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The Limits of U.S. Military Capability

Lessons from Vietnam and Iraq

James H. Lebovic

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Political scientist James H. Lebovic establishes that the size, strength, flexibility, and adaptability of the U.S. military cannot ensure victory in asymmetrical conflicts.

In The Limits of U.S. Military Capability, Lebovic shows how political and psychological factors trumped U.S. military superiority in Vietnam and Iraq, where inappropriate strategies, low stakes, and unrealistic goals mired the United States military in protracted, no-win conflicts.

Lebovic contends that the United States is at a particular disadvantage when fighting a counterinsurgency without the full support of the host…

Political scientist James H. Lebovic establishes that the size, strength, flexibility, and adaptability of the U.S. military cannot ensure victory in asymmetrical conflicts.

In The Limits of U.S. Military Capability, Lebovic shows how political and psychological factors trumped U.S. military superiority in Vietnam and Iraq, where inappropriate strategies, low stakes, and unrealistic goals mired the United States military in protracted, no-win conflicts.

Lebovic contends that the United States is at a particular disadvantage when fighting a counterinsurgency without the full support of the host government; when leveraging various third parties (the adversary's foreign allies, societal leaders, and indigenous populations); when attempting to build coalitions and nations while involved in combat; and when sustaining government and public support at home when costs rise and benefits decline.

Lebovic cautions against involving the U.S. military in operations without first considering U.S. stakes and suggests that the military take a less-is-more approach when choosing to employ force. Ambitious goals bring higher costs, unexpected results, diminished options, and a greater risk of failure.

Rejecting the heavy-handed approach that is typical of most comparisons between the Vietnam and Iraq wars, The Limits of U.S. Military Capability carefully assesses evidence to develop lessons applicable to other conflicts—especially the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

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The Limits of U.S. Military Capability

James H. Lebovic

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Reviews

Reviews

This is an excellent study.

Recommended.

Lebovic undertakes a thoughtful and detailed study of the Vietnam War and extracts the similarities and lessons from the experience for the United States' recent role in Iraq.

James Lebovic gives by far the most complete comparison to date, drawing on a wide range of well-chosen sources and acknowledging the differences between the two conflicts as well as emphasizing their similarities.

A solid and insightful book

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
312
ISBN
9780801894725
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1. Introduction
2. Leveraging the Adversary's Forces: The Wars in Vietnam and Iraq
3. Leveraging the Adversary's Support Base: States, Populations, and Societies
4. Leveraging the

Acknowledgments
1. Introduction
2. Leveraging the Adversary's Forces: The Wars in Vietnam and Iraq
3. Leveraging the Adversary's Support Base: States, Populations, and Societies
4. Leveraging the Adversary's Leaders: The Balance of Resolve and US Exhaustion
5. Leveraging Host Governments: The Challenges of Institution-Building
6. Conclusion: Vietnam and Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Future
Notes
References
Index

Author Bio
James H. Lebovic
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James H. Lebovic

James H. Lebovic is a professor of political science and international affairs at the George Washington University. He is author of The Limits of U.S. Military Capability: Lessons from Vietnam and Iraq, also published by Johns Hopkins.