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A nation must think before it acts.
Welcome to the spring 2008 issue of Orbis. This edition addresses several critical issues confronting U.S. national security interests today and will continue to do so into the future. Topics covered range from civil-military relations to alternative strategies for the Long War and the importance of studying military history. You may not agree with everything that you read in these pages, but the articles should definitely provide much grist for thought and debate.
Soldiers, Strategy, and the State
John Allen Williams kicks off our civil-military relations cluster with a tour de horizon of military societal issues in the United States. Next, Frank G. Hoffman and John Garofano wrestle with potential fixes—both educational and structural—that might improve decision-making at the ‘‘civ-mil nexus.’’ Last, Don Snider, Leonard Wong and Douglas Lovelace discuss the military profession and the proper ways in which service members may speak out under our system of government.
Adaptation, Strategy, and Ideas
The topics of counterinsurgency, the so-called ‘‘indirect approach,’’ and the war of ideas are addressed in the next cluster of articles. David Ucko examines the U.S. military’s learning curve for counterinsurgency in Iraq and argues that the outcome there will largely drive whether the military will be structured, at least in part, for such missions or whether organizing for ‘‘big battle’’ will remain supreme. Shawn Brimley and Vikram Singh address potential risks of embracing an ‘‘indirect approach’’ military strategy that might unbalance American security interests. Rounding out this section, Ronald Krebs warns against the United States reaching out to Muslim moderates in the war of ideas.
War and the Historical Mind
Military history aficionados should find much interest in the articles by Williamson Murray and Andrew Wilson. In ‘‘War and the West,’’ Murray illustrates the hubris attendant in not exposing students to the insights of military history. Wilson for his part shows how Sunzi, the Mongols, and Bushido can reveal to students a better understanding of East Asian history.
The Clash within a Civilization
Finally, James Kurth ends this issue with a review essay that examines several new books that point to the cultural pitfalls of regional integration in Europe.
The next issue of Orbis will usher in a new era with Mackubin T. Owens’ taking over as Editor-in-Chief. After his previous editorship at Strategic Review, we are confident that our readers will be delighted with the breadth and scope of subjects that he will bring to the journal. Also, we’d like to thank the Herculean efforts of Ann Hart and Lori Hill to bring you this issue. Finally, we are honored to have followed in the footsteps of past editors such as Adrian Basora, James Kurth, David Eisenhower, and Walter McDougall.