- Series: Changing Face of War
- Hardcover: 260 pages
- Publisher: Praeger (December 30, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0313348456
- ISBN-13: 978-0313348457
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,282,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fighting Identity: Sacred War and World Change (Changing Face of War)
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"What makes Vlahos essential reading is his perception, based on a profound personal and scholarly knowledge of the contemporary U.S. military as well as history ancient and modern, that while there may be technocratic strategists, there are no technocrat soldiers." - The American Conservative
"Vlahos is an innovative voice in strategic studies, with a distinguished career dating back 30 years at the US Navy, CIA, and State Department, as well as Johns Hopkins University, where he is currently senior fellow of national security analysis. In his novel, controversial, but often quite compelling attempt to unearth 'why we are losing our wars' . . . . Vlahos argues that the post-9/11 world reveals the extent to which the US nation-state has itself become a sacred identity, competing with other (in this case, Islamic) religious identities. . . . Vlahos's challenging style may feel overblown and inaccessible to some undergraduates, but the argument is worth the effort. . . . Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and up." - Choice
"Vlahos (applied physics, Johns Hopkins U.) reflects on the conflict of the US with non-state actors by reframing war as society's central ritual of identity and the sacred, and looking at the national narrative of the US alongside the sacred histories of her enemies. His perspectives include idea, identity, method, field work, them, us, and fit." - Reference & Research Book News
". . .original and thought-provoking. . ." - Survival
"Throughout the era that Michael Vlahos calls 'The 9/11 War,' he has been remarkable in always keeping sound judgment and always pointing toward broader connections and deeper historical-cultural roots in the challenges that Western democracies face. He has already earned public gratitude for his books and essays of the last decade. 'Fighting Identity' is another important and original contribution in helping Americans understand how their conscious and unconscious national beliefs affect their strengths, vulnerabilities, and possibilities in meeting this era's threats." (James Fallows National Correspondent, The Atlantic Monthly)
"If history repeats itself, someone should tell the politicians. Fortunately, someone has-Michael Vlahos. It's obviously too late for some pols, of course. But others still have time to learn from the mistakes, and the successes, of the past. And the rest of us, too, can learn much from a book that illuminates the past to enlighten the future. Military history needs its own Gibbon, and it has found one in Vlahos." (James Pinkerton
Fellow with the New America Foundation
Contributor to the Fox News Network)
"Michael Vlahos has written a bold, hard-hitting, thought-provoking book about the vitally important topic of the violent struggles that pit great powers against non-state actors. Written with verve and passion, this work is bound to provoke and attract attention." (Dr. John H. Maurer
Chair, Strategy and Policy Department Naval War College)
"In this book Vlahos provides a disturbing analysis of why the U.S. is struggling in its war against terrorism. Identity, he argues, is the key driver both for the U.S. and for its new, non-state adversaries in a conflict widely misunderstood. While it is easy to believe we are doing better, his powerful analysis raises the spectra of what will happen when the next major terrorist attack hits us. This is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the new, dangerous world we are living in--and what to do about it." (A. Lawrence Chickering
Research Fellow, Hoover Institution
Co-author, Voice of the People: The Transpartisan Imperative in American Life)
"This is a powerful study of the generative force of narrative in armed conflict. It might well change the way we look at warfare and the communities that engage in it." (Dr. Antulio Echevarria, Director of Research, U.S. Army War College)
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As Prof. Vlahos writes, the symbolism of the movie `300', accurately depicts in the simplest of terms, the motivations and religious fervor that accompany a devotion to country, to service before self, that appears so foreign to much of America. The movie was in a very real sense a religious experience. The emotional and passionate symbolism is so profound that it expands consciousness and washes over you warming the soul as the sun breaking out from a cloud. To not only believe but to really know that there ARE ideas and causes that ARE worth sacrificing and dying for. For those who have worshiped and suffered at the Alter of Liberty, God and Country are synonymous. As John Stuart Mills writes, "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things." With a depth of historical and anthropological context seldom seen, this book accurately identifies the decayed and degraded state of our `Sacred Identity'. The enemy is us and we have met the enemy.
As a recalled reservist for the War on Terror serving most recently in OIF as a member of a Marine Corps detachment, I have breathed the intensity of `God, Country, Corps'. I identify with Vlahos' Tribal Confederacy of Defense'. The men and women that I serve with epitomize Vlahos' described 2nd America, those of us who have committed to a solemn vow to `defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic'. "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers".
But in a larger sense, I fear that the `gathering hunting bands' that make up the Tribal Confederacy of Defense are becoming disillusioned and with disillusionment comes anger and defiance. As a member of the Warrior class and a proud member of the Tribal Confederacy of Defense, I understand what history has shown, that a house divided against itself cannot stand for long. Prophetically, this book is a must read for all citizens who truly believe that "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth".
One of the aspects of the book that I found very welcome and refreshing is that Dr Vlahos examines Us as well as Them. As a nation, we are not very introspective, and are therefore not very aware of how our epistemology, our way of thinking and our culture affects our perceptions and our responses to others. We often use Sun Tzu's words about knowing our enemy and knowing ourselves, but we don't usually put the "knowing ourselves" part into practice.
Some of Dr Vlahos's conclusions and recommendations may not resonate with many people in Congress and the Department of Defense, but they are worth thinking about. Above all, they offer some very interesting avenues for further research, and I would like to see a sequel that explores them in greater detail.
This is a "must read" for any student of military history, and for anyone who is looking at the future of the US and its potential relationships with the rest of the world.
Michael Vlahos brings to bear his exceptional understanding of history and anthropology to touch upon the root causes of the insurgency and its urge to strike at America. He reawakens us to periods in our own history where we as a people acted and thought similarly to these "madmen". When you read "Fighting Identity", you will grasp as never before the driving forces of "terrorism".
Mr. Vlahos takes on a very complex issue, and weaves the lessons of history as well as an understanding of tribal and antique cultures to give us a clean lens through which to view Islamic insurgency. Gratefully, he does so in plain English, in a way that ought to add a great deal to our national dialogue.