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Porter's War and the Rise of the State
Weigley's The American Way of War
Porter's book is about the development of war and the modern state. In it, he defines four paradoxes:
a. The Paradox of Organized Destruction. While the front line of any war is chaotic and entropic, the mobilization to support that front line forces a high degree or order.
b. The Paradox of Defending Democracy by Endangering It. The growth of a military force to fight a war to defend a democracy creates the possibility that the same military force will be used to subvert the government.
c. The Paradox of Reform by War. Under wartime conditions, everyone's contributions are necessary, and under these conditions workers can demand more say in government, higher wages, etc.
d. The American Paradox of Chickenhawks and Angry Doves. Conservatives strongly support the military and military postures, but they fear use of the military because its use opens the door for liberal reforms while liberals who eschew military spending, rally round the flag after shots are fired.
This book is about what war causes: the modern state. By maintaining a monopoly on force, central governments, of whatever beliefs, are able to control the state and hold power. That state, having been created to withstands wars, has to be equipped to handle their effects including devastation, debts, and deaths. Only a strong central government, with an effective bureaucracy and taxing mechanisms can do this. Thus, to study the development of the modern state, one must study the development of modern warfare.
The book also presents several Sub-theses
a. War Begins State Formation. The modern state emerged as a means of supporting new technologies in medieval warfare.
b. War Develops States. The variations and stages of development of modern state are intimately linked to those of their armies, meaning that a change in military methods changes the form of the state.
c. War Empowers States. During an armed conflict, the state tends to increase and centralize its power and its ability to instill Hobbesian "fear and respect" among citizens and neighbors.
It also proposes four effects for war proposed:
a. The formative and organizing effects of war. This refers to the tendency of a war to strengthen a nation, bring out its best leaders, cause a rationalized bureaucracy to emerge.
b. The disintegrative effects of war. War can also unleash forces to destroy a nation such as revolution, territorial defeat, damage, destruction, etc.
c. The reformative effects of war. War unmasks defects in the political system leading to the throwing out of the least effective elements of that system.
d. The military origins of nationalism. When a state is seen as the embodiment of the nation, the population will rally to it in times of emergency, meaning, especially, wars.
It also cites three famous opionions on war:
a. Smith is credited for the notion that a powerful government and military, while not important in the economic development of the country, are essential to the defense of that country's economic well-being.
b. McNeill states that a good army was essential in seventeen-century Europe as it allowed the country to economically flourish by keeping the peace within the country's borders.
c. Weber finds that the discipline of the military creates discipline in society so that a well-run factory has a military-style discipline.
The majority of the book develops these themes. In the medieval period, the outlook of most people, including even kings, was local whereas ours is national. The loyalty of a person in the Middle Ages, and obedience, went only to the person to whom that person owed allegiance. There was no abstract idea of a "state," a "nation," or even a language. Warfare was fought on a small, personal level. There were, then, two paths to development
Some nations followed the Continental Path. After a protracted struggle, the power of the nobles was broken by the monarchy, often in temporary alliance with city people. During the process of humbling the nobility, the crown developed new military technologies and structures that remained a royal monopoly on force after the process ended, and these forces were soon used against foreign enemies. To fund the new, modern army, the crown levied new taxes and created a bureaucracy to insure their collection. The state then, invigorated, engaged in new wars, which required new taxes and stimulated new breakthroughs in technology, forcing more bureaucracy and more efficient methods of collection.
The Constitutional Path, pursued by England, differed in some respects from that of the Continental Powers. Since England was more protected by its location, the competition (except in naval matters) was somewhat less intense. After the Crown liquidated most of the nobility in the War of the Roses, it entered into an alliance with an emerging middle class, yielding more power than did the continental powers to the commoners. The emergence of a navy, a state monopoly, again, shows the growing reliance of the monarchy on the middle class, not the nobility. The emerging state, then, was not as strong as that of the continental states and more dependent on the commoners.
The Swiss Coalition Path, differed from the others because it created a decentralized democracy. The Swiss "state" did not emerge and local units were not submerged but formed together to create an assembly much like the "estates general of France," but having no sovereign with whom to compete. The former nobles of the area withered away, rather than being destroyed. The presence of external enemies, the Austrians, French, etc. provided the impetus for military advances while mandatory military service provided a form of internal cohesion.
