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Strategic Thinkers Order in an Age of Absolute War: Brodie, Clausewitz and the Case for Complexity
Feb 1, 2009 – Barry Zellen

Step 1: In Quest of Unknown Socrates


It’s fascinating to look back upon the work of Brodie, the student, over a decade before he rose to prominence as an expert first of naval strategy and later as one of the first and certainly one of the most insightful of the nuclear wizards. I have long found the ultimate purpose of political theory, in the hearts of our greatest philosophers from classical times up to the contemporary era, emerged during challenging times, when their societies were torn apart by war and social strife, consumed by plague, and where the specter of chaos was palpably close, seemingly imminent, driving the theorist to imagine a more ordered world, one where their ideas could plant the seeds of a millennial order, an era of peace, whether perpetual or at least enduring enough to offer some solace. Consider the riddle of Socrates, and the ambiguity of his legacy. No written record of his work remains, and his closest student has become his primary interpreter. It was thus Plato’s representation of Socrates that has become our most familiar persona. But Xenophon also recorded his impressions of Socrates, and Xenophon’s own experience was a remarkable one, his leadership preserving the very heartbeat of democracy during the long march of the ten thousand out of Persia and back to the solace of the sea and the sanctuary of the then-truncated Hellenistic world.

Xenophon’s Socrates was a more cynical man, more a provocative irritant to the demos and less its innocent victim. We also have Aristophanes’ comic portrait. And then there is Aristotle’s own experiment with nurturing a philosopher-king, the young Alexander, soon to become the Great. Plato wrote about Socrates’ aspiration for philosophy to rule, and his Republic presents a vision of order that is inherently undemocratic, where power is in the hands of the philosophers. We can not be sure if this reflects the aspiration of Socrates, or only of his student, articulating such a grandiose vision in his master’s name. Nor can we be sure if Aristotle’s effort was itself an effort to fulfill the vision of Socrates, and thus outshine his teacher (and rival) Plato with his success. (Plato himself had failed in Sicily to foster the emergence of a true philosopher-king.) Even the allegory of Jesus, the son of God, the manifestation of Aristotle’s idea of “the good,” sacrificed to atone for mankind’s sins, is reminiscent of the sacrificial death of Plato’s Socrates, a point that was noted by the young Bernard Brodie early in his studies. But in the end, we are left with a riddle, and remain unsure about who the real Socrates was, or how to assess the many interpretations of this founding father of philosophy. Little did Brodie know that only a generation after his own, we would confront a similar riddle about his own legacy, as less gifted theorists eclipsed him in the popular imagination, and his once far-reaching influence quickly declined, his wisdom like Socrates’ soon forgotten, the clarity of his prescience overlooked, leaving us with a less transcendent impression of his contribution than he would deserve.

What seems fascinating as we explore the thoughts and writings of Bernard Brodie—and in particular his effort to apply Clausewitz to the nuclear era, and to later popularize Clausewitz for his and future generations—is that the younger Brodie, while still a student at the University of Chicago in December 1932, penned his own thoughtful reflections on Socrates and the riddle of his legacy for Course 101 in the Department of Philosophy. Titled “In Quest of Socrates—Man and Philosopher,” Brodie’s paper earned him the following comments from his professor, Thomas Vernor (T.V.) Smith, who served as dean of the University Chicago from 1922 to 1948, and later taught at Syracuse University, where he was known as the Three P Professor for his expertise in poetry, politics and philosophy: “Excellent Work. This is delightfully written and shows an admirable knowledge of the sources.”[1] In the paper, one can almost sense the anticipation in the heart of the young and ambitious Brodie for achieving a comparable level of philosophical greatness to that Socrates had achieved. Consider how Brodie introduced his essay on Socrates:


A happy thought to fill an idle hour is the reflection on the diversity of traits on which men are borne to greatness. Unhappily for us duller ones, genius seems an indispensable ingredient, but the consideration of the qualities that may adorn genius—or encumber it—is an intriguing one. We love the purity and earnestness of a Milton, but that his youthful wife found his table dull and wearisome is hard to forgive. We admire the salubrious abstemiousness of a Thoreau, but we hate the man whose arm to take one would easier say ‘no’ than ‘yes’.” Of a Stevenson, let us say, we delight in a soldierly heart and a cheery soul, but—tho we will subtract nothing from the loveable R.L.S—we may reluctantly admit that there have been his betters in depth of thought. Now suppose that from those I have mentioned we abstract the admirable and good—the Miltonic earnestness and purity, the Thoreauian asceticism, the Stevensonian indomitableness and happy spirit—suppose we compound them in our retort, add a liberal dose of Voltairian wit, and stand off to catch the distillate. We infuse it into a human form, and we have one with “The elements; So mixed in him that Nature might stand up; And say to all the world ‘This was a man.’” Such a man, I think, was Socrates. What a happy task to go in quest of him.[2]


This quest necessitates a “long journey” back over two millennia to Athens at its peak, “a city of a beauty-mad people, a city throbbing with activity and political turmoil, yet singularly free of the din and clatter and confusion of our own day,” one that is “laid round a hill, atop which are set the noblest structures that have ever been struck against a blue sky,” marred by but “one atrocity—slavery,” that “gives a life of tranquility and leisure for reflection to those who are not slaves.”[3] Noting Athens “is a city with a noble convention of deliberative discourse,” Brodie writes that “[o]nly such a city could have harbored and nurtured Socrates, for the Attic genius was not a genius but a climate.”[4] Brodie confronts one of the riddles of Socrates, noting “we must search for the imprint of his person in the documents of the time,” where “[w]e discover at once that their (sic.) is nothing from his own hand,” and speculating in his footnotes, “I wonder if Plato is hinting at why Socrates didn’t write in Phaedrus 257.”[5] Brodie reflects, “We think for a moment on the deluge of printed pulp that pours down upon us today and reflect almost sardonically that a Socrates did not write. Nor are we disappointed; somehow, it seems in keeping with the man, even as he first takes form in our imagery. We feel at once a disdain of fame, we feel a spirit of one who lived only for the living round him.”[6] But “[s]ince he did not write, we look to those of his day who wrote of him,” finding “him drawn by the pens of three men, a strangely contrasting three—a comic poet, a gentleman of letters, and one whose thought has been the dazzling glory of the ages. Each draws him or paints rather—and it is a vastly different picture that comes from each.”[7]

In Appendix B of his paper, “The Ethics of Socrates,” Brodie revisits the thorny challenging of separating Plato from his Socrates: “On the question, in the Platonic dialogues, of precisely where Socrates’ philosophy ends and Plato’s begins, there has been a general, and I think healthy, unanimity of disagreement. The inquiring student must judge for himself. He will find a valuable tool in Xenophon. More important, we have those passages in Plato where the process of purely filling out the portrait is unmistakeable (sic.) But in the last analysis, it is only from an extended and close reading of the dialogues that one can begin to intuit the distinction.”[8] He adds, “One can begin to sense where Plato speaks [through] Socrates, or where the words of Socrates seem to ring joyously true. That the words of other scholars whom one has read may lie in the back of one’s mind to warm one’s own conclusions is unquestionably true. That one’s demarcation may be wholly erroneous is also more than possible. Let the student recognize the difficulty and take his chances; it is at worst a happy hazard.”[9] Brodie as a student presented a maturity in his warm embrace of underlying uncertainties, and showed a comfort level with ambiguity that more scientifically-inclined theorists, less philosophical and reflective in their tradition, would ever know. And it was this comfort level that enabled him to make a natural transition from the world of sea power to the nuclear age, and which would also lead him to the rediscovery of Clausewitz as a kindred spirit and fellow philosopher of total war.


Step Two: In Quest of Unknown Clausewitz


Bernard Brodie knew in his heart that one preceding theorist of war had shared with him the very same aim, that of bringing wisdom to the study of war, its nature, and its conduct during a time of grave danger: Carl von Clausewitz. Brodie held Clausewitz in the highest esteem, and looked to him as something of a theoretical and philosophical role model. Brodie’s work was not only inspired by Clausewitz; but it contributed greatly to Clausewitz scholarship, including the successful, though by no means easy, effort to bring Clausewitz to the Anglo-American audience. Starting in the early 1960s, around the same time that his thinking about escalation came to fruition with his Escalation and the Nuclear Option, Brodie commenced participation in a long-term project associated with Princeton University Press known as the “Clausewitz Project,” which aimed to bring to the Anglo-American audience many of Clausewitz’s works, including some never before translated into English. As originally envisioned, the project would have yielded several volumes to be published over several years. But various issues including problems with translation and ongoing delays eventually caused the project to be cancelled, but not before it produced an important contribution to the Clausewitz literature with the 1976 translation of On War, including an introduction by Brodie as well as a “Guide” for new readers of his work.

Brodie had been a student of Clausewitz at that point for at least fifteen years, and viewed the famed strategic theorist as something of a role model for his own career. As early as 1960, Brodie was curious about the availability of Clausewitz in English and corresponded with Jean Ware Nelson, the historian at the Naval Warfare Research Center, receiving from her a May 2, 1960 letter which informed Brodie that she had checked her edition of Clausewitz’s On War and find that it was published by the Combat Forces Press, operated by the Association of the United States Army in Washington. She explained that the group rented the plates from the Modern Library, which had dropped the title from its list when sales fell below their basic threshold of some 10,000 a year. In its fourth year of printing, only round 1,400 books had sold. She told Brodie that the Combat Forces Press had some three to four printings over ten years, for a total print run of under 12,000 sales. Brodie noted these figures, and in the years ahead would work to reverse this decline, becoming a key player in the successful movement to reintroduce Clausewitz to a new generation of students and practitioners of war.

