This subject is close to my heart and has been badly maligned in the past forty years. I have written many posts about the military and wars both past and present on this blog. We as a nation can not hope to achieve our diplomatic goals if we continue to stick our heads in the sand about the subject of war. The lead-off post that Mark highlights is by Adam Elkus of Re Thinking Security, who describes himself as, (I am a left-liberal...), has penned the seminal bugle call for re-introduction of the study of war as a social science. I whole-heartily concur with his premise that the study of war should become a part of the social science curriculum at every university.
Several developments in the fields of public, social and gender history offer other points of view that in the context of studying war, can add new facets to this complex subject.
My recent involvement with The John Boyd Roundtable, Debating Science, Strategy, and War led to an awareness of how John Boyd drew from the fields of history, physical and social sciences and Eastern Philosophy to develop his OODA Theory and how it's application has been extended far beyond the fields of battle to the business world, as illustrated by Chet Richards.
To add more support that war is a social phenomena is the book, The Culture of War by Martin Van Creveld.
Publishers Weekly says:
Hebrew University's van Creveld remains unsurpassed as a scholar of war. In this provocative volume, he challenges perhaps the subject's single greatest shibboleth—at least in Western culture. Since the Enlightenment, war has been described as a means to an end, serving essentially rational interests. Nothing, van Creveld asserts, could be further from the truth: war exercises a powerful fascination in its own right. To dismiss this is to overlook that war has generated a distinctive culture, from uniforms to war games to parades, that is despised and regularly denigrated as atavistic and irrational. Van Creveld demonstrates that war is an essential element of history, rooted in psychology.
As well as this book,The Soul of Battle: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, How Three Great Liberators Vanquished Tyranny by Victor Davis Hanson who take the reader from Ancient Greece to the Civil War and World War II to argue, "that on rare occasions throughout the ages there can be a soul, not merely a spirit, in the way men battle."
Other media has discovered long ago that war is a social science. Think, Saving Private Ryan, Platoon, and Band of Brothers, as well as Ken Burns projects The Civil War and The War. These war films, amid the pyrotechnics and blood, hold revealing truths about human behavior.
It is well past common sense and time that the halls of American academia, take a second look at war, and it's profound impact on every epoch of human existence.