Archive for September, 2008

New Blog

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

My friends and colleagues down the I-70 at the History Department of the Command and General Staff College have a new blog. Though the focus is generally on American military history, there’s some very interesting stuff. To my mind, standouts include Scott Stephenson on the present eclipse but continuing relevance of Revolutions in Military Affairs and another by the same author laying out standards for grading graduate-level papers.

A Fat Lot of Good

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

Defense Secretary Robert Gates may have come up with the quote of the decade: “At this point I should note that for the first time, both the United States secretary of state and secretary of defense have doctorates in Russian studies. A fat lot of good that’s done us.”

To Gates’ credit, though, it seems to me he’s struck the right note on the South Ossetian crisis: Russia’s response to Georgia’s attempt to seize South Ossetia has been disproportionate and is clearly intended at reasserting authority in Russia’s near abroad, but that is a far cry from the Hitler / Munich parallels so loosely thrown around. In Gates’ words, Russia’s behavior is tsarist, not Soviet, and that makes an enormous difference. Gates is also suitably cautious on the subject of NATO membership for Georgia, which is a welcome breath of fresh air.

Frankly, I find Condoleezza Rice’s conduct more puzzling: if there’s one thing that scholarly training in Russian / East European history ought to teach, it’s the need to be very careful before jumping in the middle of ethnic / national disputes. Down that path lies madness.