As previously mentioned, my friend Theo has the awesome job title of Professor of War in the Modern World at a smarty-pants university in London. I forwarded many of your questions to Professor Theo and he wasted no time answering them, though it could be argued that he did waste time by answering them.
All questions should be read with a thick Texan drawl while all answers should be read in a posh Dublin accent.
Answers do not necessarily reflect management opinion, though quite possibly do.
Given that “protecting the American way of life” is the strategic imperative of modern US military decision-making, and that history has shown what people do in their own countries really doesn’t matter much – would it not be more prudent to nuke Florida or Kentucky before they turn on us? In my estimation this course of action would put human evolution in this country back on track, thus ensuring a sustainable continuation of American values. At the very least Canada should be put on the watch list, right?
Nuking Florida would reduce the United States to only one Disney complex, and this would result in strategic parity with the French.
If you were in charge of the military presence in Iraq, what would you do?
Assuming you mean US military forces in Iraq – pull out. I’ve argued on my blog Virtually Theo that the Brits should do this – not because I think we should dump our US allies in it, but because (1) we ought to focus our efforts on Afghanistan and (2) defeat in Iraq is certain. The only questions are: when will the US admit defeat and what will it look like? Point 2 gives sufficient reason for the US to get its ass out of Iraq.
What’s the biggest threat to the biggest threat facing the United States?
If the U.S. had never invaded Iraq (only Afghanistan), and so had available the resources and manpower, would it have been worthwhile/viable and/or made “sense” from a U.S. (or global) national security perspective to have invaded North Korea to stop their nuclear weapons program? I’m not an advocate of invading countries generally (indeed I’m opposed to it except perhaps where there are human rights atrocities involved), but it just seems that North Korea is/was the bigger threat. I’m just curious whether invasion, as opposed to diplomacy or sanctions or other options, would have been a smart/viable/realistic political option in North Korea, or whether it would have been as big, or even bigger, of a disaster as Iraq.
Invading North Korea would be insane, indeed inane. No point. The country is on the verge of collapse. Unlike Iran, it does not have the technological-industrial base to develop a sizeable nuclear arsenal. On the other hand, it already has the capability to take chunks out of Seoul with conventional artillery. Much better to sit, watch and wait to go in with humanitarian aid.
I hear the comparison made between Iraq and Vietnam, and I think that it’s completely simplistic and not accurate. Is there another war you’d suggest this smacks of?
Iraq is Vietnam, only they are spelt differently and located in different parts of the Risk board. Both are wars that the US was bound to lose from the start. And predictably so. GWB = dumber version of LBJ. Pray for a Nixon to appear on the scene. At least he had the smarts to give up and go home, though it did take him five years and many thousands of additional US war dead!
Brian’s friend Glenn Beck constantly preaches that we are in the beginning of World War III and that our appeasement of Iran is our “Chamberlain moment” do you think that’s a bunch of ludicrous nonsense?
Yes. Chamberlain gets a bum rap from amateur historians who still buy that tosh about him failing to stand up to Hilter. Historians now recognise that appeasement was a clever grand strategy for Britain to pursue, in order to hold a rising Germany and Japan at bay while it raced to build up its armed forces. The myth of Munich is most down to Churchill’s self-serving and hugely influential history of WWII.
Couldn’t we just leave the Middle East altogether and let them work it out for themselves? And what is the strategic basis for our continuing support of Israel anyway? P.S. Love the job title.
Middle East = oil. Thought that was pretty obvious.
Israel = American Israel Public Affairs Committee [Wikipedia entry]. Though, perhaps less obvious is the influence of the American Christian Right in supporting Israel’s cause inside the Beltway.
What would Caesar do?
Who would make a better wartime Commander-in-Chief: Jack Bauer or Daniel Craig’s James Bond?
Bond: anytime, anyplace. Totally the best ending to a Bond movie. Dare I say it, Craig might even be better than Connery.
When people in warring countries pray for victory over their enemies, who does God listen to and how does he decide who is the enemy and who is the good guy?
