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Zero-Sum Victory - What We're Getting Wrong About War - cover

Zero-Sum Victory - What We're Getting Wrong About War

Christopher D. Kolenda

Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky

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Summary

The military expert and author of Leadership presents “the most thoughtful analysis yet of America’s recent conflicts—and future challenges” (Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal).   Why have the major post-9/11 US military interventions turned into quagmires? Despite huge power imbalances in America’s favor, capacity-building efforts, and tactical victories, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq turned intractable. The US government’s fixation on zero-sum, decisive victory in these conflicts is a key reason why these operations failed to achieve favorable and durable outcomes.   In Zero-Sum Victory, retired US Army colonel Christopher D. Kolenda identifies three interrelated problems that have emerged from the government’s insistence on zero-sum victory. First, the US government has no way to measure successful outcomes other than a decisive military victory, and thus, selects strategies that overestimate the possibility of such an outcome. Second, the United States is slow to recognize, modify, or abandon losing strategies. Third, once the United States decides to withdraw, bargaining asymmetries and disconnects in strategy undermine the prospects for a successful transition or negotiated outcome.   Relying on historic examples and personal experience, Kolenda draws thought-provoking and actionable conclusions about the utility of American military power in the contemporary world—insights that serve as a starting point for future scholarship as well as for important national security reforms.

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