Story posted January 06, 2010
There is no single key to winning the war in Afghanistan. DeAlva Stanwood Alexander Professor of Government says there are seven, chief among them — sustained ruthlessness and will.
He details them in his latest book, Winning at War: 7 Keys to Military Victory Throughout History (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009).
Drawing on 40 years of studying and teaching war, Potholm thoroughly and energetically offers a template comprising the following variables: technology, sustained ruthlessness, discipline, receptivity to innovation, protection of military capital from civilians and rulers, the centrality of superior will and the belief that there will always be another war.
In addition, Potholm provides illuminating case studies from ancient battles to today demonstrating the implementation of these seven factors for success.
"In this brilliant, provocative book, Dr. Christian Potholm reveals his obsession with war — not to glorify warfare or warrior-hood — but to understand what factors have proven indispensable in leading to success on history's battlefields," says William S. Cohen '62, Secretary of Defense (1997-2001).
"This book is a must-read for our military and political leaders — and for a citizenry that needs to know whether our leaders have properly prepared our nation for success in war when diplomacy fails."
Potholm discussed the keys of success during the Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN) program, Maine Things Considered December 28, 2009.
"If you look at all insurgencies, the average successful counter-insurgency takes 13 years," says Potholm in the segment. "So the key to success in counter-insurgency is patience, and that of course — people in the western world don't have much."
Potholm was also interviewed for a segment that aired January 4, 2010, regarding the debate over the role of superdelegates in the national election process.
"I think it's a very positive thing if the president wants to make his own party more democratic," says Christian Potholm, a government professor at Bowdoin College and longtime Republican pollster. Potholm says he believes the superdelegate system designed by the Democrats subverts the will of the people in a close primary race.
"The whole idea of these superdelegates, that is an anti-democratic — small "d" — construct, that the Democrats came up with after George McGovern led them down the road to defeat to Nixon," Potholm says. "So I think this is a reform long, long overdue, and it's very ironic that it has taken the Democratic party so long to move back to a more democratic system and away from a very undemocratic system."
In another January 4 segment, the topic was Maine's declining population, and how it has prompted one demographer to warn, that by 2020, the state could lose one of its two U.S. Congressional seats.
Not everyone, though, thinks this is necessarily a bad idea. "I may be a minority of one, but I think at the end of the day if Maine was forced to go to a single representative, it might actually be very good for the state," says Bowdoin Political Science Professor Chris Potholm.
"Because both Collins and Snowe, for example, the senators, they have to be for the whole state, and if we only had one representative, he or she would have to be for the whole state as well. And it might go a long way to do away with this nonsense of the two Maines.