COALITIONS OF CONVENIENCE: United States Interventions after the Cold War

By Anderson, David A. | Military Review, May/June 2013 | Go to article overview

COALITIONS OF CONVENIENCE: United States Interventions after the Cold War


Anderson, David A., Military Review


COALITIONS OF CONVENIENCE: United States Interventions after the Cold War Sarah E. Kreps, Oxford University Press, New York, 2011, 240 pages, $27.95

SARAH KREPS, ASSISTANT professor of Government at Cornell University and former Air Force officer, has written an insightful book about the considerations nations make when determining whether to respond multilaterally to a crisis requiring military action. The author's thesis is that even powerful nations such as the United States that having the capacity to act unilaterally, generally prefer to act multilaterally in employing military force in order to operate within internationally accepted political and social norms. The implication is that, short of having to deal with a crisis requiring immediate action, nations prefer to have more legitimacy than less when taking military action. In addressing her assertion, the author systematically applies theoretical and empirical analysis to four U.S.-led post-Cold War interventions: the 1991 Gulf War, the multilateral 1994 Haiti intervention, 2001 Afghanistan conflict, and the 2003 Iraq conflict. She chose this U.S.-centric approach because U.S. power has remained robust throughout the post-Cold War period and the United States has intervened around the world more freely and often than other states. Furthermore, all of these operations have had significant military contributions by other states.

Kreps applies structural and normative theoretical arguments regarding state power projection. Her empirical analysis uses appropriate factors that measure coalition vigor, the directness of a threat and response time horizon, and the effect of time horizons and other operational commitments on cooperation. Her analysis soundly supports her contention.

Kreps points out supporting reasons for the use of a multilateral approach, including the burden sharing of military forces and operational costs (both powerconserving strategies). …

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