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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Professor Q&A: ‘Endurance and War’

Photo+by+Tanner+GarzaJasen+Castillo%2C+Bush+School+professor%2C+says+his+work+was+inspired+by+%26%238220%3BThe+Day+After%2C%26%238221%3B+a+movie+he+watched+as+a+child+that+%26%238220%3Bdeeply+scarred%26%238221%3B+him.%26%23160%3B%26%23160%3B

Photo by Tanner Garza

Jasen Castillo, Bush School professor, says his work was inspired by “The Day After,” a movie he watched as a child that “deeply scarred” him. 

 

Sam Scott, telecommunication and media studies junior, sits down with Jasen Castillo, Bush School international affairs professor, to talk about his new book, “Endurance and War,” which analyzes causes of war.
THE BATTALION: In your book, “Endurance and War,” you talk about cohesion theory. In general terms, what is cohesion theory?
CASTILLO: What cohesion theory says is that you need two things to explain how modern militaries fight hard. First thing you need is, government has to make a choice: “How am I going to motivate the military?” And governments can do one of two things, they can either create professional military organizations, and by that I mean an officer core that imbues the military with trust and bonds of loyalty. The other route is the state can be highly coercive. They can threaten the military; thinking of the Soviet Union in World War II. Some countries don’t like professional militaries. Instead, they build militaries that are highly coercive where they threaten people, they shoot people, they punish their family if they desert. Those are the two instruments that countries can use to motivate their militaries. Some countries do one, some countries do another, some countries do both, some countries do neither. In the book, Nazi Germany is an example of using both coercion and professionalism, and those militaries fight hard in individual battles, and they fight to the death.
THE BATTALION: How did you become interested in studying war?
CASTILLO: I think I was deeply scarred by this movie called “The Day After.” It came out in 1983 and it’s well worth watching. It was about what the world would look like if the U.S. and the Soviet Union had a nuclear war. I was 10 when that came out and it scared the bejeezus out of me. The fear of nuclear war was palpable. Being a child in the Cold War, the prospect of war seemed really costly, so you study things that scare you.
THE BATTALION: How has your experience changed coming from the Department of Defense and the RAND Corporation to the Bush School?
CASTILLO: One key difference is at RAND and in the Department of Defense, you’re focused on the issue of the day. You’re not thinking about the causes of war or what should U.S. foreign policy be, or what should U.S. strategy be in Iraq — you’re thinking of present threats. At the Bush School, you have a lot of scholars who say, “Those issues are important, but let’s take a step back and ask, in general, why do countries arms race? In general, what does the rise of China mean and the decline of the U.S. mean?” In government, at RAND, you’re focused on short-term things; here at the Bush School, long-term things.
THE BATTALION: Do you have any other projects in the works?
CASTILLO: Right now I am working on a project that asks, “What are the nuclear strategies that regional nuclear powers might adopt?” So we know states have acquired nuclear weapons, the question is, “What do they plan to do with them?” And in particular I am interested in how they might create nuclear strategies to deter conventional attack. I’m moving into the nuclear deterrence business — it reflects my original interests in security studies but it also reflects some of the work I did when I was in government. When I was at the Department of Defense and RAND, I worked a lot on nuclear strategy. Now I have the time to really step back and really think about it.
THE BATTALION: Is there anything else you may want to study in the future?
CASTILLO: I would really like to look at something that asks, “What’s the future of warfare?” There are all kinds of arguments about why great power war doesn’t happen anymore. We have plenty of wars against terrorists, or insurgents, or small states, but are the U.S. and China going to fight? What would modern war look like? I’m interested in what’s the future of precision-guided munitions. Right now we mostly have monopoly on precision-guided munitions, but what if other countries have precision-guided munitions? What does war look like when you have multiple nuclear powers? The reason I’m motivated to do this is even though people say the future of war is not going to look like the past. No one is buying weapons in a way that suggests war is burned out of the system. Everyone is preparing for big, great power war.
THE BATTALION: Is there anything else that you would want Texas A&M students to know?
CASTILLO: One of the reasons I wrote the book is because I think it’s important that when we look at potential enemies, we don’t just think about how many tanks or planes or guns they have, but we have to ask what motivates them and how hard they will fight. One of the things that worries me about ISIS is that they have a very potent ideology, they’re very coercive with their population and they’ve got a lot of Iraqi military officers with professional training. So based on the amount of coercion that’s in the group and how they run their country and how many professional military officers are in the organization, they’re going to be pretty hard to defeat, and we’re in for a very long fight, unfortunately. I hope we can find someone else to do it.

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