Military Strategy Magazine  /  Volume 7, Issue 4  /  

Fortified Strategic Complexes

Fortified Strategic Complexes Fortified Strategic Complexes
Image credit: Military Wiki, “Gun emplacement in Fort Campbell, built in the 1930s,”
To cite this article: Betz, David, “Fortified Strategic Complexes,” Military Strategy Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 4, winter 2022, pages 23-29.

p>The last work on fortification as an active subject of military affairs with significant prospects for the future was written over a century ago by the British military engineer Sir George Sydenham Clarke. Even then, he pointed out that there was no ‘school of thought regarding fortification’, that elementary principles are still ‘floating in solution’, and no ‘consensus of mature opinion’ has been attained.[i]

The situation today is not much different. The topic is either overlooked in the strategic studies literature, addressed peremptorily or narrowly tactically, or treated as something of historical interest rather than immediately relevant.[ii]

This is a problem for the field because the simple fact is that fortification is at the core of contemporary conflicts, not at its boundaries, not a historical concern but an increasingly vital aspect of contemporary war and warfare.[iii] Fortified strategic complexes are at the forefront of the military efforts of a range of major and minor states to serve national policy—a phenomenon which I suggest is somewhat recognised (as they are usually hard to miss) but poorly understood.[iv]

As a first step, it is worth considering some common assumptions about the subject by way of arriving at a more embracing understanding of fortification that will help us to better illuminate what is going on and to inform practice.

I. On Fortification

What is a fortification? Probably every person to whom this simple question is posed will think for a moment that the answer is easy. Very practically, one might say that fortifications are structures which enhance the power of defence;[v] somewhat more abstractly, perhaps, that they represent the ‘endless duel between immobility and manoeuvre’;[vi] or even philosophically, that they are a physical manifestation of the fear of being attacked.[vii] But a little reflection on the widely divergent structures with different purposes to which the appellation may be applied will suffice to show that a definition is not so readily found as might have been expected.

For one thing, while resistance to attack is a primary quality of a fortification it is striking how often they incorporate design features that weaken their defensive capability.[viii] Likewise, while fortifications are often situated in naturally inaccessible terrain, the better to resist attack, we just as often find them in places that are far from ideal defensively.[ix] We may surmise, therefore, that the design and siting of fortifications reflects more than military considerations. Commercial needs, political context, and even cultural aesthetics supersede tactical exigency in decisions about where and in what form they are employed.

For another, while fortifications as fixed structures are themselves immobile, their role in operations is very often to act as a base of mobility for one’s own forces while at the same time restricting or channelling the movement of one’s enemy.[x] In other words, they are in no way antithetical to manoeuvre; indeed, the construction of a fortification may well constitute a ‘manoeuvre’ insofar as its intended effect is to dislocate an opponent and to stymie their strategies.[xi] Once again, we may surmise that fortification plays a role in operations that is complex and far-reaching.

Moreover, while many fortifications are constructed for fear of attack, it is equally apparent how frequently they play the central role in the conquest of new territory.[xii] In short, fortifications serve offensive strategies just as well as defensive ones. From this we may surmise that the utility of fortifications in war and warfare are more flexible than might be supposed from their superficial simplicity.

Finally, while we often judge the quality of this or that fortification as a singular construction, fortification as a strategy really comes to the fore when the fortresses are seen as comprising parts of a larger network.[xiii] From this we may surmise that the appropriate frame of reference for answering the perennial question ‘do walls work’ is strategic, which is to say that we should be precise about for what policy objective that they work (or fail to work) and judge them on that basis.

Indeed, it is not too much of a stretch to suggest that fortifications are quintessentially strategic in nature. Obvious hints toward this quality would include their cost and durability as well as their significant peacetime importance. While expedient and cheap fortifications abound, it has often been the case that serious fortifications have consumed a high fraction of national expenditure over a period of many years. Hadrian’s Wall or China’s Great Wall spring to mind as well-known examples but there are plenty more recent.[xiv] One might argue that fortification is the oldest recognisably complex human strategy.[xv] Even today, the traces of the fortified compounds and linear barriers built with great expense and effort by the first settled peoples to ward off the attacks of nomadic raiders are visible on the landscape.

