu origins or developments. He reveals his biases on page 31 in writing, "These awful effects of Zulu imperialism"...
He also reveals that one of the book's themes is why it is that successful warrior systems... become fossilized. On page 32 he notes that "Shaka was a perfect Clausewitzian", but that the eventual fall of the Zulu nation "offers an awful warning of the shortcomings of the Clausewitzian analysis."
I would have thought that is was rather more a warning that you should not go to war with spears against an opponent with cannon and machine guns.



Page 32-40: Mamelukes:
Keegan's view is that "Clausewitzian analysis, in their case as in that of the Zulus, was stood on its head. The holders of power made politics a continuation of warfare. Practically that was a nonsense. Culturally the Mamelukes had no alternative."
Keegan misunderstands the fundamental nature of the Mameluke state and the political position and policies of its rulers. He thinks that the phenomena of Mamelukes in Egypt was due to some fundamental Islamic prohibition of fighting among Moslems. For one thing we should not confuse a picture of slaves laboring on plantations or in mines with the status of the "slave" armies in Islam. As Keegan points out the individuals recruited for these armies were the best fighting men available - Turks from beyond the frontiers. In the case of Egypt the Arab rulers were not about to arm and train any more of the real slaves - the peasants who worked the fields - than absolutely necessary and the city populations were a mixed bag of multi-nationality and dubious loyalty at best.
Later, the Mamelukes took charge and having done so put themselves in a similar position to the Spartans. They became rulers over a subjugated population, not its defenders. Thus, by the time Mameluke power was seriously challenged by the Ottomans and then by the French they were not a military force organized to defend Egypt. Rather Egypt was a subjugated territory whose value to them was as a source of wealth. Thus the political relationships between Mamelukes themselves and between them and the rest of Egyptian society determined the nature of the military responses they could make.



Page 36:

Keegan states that no son of a Mameluke could become one. But this prohibition did not last very long.



Page 36-37:
Keegan faults the Mamelukes for not taking up firearms but recruiting gunners and musketeers from outside. This is a valid military criticism but doing so would have been politically impossible. His description of the battle of Marj Dabiq is different from that in Oman.



Page 39:
Keegan comments that Clausewitz was aware of the Mameluke defeats at the Battle of Pyramids and later as if this should have made a difference. He writes, "Each ought to have been an indication that culture is as powerful a force as politics in the choice of military means, and often more likely to prevail than political or military logic."
But it was the nature of the Mameluke political position which prevented them from mounting a European style military defense. To have instituted military reforms adequate to defeat the invaders in the name of defending Egypt would have required first of all the elimination of their political power and of the institution of Mamelukes itself. They were not Egypt's defenders but its chief exploiters. They are not the only military regime to risk destruction at the hands of external foes rather than commit sure suicide in the name of reform.
He can't resist digs, "But Clausewitz, if he knew the facts, did not draw the inference." "how much more persistent culture is than political decision as a military determinant."
It seems to me that the case of the Mamelukes is but one more fine example of the tight interrelationship of politics and military affairs.



Page 40:
Although Keegan views it as the opposite, the case of Ottoman Turkey before World War I is another example of the influence of politics (resulting from culture) on military affairs.



Page 40: Samurai:
Keegan writes that the Japanese sword-bearing class "contrived means to rid Japan of firearms and thereby to perpetuate its social dominance for another 250 years."
This should be an object example for the American people and should be stressed in all discussions of gun control today. For "social" read also "political". He points out that the purpose of the arms control edict in 1587 was to pacify Japan by restoring a monopoly of arms to the military class.
Keegan continues, "the achievement is evidence that political logic need not dominate warmaking, that, on the contrary, cultural forms, when they find strong champions, may prevail against the most powerfully besetting temptations ...."
But the story of the samurai and the rise of the shoguns that Keegan himself tells is political from end to end. I don't see much difference between the samurai wars in Japan and the War of the Roses in England, for one example.
Why he considers the samurai any less thugs than their equivalents in medieval Europe is beyond understanding.


Page 45:
Keegan writes, "The Tokugawa shogunate was more than a political institution. It was a cultural instrument." He quotes Sanson about how it "undertook to regulate the morals of the people and prescribe their behavior... It is doubtful whether previous history records a more ambitious attempt on the part of a state to interfere with the private life of every individual and so to control the thoughts as well as actions of a whole nation."
Sounds like communism in Russia or Cuba of China to me; and this is not politics!!!. I won't comment about other theocracies in history.
Keegan makes much in this discussion about the value of firearms to the lower classes and he repeats this later with respect to late medieval and Renaissance Europe. But he does not note the relationship of the distribution of an effective weapon that the ordinary citizen can use with the development and security of democratic political institutions.



Page 46:
Keegan remarks that,"In ensuring that warriors had a monopoly of swords, the Tokugawa were guaranteeing the samurai's place at the pinnacle of Japanese society." Exactly, and what could be more political than that!. By the way the Mamelukes were doing the same thing for themselves by refusing to arm their subjects.
But Keegan says, "The Tokugawa's logic was not Clausewitz's logic." To me the case proves just the opposite. And "war may be, among many other things, a perpetuation of culture by its own means." Certainly it may be, the perpetuation of a highly politicized culture.



Page 46: A Culture without War
Keegan again, "Clausewitz's belief in the primacy of politics rather than culture was not, however, personal to him."
But I just don't see the relevance. With culture in the background as a determining force for both politics and war, they are still manifestations of the same broad category of human activity.



Page 47:
Keegan on this page indulges is outright twisting of his sources to fit his preconceptions. He quotes from Giambattista Vico's quotation in turn from Voltaire and then thoroughly misrepresents what Voltaire meant in the passage.
"If you have no more to tell us", Voltaire declared, "than that one barbarian succeeded another on the banks of the Oxus or Ixartes, what use are you to the public?"
Keegan takes this to be a "contemptuous dismissal of the importance of events on the banks of the Oxus" which "strikes Clausewitzian theory a blow."
To me Voltaire is not dismissing events on the Oxus as such but historical writing that limits itself to recounting events in whatever place without analysis. Keegan seized on this because the Oxus is one of his favorite locales to show military culture. He continues, "Military historians now recognize that the banks of the Oxus are to warfare what Westminster is to parliamentary democracy or the Bastille to revolutions."
I have never previously seen the Oxus region so described in reading many military history books.
He continues, "It was across the Oxus that successive waves of Central Asian conquerors and despoilers .... borne into the Western world.
But the Oxus is not between Central Asia and Western Europe. It is between Central Asia and Iran.
He says the Ottoman sultans recruited their slave soldiers on the Oxus and from this jumps to the Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683 which was a traumatic event for Clausewitz's contemporaries, and from that to the statement that, "A theory of war that did not take into account the Oxus and all it stood for was a defective theory. Clausewitz constructed such a theory, none the less, and with calamitous effects."
The chain of reasoning is defective in each of its parts. Events on the Oxus were not so unique. The Ottoman sultans recruited slave soldiers (Janissaries) in the Balkans, not on the Oxus. And in what way does Clausewitz's theories fail to take into account whatever the Oxus stands for?



Page 48:
Keegan cites Liddell Hart's view of Clausewitz written after World War I as indicative of a general view blaming the course of the war on Clausewitz. He goes on to say that after World War II academic strategists were "seduced by Clausewitz". "In Clausewitz they found ready to hand a philosophy and vocabulary of military extremism to which history had given currency."
I have no interest in supporting the proponents of nuclear deterrence theory, which I always considered the worst kind of scholasticism. But I don't think Clausewitz should be faulted for their sins either.



Page 49:
Keegan presents more generalization linking Clausewitz with the regimental system that was designed to isolate warriors with their unique ethos from polite society.

Page 50-60:
Keegan writes at his most passionate level describing what he calls the "remilitarization of society" that had been somehow demilitarized in the 17th century. He notes two kinds of "remilitarization" that from above in the industrial states and that from below in the poor countries. It is generalization piled on generalization ending with the observation that "War, it seems to me.... may well be ceasing to commend itself to human beings as a desirable or productive, let alone rational, means of reconciling their discontents." He says, "this is not mere idealism", but it is hard to believe this when one looks around the world today.
He concludes the section by stating his major objective in writing. "Charting the course of human culture through its undoubtedly warlike past towards its potentially peaceful future is the theme of this book."



Page 63: - Limitations on Warmaking:
Keegan begins this chapter and page with the statement of the core of his philosophy and by inference the purpose of the book. " to look forward to a future in which recourse to war has been brought under rational limitation should not lead us into the false view that there have been no limitations on warmaking in the past."
The book itself is a passionate effort by Keegan to provide support for this effort to bring warmaking under rational limitation. By implication he believes such an effort is critical for civilization.

He goes on to point out that the "higher political and ethical systems attempted to impose legal and moral restrictions both on the use of war and its usages from early times." Despite pointing this out, he persists in denying that war is a "continuation of politics".
He writes, "the most important limitations on warmaking however, have always lain beyond the will or power of man to command." Keegan goes on to show that he means by this that geographical factors place natural limitations, but the sentence itself sounds like he thinks that absent such factors "beyond man's control" man would be unable or less likely to restrict warfare. He ignores quite a few eras in which warfare in the West was in fact restricted by mutual agreement of the parties involved.
He points to "what the Soviet General Staff used to call 'permanently operating factors' - he lists such factors as weather, climate seasons, terrain, vegetation" etc. But these are not the factors the Soviet military considered "permanent operating factors" following Stalin's formula, which was based on Svechin.



Page 64:
Keegan again, "if the earliest form of fighting at sea was piratical rather than political in motive". This remark indicates Keegan has a rather too elevated opinion of what politics is all about. It reminds me of the famous anecdote from Roman history. When Pompey the Great was ordered to clear the Aegean of pirates he captured one of the most notorious leaders. Pompey interrogated him and upbraided him "how dare you commit piracy?" The Pirate chief replied. "Well the only difference between you and me is that you have the more and more powerful ships."



Page 64:
"nihilists like the Vikings".. What makes Keegan think the Vikings were nihilists? Again, perhaps his conception of politics is narrow.