Within just a couple of years, Brodie’s interest in Clausewitz became more focused. On December 29, 1962, U.C. Davis history professor and well known Clausewitz scholar Peter Paret authored a paper for the annual meeting of the American Historical Association titled “The Political Ideas of Clausewitz,” and he sent a copy to Brodie, with his best regards. His paper reviewed “the present state of research on [Clausewitz’s] work and life,” and noted that “his career, his writings, and particularly his views on politics are in need of further research—the more so since the literature has been marked by a number of misconceptions concerning his life and has not has the benefit of material that is only now becoming available.”[10] Paret noted that “Clausewitz’s career is generally considered to have been something of a failure. It is pointed out that after Prussia’s collapse in 1806 he was unable to attain a leasing position in the army or government. Shortly after the invasion of Russia, he resigned his commission to be able to fight against Napoleon, and although he managed to be readmitted to the Prussian service two years later he never advanced beyond the grade of Major-General. For the rest of his life he condemned to routine—if not very onerous—administrative duties; his repeated efforts to enter the diplomatic service as ambassador in Berne, Munich, or London proved fruitless. The image is that of an intellectual in uniform with little practical experience in the conduct of affairs, a theorist who was denied the exercise of power, an officer whose abilities largely went unrecognized.”[11]

But as Paret explained, “That this view is an exaggeration is already indicated by Clausewitz’s early rise to senior rank,” becoming General at 38, and at 50 “he was appointed Chief of Staff of the forces mobilized during the Polish revolution, and there is little doubt that but for his unexpected death at the age of 51 he would have climbed further in the hierarchy.”[12] Paret believes that “Clausewitz’s frustration must be read as the outcome of measuring himself and the state he served against Napoleonic opportunities and achievements. The example of the Grand Armee intensified his personal ambition.”[13] Paret thus came to believe that “Clausewitz was less of a spectator than he claimed to be, that unofficially but in fact he exerted considerable influence on internal policy.”[14] Paret explains that at the time that Clausewitz wrote, “[r]elations between the states were in his eyes too serious a matter to befog with emotion or moral argument. When a few months before his death, in an article he was unable to get published, he surveyed the condition of Europe after the revolutions of 1830, he did so wholly from the point of view of Realpolitik.”[15] The underlying perspective of realpolitik is suggestive of Machiavelli’s influence, and Paret writes that the Prussian strategic theorist was in fact familiar with Machiavelli’s work: “When he was 28 he had written that he found Machiavelli a highly instructive author, particularly in his discussion of the relations between states, and he added, ‘the only point on which Machiavelli can be faulted is that with a certain indecency he called things by their right name.’ The power that the state was, and could become, was recognized by Clausewitz, but he did not impute any inherent moral value to this force. From the fervent patriot of his youth he had grown to the objective analyst of the realities of politics and war. The prejudice of his romantic contemporaries he had long left behind, and he did not live to see his views on power linked with the idealized self-interests of a later generation.”[16]

By the spring of 1963, the idea of a modern “Clausewitz Project” to modernize the study of Clausewitz in America, had taken root, and Paret mentioned the idea to Brodie. In a follow-up letter the next fall, on November 7, 1963 while a visiting scholar at Princeton, Paret wrote to Brodie: “You may recall our conversation last spring about the possibilities of preparing a scholarly edition of Clausewitz’s writings in English. This project has now reached the final stage of planning. We are thinking of a number of volumes—perhaps as many as six—presenting a reliably translated text together with very substantial introductions and analyses. Some members of the editorial board are Gordon Craig, Klaus Knorr, Michael Howard, and myself.” Paret added, “Klaus and I wonder whether we could persuade you to join us. Specifically we would like you to undertake the interpretation of On War.” Brodie whole-heartedly agreed, and though the project would only very slowly come to fruition over the course of the next decade, with numerous internal challenges including those of translation delaying its completion, and though in the end it would yield just one volume instead of the multivolume project originally conceived (a project so broad, and complex, that it ultimately collapsed upon itself), Brodie’s role as interpreter of Clausewitz was fulfilled. And each of the project participants would go on and contribute to the Clausewitz literature in their own way, with Brodie ultimately penning a tribute to the Prussian philosopher of war in the form of his 1973 War & Politics, which came to press the very year a humbled America withdrew its armed forces from Vietnam—and a year before the sole-surviving part of the Clausewitz Project, a single volume modern translation and interpretation of On War, more than a decade since the project’s inception, would finally be put under contract by Princeton University Press on February 24, 1974.

Two years later, Princeton’s now famous translation of On War came to press, with Brodie’s well known seventy-page “Guide to the Reading of On War” as an appendix to the work, and briefer introductory essays by Paret, fellow project editor Michael Howard, and Brodie—his fourteen-page “The Continuing Relevance of On War”—at the front. In his introductory essay, Brodie examines the riddle of Clausewitz’s perennial misunderstanding, starting off with Rosinski’s assessment in The German Army that Clausewitz’s On War was on the one hand “the most profound, comprehensive, and systematic examination of war that has appeared to the present day,” while on the other remaining widely misunderstood, a result of Clausewitz’s embrace of complexity: “The fact that it towers above the rest of military and naval literature, penetrating into regions no other military thinker has ever approached, has been the cause of its being misunderstood.”[17] Brodie contemplated the continuing relevance of On War, particularly for the world after Hiroshima. Not only might the reader wonder if “a book written a century and a half ago, and on war of all things, is really worth his time? That question would arise even if nuclear weapons had never been invented, but those weapons do indeed seem to make a totally new universe. Or do they?”[18] While this question would percolate beneath Brodie’s words for many more years, and would in fact define his efforts as a theorist stretching from the dawn of the nuclear age to the immediate post-Vietnam era, he attempts to address it head on in this introductory essay to On War: “There has been a good deal of fighting without nuclear weapons since the two were used on Japan in 1945, including wars which for some of the participants represented total commitment. Still, if it is not yet an established fact it is at minimum a strong possibility that, at least between the great powers who possess nuclear weapons, the whole character of war as a means of settling differences has been transformed beyond recognition. Why then read Clausewitz?”[19]

Brodie contends that “Clausewitz’s work stands out among those very few older books which have presented profound and original insights that have not been adequately absorbed in later literature,” and while “there are other books including some dealing with contemporary and especially nuclear weapons issues,” he believes that “none can equal it in importance or displace it in its timeliness.”[20] Indeed, Clausewitz’s work stands in marked contrast to such important military theorists as Foch and Douhet, whose influence was widespread in their own time, but whose longevity proved much more limited, without, in Brodie’s estimation, any lasting utility. Clausewitz, Brodie believes, “is probably as pertinent to our times as most of the literature specifically written about nuclear war,” and while the latter present “a good deal of useful technological and other lore,” they also suffer from “the absence of that depth and scope which are particularly the hallmark of Clausewitz. We miss especially his tough-minded pursuit of the idea that war in all its phases must be rationally guided by meaningful political purposes.”[21] Indeed, Brodie specifically castigates his increasingly popular rival Herman Kahn for this very reason:


That insight is quite lost in most of the contemporary books, including one which bears a title that boldly invites comparison with the earlier classic, Herman Kahn’s On Thermonuclear War. Kahn incidentally based his main argument—that the United States could survive and therefore ought not too much fear a thermonuclear war with its chief rival—on technical premises that are certainly obsolete today, whether or not they were realistic when his book was published in the not-so-distant year of 1960. Also, Kahn’s book does not, as Clausewitz’s does, have much to say of relevance to the Vietnam War which has intervened since and which caused the United States so much soul-searching and agony, though far less of the latter than that borne by the nation it set out to save. Kahn may still usefully supplement Clausewitz, but only in a limited sense is he more timely, and he does not in any way help to supplant him.[22]


This goal, perhaps, was Brodie’s very own inner aspiration, as he pursued a path toward philosophical greatness much like the enigmatic Socrates that he explored as a young student in 1932, and Kahn’s failure to supplant Clausewitz may well have preserved this prize for Brodie to pursue with full vigor.

Brodie notes “Clausewitz’s genius is indisputable, and also in his field unique,”[23] and identifies “at least two reasons why Clausewitz continues to be worth the most careful study”—the first being “he was striving always, with a success that derived from his great gifts as well as his intense capacity for work, to get to the fundamentals of each issue he examined, beginning with the fundamental nature of war itself,” and secondly, “he is virtually alone in his accomplishment”[24] in that On War “is not simply the greatest but the only truly great book on war.”[25] Brodie notes his generation, with all its new-fangled “skill in systems analysis and related esoteric disciplines,” had lost the “intimate knowledge of its history” that was hitherto considered “indispensable to the understanding of war.”[26] Of additional value is Clausewitz’s “pronounced disinclination to provide formulas or axioms as guides to action,” though this virtue would unfortunately “militate against recognition of his genius and accomplishment,”[27] a challenge Brodie himself would face as more axiomic writers like Kahn, with his simplistic though increasingly detailed escalation ladder paving a clear but potentially deadly path toward thermonuclear general war. As Brodie reflects on Clausewitz’s undogmatic style: “He is often intent upon demonstrating the pitfalls of such axioms, which is the quality chiefly in distinguishing him from Jomini, as well as from virtually all his successors. That is one of the chief reasons why military people are so often disappointed with Clausewitz, for they are particularly accustomed in their training to absorbing against a tight schedule of time specific rules for conduct, a practice reflected in their broad use of the term ‘indoctrination.’ Clausewitz, on the contrary, invites his readers to ruminate with him on the complex nature of war, where any rule that admits of no exceptions is usually too obvious to be worth much discourse.”[28] Brodie continues,


This quality is seen especially in his attitude toward such notions as were already beginning to be called “principles of war.” Though he could hardly avoid establishing certain generalizations, which is inevitably the result and the purpose of analytical study, he specifically and vehemently rejected the notion that the conduct of war can reasonably be guided by a small number of pithy axioms. It was Jomini, not Clausewitz, who has been responsible for the endlessly quoted remark that “methods change but principles are unchanging,” and it is largely for that reason that Jomini had far greater influence on military thinking in his own and later times, at least among non-Germans. It was Jomini who was looked to for guidance by both sides in the American Civil War, which in his very long life he lived to see concluded. And, as we have seen, it was Jomini whom Mahan called “my best military friend.”[29]


As for the post-World War I efforts to “encapsulate centuries of experience and volumes of reflection into a few tersely worded and usually numbered ‘principles of war,’” as reflected in the proliferation of field manuals, very much in the Jominian tradition, Brodie believes “Clausewitz would have been appalled,” and no doubt “not surprised at some of the terrible blunders that have been perpetrated in the name of those ‘principles,’” much like those contemporaries of his whom Clausewitz described as “‘the scribblers of systems and compendia.’”[30] However, Brodie is aware (and later came to personally experience) that the “price of admission to the Clausewitzian alternative of intense rumination, sometimes in pages most densely packed with sharp insights, is a commitment to be responsive. This requires a different kind of reading from what we are normally accustomed to,” and in contrast to the speed reading suitable to “the great masses of stuff” facing most professionals, “[w]ith Clausewitz, however, one should be prepared to tarry, to pause frequently for reflection.”[31]

It is interesting that Brodie’s college essay on Socrates was titled “In Quest of Socrates—Man and Philosopher,” and that it grappled with the unknown and unknowable, trying to reconstruct the legacy of this pivotal thinker and founding founder of philosophy. That’s because some four decades later, Brodie would publish a similarly titled review of Peter Paret’s Clausewitz and the State, in the Winter 1977 edition of International Security, and choose a very similar title, both a tribute to Clausewitz, Brodie’s intellectual mentor, and to Paret, with whom he worked for over a decade in their joint effort to bring Clausewitz to America. The review thus bore the title, “In Quest of the Unknown Clausewitz,” making a connection to his earlier reflections on Socrates that few would know.