In contemporary terms such sums equal or exceed that which a government might consider when investing in something like a fleet of nuclear submarines or a continental anti-ballistic missile system. Like those sorts of assets, fortifications are a highly durable good. They also possess a similar peacetime role, both as deterrent and as an enduring symbol of national power.

For these reasons I suggest that it is useful to think of what I term ‘fortified strategic complexes’, by which I mean large-scale projects of military engineering designed to shape a conflict or confrontation by altering the conditions of movement in an area over an extended period. The point at hand, though, is that fortification strategies remain highly relevant. Let us look at some examples.

II. Pacification

The 13th century conquest of Wales by England was, as the cliché goes, more of a process than an event. Long after the closure of ‘major combat operations’ the recalcitrant Welsh had to be pacified into acceptance of their new rulers. The means by which this was achieved: a network of castles and fortified colony towns, many of which still exist as monuments of the skill of mediaeval military engineering. The project was immensely costly—it effectively bankrupted the treasury of Edward I. Ultimately, though, it worked. [xvi]

The English did not invent this strategy of pacification by any means. The Normans did the same thing to the Saxons under William the Conqueror, as did the Romans for that matter throughout the Empire, and so too has done practically every other expansionist power in history from Tsarist Russia to the United States of America.[xvii] The European imperial powers did it on a global scale, which is why their fortresses dot the map from the Arctic circle to the Tropics and beyond.[xviii]

It is not that fortified strategic complexes for pacification always lead to success, for no strategy does; it is, rather, that all such campaigns—successful or otherwise—require them. The recently concluded war in Afghanistan provides an illuminating example.

A noteworthy thing about the layer of strategic stratigraphy just laid down in Afghanistan is how neatly it overlaps with past efforts. NATO ‘castles’ were often built around the remains of Soviet fortified outposts, which in turn were heaped on the site of derelict British fortresses, some of which rested on even older ones built by or against invaders ranging from the Mongols to the Macedonians. By 2010 it was reported that Afghanistan had 700 fortified bases and outposts, approximately 300 of them held by the Afghan national army and police—all now abandoned or held by the Taliban.[xix]

Despite all the advancements in weapons and transport and communications technology that have occurred over centuries NATO troops very largely occupied the same places to do the same things as armies of the distant past. Overlooking every major road juncture, constricted transport route, and population centre was to be found a fortified installation. The distance between them: approximately one day’s march—a density of about one strongpoint for every 20-25 square kilometres. Their position: basically, where Alexander the Great located his forts. Their function: the same—observation, reporting, communications repeating, and overlapping patrolling.

Combat Outpost (COP) Coleman in the eastern Kunar province was built around a nineteenth-century British border fortress, while COP Castle (the hint is in the name) in Helmand province incorporated a twelfth-century castle once besieged by Genghis Khan’s army. A full list of such examples would be very long.[xx] Where these structures differed marginally from their predecessors was in the profligate employment of HESCO bastion—essentially a modern gabion. A remarkably useful redesign of a very old piece of military technology, HESCO is to the War on Terror what the Huey helicopter was to Vietnam—effective, unglamorous, and ubiquitous.

Arguably, the peculiarly jury-rigged character of the fortified posture of ISAF in Afghanistan was its undoing. The fact is that most troops deployed there– 90 per cent or more–never or very rarely left their overtly armoured cantonments, in which (paradoxically, for a twenty-year campaign) they mostly lived in a ramshackle mix of tents and shipping containers. Big, fortified bases like Kandahar Airfield, or Bagram, with a day-time population like that of a mid-size town (and corresponding amenities and entertainments) cost hundreds of millions to build. Yet the ‘body language’ of their obviously temporary quality—containing nothing that could not either be packed in a transport or abandoned without much regret—was unmistakable: timidity rather than strength, lack of will rather than durability, and an ever-present urgency to leave.[xxi]

Nonetheless, to look at a map of ISAF deployments in the country alongside maps of the castellation of Wales, the myriad English fortifications of Normandy in the Hundred Years War, or the network of forts along the riverine systems of the American West or Siberia is to recognize an obvious pattern. It is rather like the normal distribution statisticians show in a bell curve: a consistent repetition indicative of an underlying logic, in this case of how—now as before—pacification is enacted militarily on the ground.[xxii]