Page 65:
"The inshore wing of a galley fleet normally hinged on the coastward flank of an accompanying army, in operations that were amphibious in the strict sense of the term. The fleet maneuvered so as to isolate an enemy coastal base from support by its own naval forces, while the army advanced with supplies to positions from which the galleys could be re-provisioned". He bases this idea on Guilmartin, whom he extols.
This was a feature of a large proportion of naval warfare in classical and Hellenistic times, but by no means all or necessarily the most important portion. There were certainly purely naval battles waged for purposes other than cooperation with a land force. Richard Nelson provides detail on these in his book on Greek naval warfare. We will come back to this in sections where Keegan does.
Keegan's general discussion of naval warfare through the ages is excellent. His point that much of the land surface is also too inhospitable for the conduct or war is also well taken.



Page 71:
The discussion of the geographic location of Adrianople is almost but not quite right. It is, as he notes, at the European end of the land bridge between Asia and Europe. But it is not strictly speaking only on the avenue starting north of the Black Sea with the Carpathians on the right flank. It is also at the terminus of the routes coming down through the Balkans west of the Carpathians and across the northern part or Greece.



Page 72:
Writing about the rivers of western Russia, Keegan claims that "the rivers that cross that enormous and almost treeless plain tend to flow with the line of advance rather than across it." This is quite false. The situation is the opposite. The main rivers cross at right angles to the line of advance between Warsaw and Moscow. There is only a relatively narrow "land bridge" between origin of the rivers flowing north and those of the rivers flowing south.

Keegan then claims that the Niemann and the Dnieper rise in and flow out of the Pripet Marshes. The Niemann does, but not the Dnieper. It rises in the Valdai Hills in the same swamp from which flow the Volga, the Western Dvina, and the Lovat. But the Pripet Marsh is considerably to the west of the Dnieper. (Perhaps Keegan is thinking of the Pripyat River itself, which flows eastward and joins the Dnieper above Kiev.



Page 73:
Keegan writes, "David Hanson, in his breathtakingly original study of warmaking in classical Greece, is persuasive that it was the small landholders of the Greek city states who invented the idea of the "decisive battle".
Here we come to one of the foundation stones of Keegan's edifice. The reader should be aware that we have something of a "mutual admiration society" confronting us in that Hanson extols Keegan for his attention to the action and thought of the individual soldier on the field of battle (page 24-25) while Keegan, for his part, wrote an adulatory introduction to Hanson's book. But Hanson writes himself that "If there is a theme to this brief essay, it is, I confess, the _misery_ of hoplite battle." Indeed that is the whole extent of his book and it is a fine piece of writing for what it examines. But "hoplite battle" is not the entirety of a Greek battle and battle certainly is by no means close to being the entirety of Greek warfare. Hanson and his publishers expanded the putative scope of his fine study beyond recognition by titling his book "The Western Way of War". And Keegan has jumped on this theme and twisted it even more to suit his purposes. Hanson's study of the psychological essence of hoplites in combat relates to the study of warfare as a handbook on carburetor repair relates to the study of national vehicular transportation policy. He does not describe any battles and doesn't even mention the wars. And he does not discuss the religious, cultural, economic, or social aspects of Greek society on a macro scale or how warfare fit into society.
Hanson's book and John Keegan's introduction were thoroughly reviewed by John Buckler in the _Journal of Military History_. Buckler notes the extreme limited scope of Hanson's objective. He goes on with the following. "It gives no pleasure to say that it (Keegan's introduction) is unfortunately incompetent and misleading regarding the political and social aspects of Greek military history."
There is more in the review, which we may come back to later.
Hanson has produced a subsequent volume, building on the popularity of the first. It is titled _Hoplites: The Classical Greek Battle Experience_. It is a volume of essays by experts, but again focused on the particulars of hoplite combat. I will by buying this as soon as possible. For now all I can offer is a published review. Raul Lonis in his review remarks that "one of the principal merits of this book - its originality, really - is that it is not content to approach these aspects from a traditional standpoint, It draws the reader into the very heart of battle..." Just like the first book. But Lonis continues, "Do we have to think, as Hanson writes (p 11) 'that battle is simply battle, that battle is only fighting, that fighting is always killing and dying, nothing more, nothing less'?" To which I can only add, and that warfare is only battle?



Page 73:
Keegan writes, "the Russian cherta lines running for 2000 miles from the Caspian Sea to the Altai mountains as a defense against steppe raiders.
This is a considerable shift of the Zasechnaya cherta, which actually was originally between the Dnieper and the Volga. It was built to help with the defense of Moscow and central Russia from the Tatars. What a line between the Caspian and the Altai mountains could have protected is hard to imagine. It is true that several centuries later the Russians built blockhouses and brought in Cossack settlers along the border between Siberia and Central Asia, but that was long after the cherta line had been made unnecessary.



Page 75:
Keegan comments, "none of the regimes founded by Genghis or his immediate successors lasted for more than a century."
The Golden Horde lasted considerably longer than this and its successor, the Khanate of Crimea, ruled by a direct descendent of Genghis, lasted until 1785.



Page 75:
"The tide of war tends to flow one way - from poor lands to rich, and very rarely in the opposite direction".
This is a great over generalization. There are plenty of examples of the expansion from relatively richer areas to poorer, especially the expansion of Europe around the world, the European powers movement into Africa, the advance of Muscovy and then Russia south to the Black Sea and east across Siberia, and the whole expansion movements of the United States and Australia.

Page 75:
"War is always limited, not because man chooses to make it so, but because nature determines that it shall be".
This is another grand over generalization, repeated from prior pages, that neatly defines Keegan's attitude. While nature certainly limits combat operations, it is not so, as this statement implies that man himself never chooses to limit war. Machiavelli draws a clear distinction between limited and unlimited warfare and shows the relation of each to the nature of politics. And warfare after his time was purposely limited, for instance during much of the 18th century.



Page 75:
"Half of human nature - the female half - is in any case highly ambivalent about warmaking".
I agree. Keegan's views on the exclusion of women from the military are sure to arouse intense antagonism from the "feminists" today. "women however, do not fight. They rarely fight among themselves and they never, in any military sense, fight men. If warfare is as old as history and as universal as men the supremely important limitation that it is an entirely masculine activity....
Boy - what the feminists will do with this comment.


Page 79: Chapter - Stone
Why do men fight?

Discussion of behavioralists and sociologists and their views of man's nature. It is violent?
Keegan says that the majority reject the idea that man is naturally violent and also that they reject the Christian belief in original sin. Here I must be in the minority because I firmly believe both.



Page 80:
Points out that the UNESCO condemns the belief in man's violent nature. Since UNESCO's opinions are notorious on many fronts, I consider that a good indication that man is indeed violent.

The American Anthropological Association can be counted on also to deny the violent nature of mankind. No comment necessary.


Keegan indulges in wishful thinking, "At a hopeful time in human history, a time of effective disarmament and of the adoption of humanitarianism as a principle in world affairs, the layman naturally seeks reassurance that the drafters of the Seville Statement have right on their side".
Another clear statement of Keegan's point of view and bias in preparation of this book. I don't think the drafters are right at all, nor that they ought to be.



Page 81:
Keegan points out that the accepted view might be a mere expression of optimism. This is one of his ways of hedging his position. Such hedges are found too often in the book.


War and Human nature:
Keegan goes back to fundamentals of human physiology to locate the centers of aggression. Unfortunately he does not discuss the extensive literature on the war and human nature. The members of the Military Conflict Institute have been discussing this for some years and collecting references and papers on this field.



Page 83:
He rightly points out that both sides in the ideological struggle go too far. My point is that it is indeed an ideological struggle rather than a scholarly debate.


War and anthropologists.
In this section I am delighted to see that Keegan has studied Robert Ardrey and Konrad Lorenz, and others. For instance, I recommend _Territorial Imperative_.



Page 86:
Keegan notes that there is a difference between family and state, but fails to build on this throughout the book. The distinction was probably brought out first in the context of political science by Jean Bodin as part of the reaction to the religious wars in France in the 16th century. That Bodin felt impelled to develop this concept itself was an outgrowth of the difference in the nature of the modern state from the classical Greek or Roman state. This changed nature of the state has had significant impact on the nature of warfare.

Keegan gives an excellent summary of the development of anthropology and its views on this issue. He mentions Franz Boas, Ruth Benedict, and Margaret Mead. He rightly notes the great influence Margaret Mead's _Coming of Age in Samoa_ had. But he never mentions that Margaret Mead has been exposed as a fraud and her book as a figment of her over active imagination as well as cover up for her own sexual propensities.


Page 89:
Another delight, Keegan discusses in great detail the views of Harry Turney- High, whose _Primitive Warfare_ was among my earliest texts on warfare. He notes on page 92 that Turney-High was a unreformed Clausewitzian, which I consider to be a complement even though Keegan did not mean it that way. Keegan then remarks "Clausewitzian victory in the nuclear age has come to seem, even to the least sentimental of strategic analysts as very dubious aim" I wonder if Keegan can explain this to the Serbians.



Page 94:
Keegan again, "combat is the heart of warfare, the act by which men are maimed or killed in numbers, the activity that divides war from mere hostility".
The statement is quite true, but throughout the book it seems that Keegan thinks combat is not only the heart of warfare but war itself, (all there is to war). In my opinion combat bears the same relation to war as roasting a side of beef does to serving a full banquet. It is an important aspect, but by no means the whole. Moreover, sometimes merely the threat of combat is sufficient to accomplish the objectives of war. The point was made by Clausewitz, among others.



Page 94:
Keegan describes warfare and forms of combat among various primitive peoples. The discussion seems quite straight forward. I don't know the sources or have any basis for comment.