In his review, he pays further tribute to both Paret and to Clausewitz, writing that the “reputation of Carl von Clausewitz is great enough to warrant his being the subject of Professor Paret’s largest and finest work thus far, a fact which automatically puts it in a class of most exceptional distinction.”[32] He notes that the work “has come at about the same time as that of the new and superior translation of On War, also by Paret, in collaboration with the distinguished military historian Professor Michael Howard of All Souls College, Oxford University,” and “happens to coincide also with the publication in Paris of the two-volume work on Clausewitz by the well-known Raymond Aron.”[33] Brodie notes that despite the surge in attention to the great Prussian philosopher of war, “the Clausewitzian reputation is a strangely ambiguous thing, resting on a base that is solid enough in merit but projected through a century and a half mostly through hearsay, with inevitable gross distortions,” and like he wrote of Socrates as a young man in the 1930s, he now writes of Clausewitz that “[p]erhaps the most difficult thing to assess about Clausewitz is his real influence.”[34]

Brodie points out that “conventional wisdom among professional military historians puts it very high, especially within Germany, but by imputed osmosis also in the military forces of all other great nations” but that Brodie would instead measure it “rather low, perhaps very low,” illustrating this with “our own Civil War, which began thirty years after his death,” in which there appear to be “many instances in that war of ‘Clausewitzian thinking’ which would certainly be attributed to him if there were any reason to suspect that the principals who directed the fighting had read his work or even knew of it.”[35] But in fact, Brodie observes that “the name of Clausewitz was almost certainly unknown to all the many officers of general’s rank, North and South. Nor is there any reason to suppose that there was an indirect influ-ence, the kind that affects the actions of men who have absorbed at second or third hand the dicta of authors they have never read and perhaps never heard of.”[36]

This stands in marked contrast to Jomini, whose work did appear in English “early in the war” in contrast to Clausewitz, whose did not.[37] In the case of the U.S. Civil War, as with World War I and numerous other conflicts that are often said to reflect a Clsusewitzian influence, Brodie suggests that “Jomini is undoubtedly the father of the so-called ‘principles of war,’ which Clausewitz held in some scorn.”[38] Indeed, Brodie adds that “[i]nasmuch as he took pains to avoid the propounding of precepts of ‘principles’ which could be reduced into axioms, Clausewitz could not have the kind of indirect influence” ascribed to him, but more likely earned by Jomini and others, including Mahan, the sea power theorist, and Douhet, the air power theorist, whose “basic ideas … were summed up more or less adequately in relatively few words, and transmitted with an aura of revealed truth to many who might hardly have known the name of the original author. That could not be done with Clausewitz. He could influence only those who read at least his major work, and did so carefully and thoughtfully.”[39]


Step 3: War & Politics: Auditioning as America’s Clausewitz


Brodie’s thinking about Clausewitz did not end with his role introducing the new translation of On War when it finally came to press in 1976 after years of gestation, but would also serve to frame a separate volume on strategy that is indebted to Clausewitz’s most famous dictum on the interconnection of war and policy and which came to press several years before the much anticipated translation of On War. Indeed, Brodie’s 1973 War & Politics—with its subtitle the long-winded but illustrative “A major statement on the relations between military affairs and statecraft by the dean of American civilian strategists”—showed how deep an inspiration Clausewitz was to Brodie, inspiring not only the title, but permeating its very essence, in which he sought to apply this most fundamental component of Clausewitz’s theory of war to his own era, and more so than in Strategy in the Missile Age, and to explain the interconnection of war and politics, not just nuclear war, but all the wars of the nuclear age, through an historical analysis of World War II and in particular its strategic bombing, which transformed in that war’s closing days into the world’s first and so far only nuclear war; Korea; and Vietnam (and its failure), and a theoretical discussion about war not only in the nuclear era but the humbled, post-Vietnam era.

As he wrote in his preface, suggesting not only an intellectual debt to Clausewitz but also to a lesser degree to Machiavelli, who like Clausewitz has been greatly misunderstood: “The central idea of this book I have borrowed from Clausewitz who, as a seventeenth-century writer said of Machiavelli, ‘hath been too often taxed for his impieties.’ It is a simple idea, and the novice would justly imagine it to be commonplace—that the question of why we fight must dominate any consideration of means. Yet this absurdly simple theme has been mostly ignored, and when not ignored usually denied.”[40] Brodie noted he had “long thought of writing this book” but that “it required the special agonies of Vietnam to bring a sense of urgency to the matter,” marked as it was by “more than its share of both foolishness and wickedness.”[41]

Brodie observes that Clausewitz argues “forcefully and unequivocally that the influence of the purposes upon the means must be continuing and pervasive,” and that his “originality is not in his reassertion of what must really be an old idea but rather in the clarity and insistence with which he hews to it and develops it.”[42] In his first, but more assuredly not his last, barb pointed at the military profession (which had, early on when the promise of his shaping and guiding U.S. military doctrine at the dawn of the nuclear appeared to be most promising, sought to banish his influence from the Pentagon, but which only succeeded in pushing his ideas into the public realm, ultimately strengthening his voice even if distancing it from the pinnacle of military power), he wrote that Clausewitz’s effort to develop his thesis contextualizing war in policy was “an accomplishment against perennial resistance, indicated by the fact that this understanding has never fully got across to the great majority of those people who think or write about war, and even less to those who fight it.”[43] Brodie believes when Clausewitz argued his “often quoted but constantly misrepresented dictum” positing war’s interconnection with policy that the theorist was “very far from intending this remark cynically, as is often supposed,” and in fact “intended to make, had he lived” it “the central organizing thesis of the whole.”[44]

Brodie in War & Politics seeks to present much the same central thesis, applying it to the world that was twice embroiled in world war, and was now confronting not only “the advent of nuclear weapons” but also America’s “particularly perplexing and tragic involvement in a distant and hitherto obscure peninsula in Southeast Asia,” which revealed a global scale of conflict that greatly eclipsed the nineteenth-century warfare that Clausewitz had intuited totality from, but which to Brodie and his era seems far from total; as he wrote of Clausewitz, “[t]he wars he knew of were limited to a history culminating with Napoleon, and the bitterest disaster in his experience was the campaign of Jena in 1806, topped off by two battles that by modern standards were brief and of small dimensions.”[45] While the scale may have been more modest than the thermonuclear conflicts Brodie sought to prevent, he nonetheless found relevance in Clausewitz, noting “[i]f, despite these differences, we see him warning against errors that are relevant to our experience, and we also notice that despite his great authority these warnings have been completely ignored, it is worth our while to consider how and why they were ignored.”[46]

Brodie also considers the use of the atom bomb at the end of World War II, considering Truman’s decision within a Clausewitzian context. First he takes up the criticism made by many of the “scientists who produced the weapon” that the weapon should have first been used “against some unpopulated target” in order “to demonstrate our possession of this new power,”[47] even though these very same scientists did not seem to object to the “fiery horror that was already pouring down on Japan, especially in the last three months preceding the use of the nuclear bombs,”[48] from America’s relentless saturation bombing of Japanese cities by conventional bombs. Brodie discounts the utility of this plan, in part because of the risk such a demonstration could fail, but even if the bomb detonated as planned, Brodie believed (as did opponents of a demonstration shot in 1945) that such a demonstration “would have been anything but impressive,” adding that “there were too few bombs in hand to use one in that manner.” [49] He described an atomic test he witnessed of a bomb with the twice the yield of that dropped on Nagasaki, noting in a somewhat detached manner the following: “This writer has witnessed from a trench 1,000 yards away the explosion over a portion of Nevada desert of a nuclear bomb of some 50 kilotons yield. . . . The extreme intensity of the light was eerie but of exceedingly brief duration. It was something to look down the length of a trench and see it wobbling from ground shock, but one has to be close in for that. After the mushroom cloud had begun to dissipate and the sand had settled, which took very little additional time, the floor of the desert looked relatively unchanged.”[50]

Further, Brodie believes the “destruction that did result from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, especially the former (a smaller bomb, but achieving more destructive effect because of the flatter terrain) left Japan and the whole world awed, appalled, and unequivocally convinced that a terrible new revolution had occurred in the means of waging war.”[51] Brodie shows sympathy to President Truman for his decision, arguing it was “unreasonable to expect (him) to be moved by arguments that the bomb was different because it represented a cosmic force,” particularly since he was “eager to end the war as soon as possible,” and remained “totally committed to ending it through a Japanese surrender, and he could not see that the two atomic bombs had worse effects than the raids that General Curtis LeMay had already been hurling upon the Japanese.”[52]

Noting that soldiers are “trained to the conviction that the all-important goal is to win—if at all possible, and (almost) any cost,” Brodie appears sympathetic with the enthusiastic embrace by the military of the atomic bomb, and for its use at the closure of World War II, and notes that “writers on strategy” and “strategic thinkers” might “view objectives more comprehensively than the soldier, but not differently,” in part because they aim “to win the confidence of the soldier.”[53] This common outlook explains why strategic writers and thinkers, “too, will normally regard moral considerations as tiresome impediments to the flow of one’s thoughts,” and Brodie adds “[e]ven the philosophical Clausewitz was strongly negative on the relevance of moral issues.”[54] With special regard to atomic weapons, Brodie adds that “[a]nother reason why moral considerations do not progress very far in discourses on military methods is that very few people are equipped emotionally as well as intellectually to deal with them,” as “[n]uclear weapons arouse special anxieties” and “the social environment is deeply sympathetic to the denial of any possibility of their utility, even as a deterrent,” so much so that opponents of nuclear weapons “feel themselves thereby licensed to indulge in behavior that is ill-mannered, dishonest, or worse.”[55]

Looking back on the first decades of the Cold War period, Brodie in fact suggests that nuclear weapons, and the nuclear bombardment of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, may likely have contributed to the nuclear peace: “After more than a quarter century they are still the only nuclear weapons to have been used in war, and their use has not made one iota more likely any future use. One would suspect that quite the contrary is the case. Though the people of the two cities paid bitterly for it, their sacrifice unquestionably contributed to the significance and the effectiveness of the ‘balance of terror,’ which thus far has shown itself to be an exceedingly stable balance.”[56]

