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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Scribner Seminar Program
Course Description

Warfare Today

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 ?

Course Offered