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Home Uncategorized The New Law of War

The New Law of War

Gerry Kearns
The Long War: CENTCOM, Grand Strategy, and Global Security, by John Morrissey, University of Georgia Press, 184 pp, $24.95, ISBN: 978-0820351056 John Morrissey is a political geographer at NUI Galway. He has been studying how modern warfare is changing, looking, in particular, at the novelties introduced by CENTCOM, one of six regional coordinated command regions of the US military. After the Second World War, the US decided that in its major theatres of war, its military should be under consolidated command, as provided for the US military as a whole by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. These regional combined commands were given specific AORs, Areas of Responsibility, and were set up in the Pacific, in the Caribbean/South America, in the Far East, and in Europe. No more were established until CENTCOM in 1983, which was first given the Middle East and later extended to the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. Morrissey gives two reasons for the creation of CENTCOM. The first was the desire to project US power and restore its international swagger in the aftermath of the humiliating defeat in Vietnam. The second was a wish to prevent the oil-producing states of the Persian Gulf from inflicting unwanted shocks upon the US polity and economy. The oil price hike of 1973-74, the so-called OPEC oil crisis, had quadrupled the price of petrol in the United States and had produced drought at the pumps. The Iranian revolution of 1979 had resulted in 52 US diplomatic staff being held hostage by radical students from November 4th, 1979 to January 20th, 1981. Together, these crises gave further weight to pleas for a more interventionist US posture in the region. Many of the countries in the region were ex-colonies and they were not at first keen to receive permanent US bases. Working inwards from ships on the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean to port facilities and bases on islands such as Diego Garcia (shamefully depopulated and then ceded to the United States by the United Kingdom), and then taking advantage of every regional conflict to get temporary and then more permanent facilities on land, the United States had basing agreements with six countries in the CENTCOM region by 1994 and a total of 128 bases in the region by 2006. Morrissey tracks this expansion of power in commendable detail and there are two elements highlighted by his analysis that are particularly striking:…



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