Question: What can we learn from studying America’s “small wars”?
Our focus is not on the military angles–although, of course, such issues and developments are unavoidable when discussing wars and military interventions–but rather on political, economic, diplomatic, cultural, social, technological, communication, etc. ones.
Students should look for “threads,” i.e., for ambitions, concerns, principles, solutions, problems, etc. that appear (in various forms and with various emphases) in the course’s case studies. Obviously, readings and films are selective, not comprehensive; therefore, much is not covered in each case study. Nevertheless, they are all part of the American nation and its people and reveal something about the United States at various moments in its history . . . about the developments and the guiding perceptions and about how its leaders and people saw the country, its past, present, and future. What was the United States? What did it want to be? How could it ensure that identity?
So, use the readings and films to understand each case study, but do not let “random” facts blind you to the “big picture.” As you learn about each war/intervention, ask what it adds to what you already know. If you do, every war and intervention should become a useful piece in the Small Wars jigsaw puzzle of American history . . . and to why the United States is what it is today and its debates and goals are what they are.
What questions today can our look at wars help us answer??
Suggestion: Send the instructor topics and references and statements that you find in today’s news, particularly in this year’s many election campaigns. She has created a menu item for them. Also, of course, bring them up in discussion (although always treating them as quick analogies and comparisons–so that they make our case studies clearer and more relevant without making it hard for classmates to participate).
America’s small wars–and their many and varied angles–are relevant to today: find and share those connections in discussion and on the website.