The "iron triangle" that Porter supposes is composed of capital, arms, and bureaucracy. Warfare drives the forces within the triangle. Changing military technology requires increased revenue (capital) to fund these advances. In order to get the needed money, administrative reforms lead to a new bureaucracy. The new bureaucracy has a higher capacity to obtain revenue and to run the military complex. This, in turn, creates a better military, leading to more warfare and new advances in military technology.
A major argument in this chapter is that in the Age of Power a triad of historical forces had a profound, but variable effect on the formation of the modern state. In two paragraphs, identify the major elements of this argument. The military revolution. This refers to more effective guns, better training and tactics, growth in size of armies. This greatly increased the effectiveness of armies, but at the same time increased their cost. This made the competing states resort to new measures in order to raise the funds necessary to keep these armies in the field.
The ideological conflict and Hapsburg Wars gave employment to these new armies. The Hapsburgs threatened to take over Europe, and, in response, all of the non-Hapsburg countries opposed them. The ideological conflict put a new sense of fervor into warfare. The fact that the Hapburgs were Catholic and most of their opponents Protestant made the ideological and dynastic struggles mutually reinforcing.
England was somewhat insulated from all these forces by its geography. This insularity, however, depended on the presence of a strong navy to prevent invasion. Thus, though England's military spending lagged behind its rivals, a far higher portion was devoted to naval expenditures, and, at key moments, the English were able, time and again, as in the Armada Battle, to rout naval rivals. England, moreover, remained in the forefront of naval technology and tactics. The ideological conflict, however, did result in the English Civil War, in which outside forces couldn't intervene, which eventually spend itself without anywhere near the destruction of the Thirty Years War. England's state, then, grew in power more slowly than that of its rivals on the Continent.
The state, as defined by Porter is an entity able to compel obedience from its citizens by force and respect from its enemies by the same means. In order to support the force necessary to achieve these ends, a relatively efficient, professional bureaucracy is needed to track the population and to take their taxes. An efficient army serves this state. A state, as in the case of Austria-Hungary or Switzerland need not encompass only a single nation or all of a nation. The states that are examined in this chapter often developed before a sense of nationalism.
Nationalism, in contrast, is the idea that a group of people share a common destiny. This sense of nationalism is often supported by a shared language, a common heritage (even if mythical), and shared experiences. Participation in wars against outsiders tends to increase these feelings of nationalism as there is a sense that "our people" are dying. In Europe, in general, the course of the last two hundred years has led to the formations of states that are nations and nations that are states.
The English experience is different in several respect. Due to England's relative isolation, its people developed a sense of nationalism prior to state formation. Further, the pressure of external enemies was noticeably weaker than that experienced by France or Spain. As a result, the military apparatus, and the state bureaucracy, grew more slowly. England's state arose only after its citizens had received certain guarantees of rights (the "rights of Englishmen") that the nation of England upholds against any claims by the state of Great Britain.
According to Porter, the "collectivist state" is not a result of industrialization, but of World Wars. In four paragraphs show (1) the reason he initially examines the industrial period from 1815 to 1914; and how the world wars affected the rise of (2) the regulatory state, (3) the mass state, and (4) the welfare state.
Porter looks at the relatively peaceful period from 1815 to 1914 precisely because the mass state, in his view, did not occur as a result of the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution occurred in those countries that were the less warlike and in which government involvement was at a lower level, England and the United States. While France and Germany deliberately forced their own industries to become competitive, however, out of a sense that they would not be able to compete militarily with their advancing rivals, the general upsurge of the Industrial Revolution was a weakening of state power. The dynastic states of Germany, France, and England, after all, had been formed to harness the potential of agricultural societies, not industrial giants.
The "regulatory state" arose to satisfy the needs of the powers fighting World War I and preparing for World War II. The scope of the new technology of warfare created new capabilities for national armament that only a new cycle of governmental growth could harness. The warring powers resorted to regulation, price controls, subsidies, and massive direction of their own economies. In other words, regulation and new bureaucracies were the governments' ways of harnessing the industrial revolution for use in war time.