III. Separation

Up to the point that their empire began to stagnate and then contract the Romans pursued a predictable and very effective strategy. Where their armies encountered lands and people worth conquering, and where they had the capacity to do so, they did, brutally and relentlessly. Where they encountered opponents whom they could not conquer but with whom they could treat, i.e., come to agreements to which both sides would hold (more or less), they made lasting political arrangements. Where the empire abutted on people who they could not conquer but who lacked the political order to make meaningful treaties, they built walls.[xxiii]

Hadrian’s Wall and the Limes through Germany between the Rhine and the Danube are well-known, and still visible, examples of this strategic logic. The collection of linear barriers constructed over centuries that make up China’s Great Wall arose out of similar conditions.[xxiv] What tends to pass popular recognition is quite how frequently, for how long, and how many societies have built such fortifications. Archaeologists have identified hundreds of pre-modern linear barriers ranging from dozens to hundreds of miles in length.[xxv] The boundaries in Western and Central Asia between steppe peoples and settled populations is especially littered with the colossal wrecks of forgotten walls.[xxvi]

Continuous frontier fortifications of great scale are clearly back in style. The US-Mexico border, which has been progressively fortified over decades, though more controversially recently, is a case in point. Properly speaking, this sort of fortified strategic complex, is an anti-migration barrier rather than a conventional military defence. Likewise, Europe’s increasingly powerful border fortifications are designed as anti-migration barriers, though increasingly couched as a response to a ‘hybrid’ military threat in which population flows have been weaponised.

Other examples of anti-migratory but highly policed linear barriers include the 3,000-mile India-Bangladesh border which has been progressively fortified in a multi-decade project first proposed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in the early 1980s a few years before she was assassinated.[xxvii] Between 2001 and 2010 Indian security forces are estimated to have shot more than 930 Bangladeshis attempting to cross the border.[xxviii]

By no means, however, is migration the single (or primary) motivation behind such constructions. It is estimated that by the end of 2021 Pakistan will have built (or recommissioned) as many as 1,000 forts and border posts along its border with Afghanistan.[xxix] These are but one part of a fortified strategic complex that includes approximately 1,500 miles of dual chain link and barbed wire fencing, plus a 400-mile-long, eleven-feet-deep and fourteen-feet-wide ditch, combined with an array of cameras and other electronic sensors, built at a reported cost of $500 million.[xxx] The Afghanistan-Pakistan region is impressively heavily fortified–but similar levels of effort are observable elsewhere in the world too.

Perhaps the most well-known is Morocco’s Western Sahara Wall, often referred to as the ‘Sand Wall’.[xxxi] The appellation is not surprising as the vast majority of its 1,600-mile length is of a sand berm and ditch construction. It is also, however, somewhat misleading as to the degree of effort and sophistication of its construction. Dotted with relentless regularity, easily observable on Google Earth, every three to five miles along the Sand Wall are forts manned by as many as 100,000 Moroccan soldiers. The gaps, moreover, are covered by high fences in many places, several layers of barbed wire, a range of electronic surveillance devices, and approximately seven million land mines. By any measure this is a serious work of fortification that has occupied the bulk of national military effort for the last thirty years.

The number of such barriers in the world today varies according to how and what one counts.[xxxii] Some such as that between Kenya and Somalia are seemingly half-built or mired in delay;[xxxiii] the so-called ‘European Rampart’ on Ukraine’s border with Russia, now scheduled for completion in 2025, a decade after works began, is another example;[xxxiv] others such as the North & South Korean DMZ are thoroughly militarized to the point of practical impregnability outside of a major war. In recent years, among the largest and most technically sophisticated have been built in the Middle East, inter alia by Turkey on its border with Syria, and by Saudi Arabia initially on its border with Iraq and now along the Yemeni border as well.[xxxv]

There are two significant and related points here. One, national peripheral barriers are truly big business. The investment in the works described is hard to estimate because it rarely appears as one budget line in national defence accounts; it is, rather, spread across a range of public works covered by different ministries. We know, however, from the public estimates of US-Mexico border installations that it is measured in the billions. More generally, an indication of scale can be gleaned from things like the IFSEC Global Directory, which currently lists 355 companies selling ‘perimeter security’ products (and a further 709 selling associated systems). The perimeter security business alone is estimated now to be worth $61 billion annually, with the potential to rise to $96.5 billion by 2026.[xxxvi]

Two, these are serious works of military engineering. Even those aimed solely at preventing unarmed civilians from crossing borders illegally are impressively complex and powerful structures. The Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa in recent years have witnessed quasi-mediaeval battles in which large and well-organized groups of migrants have accomplished several escalades in the face of increasingly overmatched resistance by border guards.[xxxvii] Those which are intended as barriers against armed infiltration, such as Israel’s West Bank and Gaza fortifications or even more so those of Saudi Arabia and Turkey, are truly powerful military assets integrated in national security strategies.

