No Man's Land: Preparing for War and Peace in Post-9/11 America
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As the post-9/11 wars wind down, a literature professor at West Point explores what it means for soldiers, and our country, to be caught between war and peace
Elizabeth D. Samet, a professor of English at West Point and the author of the critically acclaimed Soldier's Heart, came to question her settled understanding of post-9/11 America as a clear arc from peace to war. Over time, as she reckoned with her experiences-from a visit to a ward of wounded combat veterans to her correspondence with former cadets-Samet was led to profoundly rethink the last decade, an ambiguous passage that has left deep but difficult-to-read traces on our national psyche, our culture, our politics, and, most especially, an entire generation of military professionals. How will a nation that has refused to grapple honestly with these wars imagine its postwar responsibilities?
Samet calls the moment in which we live, lying as it does somewhere between war and peace, a "no man's land." She takes the reader on a vivid tour of that landscape, populated as much by the scars of war as by the everyday realities of life on the home front. Grounded in Samet's experience as a teacher of future army officers, No Man's Land is a moving, urgent examination of what it means to negotiate the tensions between soldier and civilian, between "over here" and "over there."
The views expressed in this book are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Military Academy, the Department of the Army, or the Department of Defense.
design and dumb luck, audacity and blundering—that obsessed future military theorists, notably Alfred von Schlieffen, chief of the Imperial German General Staff from 1891 to 1906. It wasn’t the wonder of those thirty-seven elephants that engaged Schlieffen’s military imagination: those terrifying engines of war, at once totem and astonishing impracticality, their provenance still a mystery to modern-day archaeologists, crossing the Rhône on rafts, outrunning the Allobroges, sliding their way past
general whose army had been tried in many encounters, and whose object was a battle, but to … let the force and vigour of Hannibal waste away and expire, like a flame, for want of the aliment.” Plutarch then follows Fabius through Italy as he harasses but refuses to engage Hannibal. There is far less said about the logistics of the campaign than about the stubborn determination of Fabius, who had to withstand abuse and accusations of cowardice from his fellow Romans. Fabius, unlike many of his
conflict continues to seize the military imagination in particular by investing it with an enduring sense of purpose and by delaying the aimless drift associated with military life in peacetime. The prospect of preparing for an endless future of persistent threats works like a tonic against poisonous visions of a “peacetime” or “garrison” army. That’s something many soldiers dread, something they have already experienced in between deployments; it is often characterized by the triumph of what
that he turns each opportunity to best advantage.” Clausewitz argues, “It is primarily this spirit of endeavor,” at “all levels” of command, that could foster the “inventiveness, energy, and competitive enthusiasm, which vitalizes an army and makes it victorious.” In war, he explains, ambitions “are the essential breath of life that animates the inert mass.” Today, honor is enshrined, along with duty, integrity, loyalty, personal courage, respect, and selfless service, as one of the seven U.S.
quite literally. They ask a lot of technical questions about the size of the island; its latitude and longitude; the climate, flora, and fauna. Ease up, I’ll say in response to their initial lists of water-filtration systems, meals ready-to-eat, and inflatable rafts, this is about the needs of the mind, not the body. Let’s face it, with sufficient training and preparation even I might be able to learn what my body most needs to survive in an emergency. Indeed, in preparation for foreign travel I