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Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat Paperback – August 6, 2002

3.9 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

U.S. Army General Clark describes this account of his tenure as commander of the 1999 Kosovo operation as a personal memoir. But the book, Clark's first, uses a narrative of the campaign as the springboard for a provocative analysis of contemporary war. Clark, in contrast to other American military leaders, places protecting human rights among U.S. vital interests. By the time diplomatic and political options have been exhausted and armed force is employed, he notes, the stakes have become too high for defeat or withdrawal to be acceptable. The military effort is thus impelled by political factors (and political failures), which in turn renders difficult the application of traditional "principles of war" that focus on quick, decisive victory. Military options are further restricted, Clark notes, by dynamics within both the general public and the armed forces that make unacceptable both taking casualties and inflicting them in any number. Clark correspondingly regards air campaigns, along the lines developed in Kosovo but with improved technology, better intelligence and a more sophisticated public-relations element, as the most generally acceptable future form of large-scale military action. Ground operations, he declares, are currently too slow, too costly, too indecisive and too unpredictable to be a first choice in the complicated political and diplomatic matrices of modern warmaking. Instead, Clark favors developing a more mobile, more deployable U.S. army, and urges considering Europe's relatively successful experience in constabulary-type missions. In the same context, Clark disparages the prospects of unilateral action, instead arguing for the overriding importance of maintaining integrated, allied military operations. Clark's affirmation of the continued importance of NATO is, however, balanced by his demonstration that, as supreme allied commander, Europe, he still retained ample authority to protect U.S. interests. Complex and controversial, this work merits wide public discussion for its analysis of a superpower's role in a regional conflict the sort the U.S. will most likely continue to face in the coming decade.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

General Wesley K. Clark, U.S.A. (Ret.) , was Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, from 1997 to 2000 and is currently a military analyst for CNN. He served previously as director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Staff at the Pentagon from 1994 to 1996 and was the lead military negotiator for the Bosnian Peace Accords at Dayton in 1995. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Paperback Edition edition (August 9, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586481398
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586481391
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,111,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Obviously, General Clark is not out to win a lot of friends with the publication of this book, a damning account of how politics and war make, at best, awkward bedfellows and at worst, the potential for inadvertent sabotage.
More telling (for me, anyway) than the tone of the book, which shows how political claptrap can tie a commander's hands from committing intelligently (no lessons learned from previous conflicts?), Clark shows throughout the entire book that everything we have been taught regarding the basic principles of warfare, from Sun-Tzu to Clausewitz and beyond, have been completely done away with in the Bosnian conflict. Through technology in our weaponry, the delivery platforms, the intelligence, and most pointedly, in our communications networks (particularly the media), by which we more or less spoon-fed Milosevic our every move well in advance, thus eliminating the vital element of surprise.
Another notion that has brought angst to most Americans is that of the "no-civilian-casualties" conflict. Clark echoes, point-blank, the same words that every commander throughout the history of modern warfare has muttered - war is hell, and people will be killed, combatants and non-combatants; that's the nature of war. With smart technology at our feet, and brilliant weapons technology knocking at the door, we have come to expect that firing a missile onto a bridge where a bus is passing will somehow have allowed the bus to escape unharmed. It's not possible now, nor will it be possible in the future. The weapons, as Clark states, can only be as perfect as not only the people who develop them, but as the people who upload them, arm them, test them, engineer them, and ultimately fire them.
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Format: Hardcover
General (Retired) Clark writes the best account of the tensions and competing demands of senior military leaders trying to bridge the divide between politics and military operations. He also clearly explains the linkages between our national security strategy (NSS) and national military strategy (NMS). As an insider during the Dayton Peace Accords, he had the benefit of understanding the development of a NSS with regard to the Balkans. He was able to transmit his unique insights during Dayton into an effective military campaign to bolster the credibility of NATO and keep soldiers from needlessly getting injured.
Anyone on the staff or getting ready to assume a political office which relates to our NSS should read this book to understand the frustrations of competing demands placed on military commanders in a highly complex environment. Likewise, all future field grade officers should read and understand General Clark's insights. Given the complex nature of military engagement and the blurring of strategic, operational, and tactical realms due to new technology and the media, military leaders would do well to study this book. Warfare has changed in many substantive, as well as subtle ways. Thoughts on the subjects that General Clark exposes could save allied soldiers lives in the future.
This book is a great addition to any military library and those interested in strategic thinking.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Every citizen should read this book so they can instruct their elected representatives and vote for military reform. As things now stand, we will lose the war on terrorism over time because of the perennial flaws in our system that this book identifies.
Don't Bother Us Now. The U.S. political system is not structured to pay attention to "early warning". Kosovo (as well as Croatia and Serbia beforehand and later Macedonia) were well known looming problems, but in the aftermath of the Gulf War, both Congress and the Administration in power at the time said to the U.S. Intelligence Community, essentially: "don't bother us anymore with this, this is inconvenient warning, we'll get to it when it explodes." We allowed over a hundred thousand to be murdered in genocide, because our political system was "tired."
"Modern war" is an overwhelming combination of micro-management from across the varied nations belonging to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; a reliance on very high-tech weapons with precision effect that are useless in the absence of precision intelligence (and the lawyers insist the intelligence be near-real-time, a virtual impossibility for years to come); and an obsession with avoiding casualties that hand-cuffs our friendly commanders and gives great encouragement to our enemies.
Services versus Commanders. The military services that under Title 10 are responsible for training, equipping, and organizing the forces--but not for fighting them, something the regional commanders-in-chief must do--have become--and I say this advisedly--the biggest impediment to the successful prosecution of operations.
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Format: Hardcover
General Wesley Clark has done an outstanding job of providing a blow by blow account of Operation Allied Force - the NATO effort to halt the genocide in Kosovo and oust the Serbian military and police units responsible for those atrocities. The blow by blow account, however, one can get from other books and articles written on NATO's first armed intervention since its founding. Where "Waging Modern War" shines is in Clark's thoughts and perspectives on waging war in close co-operation with other nations. It becomes painfully obvious that coalition warfare is not easy since one has to make constant compromises in order to please most of one's allies that might not have the same political agenda. In the case of Kosovo Clark did not only have to contend with the Italians, Germans, British, and, of course, the French but also his peers in the Pentagon. The fact that the Pentagon and the National Command Authority (Clinton and Cohen) could not agree on a common policy further complicated the air war against Serbia. This is once again an acute question when one hears the allegations of Rumsfeld and others taking the uniformed leaders of America's military for a ride in Iraq.
The reviewer only has one true objection to this book - the lack of historical background. Clark spends few words on the origins of the Kosovo conflict. One day the Serbs are suddenly very angry at the Kosovo-Albanians and decide to forcibly remove them from Kosovo. That is weak. But the rest of the book is truly amazing.
Rumour has it that Clark wrote this 450-page book in 4 weeks. I don't doubt it since this is clearly a modern warrior with large capacities for free thought and diligent work.
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