How has the concept of victory evolved, as the nature of conflict itself has changed across time, circumstance, and culture? And to what end? Robert Mandel addresses these questions, considering the meanings, misperceptions, and challenges associated with military victory in the context of the nontraditional wars of recent decades. Without an understanding of precisely what victory means, Mandel argues, the outcome can involve policy paralysis, loss of public support, escalating postwar violence, and ultimately, foreign policy failure. Grappling with the moral complexities of victory in limited war, he discusses issues of security, war crimes, self-determination, reconstruction, and social transformation. He also identifies common fallacies held by victors. Case studies of recent military actions, including the ongoing war in Iraq, inform a discussion of the usefulness of notions of victory in dealing with contemporary challenges.
Robert Mandel is professor of international affairs at Lewis & Clark College. Among his many publications are Armies Without States and Security, Strategy, and the Quest for Bloodless War.