International law used to be based on the laws of god. From ancient Greece up to early modern times, Western civilization built up centuries of natural law jurisprudence based on god’s justice. Thus one could wage ‘Just War’ against non-believers cause, well, they were clearly the wrong-doers in the eyes of god. However, this centuries old Just War tradition ran into trouble when it was deployed by opposing sides in the intra-faith religious wars of early modern Europe. The result was the gradual development of a secular law of nations that removed god from the normative order and ascribed guilt to the side that struck first. This provided the foundation for modern international law which codifies this basic norm. So, in sum, the law does not recognise god’s role in international relations. He’s been laid off.
If war is so destructive, what is its evolutionary purpose? You could argue that wars weren’t really that destructive until relatively recently in history. Yes, a Spartan invasion was bad news, but they had to keep enough farmers alive to tend the fields. Perhaps modern warfare can kill people on a scale that we don’t exactly comprehend. Regardless, the question remains: why is war such a common, pervasive feature of human societies?
Excellent question. I recommend you read Azar Gat’s new book, War in Human Civilization. It’s over 800 pages long so beforehand you’d better sell your TV, or least put it into deep storage.
With China’s continued military build-up both physically and economically, what is their end game and over what sort of time frame?
Haven’t a clue. Go ask a China specialist. When they start a war, then come back to me.
Now that Iraq is a stable democracy (except for the daily suicide bombings, kidnappings and general lack of order), who replaces them in the axis of evil? I mean, can it still be a “axis” if there are only two countries on the roster?
The whole ‘axis of evil’ thing was revived by Condi Rice as NSA in 2002 to make it look like the US wasn’t picking on Iraq – which, of course, was precisely what the United States was planning to do. See Bob Woodward’s Plan of Attack on this.
What’s more likely to protect a border? A) Building a 2000-mile wall or B) Changing the hearts and minds of malcontents. Just wondering. Neither option seems… peaceful.
China favoured the wall thing. The French also tried it. But the Germans had tanks. The Mongols didn’t.
Taking today’s massive population into consideration, are humans today more directly affected by war than they have ever been in history? My theory: We’ve got it pretty good!
Depends where you are. Africans have it pretty tough: Sierra Leone, Liberia, Somalia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Congo (which is Africa’s ‘world war’). North Americans have it easy enough, except for those, and the families of those, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ditto the British and Canadians. But for most North Americans and Europeans, war is a distant reality. Hence some argue that the liberal democratic peace is actually founded on affluence.
It appears that certain countries (for example: China; India; and Pakistan) are positioning themselves to create a competing, yet multi-polar, military hegemony in their respective regions. If so, will this be a stabilizing or destabilizing force in the region for the foreseeable future? What about the Middle East and the competing
forces presently there?
Serious question. But sorry – it’s almost midnight here and my head hurts.
War, good God y’all, hunh, what is it good for?
Er…cool job titles?
Thanks for doing that, both of youse.
This is an awesome entry. I never knew such a position existed until you talked about it. What a f-ing awesome title to have. And when you described your friend, I never imagined him to be so young and hot. hahaah.
I notice, Theo, that you neatly side-stepped my vital question in relation to Risk. That said, I’m prepared to let it slide as it has awakened my heretofor ember-like love for RISK. I’ve managed to find an online game that uses the old board and rules and am rushing to world domination over and over. Yes! More than once a night … I don’t even have to take a cold shower or stick on a war movie to get me back in the mood.
Sometimes it is so depressing to be from the US. I didn’t vote for him but many of my friends and family did. Sad to say it was so obvious to some of us. And then we did it again??? :o(
Cool post. I almost regret asking a completely inane question.
Just wanted to second the “cool post” comments, as well as Jen da Purse Ho’s keen observation that Dr. Farrell is a hottie. Thanks and mwrowr.
Theo: Hottie? You’ve got to add that to your career synopsis in the University, on your website and in your books…think about it: “Theo Farrell, War blah blah and well known Hottie.”
