What Should the U.S. Army Learn From History? Recovery From a Strategy Deficit   [open pdf - 3MB]

"This monograph examines the potential utility of history as a source of education and possible guidance for the U.S. Army. The author considers the worth in the claim that since history (more accurately termed the past) is all done and gone, it can have no value for today as we try to look forward. This point of view did not find much favor here. The monograph argues that although history does not repeat itself in detail, it certainly does so roughly in parallel circumstances. Of course, much detail differs from one historical case to another, but nonetheless, there are commonly broad and possibly instructive parallels that can be drawn from virtually every period of history, concerning most circumstances. An argument that finds very little favor here is that attracted to claims for the value of assertions of historical analogy. This monograph suggests that the strict requirements for detailed evidence that is required for credible claims of analogy are effectively impossible to meet. Since it can be important not to lose all grasp of the comparison, the idea--perhaps the habit-- of claiming historical analogy should be dropped. Instead, a much more useful concept that avoids the error of foolish analogy is the idea of the historical parallel. The parallel claim conveys the core of the analogical one, while expediently saving us from the need to try to make claims that are bound to exceed the accessible evidence."

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U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute: http://ssi.armywarcollege.edu/
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