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Book Review: Military Policy and National Security edited by William W. Kaufman

SEPTEMBER 01, 1956 by HOFFMAN NICKERSON

Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press. 274 pp. $5.00.

This book covers a wide field and parts of it are of special interest to lovers of liberty. The introduction and chapters on “The Requirements of Deterrence,” “Limited Warfare,” and “Force and Foreign Policy” are by Professor Kaufmann. Mr. Roger Hilsman discusses “Strategic Doctrines for Nuclear War” and “Coalitions and Alliances.” Professor Klaus Knorr has chapters on “U. S. Passive Air Defense” and on “Military Potential in the Nuclear Age,” and Professor Gordon A. Craig warns of the pitfalls to be avoided in incorporating the new German Army into NATO.

The authors have thoughtfully studied a mass of recent military literature, and they make a number of sound points over which one would gladly linger. The editor’s discussion of limited war is particularly welcome to the reviewer—who himself tried to call attention to the subject thirty years ago.

On the other hand, this very useful book lays itself open to criticism for what it does not say. Although the editor expressly disclaims for himself and his contributors any attempt to cover all probable military contingencies, still there is such a thing as trying to play Hamlet with Hamlet left out. Not a word is said as to the possibility of any real change in U. S. national policy! In other words, it is blandly assumed in the teeth of recent facts that our vital interest in the stability of the Eastern Hemisphere implies an active military policy in every nook and cranny in the globe. This assumption of course leads to the thrice repeated conclusion that U. S. military costs must rise far above their present level and continue indefinitely at that level. If that is so, then how are we to escape socialism via high taxes and increasingly rapid inflation?

But is the underlying assumption sound? Are the leaders of world communism such supermen that they could organize the Old World into a coherent anti-Amer-ican block if we cut our military costs by withdrawing our armed forces from the European and Asiatic mainland? Would the territorial expansion of the communist empire necessarily mean an increase of that empire’s strength? Or would it merely increase the internal strains within so vast and so heterogeneous a conglomeration? It has always done so with the would-be world conquerors of the past. These are the fundamental questions of U. S. military policy, and this book does not discuss them.

Hoffman Nickerson

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September 1956

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