I’m confused. Is ‘hottie’ slang for somebody from the Highlands? If so, the geography is ALL wrong. The Highlands are in Scotland. I’m from Ireland. Totally different parts of the Gaelic empire.
“…according to Theo Farrell, hot expert on modern warfare, the North Koreans lack the infrastructure to present a clear and present danger. The Celtic Hunk advises a wait and see policy towards the regime…”
Prof Theo: Hottie is a reference to your looks. The women find you exceptionally good looking or, if you prefer, handsome. Plus, you are from the UK which guarantees that you have an accent and there is nothing that American women (most of them anyway) like better than an English accent unless it is an Irish accent. So you see, you are definitely “hot”.
I guess getting a male-model to stand in for my dept photo was a good call then, huh. Even if it did get a few odd looks from my ‘cashmere-sock-wearing’ colleagues.
Theo, I know you were blinded by mowglibaby’s comment so failed to point out to her (I’m presuming) that you are in fact Irish, not from the UK and thus reach the extra heights she suggests. The publishers of “Hot Academics” calendar also called.
Or she didn’t see the part about his being from Dublin and just assumed he was from Northern Ireland. Of course, people from Northern Ireland would have to be considered Irish and I’m not sure how they’re identified. What does the hottie PWMW think?
Whoaaa…I am NOT getting into Northern Ireland politics. I managed to avoid it for decades when it really mattered, and despite doing a politics degree in Dublin, and am not about to get into it now that Northern Ireland is just the bit of the United Kingdom with high unemployment and a peculiar crime wave. And whilst we’re on the subject of identity: has anybody actually established the gender of mowglibaby? I mean, wasn’t Mowgli a feral boy? So is this Mowgli in a(n even) younger guise, or Mowgli’s off-spring (which could be either gender). Hmm..things to ponder at 4.20 am. What does the Quaker team think?
Us IR students could really use a couple of more professors with a sense of humor, preferably ones that don’t make us read War Law for the 10th time.
[ Us feel your pain. -B. ]
Also – Philippe Sands, Lawless World. And chapters by Kritsiotis and Wheeler in Chris Reus-Smit’s excellent edited volume, The Politics of International Law. Sorry to come over all serious ‘n’ boring. Just finished a book on international law. Think it short-circuited my humour board.
I also tried reading Christine Gray’s International Law and the Use of Force, but I feel sedated everytime I pick it up. Byers was my professor as well for The International Law and Politics of Military Force.
Oh crap, I’ve said too much.
Brian. Your President.
I’ll need to get back to you on VP…
Theo… Sec. of State.
John M. Your Treasury Secretary.
Let’s work on this. We’ll need a war chest. Theo?
Would that make Theo a S.O.S.I.L.F? Or would he be more at home at Defense (S.O.D.I.L.F.), where he could kill people for real? Personally, I’d love the opportunity to redesign the greenback and put my signature to it…I’m certainly up for getting Brian the Presidency – anybody got a spare $500m or so to get him a job that pays $400k a year? A near perfect example of the free market, come to think of it…
Gray is another one. Really fine scholar. But such a disappointing book: rather descriptive and dry. (My copy doesn’t even have a bibliography!?!) Gray has done a series of excellent articles on use of force in European Jrl of Int. Law. I’d recommend these instead. Of course, you could wait for Armstrong, Farrell and Lambert, Int Law and Int Relations, due out this August w/ Cambridge Uni Press. I hear it’s rather smashing.
KCL does have the best professors/doctors! Theo, if you ever come across Neil, I think his fan base can be said to rival yours..
From the grammar cop Internal Affairs Department:
officer under investigation: w.
Date of infraction: March 9.
“Brian. Your President.”
Count 1. Improper use of possessive.
Count 2. Rendering it public, though not permanent, on the… interweb (misdemeanor).
Suggested penalty: suspension of one week without grammar pay.
Hm. Obviously the good perfesser achieved tenure just before the onset of a steep decline into Alzheimer’s.