Later in War & Politics, Brodie presents a chapter “On Nuclear Weapons: Utility in Nonuse,” in which he reiterates his theory of deterrence, and recalling how: “The flashes of three atomic bombs in the summer of 1945 at Alamogordo and over Hiroshima and Nagasaki illuminated at once to the world that mankind had brought upon itself a deadly peril. For a time all other conclusions were quite blotted out, and even the joy of a victorious war’s end was clouded over by a nagging anxiety.”[57] To this anxiety Brodie prescribed deterrence as the antidote, and though “less hopeful of total cures but also less certain of total catastrophe in the absence of such cures,” deterrence at least provided some comfort that total war, and total annihilation, could be avoided.[58] Noting Churchill had inspired the phrase balance of terror, Brodie clarifies that Churchill had in fact told the House of Commons that by “a process of sublime irony,” the world now faced a situation “where safety will be the sturdy child of terror, and survival the twin brother of annihilation.”[59] Or as Brodie had said in his 1945 article, “The Atomic Bomb and American Security,” published by the Yale Institute of International Studies, “Thus far the chief purpose of our military establishment has been to win wars. From now on its chief purpose must be to avert them. It can have almost no other purpose.”[60]

But how wars would be averted was subject to continuing debate, one that would after the Korean War come to include discussion of Korean War, and which would witness “an American shift to ‘counterforce’ and ‘no cities’ strategies” and even later “considerable official anxiety about nuclear ‘proliferation,’” but Brodie explained that amidst all these ebbs and flows of doctrinal evolution, “the main questions would continue to concern how we ‘guarantee to ourselves in case of attack the possibility of retaliation in kind.’”[61] And this would lead to “the problem of assuring the security of the retaliatory force, and of deciding how much ‘second-strike capability’ (the latter phrase is originally Herman Kahn’s) will suffice to guarantee deterrence.”[62] And in a jab at the military for its continued adherence to a pre-nuclear notion of achieving victory through warfighting, Brodie adds “it is not acceptable to all that deterrence is all-important and that ‘winning’ is a matter of crude and brutal irrelevance; the military, among others, have consistently refused to accept this notion.”[63] Brodie believes that questions about how to ensure deterrence succeeds in averting war requires a Clausewitzian perspective: “if we talk about nuclear deterrence averting wars, what kinds of wars does it avert and how much can we count on its averting any kind? Other questions come to mind that are subsidiary to these. We should notice, however, that all of them are in part, though in varying degree, political questions, that is, they cannot be answered adequately without reference to what we might broadly call political considerations and data. But the political dimension of these questions have usually been either totally neglected or else treated in an off-hand and arbitrary manner.”[64]

Brodie returns to the underlying horror of nuclear weapons, noting that “[i]n the minds of the great majority of people, nuclear weapons are objects of unmitigated horror, and so they are—in use,” and “the leaders of all the nations possessing nuclear weapons are and have been most keenly aware of their terrible potentialities.”[65] (And yet, not all nuclear strategists have accepted this, most famously being Brodie’s RAND colleague Herman Kahn, who shot to fame for his seeming rejection of the inevitability of such “terrible potentialities,” much as Henry Kissinger rose to the pinnacle of power in both foreign and strategic in part because of his perceived willingness to embrace a Churchillian ferocity in the face of danger, and to consider, in detail, the potential for limited nuclear warfare a decade earlier.) But Brodie remains confident that “we have ample reason to feel now that nuclear weapons do act critically to deter wars between the major powers, and not nuclear wars alone but any wars,” and he finds this to be “really a very great gain,” one “we should no doubt be hesitant about relinquishing.”[66] And, Brodie adds: “We should not complain too much because the guarantee is not ironclad,” since it’s “the curious paradox of our time that one of the foremost factors making deterrence really work and work well is the lurking fear that in some massive confrontation crisis it might feel. Under these circumstances one does not tempt fate.”[67]

But in time, Brodie acknowledges, the “lurking fear” of deterrence’s failure “might recede further into the background,” and while this “might be dangerous in the long-term,” over “the long-term a great many other things change, too,” including the possibility that war itself, “the ultimate arbiter of last resort so well known in the past, is forbidden,” though this may be implicit and not explicit, formally unacknowledged but written into the fabric of international intercourse, whether through “a new kind of sphere-of-influence conception, and a gingerliness about letting a quarrel between them go too far.”[68] Brodie believes that “[s]omething of the sort seems at any rate, to have been happening thus far,” as evident in the way the Cuban missile crisis was resolved without war, and the subsequent “relaxation of tensions concerning Berlin,” suggesting an “abrupt but pervasive change” in U.S.-Soviet relations, and a similar easing of the considerably tense relations between nuclear-armed China and the USSR, even though the latter had an “enormously superior” nuclear capability.[69] Brodie thus sees a general pattern of restraint emerging amongst the nuclear states, one that would later be formally articulated by the neorealist theory of international relations, that posited the primary causal determinant of state behavior was in the structure of international politics, and when undergirded by nuclear weapons, even an anarchical realm could come to be defined by restrain and moderation, with order and not chaos emerging from the state of continued nuclear anarchy.

While Brodie was not a formal theorist of international relations, his strategic thinking reflected a common perspective of the neorealists who would follow, erecting a theory of international politics upon the strategic foundations of his nuclear order. That is why, in his time, he witnessed America “engage itself in a foolish and costly war in Vietnam, but with critical restraint with respect to anything that might involve China or the Soviet Union, and doing so despite the fact that the cost of that restraint was humiliation and military failure in Vietnam.”[70] Looking forward, Brodie found that what might be “the most hopeful thing of all” was that “the generation that remembers Munich so vividly and grew to maturity and power during the cold war is the generation that will shortly be passing from power,” and “[t]he one that replaces it will not really be wiser, but it will surely be more adapted to the circumstances of the late twentieth century.”[71]

Step 4: Jominian Backlash and the Logic of Simplicity

If we identify Brodie as the Clausewitz of the nuclear era, we can logically identify Herman Kahn as the era’s very own “Jomini,” who famously articulated a less complicated doctrine of nuclear warfighting that was much easier for military men, men of action, to grasp and to implement, a set of maxims on how and when to escalate up a ladder of destruction, thinking about the unthinkable and all the while, planning to do what to Brodie believed in his heart to be undoable. Kahn wanted to provoke us, and used incendiary language as he talked about this most incendiary of topics. For Brodie, the bomb was the contemporary Napoleonic ghost, to which sane men and great nations had to join in concert to defeat, and forever counterbalance, to maintain the peace, lest his ghost return. So emerging out of Brodie’s new strategy for the “Missile Age” (so named by Brodie in his hope to influence the very language of Cold War history) was an imperative: to leverage the horror and terror of nuclear war, to deter one another and to deter ourselves from crossing the nuclear chasm, lest we pay the ultimate price.

But out of Kahn’s maxims for rational and gradual nuclear escalation, we feel no comparable fear, sense no urgency or desperation begging for such restraint, and instead, like Jomini he sought to harness this new God of War, to leverage the power unleashed by this modern manifestation of the Napoleonic spirit. Kahn thus seeks to leverage the raw power unleashed by the bomb, and to bottle it, and later dispense it in small sips. And yet, despite his talk of winning thermonuclear wars, a case can be made that Kahn sought to prevent nuclear war every bit as much as Brodie, but he did not wear his fear so prominently as Brodie did, hiding it so that our opponents would instead sense our boldness, and respect our resolve. His talk of warfighting thus added credibility to our deterrence, which was undermined by Brodie’s talk about the certain futility of nuclear warfighting. For Kahn, admiration, respect for our strength, were the more compelling and persuasive deterrents, not the threat of what must not, shall not, can not be done (since it could not be done, its threat could not remain credible.) Brodie feared that nuclear war would be fought, and that it would unleash unimaginable horror, something that must not be allowed. Ironically, any strategy driven by such evident fear would likely fail for lack of credibility, a subtlety that Kahn, for all his brashness, intuitively understood. Kahn feared that if somehow a war began, and our bluff behind deterrence was called, we’d be ill-equipped to keep things restrained, and might blindly escalate, skipping all sorts of interim steps that might otherwise limit the destruction: so he took it upon himself to map those escalation levels out, giving us a roadmap to follow, to slow us down, and contain the cycle of escalation from reaching its ultimate conclusion. For the endgame, to Kahn as to Brodie, was something that would likewise unleash unimaginable horror. Kahn felt compelled to offer us a roadmap to follow, to guide us gradually, rationally, wisely up the escalation ladder, so that if nuclear war did happen, we would have the means to keep it from spinning wildly out of control.

As such, Brodie and Kahn both feared chaos. Yet the solutions they offer us differ—though a close look at the literature shows that Brodie did evolve away from his theory of absoluteness of deterrence as enunciated in The Absolute Weapon, and eventually contemplated tactical nuclear use as a means to differentiate low-yield atomic weapons from the higher-yielding thermonuclear ones. But Brodie is remembered first and foremost as the father of nuclear deterrence, and never wavered from his belief that nuclear war was something so terrible that it must be avoided if at all possible. And though he sought to engage the strategic community and refine his theories as the Cold War evolved, revisiting limited war theory after the advent of thermonuclear weapons created, by default, a tactical class of nuclear weapons where limited usage was more plausible, his place is most notable at the beginning, and his voice grew less influential as nuclear technology advanced, and the complex dialectic of deterrence and warfighting evolved. In the end, his contribution to the literature of nuclear strategy ended with something of a whimper, as efforts to secure a modest advance of $10,000 to $12,000 were rejected by august presses like Oxford University Press, and his relationship with Houghton Mifflin broke down so much that he felt compelled to return his $8,000 advance for what would have become his last volume on the era that he helped to define.

Ironically, Herman Kahn was so prolific that his last work, not yet finished at the time of his own untimely death, would nonetheless come to press in the months that followed his passing, allowing one more salvo about the unthinkable to be fired across the bow of those who stubbornly refused to confront the harsh realities of the nuclear age. And many years after that, in 2007, his most controversial 1960 tome, On Thermonuclear War, would be reissued, as would an anthology of his writings in 2009, more than a quarter century after his death: The Essential Herman Kahn: In Defense of Thinking. Throughout the nuclear doctrinal debates, however, we do hear from Brodie again; indeed, Herken, in his engaging strategic biography of the nuclear era, Counsels of War, suggests that Kissinger borrowed heavily from Brodie (without attribution) when articulating his theory of fighting limited nuclear wars, and even Kahn’s controversial work shows many similarities to Brodie, suggesting a philosophical kinship stretched across the spectrum of nuclear sects, uniting the deterrence theorists and warfighters, and suggesting their true distinction was largely limited by emphasis, nuance, and perhaps style while in the end, they remained connected at their core.

