Interpret and analyze the “American way of war”

The final paragraph from For the Common Defense Introduction (xiv) says:

“Americans have had a peculiar ambivalence toward war.  They have traditionally and sincerely viewed themselves as a peaceful, unmilitaristic people, and yet they have hardly been unwarlike.  Statistics alone testify to the pervasive presence of war in the nation’s history, for tens of millions of Americans have served in wartime and more than a million have died in uniform.  Understanding both this paradoxical love-hate attitude toward war and the relationship among military institutions, war, and society is essential in comprehending America’s past, its present, and, perhaps, its future.”


  • Interpret and analyze the “American way of war”
  • Describe and compare American military models
  • Analyze changing American military policies and goals
  • Examine American military use of technology
  • Analyze American relationship with, preparation for, and application of war

Use each of the five Core Learning Outcomes to address the issues highlighted in the final introductory paragraph ofFor the Common Defense. What evidence from our readings suggests that Americans consider themselves essentially peaceful?  What evidence shows Americans as warlike?  Explain this paradoxical love-hate attitude toward war and how this relationship is reflected in America’s military history.  Finally, why is understanding this important