Thursday, 7 November 2013

Military Intelligence

Poul Anderson's Thermonuclear Warfare (Derby, Connecticut, 1963) impresses me with the fact that anyone thinking strategically about warfare needs to assess a lot of information of different kinds, not only military but also technological, political, economic and psychological.

On that last point, Hitler was "...nihilistic..." whereas Stalin was "...coldly calculating..." (p. 55), so it would be criminally negligent to say just that they were both dictators. Because so much information, or "military intelligence", is necessary, appalling mistakes have been made:

"...it is impossible to forgive the stupidity of leaders like Haig, Joffre, and Hindenburg." (p. 26)

Military intelligence is as necessary to those who want to prevent war as to those who want to wage it. An anti-war campaign needs, apart from slogans and speakers, advice from military historians and former combatants - but anti-, like pro-, war campaigners do include the informed as well as the un-.

My Italian Fascist friend has a detailed knowledge of three major conflicts, the Napoleonic War and World Wars I and II, including their hardware. I cannot share his enthusiasm for all these details but this is one reason why we value conversations with friends and books like this one by Anderson.

Anderson obviously had a lot of background knowledge when he wrote, e. g., The People Of The Wind, in which leaders on the colonized planet Avalon calculate and plan what risks they might take when resisting annexation by the Terran Empire.

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