The New American Interventionism: Lessons from Successes and Failures : Essays from Political Science Quarterly

The New American Interventionism: Lessons from Successes and Failures : Essays from Political Science Quarterly

The New American Interventionism: Lessons from Successes and Failures : Essays from Political Science Quarterly

The New American Interventionism: Lessons from Successes and Failures : Essays from Political Science Quarterly

Synopsis

Intervention is as American as apple pie, writes Robert Jervis in the introduction to this book. Illustrating this proposition, twelve authorities draw a general portrait of American military intervention since the end of the cold war by examining specific interventions: Bosnia, Lebanon, Somalia, Afghanistan, Panama, Haiti, the Gulf War, and South Korea. In the process, this book focuses on the great complexity involved when deciding to enter a conflict; the almost universal circumvention of congressional authority; the ineffectualness of "pinprick" air strikes; and the essentially ad hoc nature of military deployment since the cold war.

The New American Interventionism marks the paradox of America's being the sole remaining "superpower" but unable to influence minor powers without the use of force. Exploring these and other questions, the book also speculates on the future characteristics of American intervention.

Excerpt

The purpose of The New American Interventionism is to bring within one volume articles that talk to the general question of American military invervention since the end of the cold war. This collection does not purport to be a comprehensive overview of all the interventions that have taken place. Rather, the articles were written by individual authors who, on their own initiative or in response to my editorial suggestion, were moved to write about specific topics. I find it gratifying that the book as a whole has turned out to provide powerful lessons about the success or failure of the most important interventions and the general strategies and political processes that underlay them.

The scores of lessons in the book for policy makers and interested members of the public cannot be summarized in a foreword. But in rereading all the articles together in preparation for this book, I was struck by four patterns. First is the great complexity of the American government in reaching and implementing decisions to use military force, because proposals to use force generate conflict. The State Department, parts of the Defense Department, the CIA, and the national security adviser all have different perspectives and responsibilities and different relationships to the regime or the person to be influenced. In addition, foreign allies must be consulted to obtain their support or at least their acquiescence, as must organizations like the UN and NATO, under whose authority the military action may be taking place. The conflict and delay are simply in keeping with the United States’s pluralistic political system. But in military matters, the internal conflict sends contradictory signals to those whom the United States is trying to target. As a result, the targets it wants to influence choose the signal they prefer to believe, which often leads them to disbelieve U.S. resolve and makes them refuse to comply until the United States actually uses force.

DEMETRIOS JAMES CARALEY is the Janet Robb Professor of the Social Sciences at Barnard
College and professor of political science in the graduate faculties of Columbia University. He has
published numerous books and articles on national security policy, congressional policy making, and
urban politics and is the editor of Political Science Quarterly.

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