Kahn, in his voluminous and in many ways sensational writing on nuclear war and strategy, presented a uniquely distinct response to the very same transformation of war that defined Brodie’s work and which led Brodie to articulate the logic, and to develop the intricacies, of nuclear deterrence so cogently. Kahn would logically, an passionately, advocate our moral and strategic necessity to look beyond deterrence, to imagine its inevitable failure, and attempt to navigate the new chaotic, fog-obscured strategic landscape after a nuclear war broke out. But Brodie did not entirely neglect the topic of limited war and in his correspondence he takes great pains to remind his peers and colleagues of this fact. Indeed, his written work looks well beyond basic deterrence, with the advent of thermonuclear weaponry as well as the continued vertical and horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons forcing him to recalibrate the “absolute” nature of atomic weapons and to recognize their increasingly relative nature, so much so that Brodie and Kahn would dive into the topic of escalation across the nuclear threshold at around the same time, eaching authoring a work on this topic, something of an escalation duel. And yet it is Kahn that we would remember as becoming the voice of the warfighter, the bold thinker of the unthinkable, and not Brodie, much to Brodie’s own frustration. Brodie, a principal architect of the system of nuclear deterrence that created the bipolar world (which itself inspired the emergence of neorealism, predicated upon the very bipolar strategic stability that Brodie first articulated), would remain associated with that system, the stability it engineered, and the inertial body of theory that emerged that took stock of the new nuclear world. Brodie though as much about the unthinkable as Kahn but advocated the refinement and strengthening of deterrence, a nuanced approach to the same issue that Kahn more dramatically discussed. Kahn thus became a celebrity as Brodie’s influence began to wane.

Brodie had felt a similar frustration when Kissinger rose to prominence a decade before Kahn’s meteoric rise to celebrity, and believed that Kissinger’s rise was to some degree fueled by the unacknowledged theoretical and doctrinal influence of Brodie. As revealed in a September 6, 1957 memo to his editor, Max Ascoli, the publisher of The Reporter, “In all the current hoopla about ‘limited war,’ especially in connection with the Kissinger Book, there has been an under-current of attitude that the idea is new. I wonder if you remember the article I wrote for you and which you published in your issue of November 18, 1954? It was entitled ‘Unlimited Weapons and Limited War,’ and if you can find the time to scan it, you will find that it anticipated all the basic issues which are being so much discussed now. Oddly enough, I have never seen any reference to that article anywhere else. It is even omitted from the bibliography of Kissinger’s book, though in his case I suspect the omission is deliberate and for petty motives. So far as I know, it was the first article directly on the subject in any journal, American or British.” Brodie also reminded Ascoli that his “Foreign Affairs article of the January preceding came somewhat close to anticipating the subject; I had also been writing classified memoranda on limited war for at least two years preceding the Foreign Affairs article; but my first published treatment of the subject was in the article in your journal.” Brodie was correct to point out his contribution to the limited war literature, both classified internal documents as well as public articles.

But history often is myopic, responding less to the substance of historical dialogue and more to its style. Brodie’s style, and Kahn’s, were widely divergent, much like Brodie’s and Kissinger’s had differed, with Kissinger becoming a very powerful statesman shaping and guiding American foreign and military policy, with Brodie remaining an outsider, like the frustrated Machiavelli in an unending exile from the halls of power and influence. Both Brodie and Kahn thought about the unthinkable, the former with greater theoretical sophistication than the latter. But it is the latter whom most will remember for not only thinking about the unthinkable, but for planning the unthinkable—and for boldly imagining the world the day after deterrence failed.

Brodie again addressed limited war in his February 1956 Naval War College presentation, when he suggested that we needed to experience a revolution in the way we think about war and peace in the nuclear age, to mirror the revolution in military technology that had been fostered by the splitting of the atom: “Today we speak of limited war in a sense that connotes a deliberate hobbling of a tremendous power that is already mobilized—for the sake only of inducing the enemy to hobble himself to comparable degree. We have to admit that it offense against some of the most cherished ideas and doctrines of what we consider to be classic strategy. General MacArthur summed up the incompatibility of the new notions with the older school of military thinking in that most eloquent phrase, ‘there is no substitute for victory.’ And incidentally, if it had not been for the Korean War to which he was referring, it would hardly be possible for us today even to imagine such a thing as modern limited war.”[72] Brodie came to believe that:


There has to be a revolution in ways of thinking about war and peace, among civilians and military alike, before we can even undertake to deal with the many technical problems of limited or peripheral war. That revolution will not be easy to accomplish. It is all very well to outline what reason dictates: that neither the Soviet Union nor the United States wants to destroy the other if in the process it also destroys itself, that every casus belli tends at least to start with a certain geographic identification and with a conflict of purposes such as can usually be described in modest and particular rather than global terms. All that is necessary, seemingly, is to keep the quarrel limited to the terms on which it began. In the past small powers were sometimes given guarantees that could not be fulfilled except by resort to general war, but presumably that kind of guarantee is now out of date.[73]


Brodie’s closing words, at the dawn of the thermonuclear era which marked his peak in terms of intellectual influence, and which soon after ironically witnessed his frustrating marginalization from the very world of strategic nuclear policymaking that he had pioneered just a decade earlier, present a snapshot of his most enduring contribution to the study of total war, a lesson that Clausewitz had sought to articulate but which also largely went unheard by those moved by more practical, less nuanced, Jominian though: “Anyway, we must get away from thinking about war and peace in terms of all or nothing. Such is the sweet voice of reason. But what we come up against immediately is the fact that passion and fear have also been inseparable from war, that the resort to arms is itself enough to stimulate in those who do so a powerful flow of adrenaline, which promotes the forceful handling of those arms. War, in other words, does have an inherent and almost necessary tendency to be orgiastic. But that does not argue that we can afford to surrender to that tendency, or that we must use our reasonable moments during peace to concoct doctrines and strategies that imply lack of reason in war.”[74]

And so counseled Brodie, once the high priest of the dangerous dark art of nuclear war and the founding father of America’s deterrence strategy. But he would soon become eclipsed by intellectually lesser men, pragmatists and politicos better suited to the formation of doctrine than the high art of theory, men like Henry Kissinger who would wield the bomb as a diplomatic tool, a saber to be rattled, and like Herman Kahn, who more readily embraced the orgiastic nature of atomic destruction with a “What, me worry?” attitude that helped propel him to pop-stardom as the living embodiment of Dr. Strangelove. Brodie, meanwhile, ever the purist, and truly America’s Clausewitz, would see his intellectual influence wane.

But Brodie’s canon of work, his richly textured theory and his unique philosophical inquiries into the nature of war, its connection to politics, and its inherent dangers, would remain his legacy, to be unearthed for a new generation caught in the dangerous crossfire of conflict in the post-Hiroshima world. It is my hope that in retelling his story, and revisiting his contribution to the literature of not only nuclear strategy but political philosophy, that I can help restore his voice, so that it again reaches out across the ages, from his generation to ours and beyond. The contrast between Brodie’s theorizing, and his contemporary Herman Kahn’s own unique efforts to “think about the unthinkable,” is like night and day, each similar in length but so contrary in temperature and illumination. Their differences in theoretical style are reminiscent of the rivalry many scholars of Clausewitz have imposed retroactively upon the relationship between Clausewitz and Jomini, whose life experiences overlapped but who knew little of one another’s work, in part because of Clausewitz’s own untimely death before his work was completed written. They each responded to the strategic phenomenon of Napoleon, whose tiny frame embodied an indominable spirit, much like a small tactical nuke, capable of leveling a whole city. The two principal theorists of Napoleon let their minds pull them in opposing directions, with Clausewitz probing the depths of uncertainty and embracing nuance, and Jomini aiming for clarity and simplicity. It was no wonder that Jomini’s influence was so immediate, and in a short time worldwide in reach, with his work on strategy widely read by generals on both sides of the U.S. civil war, America’s first experience with total war in the mechanized age.


Step 5: Nuclear Standoff, Brodie vs. Kahn


Brodie himself engaged Kahn’s unbridled (and uncensored) nuclear optimism critically, rejecting his rival’s rosy presumptions that permeate On Thermonuclear War as anything but realistic. Both Kahn’s lengthy, and unapologetically optimistic treatise, On Thermonuclear War, and also his sequel Thinking About the Unthinkable, reveal Kahn to be much less afraid of the dangers of war in the nuclear age, including thermonuclear war, and thus much more comfortable imagining the world after deterrence had failed than Brodie was—though Brodie and Kahn were more alike, and their thinking evolved in a far more parallel fashion, than their reputations. On Thermonuclear War largely dismisses the many real dangers of general war and post-deterrence hostilities that Brodie so greatly feared, generating controversy while at the same time generating great interest in the subject, though Kahn’s levity was not nearly to the extent parodied by Kubrick in his dark comedy of the nuclear era. To Kahn, the greater danger lay in not preparing to fight and win such a conflict, and not being prepared to think about such potentialities. It is interesting to note that Brodie remained as critical of Kahn’s approach in his sequel as he was of his first time, and in particular took Kahn to task for his levity when Brodie felt solemnity was a more fitting mood, as evident in their correspondence prior to publication of Thinking About the Unthinkable.