The "mass state" was the warring powers means of harnessing nationalism for state purposes. Growth in population and communication enabled France, Britain, and Germany to put a much higher percentage of the male population onto the battlefield and the entire population into wartime service. The resulting effect was a melding of the populations so that egalitarian values and beliefs arose. State governments used the population to fight their wars as it gave them the vote and a new voice to encourage their "buying in" to the war effort.
The "welfare state" was the apparatus used to take care of the population. This population was needed to fuel and feed the war machine. In a kind of "social contract," in return for serving and fighting, the citizen received certain guarantees to his and the state's social advantage. His children would be born, given a free education, health care, etc. In return they would fight, serve, and pay their taxes, to the greater glory of their nation. The citizen was taken care of in peace as he "took care" of his nation in war.
The totalitarian path of state formation followed the general path of other nations but differed in some respects. First, an industrial war generates centralizing pressures. Military defeat causes the collapse of traditional regimes and weakens civil society. In the chaos, a well-organized mass party seizes the bureaucracy and organs of state. The mass party distracts and destroys internal opposition by going to war or mobilizing for war.
Nazi Germany arose with the expressed aim of avenging the defeats of World War I. Hitler, and others of its leaders, shared a common experience in fighting in World War I in which poor leadership and betrayal were considered the reasons for defeat. Even before coming to power, Hitler created a number of organizations devoted to military and pseudo-military pursuits such as the S.A. Once in power, Hitler began a massive military build-up and a bureaucratic build-up as well. Even hatred of the Jews took on a military character as the S.S., not the police, were charged with rounding up these "enemies of the people." If Nazism can be said to have an ideology, it was military glory.
Soviet Russia also conceived of itself as being involved in a war, only a class war. Conveniently for Stalin, the same classes existed in other countries, justifying invasions, mobilizations, etc. When the Soviet Union couldn't afford to fight external enemies, Stalin invented internal "enemies of the people." State economic plans functioned as substitutes for military campaigns. Even Stalin's liquidation of his own military can be seen as a means of subjugating them in favor of more pliant soldiers, his party "cadres."
The totalitarian states warps each of the three state developments outlined earlier. First, the regulatory state became a hyper-regulatory state. In the case of the Soviet Union, the state essentially took over the entire economy. Whereas even the democratic states came close to doing the same thing during World War II, the Soviet insistence on a "permanent class war," made this state of affairs permanent. In some ways, the Soviets were successful, but as a long term basis for organizing the economy, state planning could not match the human imagination. Hitler, in a similar zeal for regulation, quickly stamped out small businesses and combined the largest industries into associations his bureaucrats could manage.
The totalitarian states took the idea of "direct democracy" and distorted it into mass manipulation. Whereas World War I resulted in the British, French, and others receiving the vote and in true popular parties, Nazi Germany's and Soviet Russia's elections soon became farces. Not voting in the Soviet Union became the only true means of expressing dissatisfaction as the Communist Party picked the candidates, and a dangerous choice. Both regimes resorted to publishing election figures of questionable utility except as propaganda.
The totalitarian states warped the idea of "the welfare state" into that of the barracks welfare state. In the welfare state, the citizens' contributions to the states war efforts were compensated by being cared for. In the Nazi and Soviet regimes, the welfare only mattered if it contributed to the state's demands. Real wages were sacrificed in order to keep the war machine rolling. In sum, the totalitarian states forced all of the demands of war on the citizenry with none of the compensations.
The US was isolated from these developments via four factors. Geographical isolation from potential enemies, made America the ultimate "island state."The Tudor origins of its political institutions strengthened citizens rights at the expense of governmental claims. There was a lack of a sense of "nationhood" due to the separate origin of its colonies. The disparate origins of its population discouraged feelings of a "common destiny." The Revolutionary War helped to form the American state through the creation of a national army (the Continental Army) composed of elements from different colonies forged a sense of common identity, high percentage of the population who participated in the war created a common bond; ensuing national debt bound the colonists together in anticipation of a common future.
The Constitution of 1787 is a result of military or security concerns.The preamble specifically cited one of the Constitutions aims as to "insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense," an answer to Shay's Rebellion and British encroachments on the frontier.
The Constitution gave Congress, not the states, the right to declare war. The Constitution gave the President the right to "call out the troops," as Washington did in the Whiskey Rebellion.
