Scribner Seminar Program
Instructor(s): Steve Hoffmann, Government
What can thinking people in the United States learn about the latest war from studying
past wars ? Today’s war seems to go well or badly, mostly depending upon the political
slant of the news media we prefer to use. In this seminar, we study American military
methods employed during the present war in Iraq, an how many of them first appeared
during World War II. We see how they proved themselves, or failed to do so, in wars
fought in Vietnam, Somalia, and Iraq, and became linked to further military innovation.
Application of thinking drawn from political science enables us to draw powerful lessons
from military history. Those lessons do not ignore the drama, triumph, tragedy, horror,
humanity, and even humor, found in good writing by military historians. Students discuss
and learn to write insightfully on such military matters as: should the war in Iraq
be fought by small numbers of American soliders or by the much larger numbers of the
World War II days ? Can innovative American high technology overcome the low-tech
innovation achieved by the opposing side? How do our own political wishes shape our
own understanding of a particular war, and what happens to it ?