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Thread: Why no "War Studies" in the US?

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    Why no "War Studies" in the US?

    One thing I've noticed by looking at many universities in the UK and maybe even Canada, is that they often have "War Studies" programs or very closely related areas of study that concentrate on military history, security and strategic studies, geopolitics etc.

    However, when comparing US universities and colleges little in these academic focuses seems to exist outside the nation's military academies & colleges. As well as some schools concentrated in the South and Midwest, along with some small graduate departments at the Ivy Leagues like John Hopkins, Cornell, and Georgetown.

    Little focus academically within departments like history, poli sci, and related fields seems to be on these areas. With many courses on military history, international security, and other areas appearing to be cut from the curriculum more and more, Vs. areas of study like gender studies, ethnic studies, labor history etc. In which alot of this appears be linked to hostility to the military within academia and anything related overall.

    Time, Newsweek, or one of the big news publications had a piece on this same issue a while back, I can't remember the name of it. Well anyways it pretty much stated that military history, strategic studies, and other areas of academic study seem absent at most US universities and colleges. Despite the fact that there is a demand for such academic areas.

    This issue which has wider roots, has interested me lately and has been mentioned on this forum before.

    Even though I may have opened a can of worms here, but since this is the academic part of the forum. Why don't war studies programs have much presence within the US academic scene, despite at least some demand for such areas of study?

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    I don't think the straights are so dire....

    Read the following; there are professional historians who disagree with you.

    Blog Them Out of the Stone Age Hand Wringing for Military History

    Also, as for why the geographic concnetration your perceive?

    Well, because the subject is of interest in those areas.

    And while you have talked about War Studies did you also look at the field of naval history? It has a robust following in New England academia.
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    US naval war college offers civilian degrees.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    I don't think the straights are so dire....

    Read the following; there are professional historians who disagree with you.

    Blog Them Out of the Stone Age › Hand Wringing for Military History

    Also, as for why the geographic concnetration your perceive?

    Well, because the subject is of interest in those areas.

    And while you have talked about War Studies did you also look at the field of naval history? It has a robust following in New England academia.
    Sorry for my very late reply Albany I've been busy,

    I've never looked much at naval history and didn't know it had a following in the Northeast, but that would make sense for any region on the East Coast.

    However, as for the geographic concentration I perceive, I always thought it was due to academia on both coasts thumbing their noses at anything related to the military?

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    While degrees at many academic institutions in the US won't necessarily explicity be called "war studies" or something along those lines, several do have programs of similalar nature. For example, I'm currently majoring in IA but it's with a functional concentration on security policy. Core courses for this concentration include international security politics, defense policy, national security, foreign and intelligence policy, military geography etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Brown View Post
    Sorry for my very late reply Albany I've been busy,

    I've never looked much at naval history and didn't know it had a following in the Northeast, but that would make sense for any region on the East Coast.

    However, as for the geographic concentration I perceive, I always thought it was due to academia on both coasts thumbing their noses at anything related to the military?
    Not really because of a snub of the military. I can show you PLENTY of institutes of higher education in the hinterland which are every bit as anti-military as some fo the eastern and western schools are perceived.

    Think of the geography of our land battles. For the most part they are in the interior states. So that is where the concentrations of study are. In New England and upstate New york, Revolutionary War studies are popular. In my case I earned an MA in Civil War history through Virginia Tech. When I looked to William & Mary and tech for a PhD, I wanted to study 20th Century. I was told, nope, we can do Colonial or Civil War but no 20th Century. (I regret my decision now!)

    It is very much a function of geography.
    We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a days heat, fell dusty.
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    One simple answer "political correctness".

    Bob

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    Quote Originally Posted by robtmelvin View Post
    One simple answer "political correctness".

    Bob
    And what makes you discount all the previous by some of us who are trained historians....and a profession which disagrees with you?
    We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a days heat, fell dusty.
    ― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

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    RE: Why no "War Studies" in the US?

    Albany Rifles, et al,

    Part of the problem has to do with the niche market impact on War Studies and the used of Intelligence that drive military decision making processes today.

    Another consideration is the type and kind of institutions that would present the material; relative to the environment and mindset established.

    Quote Originally Posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    And what makes you discount all the previous by some of us who are trained historians....and a profession which disagrees with you?
    (COMMENT)

    There is also the question of something as simple as "ethics" and how that impacts the education process.

    How would a civilian instructor (historian or not) present material on "Wounded Knee" or the more recent disclosure made by PFC Manning's video of a Friendly Fire incident.

    Most Respectfully,
    R

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    Chicken and egg type question.Is the lack of understanding evident among the public caused by the lack of war studies or is the niche character of the programs the result of little interest among the public?

