Guest Post: Recommended readings, real and imagined for Military Leaders—Part III. Timothy R. Furnish, PhD

Zen here – today we continue a series by Dr. Timothy R. Furnish, a longtime friend of ZP blog. Timothy Furnish is an Army vet and former civilian consultant to Special Operations Command with a PhD is in Islamic history. He’s written five books and runs the website Occidental Jihadist.

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by Dr. Timothy R. Furnish

In the previous two installments, I provided an overview of fiction books used in military education, and then a synopsis of the Future History fiction series that sprang from the brow of Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr, with a little help from their friends. Now I will turn to specific examples of how these brilliant and entertaining books treat grand strategy, strategy, tactics, and even logistics. [Definitions thereof taken from Stephen Morillo, What is Military History?]  In doing so, I hope to make a cogent and convincing case that at least some of the 20+ books that make up the galactic backstory of the superb novel The Mote in God’s Eye should be part of American professional military education. 

Let’s start at the top, with grand strategy—which is “where warfare and politics merge: a country’s grand strategy in a war describes its goals not strictly in military terms but in political, economic, or even cultural terms with military action, including strategy, seen from this perspective as one tool, with diplomacy, bribery, marriage alliance, and so forth, of grand strategy.” (Morillo is great on substance, but he does tend toward run-on sentences.) In the Pournelle-Carr universe, the best example of this is the centuries-long struggle between the Empire of Man, on the one hand,  and Secessionist systems led by the genetically-engineered Saurons, on the other. This is covered in detail in John Carr and Don Hawthorne, War World: The Battle of Sauron (2007).  Although the actual war between the “cattle” of the Empire (as the Saurons derisively refer to normal humans) and the future übermensch lasts only 37 years, the conflict actually lasted for centuries—Sauron was part of the Co-Dominium-undermining “Brotherhood” of planets, and engaging in outlawed genetic engineering, by the mid-21st century. Five hundred years later, not only are all Saurons enhanced, but in the 2400s they began creating Cyborg “super-soldiers.” But open military conflict does not erupt until the early 27th century. For some years prior to that Sauron was the leader of the Secessionist movement of planets demanding the right, in the Imperial Parliament, to withdraw from the Empire. Much of the Secessionist dissatisfaction is with the Empire’s taxation and perceived heavy-handedness; but there are also the usual political squabbles, as well—with “Claimants” to the Imperial throne advancing their right to rule, while also carving off quadrants and systems as their own fiefs. (Roman, or for that matter Ottoman or Ming, imperial history transferred to the future and an interstellar setting, in other words.) The Saurons, of course, see themselves as not just the rightful rulers of humanity but the next step in human evolution. And normal humans as simply breeding receptacles and drones for them. The Empire, for all its flaws, is the only hope for humanity to avoid slavery—or worse. So it engages in intense propaganda against Sauron, branding its people as monstrously supremacist. Yet this succeeded because it was largely accurate. Also, in a brilliant stroke that helped win the war, the Imperial center on the planet Sparta granted amnesty  to traitorous Secessionists—who then brought their fleets of spaceships to assist the Imperial forces in not only defeating space forces of Sauron, but in destroying all life on the planet. Although one ship of Saurons escaped, the existential threat to normal humanity was ended—but at the cost of the First Empire collapsing shortly afterwards. As Galen Diettinger, the commander of the lone surviving contingent of Saurons (and a surprisingly sympathetic figure, as devised by Carr and Hawthorne), remarked:

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