But on page 98 Keegan remarks, "The Yanomomo in short seem to have got intuitively to Clausewitz's point and to have passed beyond it".
Implicit in this remark is the idea that because the Yanomomo conduct limited warfare they are beyond Clausewitz in evolution, whom Keegan never ceases to insist ADVOCATED unlimited warfare. Of course Keegan never delves into the political objectives for which the Yanomomo or the other primitive peoples fight or he might see the inter-relationship between limited political objectives and limited warfare. Nor does he use the opportunity to compare the Yanomomo to others who practiced limited warfare to see if they had similar reasons. Actually, for Keegan, politics is a category of activity that is absent from such primitive peoples. "they have preferring mutual prudence, they have settled for a routine of endemic fighting, much of it symbolic in character, which brings death to some but spares the majority to live, even if to fight another day." What clearer example of the relation of politics to war does Keegan demand? Sounds like Machiavelli's description of warfare among the condotierre or Clausewitz's comments on warfare of Frederick the Great.
Continuing on page 103, Keegan remarks about another primitive people, "If the Maring showed reluctance for the decisive battle, showed indeed that they did not consider the point of battle necessarily to be outright victory on the battlefield, then it is permissible to suppose that other peoples at a similar level of material culture did likewise?"
Brilliant idea, but why does Keegan not grant this capability also to more civilized peoples, nor indicate the relation of culture to politics?



Page 105:
In this section Keegan indicates the Maori also limited their warfare. He notes also that the main occasion for war was "always the desire for revenge". But he does not make the obvious connection that this political objective would itself lead to limitations on the means used to achieve it. Machiavelli emphasizes revenge as one of the most powerful of POLITICAL motivations. Not knowing anything about the Maori's I pass on most of what Keegan writes. As a minimum we need to study Andrew Vayda's article "Maoris and Muskets in New Zealand: Disruption of a War System", before reaching final conclusions.

In his discussion of the education of the Maori youth to take maximum offense at disrespect he brings to mind the culture developing in American cities today.

Page 106:
Speaking of the Maori's limited warfare, Keegan writes,"here is another example of how a cultural ethic, even of the most savage sort, may have the paradoxical effect of limiting the harm warriors will do to each other." and "Meanwhile in pre-Columbian America ... a cultural ethic limited its greater potentiality for Clausewitz's decisive battle to an even more arresting degree." Clausewitz is again equated with the decisive battle but limitation is ascribed to culture rather than politics.

Keegan's very fine description of warfare among the American Indians and the brutality of the Aztecs won't endear him to the political correct crowd today any more than his comments on women in warfare. He also points out the regime of limitation on warfare that the Aztecs imposed on themselves. He considers the Aztec practice of fighting a pitched battle but then capturing rather than killing the defeated as a limitation. He devotes an inordinate amount of space to description of Aztec society considering their marginal role in history or the history of warfare because he likes to use them as an example of "ceremonial warfare" and warfare divorced from political purposes. He simply ignores the central political purposes of the Aztecs in conducting war.



Page 113.
Keegan writes, "It does not suffice as an explanation of what the warriors were about en masse on the battlefield, not at any rate for moderns who expect wars to have a material point, and loss of human life to bear a proportionate relation to it".
Well, Aztec warfare certainly had a very material point, he just does not recognize it.
Keegan again, "the temptation is to dismiss Aztec warfare as an aberration, having no connection with any system of strategy or tactics that we would consider rational." I would not dismiss it at all and it certainly had strategic and tactical purposes and methods. He continues to note that Aztec warfare was limited by a belief about the object it should achieve - the taking of prisoners - who would be victims at ritual sacrifice. "It was an enormously rich society, which could afford the wastefulness of sacrificing captives in thousands, rather than putting them to productive work or selling them into slavery elsewhere."

This idea is questionable. for one thing there was no other group to sell the captives to in that there were no customers who had anything that the Aztecs wanted for trade in exchange for prisoners. Moreover, they did not need the labor of the captives, having plenty of their own working class and slaves. The fact is that they were harvesting captives for the highest economic use they could conceive - propitiating gods upon whose favor their entire civilization depended. There could be no less wasteful use of captives than that. This political goal is behind the nature of Aztec warfare and it has a very rational economic objective, given the Aztec religious belief. A similar example is the warfare of the Crimean Tatars against the Slavs. They avoided any effort at conquest and tried to avoid killing opponents in battle, but used continual raiding as a means for collecting captives, just as the Aztecs did, but the Tatars did have a lucrative market for the sale of slaves.



page 114:
"The Aztecs who fought were warriors, not soldiers; that is to say, they expected and were expected to fight because of the place they held in the social order, not because of obligation or for pay". I don't understand the distinction between "obligation" and "expectation based on place in the social order". What connection does this definition of "warrior" have to professional officers today, whom Keegan considers "warriors"? It is an interesting definition to say the least.



Page 115:
Beginnings of Warfare:

The several pages of discussion of prehistoric man also appear straightforward. This section follows that on warfare among primitive peoples. It seems to me it ought to precede it, just to establish chronological order.
It is good to see that Keegan has quoted Arther Ferrill extensively in this section.



Page 122:
Writing about warfare in the new stone age, Keegan says,"organize themselves for conquest and occupation they almost certainly did not". The inference is that without conquest and occupation as motives, fighting is not warfare.



Pages 123 on:
The discussion of Jericho, Catal Huyuk, and Sumer and Early Egypt is fine. Keegan points to the unique features of early Egyptian military style. He notes the lack of external threat for much of the period. He notes that there was internal warfare at the very earliest period, prior to the unification of Egypt. But he steadfastly refuses to note the connection between Egyptian warfare and its politics.

"Until the founding of the regular army under the New Kingdom, Egyptian warfare remained strangely old-fashioned." .."the reason for the Egyptian's tendency to cling to a superseded technology is hard to find".. It would not be so hard if one looked at politics, but that is off limits for Keegan.



Interlude 2
Fortification:

This chapter starts out with a typical bold generalization.



Page 139:
"Charioteers were the first great aggressors in human history." Moreover, they "altered the world in which civilized arts of peace had begun to flourish."



Page 143: Keegan has a fine categorization of fortification by purpose - refuge, stronghold, and strategic complex.



Page 143:
"Egyptian frontier policy in Nubia was a model for later imperialists". Perhaps Keegan means that we can use the Egyptian method as a kind of model in our examination of the methods of imperialists. Otherwise this makes no sense, because the nature of Egyptian frontier policy has only become known to the world recently and was certainly not a model known to imperialists.



Page 144:
It would be wrong to surmise, however, that the principles that underlay the construction of Jericho or Semna (Egyptian frontier) were rapidly or widely disseminated".
True - but what does this do to the idea of their being a model? This is an example of a maddening tendency of Keegan to reverse himself within a few pages.



Page 145:
"Alexander conducted at least twenty sieges between 335 and 325." Worth remembering when we get further along in the book.



Page 146:
"The Romans conducted one siege after another when building their empire." Interesting comment in light of Keegan's contention that siege warfare was unimportant.



Page 146:
Keegan notes the controversy between Edward Luttwak's conception of Roman strategy promoted in The Grand Strategy of the Roman empire and several of his critics, Benjamin Isaac and C. R. Whittaker. We may now benefit from the fine demolition job done on Isaac and Whittaker by Everett Wheeler in Journal of Military History.



Page 147:
Keegan comments, "The cherta, a line of improvised fortifications pushed eastward by the tsars from the 16th century on into the cold lands of the steppe, intended to press the nomads south of the Ural mountains and to open a path of settlement into Siberia."
This repeats the false conception of the cherta given in page 73.



Page 149:
Keegan again writes, "Eventually western Europe was re-fortified, but in a pattern that would have rightly caused a Chinese dynasty nothing but alarm."
No doubt true, but we may ask why and what is the point? Might politics be rearing its unseen head again? The refortification of the 10th and later centuries would have caused a Roman dynasty alarm as well, or a French king of the 18th century for that matter.
He continues, "The newly walled towns, however, used their immunity not to underpin royal authority but to demand rights and freedoms..."
Keegan again walks right by politics, practically stepping in it, without seeing it. What better example could he want of the link between politics and military affairs.

Keegan gives a good description of castle building in Europe also, but without mention of the connection to politics.



Page 150 - 151:
Keegan comments, "All the works of siegecraft available to commanders before the invention of gunpowder were, therefore, devised between 2400 and 397 BC."
What about the trebuchet? What about the significant siege engines invented by Hellenistic engineers?
"The taking of Jerusalem by the Crusaders in 1099 with a siege tower was an exceptional event."
Really? I disagree.
He goes on, "We ought therefore, to treat with extreme reserve all representations of siegecraft and siege engines, if offered as evidence of their importance in the art of war at any time before the gunpowder age.
"Assyrian wall-paintings and sculpture reliefs of royal triumphs under the walls of cities are no more to be relied upon as testimony of contemporary actualities than the heroic portraits of Napoleon by David and Le Gros..."
Well, propaganda they certainly were along with the Egyptian depictions of battles like Quadish, but that does not mean sieges were not conducted using siege engines. There is plenty of physical evidence such as arrow heads, slingshot lead weights. There are also literary descriptions including manuals on siegecraft. Keegan grossly understates the importance of siege warfare. One wonders why. Might it be because fortifications and sieges show politics at work too clearly? If sieges are significant throughout the Middle East and elsewhere, what does that do to Keegan's theory of a unique "Western Way of Warfare"? Because sieges certainly entail hand-to-hand combat.

Page 152:
Keegan does not give up, "strongholds were difficult to take at all times before the gunpowder age"
Well they were taken nevertheless, especially by well organized armies such as the Macedonians, Romans, Mongols etc. And they were not necessarily much easier to take after the introduction of gunpowder, once their form was altered.
But he fails to consider political ramifications, "such strongholds were often as much instruments of defiance of central authority or a means to overawe free citizens or cultivators as components of strategic defense". Precisely - but there is that nasty politics again.



Page 155: Chapter 3 Flesh:
After the digression on fortification Keegan returns to the charioteers.
He remarks, "The adoption of the war chariot and the imposition of the power of war charioteers throughout the centers of Eurasian civilization in the space of some 300 years is one of the most extraordinary episodes in world history."
One of Keegan's best generalizations.



Page 159:
Keegan devotes much attention, and properly so, to the military role of the chariot and its charioteers. He presents the accepted view of the origin of chariots. He spends rather more space than I might have on early horses and donkeys etc., but that is fine.
Keegan agrees with Stuart Piggott on the revolutionary nature of the chariot. "it lead to the emergence of a chariot-warrior group, skilled fighters who specialized and extremely expensive vehicles".