    Roccor,you mentioned ethics.I had to take a look at the concept,by the very curriculum.I still prefer a much older concept:honour.Since you mentioned atrocities,I'd like the historian to present the truth,as much as possible.That means looking(or trying to) at the events from the 3 possible pov's:the outside observer,the perpetrator and the victim.
    Someone that isn't fubar'ed in his head is someone that hasn't been exposed to war enough.Yet the modern approach is simply to condemn the commanders and the troops who ''fail'' and call for greater vigilance etc... Still,this is the natural effect of war and being natural it has to be embraced,to a point.

    How should a historian present a Julius Caesar that allowed the legions to do as they please in Avaricum?From which perspective should he present what the men did in that city,once they captured it?
    Those who know don't speak
    He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. Luke 22:36

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    Mihais, et al,

    Yes, I think you're a little smarter than I.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mihais View Post
    I still prefer a much older concept:honour. Since you mentioned atrocities, I'd like the historian to present the truth,as much as possible.

    That means looking(or trying to) at the events from the 3 possible pov's:
    • the outside observer,
    • the perpetrator
    • and the victim.
    (COMMENT)

    From a practical standpoint, telling the truth changes in definition, and the application of its definition, the higher in rank and responsibility one goes. Honor is lost somewhere along the way.

    You see this in the Politicians; the people that are suppose to authorized the use of military force, as well as the senior military officers.

    Truth, honesty and integrity all change. One needs only look at the different perspectives. Everyone tells the story of these most recent wars from the perspective that best supports the position they are trying to sell. And if the have a career at stake, the truth is sacrificed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mihais View Post
    How should a historian present a Julius Caesar that allowed the legions to do as they please in Avaricum?From which perspective should he present what the men did in that city,once they captured it?
    (COMMENT)

    Right and wrong change with time, cultures and purpose. At one time, it was common practices for armies to rape, pillage and plunder. Now, it is unacceptable. And we certainly cannot yet define torture.

    My father once told me that I didn't know what hard work was. Now, I can look at my children (now young adults) and have the same feelings; they don't know what hard work is. When I was in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen (six years all together), I could look at the folks there, commenting about the tour, and recalled the conditions under which the we served in Vietnam.

    All things change over time; in meaning and magnitude.

    Most Respectfully,
    R
    Last edited by RoccoR; 19 Jul 11, at 21:36.

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    Sir ,I know for a fact that I 'm just little

    Agreed that truth dies first,but only in public.The big decisions aren't public and to base one's decision on anything but truth leads to defeat and death.Sun Tzu,Napoleon,Machiavelli and Jesus all agree.Nasser or Sakashvili don't as self deluded fools they were.And the truth is that in war there are 2 sides and each one is right from its own perspective and both are wrong from a neutral one.For me this is liberating.I don't have to demonize the enemy,seek pretexts,claim whatever high ground in moral realm.I just have to stick to the practical reasons of the fight and impose my will by killing him.Anything less isn't yet war.Just a conflict.

    Lying yourself is dereliction of duty,the greatest dishonor in my books.Lying others if they perform better by being lied than by being told the truth is ok.The leader's duty is to win and to keep as many as possible alive.The concept may change in appearance as one advances in hierarchy,but it doesn't change in it's core.

    I disagree that war changes.Our perceptions may change,our tools may change,but human nature cannot be changed.Some may disagree on the last one,but if I had not found the same things over and over again during hundreds of wars I wouldn't believe it.And that's one of the roots of our problem today wrt understanding war.We lie to ourselves that we can make it gentler.We lie to ourselves that the enemy is worthy of the same entitlements as us.We demand those of our warriors that happen to look Mars in the eyes to pretend they haven't seen anything.

    Back then,armies that went through great ordeals were cured psychologically by being let loose.Pillaging was worth some bucks,but being the Alpha man was priceless.If venting meant killing some captives,raping the enemy women,getting drunk or fixing their heads on a pole it would be poor leadership to refuse such trifle things.
    The same men went back home and were loving husbands and fathers.Everyone understood that this is war.It's nasty job,but a man has to do it.
    Today we treat everyone for PTSD and wonder why frustrated men vent their anger on innocent civilians back home.

    My point that started with how the atrocities are considered by the historians,pundits etc... is that said individuals know crap about what they talk,don't care about the truth and worse,they don't want to learn about everybody's pov.These chaps are the same that form the public opinion's perception on war.Hence today's public,unlike the public of the past times has the wrong information and no empathy for the actual warriors that still have to do job as always.

    Fortunately,the modern soldier has plenty of comfort.It's not Stalingrad reloaded.But the future is not certain.



