Summary: The most interesting books are the most provocative, challenging the beliefs of a society’s elites. Martin van Creveld has done so for decades, and time has repeatedly proven him to be correct. Here he challenges the belief that women should be front-line soldiers in America’s forces. Our military cannot win now. Will more women soldiers make it stronger?
By William S. Lind at Traditional Right.
From 27 July 2016.
Posted with his generous permission.
Review of Martin van Creveld’s
Pussycats: Why the Rest Keeps Beating the West.
This book is important because it re-defines the military reform agenda. Previously, military reform has focused on the problems that have led to America’s repeated military defeats. The issues van Creveld raises in Pussycats suggests we are moving from an American military that can’t win to one that won’t even fight.
The essence of Creveld’s argument is that we (both the U.S. and Western Europe) have de-militarized our military. The introduction of women is one of the factors, but not the only one, although if a military is to fight it must have an aggressively male culture. That is unacceptable not only to the women in the military but to a broadly womanized society and culture. It would not surprise our ancestors to hear that a womanized society can’t fight.
But Creveld looks at influences well beyond womanization. The de-militarizing of our armed forces begins, he argues, with the way we now raise children, especially boys. No longer do they “go out and play”, get into fights, get into difficulties they have to find their own ways out of. Rather, they live controlled, “safe” lives where they always have adult supervision and are instructed in how to do everything before they have to do it. Instead of growing up, they are forever infantilized.
This problem is very real. Recently, I recommended to a friend, a lieutenant colonel at the Marine Corp’s Basic School for new lieutenants, that they reinstitute the “Zen patrol”. In the Zen patrol, which TBS used to do, new lieutenants are simply taken out on a patrol, without having received any instruction in patrolling. They have to figure it out for themselves, which means they also learn how to learn.
My friend replied, “You cannot do that with this generation. In everything they have ever done, they have had adult instruction and supervision. If you don’t first tell them what to do and how to do it, they get angry. They say, “You are setting me up for failure to embarrass me in front of my peers.”
War, of course, presents many situations where you have to figure out what to do on your own. The enemy doesn’t follow your playbook. Creveld raises the question, “How will these infantilized soldiers and Marines do against fighters who, as kids, had to figure out everything on their own?”
Creveld goes on to discuss the war on men and all things masculine, which is probably the central factor in de-militarizing our militaries. Again, if a military is to fight, its culture must be aggressively male. Not only is that now socially unacceptable, increasingly it is illegal. In response, our soldiers and Marines turn what was a calling into just a job. A friend who recently visited Camp Pendleton said to me, “I did not see anything military the whole time I was there. Every Marine has a car, nice housing, comfortable, Holiday Inn-style facilities. Nothing I saw had anything to do with war.” Pendleton has been de-militarized.
Not surprisingly, van Creveld, whose book Men, Women & War: Do Women Belong in the Front Line? makes a definitive case against trying to mix young women and young men cheek-by-jowl in military services, then crucify the young men if there is any bunga-bunga (or just lustful looks: the military has resurrected “rape by leer”), returns to the theme here.
The pursuit of “equality”, hopelessly misdefined as pretending that men and women are interchangeable, brings the end of masculinity, which gives you a military that won’t fight. I will go beyond Martin and put it bluntly: if we don’t get the women back out, starting with the combat units, we will have armed services that, like the Prussian Army in 1806 (for different reasons), will collapse at a touch.
We might as well save ourselves a trillion dollars a year and replace the whole thing with an 800 number that, when you call it, says “We surrender” in a variety of languages.
Pussycats concludes with a needed discussion of PTSD, which now seems universal but was not in previous, far bloodier wars, and with Western societies delegitimizing war itself. Those societies now see any kind of war, even against people who would give us the choice of converting to their religion or getting our throats cut, as morally wrong. There can be, in effect, no more just wars, and all enemy casualties are to be wept over.
History’s verdict is simple: such societies will be defeated, destroyed, and replaced by cultures that still have a grip on reality. De-militarization must now go to the head of the military reform agenda, because societies that cannot fight cannot win.
Other posts about Pussycats
- Martin van Creveld introduces his new radical book: “Pussycats.”
- Our armies become pussycats.
- Seek and you shall find — Why men fight.
- The Rise and Fall of Empires — Do the cycles of history turn our armies into pussycats?
- Martin van Creveld explains why our armies are becoming pussycats.
- We’ve become a low testosterone America. Like pussycats.
About the author
William S. Lind is director of the American Conservative Center for Public Transportation. He has a Master’s Degree in History from Princeton University in 1971. He worked as a legislative aide for armed services for Senator Robert Taft, Jr., of Ohio from 1973 to 1976 and held a similar position with Senator Gary Hart of Colorado from 1977 to 1986. See his bio at Wikipedia.
Mr. Lind is author of the Maneuver Warfare Handbook (1985), co-author with Gary Hart of America Can Win: The Case for Military Reform (1986), and co-author with William H. Marshner of Cultural Conservatism: Toward a New National Agenda (1987). Most importantly, he is one of the co-authors of “Into the Fourth Generation“, the October 1989 article in the Marine Corps Gazette describing fourth-generation warfare.
He’s perhaps best known for his articles about the long war, now published as On War: The Collected Columns of William S. Lind 2003-2009. See his other articles about a broad range of subjects…
- His posts at TraditionalRight.
- His articles about geopolitics at The American Conservative.
- His articles about transportation at The American Conservative.
For More Information
Ideas! For some shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.
- Putting women in combat: a quick look at the other side of the debate.
- About the future of an American army with women as combat soldiers.
- Women in combat are the real Revolution in Military Affairs.
- News about the battle for women’s equality in our armed forces.
- Martin van Creveld looks at Amazons: women warriors in the real world.
- Martin van Creveld looks at the experience of women in the Israel Defense Forces.
- Martin van Creveld: women are a problem in the military, not the cure.
- Will feminizing the Marines win wars?
An Army Captain tells what he sees
By James Hasson (2019).
Hasson provides a thoroughly documented account of a program to radically change the culture of the US military. It has been mostly successful so far. He describes how basic training, the service academies, promotion machinery, and a score of other key military systems have been affected. There is little evidence of anything that might stop the Left’s continued success. See my review. Here is Hasson’s description of his book.
“This is not a rant about the glory days. I offer a comprehensive discussion of purposeful, monumental changes to the military’s culture. I examine policies set by persons who had no business setting military policy and had no idea what damage they were inflicting.
“Certainly, progressive social policies are not the only contributors to the readiness crisis. A broken acquisition system and rigid promotion timelines, for instance, play a role. So do cultural and demographical changes …It is important, however, to keep these other issues in mind as you read those discussed in this book, as they are the backdrop against which changes to the military’s culture and policies are being made. …
“And as you will see in the chapters to come, the social engineering of the hard left is incompatible with the military’s sole mission of winning wars.”