The Civil War strengthened military power. The national government became a major purchaser of goods, including arms and food needed to fight its war. The Federal government levied the first income tax. This, along with a number of other taxes, marked a permanent shift from external sources of taxation (the tariff) to internal sources. A national banking system arose to finance the war and effectively made "faith in the government" the only backing for the currency. The Federal government created a slew of new agencies and entities. These included the National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Agriculture, and the land grant colleges. This marked a major expansion of the government's responsibilities.
The most important effects on American society of World War I. The Income tax, passed again, becoming a permanent feature of American life. The Federal Bureaucracy more than doubled. The Presidents' powers over the Federal bureaucracy (at the expense of Congress) grew through the Overman Act. A number of reform acts were passed, including woman's suffrage, in part as rewards for the hard work of winning that war.
Four of the most important transforming effects of World War II. The bureaucracy of the American government again grew. A large number of new bureaus and agencies were created. Massive numbers of women and minorities entered the work force, and though many quit after the war, became a permanent presence in the work force. Wartime paternalism by the government set the precedent for the social welfare system launched in the fifties to "take care" of veterans.
Porter believes that post Cold War America will suffer from political turmoil and indecisiveness. The presence of an enemy serves to "rally" the population around its government. The long "Cold War," with its requirements of sacrifice and watching out for the "enemy," had the effect of keeping America on a semi-permanent war footing. With the end of that potential threat, groups will return to arguing about other issues.
I think that Porter is somewhat confused here. The Cold War was, in and of itself, controversial. The "front line soldiers" were perceived as specialists, "professionals," not every day people. The extent of that threat, further, was often debated and debatable. The only true "hot wars," Korea and Vietnam, hardly showed the nation "pulling together" but drifting. If Americans are quarreling and disputing, I would suggest that this may just as likely result from a natural American tendency to dispute as from the end of the Cold War.
Keegan's first interlude forms a bridge between his initial introduction, which shows the social origins of warfare and the second showing warfare at its most limited form, the Stone Age, by showing the natural limitations on war. To put it simply, a lot of the earth is either not worth fighting for or doesn't provide a convenient battlefield. Further, a glance at the areas most contested shows the tendency of the "have-nots" to attack the "haves," usually agricultural people. This follows upon Keegan's initial chapter that shows that "war" is not universally, but culturally defined, and one factor that influences culture is the environment. The cultures of some areas do not produce enough of a surplus for warfare to be much more than a game or have no land worth taking. This leads into his subject of the next chapter: why men fight and Stone Age warfare. The evidence he shows indicates that Stone Age warfare is relatively limited in scope and often as much ceremonial as serious. It's interesting to note that the most advanced Stone Age culture he mentions, the Aztecs, while they fought "flower wars," also engaged in genuine conquests of their neighbors. The areas in which they fought allow such battles and, further, the areas that they conquered generally justified the effort.
The second, interlude, on "Fortifications," bridges the chapters on the beginnings of warfare and the great aggressive drives of the horsemen and charioteers of the next chapter. Fortifications are a natural extension of the building up of large groups of fighting men described in the previous chapter and a counter to the aggression of the peoples described in the latter. Fortifications show two things about a community: a sense of unity and a sense that it has something to lose. In the pre-gunpowder age, these forts always gave the advantage to the defender against the attacker, a good reason for surprise attacks. Though fortified strongholds are as old as Jericho, their importance arose in response to the incursions of armed, predatory horsemen. In an era of under-armed infantry, well-maintained fortresses were relatively unbeatable. In the face of the incursions of the Huns, Turks, and Mongols, however, a Eurasia that was only lightly guarded at the boundaries with the steppe became dotted with fortresses, castles, and fortifications. Thus fortifications symbolize the intensifying of warfare and a response to incursions outlined in the next chapter.
