Quote from America’s Modern Wars

On Amazon.com

On Amazon.com

Just to reinforce Shawn Woodford’s point below, let me quote from Chapter Twenty-Four, pages 294-295, of my book America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam:

Many years ago, I had the pleasure of having a series of meetings with Professor Ivo Feierabend. I was taking a graduate course in Econometrics at San Diego State University (SDSU). I decided that for my class paper, I would do something on the causes of revolution. The two leading efforts on this, both done in the 1960s, were by Ted Gurr and the husband and wife team of Feierabend and Feierabend. I reviewed their work, and for a variety of reasons, got interested in the measurements and analyses done by the Feierabends, vice the more known work by Ted Gurr. This eventually led me to Dr. Feierabend, who still happened to be at San Diego State University much to my surprise. This was some 20 years after he had done what I consider to be ground-breaking work on revolutions. I looked him up and had several useful and productive meetings with him.

In the 1960s, he had an entire team doing this work. Several professors were involved, and he had a large number of graduate students coding events of political violence. In addition, he had access to mainframe computers, offices, etc. The entire effort was shut down in the 1960s, and he had not done anything further on this in almost 20 years. I eventually asked him why he didn’t continue his work. His answer, short and succinct was, “I had no budget.”

This was a difficult answer for a college student to understand. But, it is entirely understood by me now. To do these types of analytical projects requires staff, resources, facilities, etc. They cannot be done by one person, and even if they could, that one person usually needs a paycheck. So, the only way one could conduct one of these large analytical projects is to be funded. In the case of the Feierabends, that funding came from the government, as did ours. Their funding ended after a few years, as has ours. Their work could be described as a good start, but there was so much more that needed to be done. Intellectually, one is mystified why someone would not make sure that this work was continued. Yet, in the cases of Ted Gurr and the Feierabends, it did not.

The problem lies in that the government (or at least the parts that I dealt with) sometimes has the attention span of a two-year-old. Not only that, it also has the need for instant gratification, very much like a two-year-old. Practically, what that means is that projects that can answer an immediate question get funding (like the Bosnia and Iraq casualty estimates). Larger research efforts that will produce an answer or a product in two to three years can also get funding. On the other hand, projects that produce a preliminary answer in two to three years and then need several more years of funding to refine, check, correct and develop that work, tend to die. This has happened repeatedly. The analytical community is littered with many clever, well thought-out reports that look to be good starts. What is missing is a complete body of analysis on a subject.

This entry was posted in Insurgency & Counterinsurgency, Lessons of History, Research & Analysis, Revolutions by Christopher A. Lawrence. Bookmark the permalink.

About Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience. ... Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation. ... His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024). ... Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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