Founded and rooted in Enlightenment values, the United States is caught between two conflicting imperatives when it comes to war: achieving perfect security through the annihilation of threats; and a requirement to conduct itself in a liberal and humane manner. In order to reconcile these often clashing requirements, the US has often turned to its scientists and laboratories to find strategies and weapons that are both decisive and humane. In effect, a modern faith in science and technology to overcome life's problems has been utilized to create a distinctly 'American Way of Warfare'. Carvin and Williams provide a framework to understand the successes and failures of the US in the wars it has fought since the days of the early Republic through to the War on Terror. It is the first book of its kind to combine a study of technology, law and liberalism in American warfare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prisoners of America's Wars: From the Early Republic to Guantanamo
Stephanie Carvin

Prisoners of war have featured in virtually every conflict that the US has engaged in since its revolutionary beginnings. Today visitors to Washington will frequently see a black POW flag flying high on government buildings or war memorials in silent memory. This act of fealty towards prisoners reflects a history where they have frequently been a rallying point, source of outrage and problem for both military and political leaders. This is as true for the 2003 Iraq War as it was the American Revolution. Yet, the story of prisoners in American wars (both enemies taken and soldiers captured) reveals much about the nation itself; how it fights conflicts and its attitudes towards laws of war. A nation born out of an exceptional ideology, the United States has frequently found itself faced with the contradictory imperatives to be both exemplary and secure: while American diplomats might be negotiating a treaty at The Hague, American soldiers could be fighting a bloody insurrection where it seemed that few if any rules applied. By taking a historical approach, this book demonstrates that the challenges America faced regarding international law and the war on terror were not entirely unique or unprecedented. Rather, to be properly understood, such dilemmas must be contextualized within the long history of those prisoners captured in American wars.

 

 

 

Journal articles available at Academia.edu