Page 160:
He wonders where they came from and accepts the standard view that they were the Indo-European invaders from north of Iran. I have to wonder about the farmer's "lack of skill as a butcher" but that is a minor issue -
Keegan devotes much attention to farmers versus pastoralist and hunters as social types with specific skills. In this he is echoing Vegetius and Machiavelli without attribution.



Page 162:
Keegan suddenly switches to a discussion of the composite bow. His discussion is standard, no new insights.



Page 168:
Keegan points out that the rule of the chariot-driving peoples over the settled peoples was short-lived.



Page 169:
He points out that the chariot was then taken over by Assyrians and Egyptians who had not used them before. He comments "the role of kings in the civilized world that we must regard as the most significant, lasting and baleful effect of warrior domination of the ancient theocratic states." Why baleful? He says the chariot people taught the Assyrians and Egyptians the techniques and ethos of imperial warmaking. In my opinion this is giving the few chariot warriors much too much credit for teaching societies that were far more advanced than they. Apparently without the arrival of these mysterious charioteers the Egyptians and Assyrians would have not harbored any aggressive ideas. On the other hand, what is so wrong with the expansion of political boundaries made possible by the increased mobility of chariot and horseback transportation? Wider political boundaries made possible the accumulation of capital upon which advancing civilization was based and it reduced the endemic local warfare between the various cities.

"The legacy of the chariot was the warmaking state". I think this is a bit extreme.

Keegan does not discuss the social and political impact of the chariot on the societies that began to use it. He does not discuss the training of charioteers or what results if any their development as a social class may have had.



Chariot and Assyria:
Keegan gives a straightforward narrative of the major events in the rise of Assyria and good description of the early Assyrian army.



Page 172:
Although Keegan has cautioned us not to believe the artistic depictions of sieges, he apparently accepts without question the written description of Sennacherib's combat against the Elamites.
It seems to me that the quotation on page 172 is an example of propaganda by poetic language. But Keegan likes it as an example, because of its bloodthirsty tone.



Page 173:
"Chariot grandees, like later cavaliers, thus may have already begun to reckon that quarrels between them were best settled by chivalric encounter." Keegan cites some examples from China.
I Ralph Sawyer describes the very ancient use of chariots in China, but for Assyria and Egypt the charioteers were professionals formed into regular units and fighting as combat teams, not nobles engaging in one-on-one duels.



Page 176:
Keegan discusses the Egyptian army at Quadish saying it "appears to have had fifty chariots and 5000 soldiers". This is the strength of each of the divisions of the Egyptian army. There were approximately two and a half such divisions engaged at Quadish.



Page 177:
Keegan notes that the chariot was overtaken in importance by the horse itself, when used as cavalry.



Page 178:
Keegan writes, " border of their empire - to the north in Palestine" Palestine was at the far western border of Assyria, not to its north.



Page 178:
Keegan says the Persian army continued to rely on the chariot. He remarks that it was as charioteers that the Persian monarch - Darius went into battle against Alexander. Actually chariots already played a minor role in the Persian army by that period. Just because Darius was riding in a chariot did not mean that he went into battle as a charioteer any more than Wellington being on a horse at Waterloo meant he went into battle as a cavalryman.



Page 178:
"We may regard the steppe nomads as one of the most significant - and baleful - forces in military history." Why baleful? This is another biased value judgement.

Page 179:
Keegan shifts directly from chariots to the cavalry of the steppe horse peoples. He does not discuss in the course of treating the Assyrian army the introduction of iron, which was extremely important in changing the nature of warfare and ending the dominance of the chariot. He comes back to iron in a later chapter on page 237, but then hardly mentions its significance to the Assyrians.



Page 179:
Horse peoples of the steppe:

Keegan begins this section with one of the devices he uses repeatedly. This is to state a false premise as if it is the view accepted by most people and then to turn around and point out it is incorrect.

In this case he comments."To those who live in settled and temperate lands, the steppe means the enormous expanse of empty space that fills the map between the Arctic Ocean to the north and the Himalayas to the south... " On the civilized man's mental map, it appears as not only featureless but climatically undifferentiated, a zone of sparse and uniform vegetation, without mountains, rivers, lakes or forests.." Then he says "This impression is quite incorrect." My point is that I don't know who could have the false view Keegan first presents, certainly not anyone who had even Geography 101.



Page 180:
Commenting on the "gateways" between Europe and Asia, "the western gateways - at each end of the Caucasus mountains, in the gap between the Caspian and Aral seas, and around the top of the Black Sea into the Adrianople corridor - which are narrower and easier to defend." One gap is not between the Caspian and Aral seas but between the Caspian and the Ural mountains.

The discussion of the steppe peoples greatly short changes the Scythians. I believe much more is know about them than Keegan chooses to mention. "The first steppe people of whom we have any detailed knowledge were the Huns."



Page 183:
"nature seems to impose limits on the depth of penetration that nomads can make into settled land." Where does this generalization come from? The Goths moved from one end of the Roman empire to the other. The Vandals moved from north-east clear across Roman territory to the far southwest in Africa. The Celts and Cimmerians and others crossed Asia Minor or the Balkans to the full depth of the regions.



Page 184:
Keegan comments on the Hun invasion of Italy saying their departure was related to their economic base being in the lower Danube valley. Later he gives better explanations.



Page 184:
"the province of Dacia (modern Hungary)" Actually Dacia was mostly in modern Romania.



Page 187:
Here Keegan gives more cogent reasons for the Hun withdrawal from Italy.



Page 188:
Writing about the horse peoples, Keegan comments, "theirs had been an extraordinary rise to power in little more than 1500 years." Remarkable, a 1500 year period to come to power can hardly be considered rapid.



Page 188:
Keegan writes, "Attila had shown an ability to shift his strategic center of effort - schwerpunkt, as Prussian general staff doctrine later denoted it -".
This is an anachronistic use of one of the most overused buzz words so popular recently. Using this favorite word of the "military reform" clique shows the audience Keegan is appealing to.

He continues, "No such strategic maneuver had been attempted or had been possible before".
Well, I don't know about that. Athens and Sparta shifted the center of their operations several times over longer distances during the Peloponesian wars. Hannibal and Scipio shifted the theater of operations several times over great distances. Caesar did likewise against Pompey and Antony.



Page 189:
Commenting on the objectives of horse peoples in waging war. Keegan correctly notes that "they wanted the spoils of war without strings", in that they sought to collect booty rather than occupy settled areas. But this does not necessarily mean that "they were warriors for war's sake..." Collecting booty is a perfectly rational purpose for war.
He continues, "the horse and human ruthlessness together thus transformed war, making it for the first time 'a thing in itself'. We can thenceforth speak of 'militarism', an aspect of societies in which the mere ability to make war, readily and profitably, becomes a reason in itself for doing so."
First, this is not the only definition of militarism. Second horse peoples were not the first 'militarists'. Both Spartans and Roman Praetorian guards are well recognized forms of militarism. Third the nomadic societies were not making war as an end in itself.
Keegan again, "yet militarism is a concept that cannot be applied to any horse people, since it presumes the existence of an army as an institution dominant over but separate from other social institutions. "
Again this is but one of the several types of militarism.

He elaborates, "All the horse peoples.. fought 'true war' by all the tests - lack of limitation in the use of force, singularity of purpose and unwillingness to settle for anything less than outright victory. Yet their warfare had no political object in the Clausewitzian sense, and no culturally transforming effect."
This is another set up of a straw man. "Horse peoples" certainly did accept less than outright victory when it suited them. When they did fight relatively unlimited warfare, it was because their political purposes for the war were unlimited, as Machiavelli clearly show.



Page 191 and following: Arabs and Mamelukes:
Keegan seems to mix together Arabs and Bedouin; as well as Arabs and Moslems. Not all Arabs were Bedouin nor were all Moslems Arabs.



Page 198:
Keegan discusses the origins of the Islamic institution of slave armies. I think there was more too it than the question of finding a way to avoid Moslems fighting Moslems.


Page 200 following: The Mongols:



Page 202:
Keegan writes about the ideas of Sun Tzu. "In its emphasis on avoiding battle except with the assurance of victory, of disfavoring risk, of seeking to overawe an enemy by psychological means, and of using time rather than force to wear an invader down (all concepts recognized to be profoundly anti-Clausewitzian by twentieth-century strategists".
The only point of dragging Clausewitz in at this point is to beat him up by implying that Sun Tzu's concept of warfare is superior to Clausewitz's. For one thing there is nothing so special about Sun Tzu's ideas. Machiavelli and many others made similar recommendations in similar circumstances. And I am not so sure that Clausewitz would not have done likewise. Besides, read Ralph Sawyer for a much different interpretation of Sun Tzu.



Page 205:
Keegan comments that is unlikely that Mongol armies "included contingents of armored cavalry." But this is well attested as far as Mongol-Tatars in Russia is concerned. All standard texts on Mongol armies show heavily armored cavalry.



Page 205:
Keegan persists in the view that "siege warfare in the pre- gunpowder age was a laborious and time consuming method of breaking into strongholds whose defenders were determined to resist. But the Mongols "nevertheless overwhelmed a whole succession of fortified places in the East and West ... we must conclude that the garrisons generally gave up without a struggle."
What a case of sticking to pre-conceptions in the face of accounts of the terrific battles these sieges required. This is nothing short of libel on many brave defenders.

In the first place sieges since the introduction of gunpowder have often also been laborious and time consuming. In the second place the length of time a garrison is able to hold out is no measure of the intensity of its resistance.



Page 207:
The Mongol system "included no means for legitimizing the rule of a single successor". This is false. They had a fine, elective system. Of course the ambitious descendants were not always content with the results of the elections, but that is no different from the struggles over succession in western kingdoms or empires.

Page 209:
Keegan mentions the Mongol capture of Baghdad without saying that it involved a serious siege.