The third interlude, "Armies," bridges the chapters between the horsemen and that of Iron Age. This chapter concerns, primarily, the ways in which armies are recruited and maintained. Keegan explains six different forms of armies, differentiated by their methods of recruitment and payment: warriors, mercenaries, slaves, regulars, conscripts, and militias. The "armies" of the horse peoples was the whole society, and what they stole was their payment. One response to these horse-effected onslaughts was the exploration of other means of maintaining troops. Mercenaries are, in effect, disposable private armies, but, as foreigners, are often tempted to switch sides or plunder their employers. Slaves, like the Malmelukes, can make effective soldiers only if their motivation or place in society is secured. Both conscripts and militias are semi-professional soldiers, the latter volunteers and the former draftees. The disadvantage of both is that their part-time status does not allow them to devote time to master complex military technologies. A regular army has none of these disadvantages, but must be regularly paid and trained. The use of iron, a widely available metal, made it possible for a larger percentage of the population to join the army as weapons became cheaper. The Greeks attempted to solve the payment problem by making their citizens supply their own arms and linking military services to a privileged position in society; the Romans gradually professionalized the army. The iron revolution, then, allowed the more settled societies to wage a more intense kind of warfare and the creation of more dependable armies.
The fourth interlude, "Logistics" bridges Keegan's chapter about the "iron age" and "fire." Logistics is what restrains an army from unlimited warfare. The troops have to make it to battle, and, once there, can only move as fast as their feet, horses, or machines will move them and only so far as their calories will take them. In the previous chapter, iron weapons the kind of "in your face tactics" exemplified by the Green phalanx and the Crusader armored charge. Iron's ability to hold a cutting edge allowed its users to "go for the kill." What restrained these armies was the weight of their materials and the supply problems of keeping them in the field. The modern armies of the fifth chapter, with guns and artillery, though they have advanced technology to help them with logistical problems, find that the same technology compounds the problem as it requires bringing more to the field. Napoleon's soldiers could not fire in a battle as many rounds as an American solider with an M-1 can fire in a minute. Thus, while technology enables the modern warfare to be more effective, it renders the supply issue ever more critical. Thus Keegan attributes the American victory in World War II over the Axis powers to its greater industrial capacity and ability to solve supply issues.
The interludes all serve to show "limiting factors" involved in the pursuit of war, and the list is historical, each factor having less of an effect over time. The regular chapters show an orderly progression from primitive warfare with its limited means and motives to modern warfare with its apocalyptic possibilities. The first interlude shows natural factors that limit warfare, especially climate. These limitations are, in fact, being overcome as a list of some of the more recent battlefields in this century would show: the Peruvian Amazon, the Atacama desert, the Himalayas, the jungles of Borneo. The second factor limiting warfare is the use of defensive positions and fortifications. The Gunpowder Revolution rendered fortifications increasingly worth less as the examples of Dien Bien Phu, the Maginot Line, and the Iraqi defensive line in Kuwait show. The third limitation listed was that of actually funding the armed forces. Most states now have a professional army, but they continue to encounter problems, as in Chechnya, of fielding fully-trained mobilized forces. The final factor limiting warfare, that of logistics, is also the most difficult to overcome. The more potent the weapon, the more difficult the logistics to maintain it. The interludes, then, show the major factors limiting war.
The second section of the book, "Young America as a Military Power," shows a change in perspective from that of "limited warfare" to that of all-destructive total war. The early age of Winfield Scott showed an America responding to the influence of its European origins, and especially European strategy of the eighteenth century, with its emphasis on smart maneuvers and limited battles. In a sense, this was all an academic exercise anyway as the United States, thanks in part to British enforcement of the Monroe Doctrine, had no enemies of equal stature and, in the event of a full-scale European attack would've again resorted to the strategy of attrition. The Civil War, however, decisively changed the strategic considerations. In battle, the generals could try out their textbook concepts. Generally, they proved wanting because the American people, after the long experience of the Indian Wars, couldn't see a war without expecting a clear winner and tended to load conflicts with a psychological, moral significance alien to eighteenth century rationalism. Robert E. Lee, then, appears as a transition figure, a would-be Napoleon in a post-Napoleonic world, trying to win the decisive battle. Lee's army, and cause, however, succumbed to the more American tradition of annihilation. Grant set his aims at nothing more pretentious than hounding the Southern armies until they couldn't fight any more. The second phase, then, ends with America as a formidable power, steeled by war, and prepared to use force, when called upon, to exterminate the enemy.