IV. Consolidation

On the eve of the First World War all the major European powers subscribed to a large degree to a national security strategy based on grand fortifications.[xxxviii] Whole countries were armoured by parallel lines of fortresses along their frontiers, while important cities and communications centres were similarly fortified. The greatest of these defensive complexes such as the Belgian fortresses of the Meuse Valley or those of the French at Verdun, both built to ward off German attack on likely invasion routes, were potent symbols of national pride and the military engineers who designed them, like Generals Henri Alexis Brialmont and Sere de Rivieres respectively, were well known public figures.[xxxix] The strategic logic: territory-wise, what you own is what you can hold.

But the credibility of such strategies was badly shaken by the arrival of war. In the first few weeks of the First World War, forts which were thought to have been impregnable were blasted into submission by specialist German siege artillery like the 42cm Krupp gun, one of whose 1,600lb shells cracked open the concrete shell of Fort de Loncin, a Meuse fort near Liege, and exploded its powder magazine killing 250 Belgian soldiers and compelling its surrender.

Even more famously, France’s Maginot Line, a mighty network of underground fortresses built in the 1930s, impeded German operations hardly at all. Even today, as a result, the words ‘Maginot Line’ are used as a simile for something expensive, retrograde, and doomed to failure. In fact, fortifications gave good service throughout the world wars.[xl] Nonetheless, nuclear weapons and high-intensity conventional warfare became the preoccupations of strategic thinkers while fortification came to be seen as a ‘redundant science’.[xli]

Again, though, grand strategic fortifications are back in use. For coming on two decades, China has been building man-made islands in the South China Sea through massive dredging of sand piled over shallow reefs. Though it once promised not to fortify them it has done so extensively with particularly powerful installations now to be found at Fiery Cross, Mischief, and Subi reefs in the Spratlys as well as on Woody Island in the Paracels. There are additionally many smaller fortified islands each proclaiming and backing up China’s territorial claims.[xlii]

That this chain of fortifications is at sea on islands that nature has not intended to be there is testament to Chinese ambition and capacity for engineering mega projects. The strategic logic, however, is no different from that which motivated the construction of great belts of fortresses through Europe over a century ago. Indubitably, these are fortresses: in place of great guns, they deploy anti-ship missiles and military-grade runways; in place of a glacis, they depend upon powerful radars, surface-air missiles, and point-defence artillery; in place of casements, they feature protected magazines and armoured missile and aircraft shelters.

One might suggest, too, that Russia today for all its overt belligerency is pursuing essentially a fortification strategy. Secure behind its Kaliningrad bastion projecting into central Europe, protected by batteries of hypersonic missiles capable of threatening deep civil and military targets in the West with powerful conventional strikes in minutes, it has the wherewithal to meddle in the affairs of its close neighbours without too great fear of retaliation. With the completion soon of the Nordstream-2 gas pipeline, it shall also be effectively clear of the threat of siege by sanction.

Of course, ultimately, there is no such thing as an impregnable fortress—nor are fortified strategic complexes by any means a sure thing. Chance being a central quality of war, we should be very surprised at the suggestion of anything like surety. In the case of a power consolidating territorial control, a fortification strategy simply increases the cost to any potential attacker of the achievement of their objectives by force.

It remains to be seen whether China’s ‘Great Wall at Sea’ will deter or defeat any challenges to their claims. It does not seem, though, a particularly desperate gamble or forlorn hope. Indeed, for the time being no one seems at all eager to test.[xliii] This seems also to be true of Russia.