Page 210:
Battle of Ain Jalut:



Page 212:
Keegan writes, "by the end of the 14th century Mongol power had effectively been extinguished wherever it had spilled over the edge of the steppe.
Well, the Crimean Tatars remained in control of their small area under the rule of direct descendants of Genghis Khan until 1785.



Page 214:
Keegan comments, "it is not fanciful to suggest that the awful fate of the Incas and the Aztecs - at the hand of the Spanish conquistadors ultimately harked back to Genghis himself."
This is another of these amazing generalizations. I imagine Keegan has in mind the incredible population losses suffered by the Incas and Aztecs during the Spanish conquest. But these were due to the introduction of new disease, not Spanish ruthless killing. Disease had already terribly weakened the Incas before Pizarro even got to Peru and it did a job on the Aztecs during the period between Cortez's initial arrival and his return for the final battle. Once victorious the Spanish were determined to convert the Indians, and were remarkably successful at doing so. True Spanish intentions and actions toward the native populations can be seen in the practically immediate foundation of universities in both Mexico and Peru, not to mention marriage. Naturally Keegan would ignore one of the most significant events in human history, the apparition of the Virgin Mary to the Aztec peasant, Juan Diego, in 1535 which resulted in rapid conversion of millions.



Page 214:
Keegan discusses the "Chinese Way of Warfare" in relation to Confucian ethics. He consistently ignores internal politics in China in relation to warfare.



Pages 216 217:
Clausewitz again among the Cossacks.
Keegan continues, "Clausewitz himself owed much more to it than his ordered mind would ever allow him to recognize." Another example of Keegan belittling Clausewitz.



Page 221: Interlude 3: Armies:



Page 221:
Keegan just won't give it up, "Clausewitz was unable to recognize an alternative military tradition in the Cossacks' style of warmaking because he could recognize as rational and worthwhile only one form of military organization, the paid and disciplined forces of the bureaucratic state. He could not see that other forms might equally well serve their societies, and well defend them."
This is pure speculation and putting ideas into Clausewitz's head.
Keegan keeps bashing Clausewitz, "He could not foresee the stalemate they would impose on each other as they multiplied their firepower during the next century in pursuit of those battlefield victories he laid down it was their purpose to achieve."
So what? No one can foresee the future. But Clausewitz certainly did not lay down battlefield victory as the only purpose for war.
Keegan refused to credit Clausewitz with a brain, "Inadvertently, he admitted the part the opolchenie played in driving the Grand Army ..."
Why presume this was inadvertent on Clauswitz's part? He was right there watching them in action. Why call it "admitted"? Keegan just can't bear to think Clausewitz knew more that Keegan says he knew.
Apparently Keegan has not read Clauswitz's own memoir on the 1812 campaign.



Page 222:
Keegan speculates wildly, "It is not fanciful to trace a descent from the paintbox little army of Berthier's principality to the praetorians of the Waffen SS panzer divisions".
Sorry, but I think it is fanciful in the extreme.



Page 223-4:
"Military sociologists take as their premise the proposition that any system of military organization expresses the social order from which it springs." Here Keegan mentions Stanislav Andrzejewski (he calls him Stanislav Andreski) and describes his ideas at some length. Good idea. But Keegan says Andrzejewski's work is "not accessible". I can't imagine why. I found it a fine and useful read many years ago.
Keegan considers Andrzejewski's scheme too mechanistic. He thinks the fit of societies to categories is not exact. Well, it is no worse than the sweeping generalizations Keegan indulges in.



Page 226:
Keegan comments on the male and female principles are epitomized in the warrior and actress.
He writes that some men can only be warriors - soldiers. "the intoxication of the warpath" the "allure that the warrior life exerts over the male imagination."



Page 227:
Keegan gives a generally good discussion of the place of warriors in civilized society. But then says Tamerlane did not descend to the bloody level of the Vikings. This is pure bias without any basis. Who says the Vikings were more bloodthirsty than Tamerlane?
Keegan lists six forms for military organization "warrior, mercenary, slave, regular, conscript and militia ". He gives several pages of good explanation for these categories.



Page 229:
Keegan notes that the Assyrian army included contingents of all varieties of soldier types including infantry, charioteers, mounted archers, engineers, and transport and it had a regular service of royal bodyguard. This tends to contradict his earlier emphasis on the charioteers. On page 231 he gives a clear description of the mercenaries in Italy. He does not investigate the use of these military organizations in relation to the political systems or political objectives of the societies.

Page 232:
Keegan again, "it is even more tempting to propose that the Greeks' principal contribution to warmaking - that of the pitched battle, fought on foot at a fixed site until one side or the other conceded defeat - made its way back to the Germans via Rome, in barbarian times. The evidence, however, may not stand such a weight of supposition."

This is another one of Keegan's efforts to have it both ways. He can say that the evidence may not support his thesis, but that does not prevent him from repeating the very same thesis over and over. In addition this takes as a given the proposition that the Greeks invented the pitched battle. This is not so. However, here he rightly points to the Greek contribution to combat - not warfare.



Page 232:
Keegan mentions Machiavelli and notes he drafted the ordinance for the Florentine militia. But he probably never read it. On page 233 he says the military defect in the militia system was that the duty was placed on property owners alone. This is certainly not the case of the Florentine militia, which was recruited exclusively from outside the city. The city property owners were exempt.
However he is correct about the Greek citizen militia and the early Roman militia army being composed of property owners.



Page 233:
Keegan provides a good discussion of conscription versus a militia. He says that the French revolutionary conscript armies were what "prompted Clausewitz to argue that 'war was the continuation of politics' - the grave drawbacks of the system - that it militarized society and entailed enormous costs went unforseen or were disguised".

There was a lot more evidence than the French revolutionary armies to prompt an observation that was is the continuation of politics. Machiavelli and even Xenophon pointed this out. The striking thing for Clausewitz was the correlation of military affairs (methods and objectives in warfare) with the variations in political system and political objectives.
Keegan notes that conscription is a form of tax - a great point.



Page 235:
Despite himself, the discussion shows the relation of military to politics.

"Politics had become the extension of war and the age-old dilemma of states - of how to maintain efficient armies that were both affordable and reliable - had revealed itself to be as far from solution as when Sumer had first laid out its revenues to pay for soldiers. " Great passage and exactly on the mark.



Page 237: Chapter 4 Iron:
Keegan backtracks to pick up the discussion of the role in warfare of the invention of iron weapons. But he passes by the results of iron weapons in ancient near eastern Assyria and Persia etc., and jumps quickly to the Greeks. He gives a good summary of the early Greeks and the Dorian invasion.

He leaves out the religious basis of the Greek city state and the inherent limitations it had from the political point of view on expansion or absorbing newcomers.



Page 244:
Here Keegan takes up in detail the so called "western war of warfare" popularized by Victor Hanson. He discusses phalanx warfare. He points to the intense attachment of the Greek citizen to his smallholding but fails to point to the powerful religious reason for this. He continues to describe Hanson's idea about the short, pitched battle and its relation to the Greek farming life etc. He seems to equate the escalation of battle into a particularly bloody business with warfare as a whole being of this sort.

Hanson and Keegan completely ignore the many lengthy sieges and extended campaigns conducted during the Persian and Peloponesian wars and after. The concept that Greek warfare consisted exclusively of short, sharp, set-piece battles is false.



Page 246:
Here Keegan is discussing combat, not warfare.
As for the Greek reasons for fighting and conducting war, he ignores the political situation all together. He comments on the influence of competitive athletics on the battlefield as a contest.



Page 248:
Here is a good discussion on the mechanics of a Greek battle. Keegan even notes the religious sacrifice that preceded it as well as the religious funeral that followed, but without tying this to the nature of warfare as a whole.



Page 249:
"Hanson has brilliantly and imaginatively reconstructed this ghastly and wholly revolutionary style of warmaking."
I disagree, he has clearly described a particular style of combat - not warmaking.



Page 250:
Keegan notes that Socrates fought as a citizen in the battle of Delion in 424. How does this square with his view of the warrior not being a civilized person?



Page 251:
Here Keegan describes the aftermath of a Greek battle in detail. But he cannot explain what happened because he refuses to consider the political purposes of the combat and warfare.

He notes that the casualties in battle and close pursuit might reach 15%, then notes that the losses might have been much greater if the winners had pressed home their victory. "Generally they did not."
I wonder why?
"both sides were content to exchange their dead under truce".
Quite true, but why?
Keegan himself asks "Why since Greek battle partook of such unprecedented ferocity, did Greek war lack what moderns would see as a justifying culmination in destruction of the defeated army?"
We should not assume the Greek battle had "unprecedented ferocity". Why does combat ferocity necessitate culmination in destruction of the defeated army? Perhaps the political objectives don't warrant it. Perhaps the ability to be ferocious in combat can't be translated into the capacity to inflict decisive defeat in a war.

He quotes Hanson that "Ultimate victory in the modern sense and enslavement of the conquered was not considered an option by either side." Keegan proposes two explanations for this "strange incompleteness of Greek warfare".

Note here is does differentiate combat from warfare. But enslavement of the conquered population was indeed expressly considered an option, as the long speeches on this very subject in Thucydides narrative expressly show. In fact examination and commentary on this discussion has been one of the centerpieces of classical scholarship.

Keegan says Greek warfare retrained traces of primitivism - that is ritual warfare that included revenge "the taking of satisfaction, also a very primitive emotion, may then explain why the response stopped short of Clausewitzian decision. " face to face fighting with death dealing weapons defies nature." Then he notes as a second reason "Moreover, it is by no means certain that the idea of conquest in the modern sense was acceptable to the Greeks, at least as between Greek and Greek." He is talking nonsense, but he does not know why.

For one thing he is trying to tie any Greek failure to destroy the defeated enemy outright to his assessment of the value of ritualized warfare that he believes was a hallmark of primitivism. For another he again insists that total destruction is uniquely Clausewitzian. For another he is simply wrong to say "face to face fighting defies nature."

