Iraq, Afghanistan and rethinking the post-heroic turn: Military decorations as indicators of change in warfare

Brieg Powel

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3 Citations (SciVal)
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Abstract

This article compares the awarding patterns of the two senior Anglophone military decorations, the British/Commonwealth Victoria Cross and the American Medal of Honor, to challenge arguments that a shift to ‘post‐heroic’ warfare has been in progress in Western societies since 1990. Despite the two decorations being indepen-dent of each other, each born of a particular military, political, and social context in their respective parent societies, the article reveals strong consistencies across the two. These include common under-standings of military heroism centred on infantry‐ rather than machine‐intensive combat, and a shared neglect of armoured, aerial,and naval combatants. Crucially, the medal data suggests that,despite academic suggestions to the contrary, there was no discern-ible shift towards ‘post‐heroism’ in the post‐Cold War era. Such a shift, however, is observable between 1916 and 1920, suggesting that the ‘new Western way of war’ began far earlier than is often suggested
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e-16-e31
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Historical Sociology
Volume31
Issue number1
Early online date10 Oct 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2018

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