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790:395:10

Title: The Evolution of U.S. Strategic Bombing Policy: Myths and Realities of Air Power in WWII (790:395:10)
Instructor:  Ross Baker
Instructor's Email:  rosbaker@rci.rutgers.edu
Days, Times, Locations: W 9:15-12:15 Hickman Hall – 210 DC
Office Hours: 412 Hickman Hall, DC; Times: TBD

Synopsis:
This course is an outgrowth of a mini-course that I taught for a number of years in which I used theatrical films, documentaries and readings to illustrate the evolution of a policy. It is a history of how a policy emerges, evolves, is implemented, and, finally, is evaluated both in terms of its effectiveness and of its morality.
The policy is strategic bombing, the doctrine that maintained that wars would be won, not on the battlefield, but by the destruction of the enemy’s ability to wage war. This would be accomplished by devastating blows delivered against the factories that produced the weapons of war and, collaterally, degrading the morals of the civilian enemy population. This was a task, it was argued, that was uniquely suited to the airplane.

It was a task that also required the diversion of resources from the older military services–the army and navy–and dedicating them to air power. Coupled with this was the belief on the part of the air power advocates that only an air force fully independent of either the army or navy could satisfactorily manage the job of strategic offensive against an enemy.

Our focus will be on the U.S. military but we will also pay special attention to the armed forces of the nation that most American airmen admired, Great Britain, which had created an independent air force–The RAF– at the end of World War I.
We will examine the evolution of air power both as a doctrine and in its first operational test World War II.
While the substance of the policy we will examine is intrinsically interesting, even compelling, we are less interested in the “what” of the policy than in the “why” and “how”.
Specifically, we want to place the experience of strategic bombing policy in the larger context of how policies arise, how they gain official acceptance, how they perform in the real world, and how, finally, their performance is evaluated and what proceeds from that evaluation.
Over the next 14 weeks, we will proceed from the first glimmerings of the belief that
devastating the homeland of an enemy (strategic warfare) is preferable to defeating him on the battlefield (tactical warfare) to its proclamation as a doctrine, its adoption as a policy, and its execution in time of war. Finally, we will deal with the moral implications of strategic bombing

Syllabus

 


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