FANDOM



SHERRY, MICHAEL: The Rise of American Air Power                                                   

Thesis: “Traces the origins of the dangerous illusion that the bombing of cities would be so horrific that nations would not dare let it occur.” 

- Asserts that beliefs of airpower were dictated more by novelists and public opinion than by those who actually employed it.  These predictions ran far ahead of the realities of the current technology à the military was immoral for trying to do something that was not technologically feasible because the fantasy of what the people wanted airpower to do became more important that what it could do.  Public believed that technology would make war obsolete, therefore made an immoral action morally justified.  Argues that logic was never used to dictate the employment of airpower, that strategists could not show the reasons for striking the targets they did – ie: Industrial Web Theory. 

- Argues that strategic bombing was not necessary à fails to offer another option to replace CBO and his other option for the atomic bomb was a “demonstration” of the bomb.  States that planners were more attracted to the abstractions of what bombing could do than a realization of what it was doing à distance from the devastation made planners disconnected from the realities of bombing.  Counters Cataclysm’s info on what Arnold believed about airpower’s ability to win the war with Japan à Sherry say Arnold didn’t have a clear idea if airpower could win (pg 307), Wolk says he believed it could take longer, maybe Oct-Nov, but airpower could win the war (pg 180). 

- Claims that strategic bombing’s impact was “destruction delivered rather than political results achieved.”  Argues that the basic problem was that the link between the desired political and military effect and what airpower could actually deliver was too weak à the “problem” of airpower. 

 

 

 

 

'Applications to Strategy':

·      Example of the importance for strategist to know and understand the constraints and restraints that political policies establish à what are my lanes, how far can I go.  Military advisors owe their political leadership explanation on what the established boundaries mean as far as military action.

·      Example of overlaying the ethics of one period of time over those of another.

·      Demonstration that once all is said and done, the military is going to answer to someone at some point for their actions, even if they were  justified and legal at the time.

·      “On Wolves, Sheep, and Sheepdogs” in real life.

  • Rise of AmericanAirpower
    • Thesis
      • Air power shaped the end of the world, it's just a matter of time
        • It was the little decisions along the way that led to Nukes dropping

363

        • Want to help people comprehend what happened as air war unfolded
        • How thinking about bombing before Nukes dropped shaped attitudes to their dropping

ix

          • The persistent thought prevailed
    • Morality of Bombing Civilians
      • Adm Tirpitz: Seems OK if done with majestic force

16

      • Nukes, mass fires are no different than Bio/Chem weapons

33

      • Only stupid fascist do this

70

      • Debate lacked focus

119

      • Lack of official guidance
        • Americans told to PRODUCE

121

          • Needed to use it for something or FDR faced political backlashing
        • War Department senior admin recorded threats of Congressional investigation of Manhattan project
      • Fate of civilians little attention compared to famous buildings

122

      • De Seversky
        • Strategy must be geared toward elimination

129

      • JFK
        • Hoped it could be done with bombing over invasion

133

      • Christians said little of consequence

139

        • Should have said much bombing served little military purpose

139

        • Bombing only justified if shortened war "absolutely certain" 

139

      • Not required unless SURVIVAL is at stake

141

      • LeMay troubled and defensive about morality of bombing

272

        • No one's innocent

287

        • Use a LOT of force so not to prolong a war

28

      • Truman just ran noninterference...the plan was already set

341

      • 23% of U.S. polled wanted more Nukes dropped and were disappointed the war ended

355

        • More vengance!
    • Air power is indecisive
      • Destructive, but that's it

17

      • L-H, Douhet false prophets

24

        • D, confused the character of war with its pupose

28

      • World fell pray to air propaganda
      • Critical weakness in ACTS doctrine: failure to ID objective of morale or war-industry

5

      • Mitchell advocated U.S. empire expansion in Far East -- air would make it possible

58

      • It can take nothing nor hold anything

63

        • SOME-BODY has to deal with the enemy's body -- the Russians

145

      • Eliot: Cannot bring direct pressure on Japan unless you do something immoral like city-bombing

67

      • Doolittle raid did little other than propaganda

123

        • Actually promised to escalate Japanese tentions

124

        • FDR added fuel to unrestrained war

124

      • Cannot give a precise definition of success or failure
        • If a sink sank the Admiral was fired, lost ground = fired Army General...how do you fire an AF guy?

154

          • Unless you say we hit a BAD target
      • Diplomacy ended the war....not the BOMB

355

      • Wy did the Allies believe what they did about airpower?
      • How necessary was the bombing? Were other methods acceptable? Possible?
      • Was Allied bombing in WWII ethical?
      • What is the relationship between ethics and strategy?
      • Chapters 8,9,10
    • How U.S. demoralized itself
      • Munich crisis
        • Triggered change in thinking and accelerated momentum to use it

75

      • FDR
        • Saw air power as an instrument of negotiation and intimidation

79

          • Terror of bombing will give quick victory
        • Sheer numbers: economic productivity and government efficiency, not strategic genius

97

        • Threatened extermination of Japanese race if they continued executing U.S. POWs 

170

      • Threat to Japan prior to Pearl Harbor

103

        • Deterrence threat of bombing
        • Interest in Philippines as base for American action
        • FDR attraction to air power
        • FDR froze Japans U.S. assets
      • Racist attitudes

114

      • Attrition and annihilation replaced speed and selectivity

117

      • Pacific war seemed remote

118

      • Issue became how best to bomb, not how to win the war through bombing

149

      • LeMay apparently acted on his own

282

        • Set up for moral and strategic accountability if politically backfired
        • Like "Bomber" Harris
      • All cities legitimate targets

289

        • The Japanese will decide when it stops
    • Naval Blockades are better
      • Too slow to satisfy passions

15

      • FDRs initial strategy

60

      • Eliot says so too

67

        • Reconciles National Security and political freedom problem
        • War will not go away and neither air power or nukes will make it happen either

7

      • Less destruction

287

        • Just make people hungry for a while -- they are already malnourished
    • Strategic air power
      • Air attack on enemy's capacity and will to sustain military operations, rather than those on operations themselves

12

    • Background
      • Michael S. Sherry
        • Professor of History at Northwestern University
      • Published by Yale University Press, 1987
    • IC notes
      • Spanking with wrong motives
      • Comps
        • 600 and 632 most important courses
        • Be able to distinguish Douhet from Mitchell, etc.
    • Big Idea
      • Perceived self preservation makes the time line shrink on when you will use technology

252

        • you may not have considered their effects
      • There is a time to spank but your motives must be right
      • Might for right or might is right

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.