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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sam Huntington, RIP

I missed this over Christmas. Professor Sam Huntington passed away on the 24th of December, on Martha's Vineyard.

I learned about Professor Huntington when I took a course on Civil Military Relations from the History Department, when I was a cadet at the Air Force Academy. The two texts were Sam Huntington's The Soldier and the State: %nbsp:the Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations and Morris Janowitz'The Professional Soldier:  A Social and Political Portrait.

The Harvard University Gazette Online report on Professor Huntington's passing away includes this:
Huntington's first book, "The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations," published to great controversy in 1957 and now in its 15th printing, is today still considered a standard title on the topic of how military affairs intersect with the political realm. It was the subject of a West Point symposium last year, on the 50th anniversary of its publication.
When I was a cadet, taking the Civil Military Relations course in about 1963 my two professors--they were team teaching--told us that the publication of The Soldier and the State was the reason Professor Huntington went to Columbia University's Institute of War and Peace Studies in late 1959. He had been denied tenure at Harvard due to the book.

But, to Harvard's credit, they did realize the talent and did grant him tenure and there he remained from the late 1960s until his retirement last year.

I still have my copy of The Soldier and the State.

The issue of Civil Military relations is still a hot topic. Today I would look to Dr Richard Kohn, a Harvard Graduate, with a PhD from the University of Wisconsin, for authoritative commentary. A contribution co-written with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers is here. A more recent contribution can be found here.

In a way this brings us to President Elect Obama and about how he will interact with his military. I don't see a coup in the offing--far from it. But a wrong footed start could make the relationship difficult. After an unfortunate incident in the White House with General Barry McCaffrey, early in the Clinton Administration, where a staffer dismissed the General as unworthy of being talked to, there was a feeling in the Pentagon that the military was in for a rough time. President Clinton, to his credit, reached out to the military and to General McCaffrey in particular, to correct that mistaken impression. General McCaffrey was called by President Clinton's Chief of Staff, Mack McLarty, to assure General McCaffrey that he was respected. Writer Jay Nordlinger quotes the President as saying: "We weren't raised in Hope, Arkansas, to disrespect the military."

And, General McCaffrey reached back. Civil Military relations in the United States are a two-way street. Both sides have to work at it.

General McCaffrey went from two stars to four and then retired from the Army to become President Clinton's Drug Czar.

I can't help but think that scholars like Sam Huntington and Morris Janowitz have helped the military have a better understanding of Civil Military relations and thus helped us better deal with the frictions that are bound to occur.

And this doesn't even talk to the contributions Professor Huntington made with regard to the discussion about what is happening in our current world and the possible "Clash of Civilizations" that is occurring at this very time. Professor Huntington will be missed, by those who know his works and by those whose national security is a little better off because of those works and the discussions they fostered.

Regards  --  Cliff


Anonymous said...


"Have you ever wondered what would happen if a nuclear bomb goes off in your city? Select a weapon: Little Boy, Fat Man, etc."

C R Krieger said...

I checked out the site, which is pretty interesting and even looked at the weapon I liked best of the four I have had to deal with in my previous incarnation, the B-61. When we got it in our squadron the Weapons Officer, George D, was ecstatic. It was clean and relatively light and the yield was "field selectable." And, it wasn't as complicated as two of the other bombs we dealt with. I think the max yield is 345 kt and not 340, as the web site shows. About seven paragraphs down in this article the range of yields is discussed.

One of the things missing from the calculations is if the delivery is ground burst or air burst. That makes a big difference in certain aspects of the resulting damage, including the amount of residual radiation. Also, it you have an air burst you might not have a good chance of getting satisfactory damage against a buried site.

But, there should be little doubt that a B-61 at 345 kt would do a job on Lowell, or any other city. That is one of the reasons that the idea of nations with nuclear weapons going to war with each other should be a cause for concern. Think India and Pakistan, or Iran and Israel.

Thanks Anonymous.

Regards -- Cliff