On January 19, 1962, Brodie wrote to Kahn, noting he had received a copy of Kahn’s Thinking About the Unthinkable, which he would comment on in subsequent dispatches. In this first letter on the subject, Brodie noted, “I have just received your manuscript, ‘Thinking About the Unthinkable,’ and will try to get it read over the weekend. It looks like it will be pleasant and easy reading.”[75] While he had not yet had time to immerse in it, he did observe right from the get go an issue of historical accuracy he felt required attention: “Incidentally, I think I detect an error in the very first paragraph of Chapter 1, relative to your clause: ‘No level of English society was immune from having its daughters seized and used.’ I find it simply impossible to believe that upper-class or even middle-class English society was not immune to this hazard, at the end of the Nineteenth Century or at any other time. It seems a pretty late date even for the lower classes to have suffered large scale abduction ‘by force’ of their daughters. By fraud, perhaps yes, but by force—show me.”[76]

The next week, on January 25, 1962, having begun to review Kahn’s manuscript, Brodie wrote again to explain, “Your manuscript is taking me longer to read than I had bargained on. I did not have a whole week-end to devote to it, but I am reading a portion of it each evening. However, it reads very easily. You write immeasurably more lucidly and smoothly than you did when I first began reading manuscripts by you some years ago. There is no problem with style editing.”[77] Brodie took issue with the bulk of Herman’s manuscript, as well as its style, suggesting new readers might take offense:


In view of the apparent haste on your side, however, let me anticipate at least two comments that I know I should want to make in my final summation. First and most important, I think that parts of the book could be greatly condensed to benefit the whole. This is particularly true of the non-substantive, self-justifying chapters, like the first chapter, where you are in fact making a single, simple point: i.e., events which are greatly evil but also possible must not escape intelligent investigation and discussion. Some amount of blowing up and repetition is necessary to drive home even a simple and “obvious” point, but it can too easily be over-done. Anyway, since even your substantive chapters (at any rate, those I have read thus far) tend to repeat what you have written in OTW, you should aim at putting out a quite small, easily read book.


Secondly, you have a personal style which your friends know and accept but which new readers are likely to find offensive. I am referring especially to your very frequent use of the first person, singular. I think you could very easily slice out some 60 to 80 per cent of phrases like “I think,” “I believe,” “I feel,” etc. Frequently you even use such phrases in a way to suggest that your thinking thus and so settles the matter. Regardless of whether or not I agree with you (I usually do), I cannot avoid that feeling that you are giving too much credit to your intuitions. Hostile reviewers will charge you with intellectual immodesty. Thus, where reference to yourself is easily avoidable (I grant it is not always so), it should be avoided.[78]


Brodie’s comments were presented in a manner that seems both supportive and encouraging, noting Brodie generally agrees with Kahn, but also cautioning Kahn that his style exposed him to the risk of being charged with “intellectual immodesty.” [79] History shows that it was just this immodesty that bought Kahn notoriety. But there is at this point no suggestion in Brodie’s comments of an underlying tension or envy as would be more apparent in Brodie’s very public rebuke of Kahn’s work in his introduction to On War in 1976. Brodie closed his letter kindly, noting “I am looking forward to seeing you and Jane on March 13,” and in preparation for his upcoming visit, added, “And oh yes, please have someone send me instructions on how to get from New York to White Plains.”[80]

The next week, on January 31, 1962, Brodie wrote again to Kahn, this time having completed his reading of Thinking About the Unthinkable but this time delivering a more critical and pessimistic assessment of it. As Brodie noted, “Since writing my last letter I have finished reading your manuscript; ‘Thinking about the Unthinkable.’ In view of the fact that you are pushing through this manuscript in a hurry, I could not take the time to read as slowly and as carefully as I could otherwise have done. However, I did form some fairly solid impressions.”[81] And these impressions, Brodie explains, were not nearly as positive as in his prior letter. But while more critical, Brodie aims to soften the blow by couching his criticisms within an apologetic tone, and also explaining that Brodie’s intention is to be constructive, and to prevent Kahn’s tone, and what Brodie feels to be an inappropriate levity for such a somber subject matter, from eroding Kahn’s “presently considerable reputation.”[82] As Brodie writes:


I am, I regret to say, less optimistic about this book than I was at my previous writing. It seems to me to show, in its organization and its writing, that it is thrown together in haste. The writing is lucid enough, as I said it was in my previous letter, but it lacks the exciting formulations which one frequently encountered in your OTW and which reflected real brooding on your part. I remember, for example, your analogy to a structure that an architect designs not only fort the breezes of a summer’s day but for storms and earthquakes and the like. I remember Fawn’s reading it to me aloud when she came upon it. In the present manuscript I came upon nothing which would tempt one to pause and savor its full wording and meaning. You even have a few bloopers which show haste: for example, on page 206 you have a ship arriving “with two divisions of Chinese troops.” That would be a ship of most gargantuan proportions, would it not? Incidentally, I do not think you realize how boring scenarios can be to people who do not use them for work purposes. The reader knows what you are describing has not happened and will not happen. What does happen in the future will be different. The detail therefore seems pointless. At least, that is the way scenarios always affect me.


I must also repeat with emphasis my remarks I made in my previous letter about the merits of condensation and of greatly cutting down the references to yourself.


Forgive me for the very negative tone of this letter, but it seems to me you are rushing into print unnecessarily with a second manuscript which will do nothing to enhance your presently considerable reputation. If you want to write an essay justifying your thinking about the unthinkable, why not publish a long article in a magazine of wide circulation? Or if you think you have enough to say on that subject to warrant a small book, by all means write such a book but don’t load it down with all sorts of other materials.[83]


Brodie closes his letter with some comments on Kahn’s style, and in particular his tendency to “lapse into levity,”[84] something the topic being addressed must, in Brodie’s estimation, always be avoided. Kahn, of course, disagreed, and in his effort to shatter the nuclear taboos and generate a wider debate on the role of nuclear weapons in foreign policy and military doctrine, counted on his style to spark the very passionate debate that more scholarly writing like Brodie’s tended not to spark. One can sense, in Brodie’s comments, a widening of the gap between these two pivotal nuclear wizards, as one found wisdom and solace in the highest of philosophy and theory while the latter brought his wisdom deep into the cave, and to the masses there enchained. One can also get a glimpse of the incipient rivalry between these two friends and colleagues, and sense its parallel to that which came to mark the relationship between Clausewitz and Jomini a century before:


Let me please with you also that on the subject on which you write the slightest lapse into levity must be avoided. You are discussing a serious and terrible subject, and you do nothing to enhance the acceptability of your work by being occasionally (even if most infrequently) flippant. Avoid also terms like “tit for tat” when you are talking about destruction of cities, and “bonus” when you are talking about destruction of population. I think that tendencies of this sort on your part account for much of the hostility aroused by OTW. There is no use making pious protestations in some places when your phraseology in other places effectively nullifies them. So grim a subject does not exclude an appropriate kind of humor used very sparingly; but levity is never legitimate.[85]


Brodie nonetheless—at this stage anyway—meant his comments to be constructive, and not disparaging, and added in closing, “I still look forward to seeing you on March 13.”[86]

Before commencing his review of Kahn’s draft of Thinking About the Unthinkable, Brodie had been in discussion with Kahn about a visit to the Hudson Institute, at Kahn’s invitation, and also about Brodie’s potential membership at Hudson, also at Kahn’s invitation. On January 4, 1962, Brodie wrote to Kahn after having been invited to join Kahn’s institute, to which Brodie responded appreciatively, but also cautiously. As Brodie explained, “I am touched by your very warm letter, with its invitation to become a fellow member of the Hudson Institute. It is a privilege to be associated with you in any way, especially in one which increases the likelihood of being able to see you and talk with you from time to time.”[87] But Brodie explained that he could only tentatively accept membership owing to his need to review the bylaws concerning the duties and obligations of members, and also to notify his “RAND superiors with the fact that I am accepting some kind of office in your institute.”[88] Brodie sought clarification on these issues from Kahn prior to January 12, and though he thought it unlikely he’d have to withdraw his tentative acceptance, he nonetheless wanted to proceed with cautiously, noting: “You see, I am getting to think like a politician, or, even worse, an operator!”[89] With regard to a visit, Brodie was also cautious: “Concerning the matter of making a trip East to see you, I should like to do so very much. However, mostly for the reasons I mentioned in our last telephone conversation, I should like to make the trip contingent upon your having something fairly specific to talk over with me. The visit would, of course, have to be made on my own time, which is to say on annual leave from RAND.”[90] That being said, however, Brodie closed his letter warmly, writing: “Meanwhile give my warm thanks to Jane for the offer of the guest room, which I shall certainly take up when I make the trip. Give her also my love and best wishes (and to you as well) for the New Year.”[91]

In his January 19th letter acknowledging receipt of Kahn’s draft of Thinking About the Unthinkable, Brodie noted that he had received “an invitation from Bill Fox of Columbia to come and lead a discussion which will take place somewhere around March 10—though it will be a working day rather than a weekend,” adding that “This is one trip I should like to combine with a visit to your place, taking up what I presume is your standing invitation. Will you be around at that time? Would your Institute be able to pay my freight? I should like to make the whole trip on private rather than RAND time.”[92] Brodie followed up on this matter in his January 25, 1962 which was largely devoted to his critical feedback on Kahn’s manuscript. He noted Columbia would be providing an honorarium, so he would only have to charge half his LA to NY airfare to the Hudson Institute.

On February 9, 1962, Brodie was officially admitted as a member of Hudson, and as his letter of acceptance noted, he was “duly admitted as a Fellow Member of Hudson Institute Inc.,” commencing March 1, 1962, and his acceptance letter was signed and dated on February 9, 1962 by Kahn himself.[93] As things turned out, however, Brodie’s membership proved to be problematic owing to RAND policies. In a February 16, 1962 letter to Kahn explaining the situation, Brodie said he had to reluctantly withdraw owing to a “change of policy” at RAND, which also required his colleague Albert Wohlstetter to withdraw his membership.[94] As Brodie explained, “You are of course aware that the Hudson Institute is not being subject to any unusual or discriminating treatment,” and added that a “ruckus in Congress is causing people to be sensitive about possible charges of ‘conflict of interest.’ Whatever we may think of the sense of such charges, it is a simple and non-corrupting matter to trim some sail in that kind of wind.”[95] And so, Brodie concluded, “Please forgive me for any possible inconvenience caused by my about face. I trust I am still invited to visit you on March 13.”[96] On February 22, Kahn’s colleague, Max Singer, confirmed receipt of Brodie’s letter and Singer’s removal of Brodie’s name from the Hudson membership roster. Singer wrote, “I have your letter of 16 February 1962,” and “In accordance with your request I have removed your name from our official roster of Fellow Members. Since this action was taken before March 1st the Certificate you have can be treated as if it were void from its inception, and our records will reflect the fact that you never became a Member of the Hudson Institute, Inc.”[97] Kahn also penned a letter to Brodie on February 22, writing “I was sorry to hear that you will not be able to become a member of the Institute. However, I both empathize and sympathize with your reasons; in fact they are pretty overwhelming.”[98] He added that “Your changing your mind has caused us no inconvenience, only a sense of great loss. I am still looking forward to seeing you on March 13, and I have asked my secretary to enclose with this letter the instructions for getting here.”[99]