There are two fundamental reasons for the nature of Greek warfare, both lie in its political system. First, the Greek city was a closely knit association of people having a common religion and worshiping a set of common gods, exclusive to them and not shared by any other Greek city. It was inconceivable to a Greek that a person born in a different town who had a different set of ancestral gods could be a citizen of another city. He would have to be adopted first into a specific family in the city and accepted by the clan as well etc. Thus they could not conceive of conquering another Greek city for the purpose of incorporating the citizens into a new, amalgamated state. At best, as Keegan notes, they could form various alliances. But they certainly could and did wipe out a particularly offensive enemy city and sell the population completely into slavery and then repopulate the area with colonists. This was a kind of "ethnic cleansing." Thus in a very real way Greek political concepts and organizations directly influenced warfare.

But the second political reason is also clear. In virtually all Greek cities the citizens were divided internally into two parties, one supporting more democracy and the other favoring more oligarchy. In Sparta oligarchy predominated practically all the time. In Athens democracy was more dominant, but by no means all the time. In the other cities the balance was often more even. Thus Greek wars between cities were usually actually civil wars within a city in which both parties appealed for support to their like party in other cities. Therefore when a Spartan army came for instance to battle another town it was generally in support of the oligarchs in that town and the Athenians generally sent an army to support democrat political elements in another town. The political purpose of the combat was to impose the favored political party on the defeated town, not to destroy it or kill all the citizens. This also strictly limited Greek warfare, as opposed to Greek battlefield combat.

The religious sensibilities of the Greeks also played a part. For a Greek it was of the absolutely highest priority that he be buried properly and that his soul be continuously fed by his legitimate male descendants. Otherwise the soul was doomed to wander etc. Since this was recognized by all parties, a truce was essential following a battle so that the dead could receive the religious burial that all demanded. This is why the Athenian assembly executed several of their own admirals who were victorious in a naval battle but who failed to retrieve the dead bodies of some of the citizens who had drowned during the combat.

Another factor in Greek warfare and combat is the Greek perception and philosophy that war is actually the constant and natural state of mankind. Peace is the unnatural and artificial condition that could be created by political acts like truces. Thus they were acutely aware of the concept of "balance of power" and carefully avoided inflicting too heavy a defeat on one rival, because they knew that at some future date they might want to have today's rival as an ally against some other city.



Page 257:
Keegan gives a good summary of the Persian and Peloponesian wars, but does not mention the importance of sieges. He notes the decisive Spartan victory at Aegospotami, when the Athenian fleet was destroyed and the city cut from its grain supply. This naval battle had nothing to do with an adjacent land battle or army. This contradicts Keegan's earlier assertions about Greek naval battles being tied to land campaigns.

He then mentions as well the Athenian-Persian naval victory over Sparta's navy at Cnidus in 384: another naval battle not tied to a land campaign or ground forces.



Page 259:
Keegan says the Persian army was still centered on a chariot nucleus. This is simply not so. The chariots were no more significant than the elephants by that time.

Page 262:
Keegan says Alexander found Darius dead from wounds just inflicted by his courtiers. I believe Darius was beheaded.

Keegan jumps from Alexander to the early Roman army, thus ignoring much important development in Hellenistic times.



Page 264:
Keegan says "Rome's imperial motives are much disputed by scholars." He seems to agree with the William Harris, whom he quotes "Economic gain was to the Romans an integral part of successful warfare and of the expansion of power."
Keegan does not examine the political aspects of Roman military policy, either external nor internal. And it is internal politics as well as external, sometimes even more than external that is what it meant by the concept that war is the extension of politics. Moreover, many would say that it was desire for glory that motivated much Roman offensive warfare.



Page 265:
Keegan rightly remarks that Roman ferocity in warfare is comparable only with the Mongols or Timurids. And here it is warfare rather than combat that is meant.



Page 266:
"Romans preserved from somewhere in their primitive past sufficient of the psychology of the hunter to fall on fellow humans as if on animal prey, and do their victims to death with as little regard for life as is sometimes shown by one wild species for another." And Keegan does not even mention what went on in the circus and coliseum.
But Keegan now writtes, "yet Roman warfare for all its episodic extremism never achieved the levels of inhumanity and destructiveness reached later by that of the Mongols and Timurids."
In terms of organizing the mass sale of slaves I think the Romans may be considered to equals of the Mongols and Timurids.
He says Caesar's conquest of Gaul was an isolated exception. But the Roman actions in Spain were at least as violent.



Page 266:
The Roman "army lacked the mobility of the horse peoples." Well it had mobility by sea instead.
Keegan discusses the Roman military without noting the political relationships.



Page 269:
Writing about the officer corps, Keegan notes "for the first time in history, as an esteemed and self-sufficient profession". But I think the Egyptian and Assyrian officers were esteemed professionals also.



Page 272:
Writing about Hasdrubal Barca's movement from Spain to Italy, Keegan calls it "a fighting retreat to the Adriatic". Actually Scipio let Hasdrubal give him the slip in Spain after which Hasdrubal went on an offensive campaign to bring reinforcements to his brother, Hannibal, in Italy. He was not "run to ground" at the Metaurus, but intercepted while on an offensive campaign.



Page 272:
"to forestall the first recorded large-scale migration the Romans had encountered, that of the Helvetii from modern Switzerland,.." Actually the Romans faced two major large scale migrations before this one in 58 BC. One was the Celts who defeated the Romans in 390 BC on the Allia River and forced them to pay tribute. The other was the Cimbri and Teutones who were defeated by Marius in 104-101 BC.



Page 273:
Keegan notes that the Romans "had formidable experience of and skills in siege warfare" but in the earlier chapter he discounted siege warfare. But whether they benefited from knowledge about the Assyrians is questionable.
"the very success of imperial expansion had thrown the social and political order at home into crisis."

But I thought there was no connection between war and politics.



Page 274:
Octavian was Caesar's nephew



Page 275:
Keegan says Claudius was the successor of Augustus. Actually Tiberius and Caligula were emperors between Augustus and Claudius.



Page 276:
Keegan again says Dacia was modern Hungary, when it was mostly in Romania.



Page 277:
"The notion that Roman warmaking any more than Alexander's was Clausewitzian in essence bears very little weight." "Rome, perhaps also vain-glorious, certainly entertained no conception of 'war as the continuation of politics' since it granted to none of its enemies, not even the Parthians or Persians, the dignity of civic status."
It is difficult to fathom here what Keegan means. What does the civic status or lack of it of an enemy have to do with war being a continuation of politics? As politicians repeatedly point out in Washington these days "all politics is local". The Roman politics of which warfare was an extension took place in Rome, not in Parthia.
This passage reveals as well as any Keegan's peculiar view of the nature of politics. From it stems his idea that warfare can only be conducted between entities called "states" and only for purposes related to differences between them. He thinks war in related only to "foreign policy or politics when it is more related to domestic politics".



Page 278:
"while they sometimes of necessity resorted to diplomacy they did so for reasons of expediency alone, not as one state treating with its equivalent." This again reveals Keegan's circumscribed view of what is meant by politics.



Pages 278-279:
Keegan discusses the ideas on Roman strategy advanced by Edward Luttwak and his several critics. I am not sure just where Keegan stands on this issue.



Page 279:
"on the lower Nile, where the Romans found the Numidians as implacable as the Pharaohs had done - he means upper Nile and Nubians rather than Numidians.
"raised respectively in Gaul and Pannonia (modern Hungary). here is gets it right - Hungary is now in part where Pannonia was, not Dacia.



Page 283:
"institutions of the Christian church, firmly established in its Roman rather than Nestorian form thanks to the conversion of the Franks in 496." The struggle was not with the Nestorian Christians but with the Arian Christians such as the Visigoths etc.
Keegan discusses the change from Roman empire to Carolingian feudalism but does not investigate the many ways in which these changes show the connection between war and politics.



Page 292:
Keegan writes that "Burgundian duke became king of Jerusalem". But Duke Godfrey of Boullion did not become king, his brother was the first king and Boullion at the time was not in Burgundy.



Page 293:
Militarily, the Crusades provide us with the most accurate picture we possess of both the culture and the nature of European warfare in the long interregnum between the disappearance of the disciplined armies of Rome and the reappearance of the state forces in the sixteenth century."
Really? I hardly think the Crusades were the epitome of medieval warfare.



Page 297:
"Medieval battles defy reconstruction from the evidence".
That is news to the editors of The Journal of Medieval Military History, among many others.
The idea that armored knights riding knee to knee with couched lances in dense waves of successive ranks, could have charged home against each other without instantaneous catastrophe to both sides at the moment of impact defies belief."
Why? heavy cavalry engaged in similar combat in Napoleonic times and even in the Crimean War. The Swedish cavalry of Charles XII formed in "chevron" shaped lines with each man's knee behind that of the man to his left of right toward the center of the line.
"The iron warfare of the Middle Ages, like that of the Greeks, was a bloody and 'horrible affair', made all the worse by its relentless regularity and the bloodthirsty courage of those who bound themselves to it." a "certain hard primitivism" lurked beneath the surface.
This is another example of confusion of combat and warfare. Actually in medieval warfare the great majority of people were not impacted at all. The courage of the knights was not bloodthirsty." Frequently prisoners were taken for ransom, and it was anything but regular in structure.
"but in either case, the power of iron, that delusively cheap and common metal, had run its course."
Well, iron armor and swords were quite expensive as Keegan well knows. Iron forms an interesting metaphor for Keegan, but steel is still prominent in warfare today.



Page 301: Interlude 4 Logistics:



Page 301:
The chapter on the importance of logistics is quite good. Keegan mentions the requirement for food for horses or oxen and the limitations on distance for transport. He notes some of the campaigns in which river transport figured. There were many more.



Page 303:
Keegan notes that "it was Roman roads that made the legions who built them so effective an instrument of imperial power. " Well, yes and no. Actually it was control of the Mediterranean Sea with the ability to transport by sea that provided unity to the Roman empire.
He comments "decay (of the roads) meant the end to strategic marching everywhere for more than a thousand years".
(Does this mean from 453 to after 1453?) What about the length of Crusader marches? What about campaigns of Huns, Franks and Ostrogoths? What then about the Crusades, the Norman invasion of England, Charlemagne's campaigns, English campaigns in France, etc?