    Hopefully it doesn't reads like a psycho's rant
    Last edited by Mihais; 19 Jul 11, at 23:03.
    Those who know don't speak
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoccoR View Post
    RE: Why no "War Studies" in the US?

    Albany Rifles, et al,

    Part of the problem has to do with the niche market impact on War Studies and the used of Intelligence that drive military decision making processes today.

    Another consideration is the type and kind of institutions that would present the material; relative to the environment and mindset established.

    (COMMENT)

    There is also the question of something as simple as "ethics" and how that impacts the education process.

    How would a civilian instructor (historian or not) present material on "Wounded Knee" or the more recent disclosure made by PFC Manning's video of a Friendly Fire incident.

    Most Respectfully,
    R

    With the same ethics a reputable historian takes to the study of any history. One need not be a veteran to be an effective military historian.

    Look at oustanding work of Gary Gallagher, Brooks Simpson, A. Wilson Greene, John Coski, Ken Noe, Ethan Rafuse and Mark Grimsley. Of them all only Mark is a veteran (3 years enlisted National Guard)...yet they are all outstanding historians who have doen exceptional work on the study of the American Civil War. They have all served or currently serve on college faculties. Rafuse is on the Staff at the US Army Comamnd and General Staff College and Grimsley has been a fellow at the Army War College for over 2 years.
    We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a days heat, fell dusty.
    ― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

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    Albany Rifles, et al,

    All of this is understood.

    Quote Originally Posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    With the same ethics a reputable historian takes to the study of any history. One need not be a veteran to be an effective military historian.

    Look at oustanding work of Gary Gallagher, Brooks Simpson, A. Wilson Greene, John Coski, Ken Noe, Ethan Rafuse and Mark Grimsley. Of them all only Mark is a veteran (3 years enlisted National Guard)...yet they are all outstanding historians who have doen exceptional work on the study of the American Civil War. They have all served or currently serve on college faculties. Rafuse is on the Staff at the US Army Comamnd and General Staff College and Grimsley has been a fellow at the Army War College for over 2 years.
    (COMMENT)

    But the C&GS and the AWC are military institutions, with military oversight. They are not civilian institutions subject to same forces. There are always exceptions, VMI is one. But those exceptions are usually in a very regimented environment with combat arm experienced leaders in senior advisory roles.

    There are a number of other colleges within the National Defense University, and --- there are contracted civilian colleges for certain programs. For instance NDU has a program on the intelligence side of the house with DIA and NSA. On the other hand, I believe the Post-Grand Program for finance is with Syracuse University (Up-State NY).

    There are Certain certifications that you can get through the civilian sector, and there are certain certification that require government oversight. For instance, CEH/CHFI and CISSP (which you see all the time) are usually acquired through civilian institutions, but Federal TSCM and SSO Certifications are almost exclusively through the government (or Government RFPs); and the others are generally acquired through the NDU [formerly Defense Computer Institute (now called the IRM College - Information Operations (IO) Program)].

    When I speak of "niche" relative to defense/military education programs, I am speaking in terms of the distinct difference between these two sides of the coin. Each is important in their own way, yet each bringing different resources and experiences to the table.

    For instance, if you are familiar with Joint Service assignments, you will notice that the DOD and DOS are often locked together under the Chief of Mission. There are many places in the world where they military staff and the diplomatic staff are co-located. The world of just learning 20th Century military related subjects s are very much the thing of the past. Now, to be Senior Field Grade Officer, you must also know about the operations that the attache of DHS, DOJ, and Counselors perform, as well as the various political officers under the COM. It is many time more a political world than it is military; even for the career military officer. While some institutions might have this experience readily available, outside of GWU (and similar universities), there is not much call for them; that level of training and education is built-in to the career development program --- for which civilian instructors participate.

    Most Respectfully,
    R
    Last edited by RoccoR; 20 Jul 11, at 21:40. Reason: Spelling

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    I am well aware of all of those programs...and I'm a graduate of 2 of them.

    I called out Rafuse and Grimsley as being faculty at those 2 schools but all of the others are faculty members or have been faculty members at other institutions which offer degrees in military history....some of the institutions are Auburn University, Virginia Tech, Virginia State, Ohio State, Rutgers University, UCONN, Harvard, William & Mary, UNC, Longwood University to just name a few off the top of my head.

    Your discussion of senior leaders is niche but it does not apply across the academic spectrum. Those are specific training programs. I was referring to institutes of higher education where there is a robust academic study of military history and where you can graduate with at least a BA...several of these also support MA and PhD programs in the field.
    We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a days heat, fell dusty.
    ― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

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