It is not clear if Brodie’s critical response to Kahn’s Thinking About the Unthinkable and his concurrent withdrawal from membership in the Hudson Institute contributed to the cooling of their relationship, but it is apparent that the relationship remained distant. In a letter the next year, on September 18, 1963, Brodie illustratively asked his colleague, “How are you anyway? And, how are things going? People sometimes ask me, as though I ought to know, which I think I should.”[100] From Brodie’s comments, one can sense that communication between Brodie and Kahn was no longer a frequent affair, and that Brodie was perhaps feeling out of touch with his old friend and colleague. Brodie’s wording also suggests that he was feeling a bit snubbed, finding himself out of the loop with regard to one of the most widely regarded, and clearly one of the most controversial, members of strategic community. Brodie added, perhaps too self-consciously, “I know you must have read my article, ‘What Price Conventional Capabilities in Europe?’ in the May 23rd Reporter, reprinted in the current issue of Survival. You must have thoughts about it, and I would like to hear them. Alex, Nathan, and I are planning to do further work on the subject.”[101]

Kahn responded promptly upon his return from traveling. On October 3, 1963, he wrote that he “just came back from a trip and found your letter waiting for me,’ and acknowledged that, “I did, indeed, read your article in the Reporter magazine and found it, as usual, impressive, creative, and mostly sensible. I did note a certain strain of acidness in it which I do not usually associate with your writings. This sort of startled me but, later, when I checked the reaction of some of our colleagues to your article, I conjectured the reasons for it. To many of the analysts raising such questions of crossing the nuclear threshold, diminishing the role of the NATO alliance, or the relative sanity or sense of de Gaulle, or even the value of current proposals (which I, myself, favor) such as controlled response, is worse than heresy—it’s a sign of senility.” He signed off jocularly, “Yours for more penetrating senilities. My best regards to you and Fran.”[102] Kahn’s observation of a certain strain of acidness in Brodie’s article, which he did not usually associate with Brodie’s work, is intriguing, though Kahn attributes it more to the passion of the doctrinal debate over flexible response strategies, and the belief among some deterrence theorists that issues like crossing the nuclear threshold were worse than heresy, suggesting that doctrinal and theoretical split taking shape within the strategic community was hardening, furthering the distance between these two pivotal strategic thinkers.

In Brodie’s April 1973 Foreign Service Journal article—”How Much Conventional Force Do We Need?”—he starts out by noting that “[i]n the minds of the great majority of people, nuclear weapons are objects of unmitigated horror, and so they are—in use. We know, however, that the leaders of all the nations possessing nuclear weapons are and have long been most keenly aware of their terrible potentialities.”[103] And yet, Brodie finds, conventional thinking persists. Brodie recalls how “[o]ver a decade ago, Herman Kahn in his On Thermonuclear War spoke of his ‘quaint ideas’ then still current among the military, including ‘the claim that in a thermonuclear war it is important to keep the sea lanes open.’ He mentions comparable ideas characteristic of the other services, and asks: ‘Where do such ideas come from?’ His answer: ‘They generally result, it can be assumed, from doctrinal lags or from position papers that primarily reflect a very narrow departmental interest or which are the result of log-rolling compromises between several partisan departments of the government.’ He adds, too optimistically as it has turned out, ‘We are fortunate that on the whole these views are no longer taken seriously even by many of the decision makers who sign the papers.’”[104]

Brodie speculates on the potential cause of the persistence of conventional thinking, and the belief that a general war might be fought using only conventional weapons, during the nuclear era:


It is possible that in the quoted statement Kahn was correctly interpreting a trend that was later reversed. That is, officers who were at one time ready, or on the threshold of being ready, to admit that the conditions of a thermonuclear war were incompatible with the notions they had previously been advancing, subsequently became accustomed to the fact that nuclear weapons were not in fact being used even when American forces were at war, as in Korea and Vietnam. It also is likely that they have been affected selectively by the ideas of the conventional war-buildup school, that is, that they have absorbed gratefully the views that the United States would need as many ships, tanks, guns, aircraft as of yore, without necessarily accepting the basic assumption behind those views. That basic assumption is that we can have a World War III on something like a World War II scale without thermonuclear weapons being used. This is the same as saying that existing stockpiles of nuclear weapons cannot reliably deter such a war, let alone a lesser war.[105]


Brodie examines the thoughts of several proponents of conventional warfighting in the nuclear era, and finds they generally acknowledge that full scale hostilities between the great powers would result in nuclear use, and that despite the restraint showed in both the Korean and Vietnamese conflicts, nuclear non-use could not be assured should a conflict involving great power and not peripheral interests arise. Brodie also brings Kahn up again, devoting several paragraphs to discussing his views on the survivability of nuclear war:


Herman Kahn, in the book that first made his name a byword, set out to prove that, provided certain precautions were taken of a kind that he and a research team under his direction had thoroughly explored, the United States could survive a strategic thermonuclear war. By that he meant that the fatalities and other casualties, though very large, could be kept within limits that he considered tolerable, and that within a term of years that others might consider astonishingly short, say five to ten years, the GNP that it had enjoyed before the war. The special condition to which he attached such supreme importance was the provision in good time of adequate fallout shelters and other forms of civil defense (though he had abandoned blast shelters as unfeasible), and also the storage in caves or man-made shelters of certain well-selected machine tools, the preservation of which would greatly assist in the reconstruction.

As Kahn himself said in one of his footnotes, “It is the hallmark of the expert professional that he doesn’t care where he is going as long as he proceeds competently.” He added that that seemed to be a reasonable charge against his book. This writer fully agrees, especially concerning the competence. Unlike most other writers in the field of strategy, including myself, Kahn had the courage to explore as thoroughly as his exceptional ability and knowledge permitted the character of a “general war” with thermonuclear weapons. However, having expressed this tribute, I must take part of it back by declaring that while Kahn cared well enough where he was going, he was helped along by an optimism that has in some critical respects turned out to be unwarranted.[106]


Brodie proceeds to challenge Kahn’s conclusions on the survivability of nuclear war, noting “the precautions that Kahn deemed absolutely essential before his somewhat roseate conclusions could be warranted have not been taken and it is now abundantly clear that they will not be.”[107] That’s because, “[f]or reasons that were again psychological rather than logical, the American public in 1961-1962 reacted violently against the fallout shelter program studied and proposed by Kahn and accepted by the Kennedy Administration,” and now “appears unrevivable, and no one seems any longer interested.”[108] Next, Brodie points out, “as Kahn himself admitted frequently to his friends, his premises assumed a situation in nuclear weapons that was fast changing for the worse. His arguments, he conceded, would no longer be valid a decade hence unless there were significant and farreaching international agreements for nuclear disarmament. That decade has passed, and with MIRV and other developments, we know he was right to be concerned by the great increase in the sheer quantity of destructiveness that would be available to both sides. As could be predicted since they began, the outcome of the SALT negotiations was not enough to matter in this respect.”[109]

Further, Brodie argues, reaching into his knowledge of psychology, “being neither by training nor temperament sensitive to the vast psychological and emotional damage that a society like ours would suffer along with the physical devastation of a thermonuclear war, Kahn undoubtedly underestimated the problems of recovery even from a war taking place under the premises he postulated. Psychologically trained people have worked on the problem, but it is difficult to do so when one cannot find any real parallels in history. Past wars and other disasters have proved the human being and his societal structure remarkably resilient, but there are limits—especially in the absence of outside help of the kind that the United States after two world wars could give to others. One thing we may intuit with some assurance, and that s that democracy as we know it could hardly survive.”[110] And Brodie’s “[f]ourth and most important” point is that:


although Kahn could see reasons why this unspeakable sum of destruction might nevertheless have to be accepted rather than yield one’s position on an important political dispute—the main reason being that a disposition to yield would be visible and hence tempting to the opponent—this writer can imagine no such issue that is at all likely to arise. On the simple Clausewitzian premise that a war must have a reasonable political objective with which the military operations must be reasonably constant—we have to work back from the assumption that “general war” with thermonuclear weapons must never be permitted to begin, however much we find it necessary to make physical preparations as though in might begin. Working back from that I premise is far from easy, and as I have indicated before, the idea of large-scale conventional war is simply no solution. There are requirements for a new diplomacy, the beginnings of which are in fact appearing.[111]


After considering the reflections of several senior members of the Kennedy administration who stood on the precipice of war and who concluded that nuclear weapons could not be magically withheld from general hostilities if war came, Brodie concludes that “strategic thermonuclear war is indeed possible,” and that “[m]en who know or think they know the consequences of such war have sometimes taken steps in the direction of confrontation because they thought the latter necessary,” and could thus “see no alternative.”[112] As Brodie reflects,


Perhaps the compulsions that have moved them in that direction are due to outworn habits of thinking and of action, but for the time being and at least for the generation that now holds power, they exist. That is why so many people have despaired of avoiding general thermonuclear war except through remedies that this writer, among many others, regard as utterly unavailable, like world government or complete nuclear disarmament, or ineffective for the purpose intended, like building up conventional armaments as a means of sealing off or at least critically reducing the probability of resort to nuclear weapons.

Yet, as time goes on people seem to live in less rather than more fear of what would otherwise seem to be an increasing menace. The specialists become aroused about the threats to retaliatory forces arising from the increasing accuracy of long-range missiles, and they try to communicate their alarm to others in order to get certain things done—like building an ABM, but they have to contend with a certain calm resistance that is new, and which is reflected in such matters as the Senate votes on the ABM. It is an interesting phenomenon, some no doubt would argue a dangerous one, and it requires some explanation. Most important, one wants to know whether it reflects a reality or an illusion about the direction in which events are leading us.

The most hopeful part of the answer is that diplomacy seems clearly to be moving in a direction that indicates a common recognition, among those powers possessing substantial nuclear capabilities, that thermonuclear war between them is simply forbidden, and thus also lesser wars that might too easily lead up to the large-scale thermonuclear variety. This trend shows itself in various far-reaching and significant ways. No doubt it is not moving fast enough for our comfort, and yet it would even know take a very great deal to start a World War III—just as it took so much more to start World War II than it took to start World War I.[113]



[1]. Bernard Brodie, “In Quest of Socrates: Man and Philosopher,” Paper Submitted to Course 101, Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago, December 1932, 1.

[2]. Bernard Brodie, “In Quest of Socrates: Man and Philosopher,” Paper Submitted to Course 101, Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago, December 1932, 1-2.

[3]. Bernard Brodie, “In Quest of Socrates: Man and Philosopher,” Paper Submitted to Course 101, Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago, December 1932, 2.