Page 304:
Keegan's discussion of the importance of logistics in Alexander the Great's campaigns is excellent.



Page 305-6:
More well chosen examples of the influence of logistic factors.



Page 310:
Keegan mentions that potassium nitrate, (saltpeter) was "found in places where bacterial action on urine and faeces had deposited it into the earth". I believe he has in mind naturally occurring deposits. Unless I am mistaken, it was also collected by armies which provided cheap wine in quantity to the troops for the purpose of stimulating its production.



Page 312:
Keegan describes the French mitrailleuse and mentions the Nordenfeldt and Gardner, but leaves out the much more successful Gatling gun.



Page 313:
Keegan remarks that the American government effort in World War II was "financed out of revenue rather than borrowing". I don't know the true proportion, but there was certainly a lot of borrowing as well, what were the War Bond campaigns all about.



Page 319: Fire:
Keegan jumps back in time to pick up the impact of the introduction of gunpowder. He presents the accepted version of the early Chinese use of gunpowder.



Page 320: Gunpowder and Fortification:
Keegan discusses the interaction of gunpowder weapons and development of fortification in the 16th century and later, but does not mention the important contributions of fortification engineers who built defenses against the Turks.
He points out that the exact time and place of the first use of a firearm in battle is not known but that the well-known illustration of a proto-cannon in a manuscript of 1326 is proof for the existence of cannon at that date. The significance of this illustration is still disputed by experts.
He states that cannon were present on the battlefield at Agincourt.
Of this I am not convinced. While Henry V had cannon at the siege of Harfleur, it seems likely that he shipped them all by sea to Calais rather than drag them along his most difficult route of march across rivers and swamps between the two cities. It would have been better to cite Henry's extensive use of cannon in Wales as well as Normandy before and after 1415. But it is more often stated that Edward had some cannon at Crecy in 1346.



Page 322:
Keegan states about Charles VIII's victory "his artillery gave him victory in the main battle of the ensuing War of the Holy League, Fornovo..."
This is flat wrong. Cannon played no significant part in this engagement, nor was it the 'main' battle.



Page 322:
He remarks "Opposed weight engines (catapults) threw projectiles that struck only glancing blows at such walls, while torsion-machines, ..."
The opposed weight engines were called trebuchets, catapults were of two types, one employed the potential energy stored in twisted rope or springs (torsion) while the other employed the potential energy in tension of bent arms ( often called a ballista).



Page 328:
Keegan describes a crossbow as being a mechanical device with clockwork wound against a spring. No illustration I have seen fits this description. He notes the appearance of crossbows in ancient China and says they did not appear in Europe until the end of the thirteenth century AD. Apart from the fact that Greeks and Romans had very large crossbows, one must wonder at the unfortunate demise of Richard I in 1199 to a bolt fired from a non-existent weapon.
More fanciful is Keegan's generalization that "The mechanism and shape of the crossbow readily lent itself to adaptation for gunpowder use. The crossbow's stock, which was held against the shoulder and had to be strong enough to support the sudden shock of the spring's release, provided a pattern for a similar wooden shape into which a lightened cannon barrel could be laid. The crossbow's recoil, when the trigger was pulled, would have accustomed its user to the sort of blow against the shoulder a firearm threw at the moment of detonation.".
A marvelous attempt at psychology, but unfortunately based on wrong premises. The crossbow was not always held to the shoulder, but well in front, as any number of contemporary illustrations show. Moreover, the "recoil" on discharge is forward, away from the shooter, not back against the shoulder.



Page 329:
Keegan writes that Machiavelli did not specify how the infantry in his model army should be armed. Evidentally Keegan has not read Machiavelli's The Art of War, in which the number of pikemen, swordsmen and arqubusiers in a standard regiment are spelled out in detail.



Page 330:
Keegan characterizes the battles of Ravenna (1512) and Marignano (1515) as "unprecedented, rarely to be repeated and quite bizarre in nature". What about Castillon (1453)? Keegan's description of Ravenna does not agree with that of Oman and Spaulding. Nor does he mention the political aspects of Marignano and its aftermath. The American Civil War battles in the Wilderness and before Richmond were much the same kind of thing. Keegan says "it was clear that giving battle could not persist for ever along lines where one side entrenched itself and awaited attack." Perhaps not, but such a tactic is not out of the question either.



Page 331:
He continues the discussion of the mounted nobility "trapped in the ethos which accorded warrior status only to horsemen and to infantry prepared to stand and fight..." Not only "ethos" but a clear understanding of the relation between their warrior status and political power was involved.



Page 332:
He continues "If guns had to take their place on the battlefield, then let it be behind ramparts, which was where missile weapons had always belonged."
Considering the relative lack of mobility of the early cannon, the use of fortification was not due to such philosophizing. Both the Hussites and the Muscovites also placed their cannon in mobile field fortifications. As for missile weapons he totally ignores horse and foot archers.



Page 332:
Keegan makes much of the "cultural roots" of the mounted aristocrat's resistance to gunpowder weapons. "As we have seen, the Greeks of the phalanx age were the first warriors of whom we have detailed knowledge who cast aside the evasiveness of primitive warfare and confronted their like-minded enemies face- to-face.... The Romans of the early republic accepted the logic of Greek methods also, indeed probably learnt them from the Greek colonists of southern Italy. One might suppose that it was the Romans' encounter with first the Gauls, then the Teutonic peoples from beyond the Rhine, which progressively transmitted the habit of face-to-face fighting to them as well."

This is all backwards, as well as based on a false assumption about who fought face-to-face and what "primitive warfare" was all about. The Romans themselves said they learned from the Celts (Gauls). The Assyrians and Egyptians fought on occasion face-to-face. And so did the Chinese.
Keegan himself continues shortly, "However, it seems clear that the Gauls fought face-to-face before they even met the Romans... and the Germans ...were also doing so before they met the Romans..."
Why does he write this way? He makes some grandiose generalization and then has to refute in immediately. But later he will continue to base the larger premises of his theory on the original (wrong) generalization.
From this switching around about Romans and Celts, Keegan emerges with this generalization.
"A line of division between that battle tradition (the Western way of War) and the indirect, evasive and stand-off style of combat characteristic of the steppe and the near and Middle East: east of the steppe and south-east of the Black Sea, warriors continued to keep their distance from their enemies: west of the steppe and south-west of the Black Sea, warriors learned to abandon caution and to close to arm's length." "All that can be said is that if there is such a thing as the "military horizon" there is also a "face-to-face" combat frontier, and that Westerners belong by tradition on one side of it, and most other peoples on the other."
He continues "The reasons for this final abandonment of the psychology and conventions of primitivism in the West and for their persistence elsewhere baffles analysis."

No wonder it "baffles analysis" since it is not a true description of reality. This whole concept is one of the cornerstones of Keegan's grand scheme. All this is repeated from elsewhere. There is no such frontier. There are so many misconceptions intertwined into these two pages it is difficult to dissect and analyze them clearly. But he totally misses again warfare in ancient China.



Page 333:
Keegan ascribes the "warrior crisis" of the 16th century to this "face-to-face tradition.
But what was this 'crisis' anyway?

Page 337:
Keegan writes that John Guilmartin has proven that galley warfare "was an amphibious undertaking in which not only were the sea battles a variant of contemporary land battles but the campaigns themselves were normally an extension of operations on shore."
But there were quite a number of naval battles in Classical Greek and Hellenistic periods that were pure naval engagements without accompanying land battles.



Page 338:
Writing about Incas and Aztecs versus Spaniards, Keegan says, "Their ritualized style of combat also unfitted them to confront Europeans who fought to win rather than to take sacrificial captives; but in a contest of hundreds against thousands, it was their horses that gave the invaders the decisive advantage."
No doubt the horses (few as they were) generated an advantage, but no so much in house to house city fighting, firearms and personal armor plus small ships on the lake were advantages as well.

Some contemporary writers did believe the horses were critical for the Spanish, but this seems to me to be too simplistic. There were not that many horses. Some of the key battles were in cities or on causeways. The Aztecs and Incas could not bring their massive numbers to bear in one place and time. The exotic diseases (smallpox) brought by the Spanish were more decisive. The Aztecs fought in a style designed to enable them to capture prisoners, but how can this be called ritualized or not a fight to win? Besides Cortez had more Indian allies than Spaniards.



Page 341:
Keegan writes, "It is conjectured that the Macedonians drilled their phalanxes, though the simplicity of phalanx tactics makes that hard to credit."
But there are existing copies of drill manuals and references to elaborate drill in the written sources. And the drill required to execute even simple phalanx tactics was quite elaborate and precise indeed.



Page 345:
Keegan writes, "The opposed properties of these three elements of eighteenth-century armies, musketry, artillery, cavalry, thus brought about a strange equilibrium on pitched battlefields, leading to what Professor Russell Weigley has identified as a persistent indecisiveness in the succession of struggles fought by the dynastic monarchies in western Europe...."
It was not mainly due to conditions on the battlefield, but off the field in the realm of politics and economics that the equilibrium was generated. But Keegan does not want to mention the effect of political reality on warfare. It was exactly the contrast between the kind of warfare conducted by Frederick the Great and his contemporaries and the kind of warfare brought by the French Revolution and the connection between this contrast and the changed political environment that led Clausewitz to focus so much attention on war as a continuation of political struggle.
Keegan points out that battles of the period were "notable rather for the number of casualties suffered among the docile ranks of the participants than for any permanency of outcome achieved. It was exhaustion of reserves of money and manpower that brought 18th century wars to an end rather than decision by clash of arms."
Quite so, and the same might be said of World War I. But in the 18th century monarchs limited their political objectives to the means they had available and recognized the superior priority of preserving their civilian populations for development of state economic power to squandering them in battle. Moreover the political objectives of warfare were those of the absolute monarchs, not those of the people, whose opinions were not a factor.