Western defence establishments, abetted by the universities and think tanks, are out of step with reality. Their doctrines are based on beliefs and assumptions that are incorrect. For 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the triumph of globalisation we have been told that ours is a time extraordinary openness and mobility. Scholars use the term ‘liquid modernity’ to describe the now ‘fluid’ human condition. According to this thesis, the world ought to look a particular way. In the words of its author, Zygmunt Bauman:

…the world must be free of fences, barriers, fortified borders and checkpoints. Any dense and tight network of social bonds, and particularly a territorially rooted tight network, is an obstacle to be cleared out of the way.[xliv]

Either by deliberate effect, the conscious policy of powerful people and groups in government and industry, or as a natural expression of the network spirit of our connected age, the long age of walls and barriers, or any sorts of impediment to flows, was supposed to be over. A new age was supposed to have dawned, one in which heavy fortifications rooted in a physical place would be out of place. In various ways, notably the belief that high-tech armies can replace mass with speed and information and the cult-like affirmation of manoeuvre warfare, the theory also has significant purchase on the military mind.

The trouble is that while not altogether wrong about the power of information technology, for example, the simple fact is that stuff still matters. Fortified strategic complexes are at the heart of contemporary military affairs. We can see this to be the case when we look without blinders at the way in which we actually fight as opposed to what is taught about how we fight in staff colleges. We can see this in our daily lives as normal citizens every time we cross a frontier, or indeed in these COVID-days, attempt to enter a restaurant or a nightclub. We can see it in the strategies of our most likely opponents, who seem less burdened by flawed assumptions. We should catch up.