[4]. Bernard Brodie, “In Quest of Socrates: Man and Philosopher,” Paper Submitted to Course 101, Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago, December 1932, 2.

[5]. Bernard Brodie, “In Quest of Socrates: Man and Philosopher,” Paper Submitted to Course 101, Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago, December 1932, 2.

[6]. Bernard Brodie, “In Quest of Socrates: Man and Philosopher,” Paper Submitted to Course 101, Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago, December 1932, 2.

[7]. Bernard Brodie, “In Quest of Socrates: Man and Philosopher,” Paper Submitted to Course 101, Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago, December 1932, 3.

[8]. Brodie, “In Quest of Socrates: Man and Philosopher,” Appendix B, iv.

[9]. Brodie, “In Quest of Socrates: Man and Philosopher,” Appendix B, iv-v.

[10]. Peter Paret, “The Political Ideas of Clausewitz,” Paper Submitted to the Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, December 29, 1962, 1.

[11]. Paret, “The Political Ideas of Clausewitz,” 1-2.

[12]. Paret, “The Political Ideas of Clausewitz,” 2.

[13]. Paret, “The Political Ideas of Clausewitz,” 2.

[14]. Paret, “The Political Ideas of Clausewitz,” 2.

[15]. Paret, “The Political Ideas of Clausewitz,” 8-9.

[16]. Paret, “The Political Ideas of Clausewitz,” 9. Brodie also had on file a copy of Peter Paret’s “Carl von Clausewitz: Biographical article for the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences,” Center for International Studies, Princeton University, from September 16, 1963.

[17]. As cited by Bernard Brodie, “The Continuing Relevance of On War,” in Carl von Clausewitz, On War, edited and translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976, 45.

[18]. Brodie, “The Continuing Relevance of On War,” 49.

[19]. Brodie, “The Continuing Relevance of On War,” 49.

[20]. Brodie, “The Continuing Relevance of On War,” 50.

[21]. Brodie, “The Continuing Relevance of On War,” 51-52.

[22]. Brodie, “The Continuing Relevance of On War,” 52.

[23]. Brodie, “The Continuing Relevance of On War,” 52.

[24]. Brodie, “The Continuing Relevance of On War,” 52.

[25]. Brodie, “The Continuing Relevance of On War,” 53.

[26]. Brodie, “The Continuing Relevance of On War,” 54.

[27]. Brodie, “The Continuing Relevance of On War,” 57.

[28]. Brodie, “The Continuing Relevance of On War,” 57.

[29]. Brodie, “The Continuing Relevance of On War,” 57.

[30]. Brodie, “The Continuing Relevance of On War,” 57.

[31]. Brodie, “The Continuing Relevance of On War,” 58.

[32] Bernard Brodie, “In Quest of the Unknown Clausewitz.” [A review of Paret's Clausewitz and the State.] International Security 1, No.3 (Winter 1977), 63.

[33] Bernard Brodie, “In Quest of the Unknown Clausewitz.” [A review of Paret's Clausewitz and the State.] International Security 1, No.3 (Winter 1977), 63.

[34] Bernard Brodie, “In Quest of the Unknown Clausewitz.” [A review of Paret's Clausewitz and the State.] International Security 1, No.3 (Winter 1977), 63.

[35] Bernard Brodie, “In Quest of the Unknown Clausewitz.” [A review of Paret's Clausewitz and the State.] International Security 1, No.3 (Winter 1977), 63.

[36] Bernard Brodie, “In Quest of the Unknown Clausewitz.” [A review of Paret's Clausewitz and the State.] International Security 1, No.3 (Winter 1977), 64.

[37] Bernard Brodie, “In Quest of the Unknown Clausewitz.” [A review of Paret's Clausewitz and the State.] International Security 1, No.3 (Winter 1977), 64.

[38] Bernard Brodie, “In Quest of the Unknown Clausewitz.” [A review of Paret's Clausewitz and the State.] International Security 1, No.3 (Winter 1977), 66.

[39] Bernard Brodie, “In Quest of the Unknown Clausewitz.” [A review of Paret's Clausewitz and the State.] International Security 1, No.3 (Winter 1977), 66.

[40]. Bernard Brodie, War & Politics. New York: Macmillan Company, 1973, vii.

[41]. Brodie, War & Politics, vii.

[42]. Brodie, War & Politics, 1-2.

[43]. Brodie, War & Politics, 2.

[44]. Brodie, War & Politics, 2.

[45]. Brodie, War & Politics, 8.

[46]. Brodie, War & Politics, 9.

[47]. Brodie, War & Politics, 51.

[48]. Brodie, War & Politics, 51.

[49]. Brodie, War & Politics, 51.

[50]. Brodie, War & Politics, 53.

[51]. Brodie, War & Politics, 54.

[52]. Brodie, War & Politics, 55.

[53]. Brodie, War & Politics, 46.

[54]. Brodie, War & Politics, 47.

[55]. Brodie, War & Politics, 47.

[56]. Brodie, War & Politics, 56.

[57]. Brodie, War & Politics, 376.

[58]. Brodie, War & Politics, 377.

[59]. Brodie, War & Politics, 377.

[60]. Brodie, War & Politics, 377.

[61]. Brodie, War & Politics, 378.

[62]. Brodie, War & Politics, 378.

[63]. Brodie, War & Politics, 378.

[64]. Brodie, War & Politics, 379.

[65]. Brodie, War & Politics, 407.

[66]. Brodie, War & Politics, 430.

[67]. Brodie, War & Politics, 431.

[68]. Brodie, War & Politics, 431.

[69]. Brodie, War & Politics, 431.

[70]. Brodie, War & Politics, 432.

[71]. Brodie, War & Politics, 432.

[72]. Bernard Brodie, “Influence of Mass Destruction Weapons on Strategy,” U.S. Naval War College presentation, February 1956, 20-22.

[73]. Bernard Brodie, “Influence of Mass Destruction Weapons on Strategy,” U.S. Naval War College presentation, February 1956, 20-22.

[74]. Bernard Brodie, “Influence of Mass Destruction Weapons on Strategy,” U.S. Naval War College presentation, February 1956, 20-22.

[75] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, January 19, 1962.

[76] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, January 19, 1962.

[77] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, January 25, 1962.

[78] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, January 25, 1962.

[79] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, January 25, 1962.

[80] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, January 25, 1962.

[81] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, January 31, 1962.

[82] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, January 31, 1962.

[83] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, January 31, 1962.

[84] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, January 31, 1962.

[85] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, January 31, 1962.

[86] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, January 31, 1962.

[87] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, January 4, 1962.

[88] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, January 4, 1962.

[89] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, January 4, 1962.

[90] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, January 4, 1962.

[91] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, January 4, 1962.

[92] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, January 25, 1962.

[93] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, February 9, 1962.

[94] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, February 9, 1962.

[95] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, February 9, 1962.

[96] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, February 9, 1962.

[97] Letter from Max singer to Bernard Brodie, February 22, 1962.

[98] Letter from Herman Kahn to Bernard Brodie, February 22, 1962.

[99] Letter from Herman Kahn to Bernard Brodie, February 22, 1962.

[100] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, September 18, 1963.

[101] Letter from Bernard Brodie to Herman Kahn, September 18, 1963.

[102] Letter from Herman Kahn to Bernard Brodie, October 3, 1963.

[103]. Bernard Brodie, “How Much Conventional Force Do We Need?” Foreign Service Journal (April 1973): 18.

[104]. Brodie, “How Much Conventional Force Do We Need?” 18-19.

[105]. Brodie, “How Much Conventional Force Do We Need?” 19.

[106]. Brodie, “How Much Conventional Force Do We Need?” 21.

[107]. Brodie, “How Much Conventional Force Do We Need?” 21.

[108]. Brodie, “How Much Conventional Force Do We Need?” 21.

[109]. Brodie, “How Much Conventional Force Do We Need?” 21

[110]. Brodie, “How Much Conventional Force Do We Need?” 21.

[111]. Brodie, “How Much Conventional Force Do We Need?” 21.

[112]. Brodie, “How Much Conventional Force Do We Need?” 26.

[113]. Brodie, “How Much Conventional Force Do We Need?” 26.

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• 4/30 Coalition Troops Respond to Afghan Market Bombing
• 4/30 Golf, Life Lessons Available to Military Children
• 4/30 Group Links Health Care Providers to VA, Academia
• 4/30 Face of Defense: Magazine Recognizes Airman in Top 100
• 4/29 Navy to Start Training Female Submariners in July
• 4/29 Defense Department Evaluates Possible Oil Spill Response
• 4/29 Official Praises Crew's Response to Iranian Aircraft
• 4/29 U.S. Must Help Pakistan Beat Insurgency, Officials Say
• 4/29 U.S. Flags Salute Wounded Warrior Athletes
• 4/29 Navy Program Cuts Stress for Military Families
• 4/29 Forces in Afghanistan Kill, Capture Enemy Fighters
• 4/29 Guard Members Prepare for Kentucky Oaks, Derby Races
• 4/29 Face of Defense: Airman Manages Learning Resources
• 4/28 Guard, Reserve Leaders Seek Funding for Growing Role
• 4/28 Lynn Discusses Social Media at Facebook Headquarters
• 4/28 Report Notes Afghanistan Developments, Challenges
• 4/28 Pentagon Dedicates NORAD Corridor
• 4/28 Servicemembers Send Wounded Cyclists Off at White House
• 4/28 Military Pay Competitive With Private Sector
• 4/28 Air Guard Trains for Firefighting Mission
• 4/28 Biden Kicks off Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride
• 4/28 Forces Detain Suspects, Seize Drugs, Weapons
• 4/28 Avatar Project Seeks to Help Military Amputees
• 4/28 Face of Defense: Airman Advances Afghan Women's Cause
• 4/28 Lynn Details Approach to Changes in Warfare
• 4/27 Mullen Appeals to Philanthropists to Assist Veterans

VOA News - War/Conflict stories

• 2/18 Obama Urges His Party Not to 'Run for the Hills'
• 2/18 Ambassador for Young Spreads a Love of Books
• 2/18 New Understanding of How Plants Use Water
• 2/18 Saying Goodbye to 2009, Hoping for a Better 2010
• 2/18 Time -- One of the Great Mysteries of Our Universe
• 2/18 American History Series: After Lincoln's Murder
• 2/18 New Treatment for Sleeping Sickness
• 2/18 Five New Year's Resolutions for Learners to Improve Their English


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