This book will open your eyes to how hollow the armies of the West have become.
Renowned Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld captured perfectly why Western armed forces, especially those of the US, have consistently failed to beat non-Western opponents since 1953: Western society itself has become too risk-averse and rule-bound for its own good, and this thinking now dominates their armed forces. In vivid detail, van Creveld illustrates not only the policy failures that harm the West’s militaries, but the societal failures as well, showing just how thorough the rot is. It makes for sobering but necessary reading if you want to understand why Western armies rarely win anymore. It’s a short read, too, so it won’t take up much time.
Van Creveld finds that not only is the rot deep, it begins in the home. After an introduction where he summarizes the challenge facing Western armed forces, he lays out in detail how restricted the West’s children are. It is beautiful how he lays out all the restrictions put on kids in the name of safety and self-esteem; it shows the reader just how many rules there are for everything, far beyond the usual political correctness. The effect of all of this, he states, is to create adults who cannot handle challenge or failure and do not take risks; the period of “adolescence” is made longer and longer. A society that delays adulthood leads to a risk-averse army — a bad thing, since war is the riskiest business there is.
Creveld then moves on to the harm done by overly restrictive regulations, the extreme difficulty of integrating women, the expectation of PTSD, and a culture that denounces war as the worst possible thing that could happen to a society. Each and every chapter is written with great detail and is backed up by numerous sources. Still, they are easy to read and understand, and he points out just how ridiculous Western armed forces have become. Van Creveld lays all of it bare and shoves your face in the sheer decadence of the modern military.
Whether military or civilian, I cannot recommend this book enough. It will help you understand how corrupted Western armies have become behind their shiny facades — and show that a total cultural shift is the only thing that will truly revitalize the Western way of war.