Power and Principle: Armed Intervention in Wilsonian Foreign Policy

Power and Principle: Armed Intervention in Wilsonian Foreign Policy

Power and Principle: Armed Intervention in Wilsonian Foreign Policy

Power and Principle: Armed Intervention in Wilsonian Foreign Policy

Excerpt

International power assumes many forms. These guises include diplomatic, economic, moral, military (the threat of force), and armed power. Among them, armed power is the most brutal expression of a nation's ability to influence events. Force compels through violence the imposition of one nation's will upon another. Other forms of international power can be subtle and insidious, but force never is. Its uses are blatant and readily apparent, for they result in bloodshed, death, and destruction.

As the most obvious manifestation of a nation's strength, armed power is the easiest to study. Nations resort to it for many reasons--to defend their honor, territory, or people, for instance, or to steal another country's land or wealth. But always, it is a product of policy, no matter how rational or how absurd, controlled by the purposes and motives of national leaders. Precisely because policy directs armed power, force can be understood by examining the motives of the leaders who employ it. In the following study, power is the subject, force the example, and policy the theme. The presidency of Woodrow Wilson provides the setting.

More precisely, this study is an analysis of why force was used and how the uses of it changed the course of events. Force is defined as the employment of a nation's military to impose the national will through military combat. Excluded from the definition are the uses of threats or warnings, for the focus is on actual combat. By examining this particular form of power, some of the reasons nations turn to force can be identified and some measure taken of how successful force can be in achieving a country's goals.

The reliance on a nation's military requires that leaders give orders through a chain of command. These orders, implicitly or explicitly, reveal the motives and purposes underlying the decisions to go to war.

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