Courtesy Reuters

Giants and Pygmies

By Kenneth N. Waltz

GIANTS AND PYGMIES

To the Editor:

America may have contrived a new way of war, as Max Boot argues ("The New American Way of War," July/August 2003), but the recent victory in Iraq hardly demonstrates its potency. Iraq fought a debilitating war with Iran in the 1980s, lost decisively in the Gulf War of 1991, and endured international sanctions and occasional U.S.-British bombardments for more than a decade. Iraq entered its most recent war with its military strength at less than half of its 1991 level. Why then does Boot find it impressive that the United States and the United Kingdom won with about half the troops, in about half the time, and with about half the casualties of the first Gulf War?

In 2001, Iraq's GDP was about $15 billion, and its defense expenditure $1.5 billion. U.S. GDP was about $10.2 trillion, and its defense expenditure $322 billion. For a giant to defeat a pygmy hardly tests a country's military prowess or validates a "new way of war."

Kenneth N. Waltz

Columbia University

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