The third second of the book, "Introduction to World Power," explains the transitional stage between lack of concern with the outside world and the globalism caused by World War II. In this transitional period, the United States balanced its newfound interest in global affairs with the realistic curbs to its ambitions caused by its relative isolation from events. Whereas before the distance between the New World and old was considered something of an asset in protecting the U.S., now that same distance came to regarded as a liability. The example of the First World War showed the capabilities of the new American power while revealing some of the weaknesses of contemporary strategic views. In its aftermath, the U.S., at the instigation of Billy Mitchell, became more interested the capabilities of strategic air power. The navy preoccupation, during this same period, dwelt with the Pacific and possible warfare with Japan. Numerous exercises showed the relative vulnerability of American Pacific interests as well pointing out the necessity of pursuing counter-measures against Japan. This led to investigations into amphibious landings, aircraft carriers, and air force modernization. Whereas the United States entered this period as a new power, really uncertain how to flex its new muscle, it ended this period with a clear perspective as to its own abilities and the place that, by necessity, it would play in any upcoming global struggle.
The fourth section of the book, "American Strategy in Global Triumph," deals with the particular problems confronted in winning a two-ocean world war. Weigley differentiates between two approaches taken, the Mahan approach of using sea power to defeat an enemy, used against Japan, and that of destroying an enemy's armies, the Grant tradition, used against Germany. The Pacific was essentially the Navy war, and Mahan's insistence on destroying the enemy's fleet and then using sea power to starve and hammer it into submission proved an appropriate strategy for strangling Japan, which depended on trade to survive. Japanese planner's hope that the U.S. would not commit so much force to Asia actually mirrored American battle plans, but early naval successes and higher troop levels, allowed the U.S. to go on the offensive much sooner. In Europe, Eisenhower's plans to get into France as soon as possible to hammer away at the German's were hampered by Britain's hesitancy to commits its more limited resources. The eventual American landing led, in American tradition, to annihilation of the enemy.
The fifth section of the book, "American Strategy in Perplexity" deals with strategy in the Atomic Age up until 1973 and, in many ways, the "maturing" of U.S. strategy. Whereas in the past, American wars always tended to seek destruction of the enemy, the atomic bomb gave a different meaning to the term "destruction." As the first developers of the bomb, Americans initially felt relatively safe, despite the beating that their allies had taken during World War II, as they could simply destroy any potential enemy. The Korean War shattered this image of complacency. Neither the public nor the military wished to drop an atom bomb on North Korea or China, forcing America into a group and air war. As the war dragged on, it was clear that an American style "total victory" could not occur as long as the Communist powers continued to supply North Korea. The Vietnam War reinforced the same lesson along with showing the weaknesses of many of America's conventional weapons. Correspondingly, there was a broadening of persons involved in strategic questions to include scientists, social scientists, etc. along with military leaders. The fifties and sixties then marked an evolution from the doctrine of "Nuke them into the Stone Age" to flexible response, a strategy of many options, not all of them military, to meet an international crisis. Despite the death of the Soviet Union since this book was written, this concept has survived.
The book as a whole, then, shows an evolution of American strategy from a simple, even simplistic set of concepts, to a supple set of ideas more suitable for the world's remaining super power. At the time of the Revolution, "strategy" as such involved the use of force as a means of survival. Unlike the European powers of the time, whose balance with their enemies had discouraged wars of annihilation, America's imbalance of force with European nations, its inferiority, and American enemies, fostered a belief in total victory. Due to American concepts about the superiority of its institutions, this belief in total victory took on a kind of moral force so that the American Revolution became a war about "liberty," the War of 1812 about "impressment," and, the Civil War, about slavery. Force became the instrument through which strategy was achieved. As America became a world power, its power increased but basic concepts did not alter. Characteristically, it took a long list of German "atrocities" for America to get involved in World War I and a Japanese bombing to get involved in World War II, and in both wars the objective was to annihilate the enemy. The experiences of Vietnam and Korea, however, and the capabilities of the Atomic bomb, brought about supple ideas about strategy. The idea of mutually assured destruction, for example, was the idea of not using force precisely because it would cause annihilation. America thus ends Weigley's book, in the mid seventies, with strategic ideas that involve a variety of different means of coping with international problems. In this sense then, Weigley's book show the maturing of American strategy.Links to other sites on the Web: Back to the Academic Page