Angelo M. Codevilla

Biography: 

Angelo M. Codevilla, a native of Italy, is a professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University. He was a US naval officer and Foreign Service officer and served on the Senate Intelligence Committee as well as on presidential transition teams. For a decade he was a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author of fourteen books, including War Ends and Means, The Character of Nations, Advice to War Presidents, and most recently, To Make and Keep Peace Among Ourselves and with All Nations. He is a student of the classics as well as of European literature; he is also a commercial grape grower. Video: Angelo Codevilla on the importance of history in current policy decisions.

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Featured CommentaryAnalysis and Commentary

What Can We Expect From Trump’s Foreign Policy Of “Principled Realism”?

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Strategika
Thursday, September 28, 2017

Since the Trump team labeled its foreign policy “principled realism” before carrying out much of it, the term is not a description of things accomplished. Instead, it tells us how the Trump team wants to regard the policies it may pursue and, above all, what it wants others to think of them. Being a label applied to an as-yet largely empty container, it is advertising.

Military HandbooksAnalysis and Commentary

The Art Of War, By Niccolò Machiavelli

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Classics of Military History
Tuesday, June 6, 2017

In this, the least known of his works, Machiavelli gives straightforward advice on organizing and conducting military operations. The Art of War’s clear, and concise style is diametrically opposed to that of The Prince. The book is wholly practical, considers contrasting arguments, and even includes illustrative diagrams. Its format is that of a conversation between a military expert and interested citizens. Although the expert, Fabrizio, is obviously Machiavelli himself, the format provides at least an arguable degree of separation between Machiavelli and his advice.

Military HandbooksAnalysis and Commentary

Discourses On Livy, By Niccolò Machiavelli

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Classics of Military History
Monday, June 5, 2017

Consisting of three books, of sixty, thirty-three, and forty-nine chapters respectively, the Discourses contains the bulk of Machiavelli’s teachings. Unlike The Prince, the chapters are written plainly, headlined in Italian rather than in Latin, and addressed to persons he deems sympathetic to those teachings. The subject is nothing less than what makes for successful states and individuals, as well as for success in war. It is covered on high, low, and intermediate levels of specificity. The format is a series of observations apparently chosen almost at random.

Military FictionAnalysis and Commentary

The Romance Of The Three Kingdoms, By Various Authors (17th Century)

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Classics of Military History
Friday, June 2, 2017

This massive fictionalized history of the struggles attendant to the death the Han dynasty and the establishment the Jin dynasty (circa AD 169-280) is akin to Shakespeare’s historical plays as well as, in some respects, to Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. It is to be approached in the same way, for what the dialogues tell us about a civilization’s understanding of conflict, of statecraft, as well as of virtue.

Military HandbooksAnalysis and Commentary

The Prince, by Niccolò Machiavelli

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Classics of Military History
Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Prince, Machiavelli’s best known and least understood work, consists largely of anecdotes of victory and defeat in conflict. It is neither a set of recipes for success, nor an argument in favor of harsh methods. That is because Machiavelli’s anecdotes suggest that different—indeed opposite—approaches to conflict are likely to bring victory or defeat according to how well they fit the particular circumstances in which they are used.

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Andrew Jackson And John Quincy Adams Teach National Security

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

On May 24, 1818, General Andrew Jackson occupied Pensacola, then the capital of the Spanish province of Florida. This was the terminus of an expedition in which his forces had destroyed a band of marauders which had been preying on the southern edges of U.S. territory from bases in Spanish territory. 

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May 11-23, 2003: From Peace To War In Iraq

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Friday, May 19, 2017

In the middle of May 2003, the U.S. government threw away a victory that its armed forces had won and started a new war that it had no idea how to win. This fortnight’s events remind us that the lack of unity of conception and command can turn victory into disaster.

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No Safe Wars

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Monday, May 15, 2017

The events of May 12 in and concerning the Vietnam War remind us of the necessity to be clear about one’s objectives and what it takes to achieve them, by showing how speaking and acting without such clarity places one’s fortunes at the enemy’s mercy.

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Unjustifiable Tribute

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Wednesday, May 10, 2017

On May 10, 1801, Yusuf Karamanli, the Pasha of Tripoli, announced his intention to commence hostilities against the United States and then formally declared war on May 14 when his men chopped down the consulate’s flagpole. Tripoli, along with the other North African (Barbary) states of Tunis and Algiers, was demanding tribute for the passage of American ships. This war ended in 1805 with a U.S. military victory over Tripoli, but without removing any of the Barbary states’ pretensions regarding the United States. 

Related Commentary

Defending the Final Frontier

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Strategika
Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The capacity to protect one’s own military satellite network while destroying the enemy’s—entirely feasible well within a decade—would relegate an enemy’s military operations to pre-modern levels.

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