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Getting the Facts Straight: The Problem of Powerful Ideas in the Study of Violence

Getting the Facts Straight: The Problem of Powerful Ideas in the Study of Violence

Joseph R. Miller, Ph.D Student, University of Maine

John Grenier’s the First Way of War has become a highly influential text, but the work’s path was difficult because of how it contented with a popular theory. Attrition strategy and the targeting of civilians in wars like Viet Nam and World War II were previously argued to be a result of Clausewitzian strategy, but Grenier work has illustrated that these sorts of strategies are a theme that begins in colonial American history.[1] In Russell Weigley’s highly popular The American War popular notions that attrition strategy was born in the wake of the Second World War stagnated scholarship on the subject for years.[2] Given the technological improvements to modern warfare, it might be assumed that popular ideas do not shape the memory of contemporary events. But when a complex attack decimated an American infantry platoon in Kandahar province, it was remembered as a solitary roadside bomb. The 14 May 2013 attack claimed the lives of four soldiers and wounded six.[3] The common story of roadside bombs overtook the eventualities and the facts got lost in powerful narration of the roadside bomb destroying U.S. vehicles. Read More.

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