Page 345:
Keegan continues, "In an effort to diminish the indecisiveness of their warmaking, European armies turned increasingly to the enlistment of traditional warrior peoples, hoping that their irregular methods would sharpen the offensive qualities of the liveried masses."
But Keegan continues by pointing out that their influence was nil. Actually they were hired because no one wanted to take any more citizens away from productive economic activity than absolutely necessary. It was cheaper to hire marginal types wherever they could be found. The monarchs preferred indecisive outcomes to the kind of disruptions to the state system than the French brought about.



Page 347:
Keegan writes that, "The North American colonists' war with Britain..... was the first truly political war..."
It certainly depends on what one means by political and politics. I guess Caesar, Justinian, Charlemane, Charles XII, William I and hundreds of other military leaders had no political motives.



Page 350:
Keegan writes that, "Bernadotte (who, trumping any of Alexander's generals, ended his career as king of Sweden)."
It is hard to understand just what Keegan has in mind. Several of Alexander's generals ended their careers as emperors of states vastly larger than Sweden, and the Ptolemy's ruled Egypt for centuries.



Page 351-2:
Keegan comments, "Meanwhile the urgency was to discover means that would strip musket and bayonet warfare of its besetting indecisiveness and invest confrontation on the battlefield between revolution and the ancien regime with the same dynamism by which the popular will had overthrown royal government." He goes on to say that critics were deeply impressed with the achievements of Frederick the Great. But Frederick was the master of just the kind of warfare that Keegan says was to be overthrown.
It seems Keegan mixes causes and effects in this discussion. He studiously ignores the fact that Suvorov soundly trounced revolutionary French armies with Russian regulars of the old style. He also ignores the critical relation of the changed political objectives brought to warfare on the way it was conducted and the results obtained.



Page 353:
Keegan returns to Clausewitz. He properly notes that Machiavelli had much to say on the "well regulated army" centuries earlier.
But I don't think the rulers contemporary to Machiavelli were really "genuinely confused about how best to raise reliable armies." They more likely were confused about who would be politically reliable to themselves.
Then Keegan really goes overboard. He writes, "Machiavelli had modest objectives, however, He merely sought to give practical advice to other men like himself, members of the political class of rich Renaissance city states. Clausewitz's intellectual ambitions verged on the megalomaniac.. Like his contemporary Marx, he claimed to have penetrated the inner and fundamental reality of the phenomenon he took as his subject. He did not deal in advice; he dealt in what he insisted were inescapable truths. War was the continuation of politics by other means, and any government which blinded itself to that truth doomed itself to harsh treatment at the hands of an unblinkered opponent."
Wow!!. In the first place, Machiavelli was very self conscious that he was NOT a member of the rich ruling class, although while an active civil servant he did occupy a position in the Florentine defense establishment much higher than any Clausewitz was to hold. While he did seek to give advice, he was also very self-conscious that he was a revolutionary discovering new realms on a par with Columbus. His pretensions to having written for the ages were at least as great as Clausewitz, actually greater, since he published his work while Clausewitz did not. As for states that did not follow his advice, Machiavelli showed them chapter and verse on what doom awaited them. Moreover, failure to recognize the intimate relationship between politics and war was precisely one of the faults Machiavelli also noted would bring failure.



Page 354-5:
Keegan continues his diatribe against Clausewitz, now with reference to World War I. He writes, "Since the objects of the First World War were determined in great measure by the thoughts that were Clausewitz's, in the war's aftermath he came to be regarded as the intellectual begetter of a historical catastrophe; B. H. Liddell Hart, then Britain's most influential military writer, pilloried him as "the Mahdi of Mass". Then Keegan again engaged in typical waffling, "This estimate of his influence seems exaggerated."
He rightly points out that it was the European culture in which service in the state's military forces was popular, which enabled states to create mass armies. (Although ther was a lot of involuntary conscription as well.) Moreover, at least one commentator claims that von Moltke explicitly rejected Clausewitz's advice to subordinate warfare to politics.



Page 359:
Keegan discusses universal military service and mass armies of the 20th century. He claims that never before has "such a high proportion of any population been engaged in combat."
But what about the citizen armies of Greece and Rome? What about the warrior nations such as Celts and Vandals, Huns, Tatars, and Goths? The proportion of the population engaged in combat is smaller than in many ancient periods. He retreats behind the excuse that casualty rates for periods before very modern times are not known.



Page 364:
On a very emotional page Keegan generalizes again, "Warrior peoples might have made every man a soldier, but they had taken care to fight only on terms that avoided direct or sustained conflict with the enemy, admitted disengagement and retreat as permissible and reasonable responses to determined resistance, made no fetish of hopeless courage, and took careful material measure of the utility of violence."
He tries to exclude the Greeks and Romans from this group, ignoring other warrior peoples again. But in general Keegan is correct in indicating the differences in the nature of armies at different times. But he persists in ignoring the differing political and cultural objectives behind these differences in warfare. Courage and close combat were not avoided, amazingly Keegan can simultaneously describe Victor Hanson's accounts of Greek combat.



Page 372:
Keegan ascribes Hitler's objectives to his being a "Clausewitzian". "Revolutionary weapons, the warrior ethos and the Clausewitzian philosophy of integrating military with political ends were to ensure that, under Hitler's hand, warmaking in Europe between 1939 and 1945 achieved a level of totality of which no previous leader - not Alexander, not Mohammed, not Genghis, not Napoleon - had ever dreamed."
It is hard to cope with such emotional writing. But one can certainly find plenty of examples of total war to equal Hitler's concepts. After all, he did not even put Germany on a total mobilization basis until late in WWII. And again, Clausewitz's point was that warfare was properly subordinate to politics, not integrated with it so as to preempt political considerations.



Page 381:
Keegan continues his critique of contemporary military developments and doctrines with such as the following. "Nuclear weapons preyed upon the mind of man, and the fears they aroused exposed the hollowness of the Clausewitzian analysis once and for all. How could war be an extension of politics, when the ultimate object of rational politics is to further the well-being of political entities?"
Leaving aside the dubious nature of Keegan's assertion on the purpose of politics, we should rather say, "Thank God that all those in positions of political influence with the capability to start a world war recognized that war could only be an extension of politics and that no conceivable political objective could justify the risk of nuclear war."



Page 384-5:
Keegan indulges in a political pitch for the ascendancy of the United Nations. He exhorts,"It teaches us to what afflictions war may subject us when we refuse to deny the Clausewitzian idea that war is a continuation of politics, and refuse to recognize that politics leading to war are a poisonous intoxication." " To turn away from the message Clausewitz preached,..." "The habits of he primitive - devotees themselves of restraint, diplomacy and negotiation - deserve relearning."



Page 386-392: Conclusion:
In this section Keegan sums up all his generalizations. He bases his conclusion even on the very generalizations he had been forced to modify, question, or discount in the previous chapters. He gives high marks both to primitive and to Chinese methods of warfare. He paints a remarkable picture of the "neighborliness" of civilized mankind. He again asserts that, "Culture, is, nevertheless, a prime determinant of the nature of warfare, as the history of its development in Asia clearly demonstrates." He says Oriental warfare has different traits from Western, without ever pointing out the differing political contexts in China and Europe. "Restraint in warmaking was a also a feature of the other dominant civilization of Asia, that of Islam." He repeats the previously written generalizations about Islamic warfare, which "eventually became almost as circumscribed as within Chinese civilization." He repeats the accusation that it is Western culture and civilization which is responsible for inventing a uniquely lethal kind of warfare. "The emperor Darius is a genuinely tragic figure".
He again asserts that "The ethic of the battle to the death on foot - we must say on foot for it is associated with infantry rather than cavalry fighting - then made its was from the Greek to the Roman world via the presence in southern Italy of Greek colonists. How it was transmitted, as it certainly must have been, to the Teutonic peoples with whom Rome fought its conclusive and eventually unsuccessful battles for survival has not been, and perhaps never will be reconstructed. The Teutonic invaders were, nevertheless, face-to-face warriors without doubt; but for that they would surely not have defeated Roman armies ... A peculiar achievement of the Teutonic successor kingdoms was to assimilate the face-to-face style with combat on horseback, so that the Western knight, unlike the steppe nomad, pressed home his charge against the main body of the enemy..."
There is more - but this shows how he refuses to give up concepts he himself has questioned when not to do so would have been simply too obvious.
He notes that Asian culture adhered "to a concept of military restraint that required its elites to persist in the use and monopoly of traditional weapons, .... and that this persistence was a perfectly rational form of arms control."
I would rather point out that Oriental despotisms disarmed their populations as a means of excluding them from any political influence and were generally successful in perfecting absolutist control over the entire region of their cultural boundary - Japan or China.
He continues, "The Western world, by forsaking arms control, embarked on a different course, which resulted in the form of warfare that Clausewitz said was war itself; a continuation of politics, which he saw as intellectual and ideological, by means of combat, which he took to be face-to-face, with the instruments of the Western technological revolution, which he took for granted."
Here he purposely mixes Clausewitz concept of ideal versus real war with the idea of war being related to politics to assert that Clausewitz believed ideal war was the political objective. Actually Clausewitz believed that ideal war was not even possible in the real world.
He continues, "Politics must continue; war cannot." A clear summary of the emotional position which generated this entire book. The culmination of Keegan's offensive is reached in the final paragraphs.
"That is not to say that the role of the warrior is over. The world community needs, more than it has ever done, skilful and disciplined warriors who are ready to put themselves at the service of its authority. Such warriors must properly be seen as the protectors of civilization, not its enemies. The style in which they fight for civilization - against ethnic bigots, regional warlords, ideological intransigents, common pillagers and organized international criminals - cannot derive from the Western model of warmaking alone. Future peace keepers and peacemakers have much to learn from alternative military cultures, not only that of the Orient but of the primitive world also.... There is an even greater wisdom in the denial that politics and war belong within the same continuum..."
In other words Keegan would have a world authority institute an Oriental style despotism by disarming all the civilians outside its exclusive "warrior" police force. This force would wage its war on all manner of political incorrectness in the name of civilization. Plato considered something of this sort to be an ideal for a small, homogenous city. Lenin has something of the sort in mind on a world scale in "State and Revolution". We may be thankful that Keegan's vision will also founder on the intractable human desire for individual freedom.

Springfield VA
May, 1994