[i] George Sydenham Clarke, Fortification: Its Past Achievements, Recent Developments, and Future Prospects, 1st Ed (London: John Murray, 1890), p. iii.
[ii] See, for e.g., Beatrice Heuser’s characterisation of the science of fortification as ‘not obsolete’ but ‘overtaken’ by technical changes, in The Evolution of Strategy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), p. 82).
[iii] David Betz, ‘Citadels and Marching Forts: How Non-Technological Drivers are Pointing Future Warfare Towards Techniques from the Past’, Scandinavian Journal of Military Studies, Vol. 2, No. 1 (2019), pp. 30–41.
[iv] David Betz, ‘On Guard: The Contemporary Salience of Military Fortification’, Engelsberg Ideas (19 November 2021),
[v] See Hansjorg Schwalm, ‘Fortification’ in Franklin D. Margiotta (ed.), Brassey’s Land Forces Encyclopaedia (Washington DC: 2000), p. 395.
[vi] ‘Fortification and Siegecraft’ in Oxford Companion to Military History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 312.
[vii] See David Frye, Walls: A History of Civilization (London: Faber and Faber, 2018), p. 8.
[viii] A surprising thing about renaissance city fortifications, for instance, is how often security was compromised by the design of magnificent gateways that owed more to urban design than military defence. See Simon Pepper, ‘Siege Law, Siege Ritual, and Symbolism in City Walls’ in James D. Tracy (ed.), City Walls: The Urban Enceinte in Global Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), p. 586.
[ix] O.H. Creighton discusses the complex and only partly military logic of siting of mediaeval fortresses in Castles and Landscapes (Bristol: Equinox, 2002), chap. 3.
[x] As Philip Warner puts it in The Mediaeval Castle (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1971), p. 5 the primary function of the castle was to dominate as a base of patrolling not to act as a refuge.
[xi] For example, note the description of the T-Wall built during the 2008 Battle of Sadr City as the ‘equivalent of a Roman siege engine’ in David E. Johnson et al, The Battle of Sadr City: Reimagining Urban Combat (Santa Monica, CA: Rand, 2013), p. xxii.
[xii] See, for example, Geoffrey Parker, ‘The Artillery Fortress as an Engine of European Overseas Expansion, 1480-1750’, in Tracy (ed.), City Walls, pp. 386-415.
[xiii] A point illustrated well by R.C. Smail in his account of the strategy of Crusading Warfare, 1097-1193 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1956), esp. chap. vii.
[xiv] On account of inflation it is often easier to grasp the relative costs of fortifications in past times in terms of key components rather than money. The Maginot Line, the poster child of expensive fortifications, required 1.5 million cubic metres of reinforced concrete, for example. In comparison, the German AtlantikWall, built against the threat of Allied cross-Channel invasion, consumed 17 million. Even that huge sum, though, is exceeded by an order of magnitude by the 200 million planned for the defences of Germany against aerial bombardment—an amount that would have equalled that of all civilian construction for the previous 20 years. See William Allcorn, The Maginot Line, 1928-45 (Oxford: Osprey, 2003), p. 9; Steven Zaloga, Defences of the Third Reich, 1941-45 (Oxford: Osprey, 2012), p. 27.
[xv] See Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilisation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 55-58.
[xvi] Christopher Gravett, The Castles of Edward I in Wales, 1277-1307. Also see for insight on the economics of castle-building in Jurgen Brauer and Hubert Van Tuyll, Castles, Battles and Bombs (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2008), pp. 53-65.
[xvii] Konstantin Nossov, Russian Fortresses, 1480-1682 (Oxford: Osprey, 2006), and Ron Field, Forts of the American Frontier, 1820-91 (Oxford: Osprey, 2005).
[xviii] Quentin Hughes, Military Architecture (London: Hugh Evelyn, 1974), p. 145.
[xix] Cited in Betz, ‘On Guard’.
[xx] Betz, ‘On Guard’.
[xxi] As noted by Todd Greentree in ‘What went Wrong in Afghanistan?’, Parameters, Vol. 51, No. 4 (Winter 2021), p. 16.
[xxii] Michael Jones finds in ‘War and Fourteenth Century France’ in Anne Curry and Michael Huhes (eds.), Arms, Armies and Fortifications of the Hundred Years War (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1994), p. 110 that the average density of strongpoints in The Hundred Years War was approximately one per 20 or 25 square kilometres. Not much different from today.
[xxiii] See the introductory discussion of Roman frontiers in Philip Parker, The Empire Stops Here: A Journey Along the Frontiers of the Roman World (London: Pimlico, 2010), pp. 1-14 and David J. Breeze, The Frontiers of Imperial Rome (Barnsley: Pen and Sword, 2011), esp. chap. 3.
[xxiv] That the Great Wall is a misnomer is forcefully argued by John Man in the introduction of The Great Wall (London: Bantam, 2008).
[xxv] Peter Spring, Great Walls and Linear Barriers (Barnsley: Pen and Sword, 2015), p. 7.
[xxvi] Frye, Walls, pp. 145-59.
[xxvii] ‘Border walls to go up between India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan’, Global Construction Review (30 March 2017),
[xxviii] ‘”Trigger Happy”: Excessive Use of Force by Indian Troops at the Bangladesh Border’, Human Rights Watch (9 December 2010),
[xxix] ‘Security forces successfully overcome terrorism, border fencing: report’, Dunya News (26 August 2021),
[xxx] See ‘Pakistan Completes Majority Of Afghan Border Fence’, Voice of America (4 January 2021),,the%20historically%20porous%20frontier%20between%20the%20two%20countries
[xxxi] ‘Western Sahara. The wall that nobody talks about’, SouthWorld (1 November 2019),
[xxxii] Andrew Lisa, ‘Thirty Border Walls Around the World Today’, Stacker (31 January 2019),
[xxxiii] Patrick Vidija, ‘Kenya suspends construction of Somalia border wall to ease tensions’, The Star (31 March 2018),
[xxxiv] ‘Ukraine-Russia Border Fence / European Bulwark’, Global Security (6 May 2021),
[xxxv] ‘Turkey-Syria Wall’, Global Security (20 June 2018),
[xxxvi] Cited in Betz, ‘On Guard’.
[xxxvii] ‘Spanish toehold in Africa “under siege” by Morocco’, The Times (17 March 2020),
[xxxviii] Ian Hogg, Fortress (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1975), p. 110.
[xxxix] See Clayton Donnell, The German Fortresses of Metz, 1870-1944 (Oxford: Osprey, 2008), The Forts of the Meuse in World War I (Oxford: Osprey, 2011), and The Fortifications of Verdun, 1874-1917.
[xl] The nineteenth century German fortifications around Metz held up Patton’s Third Army from September to December of 1944 with savage fighting. See Donnell, The German Fortress of Metz. Vivian Rowe’s sympathetic account of Maginot, The Great Wall of France, describes it as a ‘triumph’ (London: Putnam, 1959). The argument is compelling.
[xli] According to the blurb on the dustjacket of Hogg, Fortress.
[xlii] Gregory Poling, ‘The Conventional Wisdom on China’s Island Bases is Dangerously Wrong’, War on the Rocks (10 January 2020),
[xliii] Hanna Beech, ‘China’s Sea Control Is a Done Deal, “Short of War With the U.S.”’, New York Times (20 September 2018),
[xliv] Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Modernity (Cambridge: Polity, 2000), p. 14.