Book Review: Why America Loses Wars; Limited War and US Strategy From the Korean War to the Present

Cambridge University Press

Editor’s Note:

Book Review: Why America Loses Wars: Limited War and U.S. Strategy From the Korean War To the Present  Written by  Donald Stoker   ISBN: 9781108479592  318 pages  Hardcover/$29.95  Cambridge University Press   Publication for August 2019

Why America Loses Wars demonstrates the current imperfect ideas of limited war which has so often led to America’s interminable wars as well as American defeats. You will read about how America will fail to win wars or to attain peace after the conflict is finished. This book gives more realistic concepts of limited war and its views on the present Cold War theories and also on limited war. 

This book will answer questions such as: How can you achieve victory in war if you don’t have a clear idea of your political objectives and the vision of what victory means, and an argument by the author that America enters endless wars because its leaders no longer know how to think about war, particularly limited war. The author will relate to the reader how ideas of limited war and war in general evolved against the background of American military conflicts as well as political issues in Korea, Vietnam and Iraq. The author will also show that these ideas are flawed and  how they have undermined America’s ability to understand, wage, and win its wars, and to secure peace post conflict.  America’s leaders have too often taken the nation to war without understanding what they (or for that matter America) want or valuing victory, leading to the perpetual wars of today. This book dismantles the past 70 years of misguided thinking and lays the foundations for a new approach to the wars of tomorrow, which unfortunately, inevitably will come…..Carol

About the author: Donald Stoker was Professor of Strategy and Policy for the U.S. Naval War College’s Monterey Program at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, from 1999 until 2017. He is the author or editor for 11 books, and his Clausewitz: His Life and Work (2014) is on the British Army professional reading list.


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  1. From my point of view America loses wars because they aren’t in a sense real wars such as; in defense of our homeland. The so called wars we have experienced since 1812 seem to be raged for the sake of chaos and only chaos. A war based on lies can never be won, but it can be prolonged with the help of the media as we see in Afghanistan. The real question is; why prolong a war, and who benefits? Certainly not the common citizens. With just the money that the Afghan war has ‘supposedly’ cost us, that $6 Trillions, we could be enjoying free health care, free schooling for as far as a students intellect will allow, smooth roads and safe bridges, high speed rail, and many other notions. Personally I refuse to believe the $6 trillion dollar lie. But, they have to justify our insane budget somehow, all the while ignoring, and obscuring the missing $22 trillions. This $22 trillions amount was verified in 2016, and from only two departments, HUD and DOD. So in reality the numbers missing are much, much higher today. So, they keep the wars without end going, with no intent to stop them, only occasionally move them from there to there. In the mean time they continue their assault on the senses of the common man to keep us divided amongst our self, while the adversarial politicians and elites have cocktails together on our dime. So back to the basic question that when investigating a crime all detectives ask. Who benefits when a synagogue or a nightclub is shot up, or a ‘shithole’ nation is bombed 24/7 for 19 years? I don’t, do you?

    • It must be because man’s ideas and understanding of reality, differs from that reality itself. Especially when systems are large and entangled, the gap is very big!

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