Michael J. Handel, 58, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College who was one of the world's foremost authorities on strategic surprise, died June 14 of cancer in Portsmouth, R.I.
Handel advised the Pentagon during planning of the Gulf War in 1990. After a session with the undersecretary of defense and the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during which he analyzed the history of strategic deception, U.S. forces tricked the Iraqis into anticipating an assault on the beaches of Kuwait when the actual attack took place over land.
He was an expert on Karl von Clausewitz, a 19th century Prussian officer. One of von Clausewitz's most famous observations was that war is simply the continuation of politics by other means.
Among Handel's works was "Masters of War," a book that compared the ideas of von Clausewitz with those of Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher, Mao Tse-tung and Niccolo Machiavelli.
A native of Israel, he earned a doctoral degree at Harvard in 1974 and by the early 1980s was a professor at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. He moved to the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., in 1990.