Academic journal article Military Review

Democratic Militarism: Voting, Wealth, and War

Academic journal article Military Review

Democratic Militarism: Voting, Wealth, and War

Article excerpt

DEMOCRATIC MILITARISM: Voting, Wealth, and War

Jonathan D. Caverley, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 2014, 326 pages

Have you ever wondered why democracies go to war? In Democratic Militarism: Voting, Wealth, and War, Jonathan D. Caverley, professor at Northwestern University, distills the answer for the average voter--me and you--in the democratic process. This scholarly, international-relations monograph asserts that median voters are instrumental in a democracy's willingness to engage in international pugnacity.

Caverley claims it is the median voters' complicity in enabling civilian and military leaders to engage and execute strategies that produces minimal gains. The book focuses on the "average voter's assessment of the costs and benefits of arming and aggression"

The initial chapters provide theories and hypotheses as to why and how democracies fight wars. Overall, the analysis reveals median voters are more likely to accept war when they're nominally impacted. They prefer capital-intensive militaries--focusing on technology and minimal casualties--rather than labor-intensive forces. This apathy and bellicosity lead to outsourcing wars to natives, futile air-bombing campaigns--Vietnam and bankrupt strategies yielding marginal returns--think most wars.

These assertions undergo rigorous statistical analysis, covering the first five chapters. Final chapters present case studies across three historical events and describe median voter influence on military strategies.

First, the British Empire is examined in relation to "electoral reform and imperial overstretch" Caverley investigates median voters influence on the empire's growth and its use of natives in wars. …

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