Marines on the Beach: The Politics of U.S. Military Intervention Decision Making

Marines on the Beach: The Politics of U.S. Military Intervention Decision Making

Marines on the Beach: The Politics of U.S. Military Intervention Decision Making

Marines on the Beach: The Politics of U.S. Military Intervention Decision Making

Synopsis

Paul explores both how and why U.S. military intervention decisions are made. Pursuit of that inquiry requires the identification of decision participants, thorough examination of the decision making processes they employ, and recognition of several factors that influence intervention decisions: the national interest, legitimacy, and the legacies of previous policies. This book provides chapter length treatment of each of these issues. The research is based on detailed historical case studies for the four U.S. "Marines on the beach" military interventions in Latin America since World War II: The Dominican Republic (1965), Grenada (1983), Panama (1989), and Haiti (1994). Additional cases (notably Afghanistan and Iraq) enter the discussion when considering findings with broader implications.

Excerpt

Force, particularly overt force, is the most solemn, and potentially the most costly, instrument
of power that a state has at its disposal.

Stephen Krasner

The United States has a long history of sending troops to intervene in other nations. This book concerns itself with how those decisions are made and what factors beyond the events occurring in the target country affect the outcome of the decisional process. The deployment of armed forces in a foreign sovereign country is one of the most grave decisions that can be undertaken on behalf of a nation, yet a RAND study prepared for the United States Army characterizes U.S. intervention decisions as “relatively unpredictable.”

Military interventions hold a prominent place in U.S. history and seem likely to maintain that place in the future. The consequences of military interventions are sometimes staggering in their scope and encompass many levels: consequences for the invaded country, consequences for the region in which that country is located, consequences for the shape of geopolitics for years to come; at home, there are electoral consequences, consequences in public opinion, consequences in business, and consequences for U.S. military personnel.

Given the continued salience and considerable consequences of U.S. military interventions, “relatively unpredictable” leaves something to be desired. This multiple-case study increases our understanding of how and why U.S. military intervention decisions are made by examining the four U.S. military interventions in the Caribbean and Central America since World War II: the Dominican Republic (1965), Grenada (1983), Panama (1989), and Haiti (1994).

INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY

When we start to think about the politics of military interventions, at core we want to know who makes these decisions, and in whose interest. While the question of who makes the decisions is an empirical question and a question about process, the question of interests cuts toward a deeper question about governance. In this book I pose that question: Which model of governance best describes the way in which the United States makes military intervention decisions: the class model, the pluralist . . .

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