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From: H-Net Staff <revh...@mail.h-net.msu.edu>
Date: Sun, Mar 12, 2017 at 2:19 PM
Subject: H-Net Review [H-War]: Schneider on Hudson, 'Army Diplomacy:
American Military Occupation and Foreign Policy after World War II'
Walter M. Hudson. Army Diplomacy: American Military Occupation and
Foreign Policy after World War II. Battles and Campaigns Series.
Lexington University Press of Kentucky, 2015. 416 pp. $50.00
(cloth), ISBN 978-0-8131-6097-9.
Reviewed by Benjamin M. Schneider (George Mason University)
Published on H-War (March, 2017)
Commissioned by Margaret Sankey
Walter M. Hudson's Army Diplomacy is a well-written, thoughtful
treatment of the origins of the military governments that the United
States established to rule much of Europe and Asia in the aftermath
of the Second World War. Meticulous in his presentation of the
formative experiences that shaped the American army's approach to
military government and the doctrine created to institutionalize that
knowledge, Hudson falters only in grappling with the admittedly
sprawling literature on the conduct of the occupations themselves.
Hudson sets his study of the American occupations apart from previous
works on the subject by flipping the usual narrative on its head.
Rather than treating the occupations as the beginning of something
larger--often the Cold War writ large or decolonization in
Asia--Hudson examines them as the culmination of the US Army's
efforts to place postwar planning under its purview and
institutionalize the practice of military government. Therefore, the
work is organized around two central questions: how did the army come
to be the organization with primary responsibility for postwar
government and how did it learn to conduct those operations?
These questions dominate the first half of _Army Diplomacy_, which
covers the development of the army's thinking and doctrine on
military government from the Civil War up to the creation of
positions for staff officers exclusively devoted to military
government and civil affairs in 1944. Hudson argues that three major
factors influenced the army's doctrinal approach to military
government during this period. The first of these was the
professionalization of the army in the late nineteenth century. The
army developed a "separate, independent sphere of expertise" for its
officer corps in which they were seen as experts by civilian agencies
(p. 19). Second was the body of law related to military government
developed by the US government and the international community that
delineated what an occupying force was legally allowed and expected
to do. The 1863 Lieber Code--developed to govern the US military
during the Civil War--served as the kernel of this body of law, which
would find fruition in the later Geneva Conventions and the Rules of
Land Warfare. Hudson argues that the code served both to place the
conduct of occupation under the purview of the army instead of a
civilian agency and to make an occupation a means of furthering
military ends by stipulating that all allowances made to the occupied
territory were subject to the constraints of "military necessity."
Third, the army developed a practical doctrine for field commanders
conducting an occupation around the abovementioned body of
international law and the experiences of the army in the field,
particularly, says Hudson, in the occupation of the Rhineland after
the First World War. As laid down in the 1920 Hunt Report and later
formalized in army field manual (FM) 27-5 (1940), this doctrine
emphasized the need for a unified military command of the occupation
zone, and the creation and use of units specifically trained and
tasked with military government, and "assumed functioning civil
structures, unquestioned authority of the military government, and a
benign environment free of partisan guerrilla activity" (p. 43).
The second half of _Army Diplomacy_ is devoted to three case studies
examining the occupations of Germany, Austria, and Korea. While at
first glance this trio comes across as odd--Hudson feels the need to
defend the omission of Japan and the inclusion of Austria--the
selection is intended to offer a selection of cases that illustrate
how the army occupied nations it conquered (Germany), those it
liberated (Korea), and those in between (Austria). Across these three
studies, Hudson argues that the army was most successful where
conditions on the ground met the optimistic assumptions laid out in
FM 27-5. Driven by "a narrow focus on military goals" and believing
in "prolonged occupations beyond its ability and expertise," in
Hudson's telling, the army ignored long-range concerns about the
Soviet Union or postwar stability in Asia in favor of rapidly
establishing functioning, stable occupation governments (p. 12). In
Austria, this worked well, but led to larger problems in Germany and
Korea where former Nazis and Japanese colonial administrators were
needed to accomplish these goals.
Hudson is at his strongest when handling the institutional history of
the army's development of its doctrine of military occupation. With a
clear command of the source material, his argument about its origins
is consistently insightful and thought provoking. It is a testament
to his skills as a writer that a history largely devoted to
discussing training manuals and organization charts moves at a brisk
clip. The only major shortcoming in this section is a relatively
sketchy outline of how the army outmaneuvered its civilian
competitors to secure primacy in the planning and execution of the
More troublesome is the failure of Hudson's case studies to cohere
smoothly into a larger argument. While taken individually each is an
enjoyable overview of a specific occupation, the larger themes of the
work often seem submerged by the need to cover so much ground in such
a short space. In part this is because Hudson has argued so
effectively that the army was focused on rapid stability and
transition, and so it comes off as peculiar that so much space is
devoted to the development of the Cold War instead of a detailed
examination of the challenges of building a functioning government
that provides food, rebuilds, and deals with displaced persons. While
these issues are not absent entirely, they play a subordinate role in
Despite these flaws, _Army Diplomacy_ is a fascinating and
provocative account of the postwar occupations, and one that any
future work on these events will have to engage with.
Citation: Benjamin M. Schneider. Review of Hudson, Walter M., _Army
Diplomacy: American Military Occupation and Foreign Policy after
World War II_. H-War, H-Net Reviews. March, 2017.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States
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