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The New American Way of War

Courtesy Reuters

WAGING MODERN WAR

"The American way of war." That phrase -- popularized by the military historian Russell Weigley in his 1973 book -- has come to refer to a grinding strategy of attrition: the strategy employed by Ulysses S. Grant to destroy Robert E. Lee's army in 1864-65, by John J. Pershing to wear down the German army in 1918, and by the U.S. Army Air Force to pulverize all the major cities of Germany and Japan in 1944-45. In this view, the Civil War, World War I, and World War II were won not by tactical or strategic brilliance but by the sheer weight of numbers -- the awesome destructive power that only a fully mobilized and highly industrialized democracy can bring to bear. In all these conflicts, U.S. armies composed of citizen-soldiers suffered and inflicted massive casualties.

Much the same methods characterized the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam,

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