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Cordesman and Wagner published volumes 1-3 of The Lessons of Modern War in 1990, dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflicts, 1973-1989; the Iraq-Iran War; and the Afghan and Falkland conflicts. Though large and substantial studies, they pale in contrast to the massiveness of volume 4, which deals with the Kuwait war. Like the earlier studies, this one follows a rigorous outline: a chronology followed by an analysis of forces, operations, and weaponry, ending with lessons learnt. The result is a tour de force, an assessment not likely to be superseded for many years, if ever.

Of particular interest is the chapter on the clash of military cultures, where the authors assess all that each major party to the conflict brought in terms of strengths and weaknesses. They dub the main U.S.-Iraq confrontation "fighting World War III versus fighting World War I." Their listing of Iraqi problems goes on for four pages and includes such entries as "major weaknesses in every aspect of battle management" and "air combat training was poor in every respect." Other noteworthy points include an assessment that an Iraqi attack before late September 1990 could have left the coalition forces with a "major defeat." The Saudi forces performed much better than Westerners expected. "Syrian forces did no real fighting." While French politicians and diplomats pursued their own policy, French soldiers integrated tightly into the war effort, "a demonstration that military realism can triumph over political rhetoric."