Small Wars Journal

The Need for the Return of History

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The Need for the Return of History:

Why Studying History and Human Motivations is the Key to the Future of Warfare

by Major Grant Martin

Download the full article: The Need for the Return of History

As I was reading David Brooks' March 25 New York Times op-ed, The Return of History, I couldn't help but play a game I have come to enjoy ever since reading Eric D. Beinhocker's book The Origin of Wealth. What I do is every time I come to the word "economist" when reading a work on economics, I substitute the words "military theorist" in my mind, and every time I come to the word "economics" I replace it with the words "the study of warfare". Since the switch seemed to fit so well with Beinhocker's book, I was not too surprised when it seemed to fit Brooks' article as well.

At the risk of appearing to plagiarize and with apologies to Mr. Brooks, I have replaced most of the words in his article below that dealt with economics with a word or words that had more to do with warfare. I have left his words in italics, except for the title of books, and put my words in regular font.

What I think the scholar of military studies might find interesting is a possibly different perspective with which to look at warfare: one that more closely resembles trying to understand human economic behavior. For if we can understand economic behavior better using certain perspectives, is it possible that we could use some of the same perspectives to understand human behavior in warfare, or at least behavior in insurgency environments?

Download the full article: The Need for the Return of History

Major Grant Martin is an Army Special Forces officer currently serving in Afghanistan with the NATO Training Mission. The opinions expressed herein are his alone and do not represent the official position of the Department of Defense or the United States Army.

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