Can you plan for the aftermath of a war? American failure to prepare for post-combat Iraq is thought to have led to the disastrous events which followed. Preparations for the occupation of Germany after World War II had been going on for years but did that make the occupation itself a success? Ben Shephard argues that much of post-Second World War planning was based on false assumptions, and was either ignored, overtaken by events or actively harmful. It was new medical technologies, developed during the war, and the practical experience in handling civilians that made the difference. However, that experience had also exposed the military’s limitations: when confronted with psychological or political complexities, they were out of their depth – just as their successors are in Afghanistan today.
Ben Shephard read History at Oxford University. He was a Producer on the television series The World at War and The Nuclear Age , and has made numerous historical and scientific documentaries for the BBC and Channel Four. He is the author of the critically acclaimed A War of Nerves: Soldiers and Psychiatrists 1914-1994 and After Daybreak: The Liberation of Belsen, 1945. He lives in Bristol.
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