Williamson Murray

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Strategy And The Continental Commitment

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, April 28, 2020

In the 1930s, the British military pundit B. H. Liddell Hart argued that Britain’s participation in the First World War with a massive commitment to France to fight the Germans had been a terrible mistake. Instead, he argued, Britain, as it had supposedly done in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, should have committed minimal forces to the continent and used its army and navy to attack Germany on the periphery. Liddell Hart’s arguments represented a rephrasing of the “blue water” school in British strategic thinking which had argued that Britain should focus almost entirely on the Royal Navy to the exclusion of spending any resources or committing any troops on the European Continent.

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On Plagues and Their Long-term Effects

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Friday, April 24, 2020

One of the most impressive sections of Thucydides’s timeless account is that of the plague that devastated Athens in the second year of the Peloponnesian War that had begun in 431 BC. He provides us with a clinical description of the disease and its progress, which my medical friends have assured me no modern physician could improve on. Not surprisingly, “the doctors were quite incapable of treating the disease because of their ignorance of the right methods.” 

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How To Explain The Western Way Of War

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, April 21, 2020

At the start of the sixteenth century, Europe appeared the least impressive of the global civilizations, certainly the least likely to achieve a dominant position in the world. Europe was little more than a conglomeration of small, nasty states and cities, sharing a common religion and a common, ferocious desire to fight each other. Moreover, that common religion was about to be shattered by the Reformation. 

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History: Our Own Past

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Friday, April 17, 2020

When we think of history, we tend to think of the dim past before our memories. Thus, it is a knowledge acquired from history books, documents, archeology, inscriptions, and a myriad of other sources. There is, however, another history and that is our own past: the details and memories that we have picked up as we have aged over the years. Those that we have acquired from our earliest years are episodic and lack a clarity that incidents in our more recent days possess. Nevertheless, such early memories can be of use in understanding the present.

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Alliances: Past, Present, And Future

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Monday, September 30, 2019

In the 1930s, the British military pundit B. H. Liddell Hart argued vociferously that traditional British conduct of war in the seventeenth and eighteenth had represented a strategy of minimal commitment to the wars on the European Continent while focusing on a blue-water strategy to attack the enemy on the periphery. Thus, Britain’s effort in the First World War with its emphasis on the British Expeditionary Force in France had been a terrible mistake. He could not have been more mistaken. 

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Intelligence And Imagination

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Military historians tend to spend far too much time on the combat arena in which armies, navies, and air forces contend. Yet, underlying their performance is the organizational behavior of intelligence agencies which should be responsible for guiding and framing their actions and reactions. Nothing displays this more clearly than a comparison of the cultures of the British and German intelligence organizations during the Second World War. The latter was hierarchical, compartmentalized, and separated the military from the civilians. Within the German system, there was virtually no tolerance, much less interest in, passing opinions and original ideas up the chain of command. But perhaps the greatest weakness in German military culture was the general contempt for intelligence and its purveyors.

Who Carried the Burden in the Second World War?

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Over the past several decades, as historians have unraveled the archives of the Red Army after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the new narrative of the history of the Second World War that has emerged has emphasized the fighting on the Eastern Front as the crucial theater of the war in Europe. Certainly, the casualties that the Soviet peoples endured were far beyond the losses the Western Allies suffered, while the fighting on the Eastern Front contributed substantially to breaking German ground forces. Yet, an overemphasis on Soviet casualties, no matter how impressive, fundamentally distorts the extent of the effort that the Western Powers waged against the Third Reich.

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On the Eightieth Birthday Of WWII

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Monday, September 16, 2019

Eighty years ago this month the most catastrophic war in history broke out. On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded her neighbor, Poland. From before dawn German shells and bombs fell across the breadth and width of the country. Despite the obvious buildup of military forces on the other side of the frontier, the Poles had not fully mobilized because British and French statesmen worried that such a mobilization might encourage Hitler to go to war—as if he needed any encouragement. In every sense, the German invasion of Poland proved to be a disaster for Poland, a disaster exacerbated by the willful policies of appeasement that the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had fostered over the previous two and a half years.

Background EssayAnalysis and Commentary

The Monroe Doctrine: Guide To The Future

by Williamson Murrayvia Strategika
Friday, September 6, 2019

The Monroe Doctrine, which purports to warn other states from interfering in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere, has supposedly remained a basic principle of American foreign policy since the first half of the nineteenth century. From the point when it was issued, its actual relevance has depended on the willingness to enforce it, or whether there was any real threat. President Monroe issued it during a period when all of the major Spanish colonies in the Western Hemisphere were in the process of gaining their independence from Spain. 

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Political Correctness And History: In Defense Of Churchill

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Thursday, February 28, 2019

In October of this past year, the astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted a famous quote from Winston Churchill: “in victory, magnanimity.” For his troubles he received a host of outraged tweets from the politically correct crowd that Churchill was a racist, responsible for the 1943 famine in Bengal, and numerous other supposed atrocities as Britain’s leader during the Second World War. The tweets are a remarkable tribute to the widespread ignorance of the past among those who so delightedly cast their fury at the past.

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