Book Reviews

War’s New Paradigm

Posted By April 5, 2008 No Comments

Over 18 years ago, the Israeli strategist and military historian Martin van Crevald opined in The Transformation of War that ‘Trinitarian War’ — wars waged by nation states against other nation states – was going to be become rare and that most wars would be waged by ‘Non-Trinitarian’ actors – a government, a people, or even a force (such as a guerrilla army fueled by narcotics) operating alone. Like most simple – but accurate – ideas, Crevald’s book was largely ignored. Now, General Rupert Smith of the British Army comments on recent history where van Crevald laid out a prediction.

The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World (Random House, New York, 2007) is a more ambitious thesis on the migration from interstate industrial wars to what the author calls ‘war among the people’. Given the sort of conflicts being waged these days, this isn’t a bad descriptor. General Smith’s problem is that, being an officer in a force designed for interstate industrial conflict, that armed forces as an institution aren’t that well adapted for today’s types of conflict; but that the utility of military force is far from over. This is hardly an original conclusion nowadays, but Rupert does guide his reader through to his conclusions like a hybrid academic and general staff officer would; irrefutably with every argument nailed down.