A major nation’s use of power is always an interesting topic, and seems especially relevant in this day and age. That’s why I found the book The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power fascinating. The book begins with the wars against the Barbary pirates in 1801 and continues through the 1990s (it’s copyright 2002), with special emphasis on China, the Caribbean, and Vietnam. It’s written by Max Boot, who is listed as an author, consultant, editorialist, lecturer, and military historian. His advocacy for American power comes through in the last chapter, “In Defense of the Pax Americana: Small Wars in the Twenty-First Century.” If you would like to know what he thinks of more recent events, he has a website: http://www.maxboot.net/. The book currently being advertised on his site is Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present, which sounds fascinating in its own right.
Savage Wars gave me a new perspective. As a Latin American Studies major in college, I’ve often thought our interventions south of the border did more harm than good, but it’s not that simple. Dccisions have to be viewed in the context of the times, and frequently the keys are using the right amount of force and knowing when to pull out. Too often, we’ve gotten both wrong. And by the way, going to war with out a declaration is nothing new.