Answers from the Professor of War in the Modern World

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?
Common sense.
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.
PS: thanks.
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?