Reassuring the Reluctant Warriors: U.S. Civil-Military Relations and Multilateral Intervention.

Reassuring the Reluctant Warriors: U.S. Civil-Military Relations and Multilateral Intervention.

Cornell University Press, 2015.

Why did American leaders work hard to secure multilateral approval from the United Nations or NATO for military interventions in the Balkans, Haiti, and Libya, while making only limited efforts to gain such approval for the 2003 Iraq War? This book shows that the most hawkish and influential civilian leaders in Washington tend to downplay the costs of intervention, and when confronted with hesitant international partners they often want to bypass multilateral bodies to maximize U.S. freedom of action. In these circumstances, America's senior generals, as reluctant warriors who worry about Vietnam-style quagmires, can play an important restraining role, steering U.S. policy toward multilateralism. I demonstrate that when the military expresses strong concerns about the longer-term stabilization burden, even hawkish civilian leaders can be expected to work hard to secure multilateral support through the UN or NATO—if only to reassure the reluctant warriors about burden sharing with international partners. By contrast, when the military stays silent, as it did in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq War, the most hawkish civilian policymakers are empowered; consequently, the United States is more likely to bypass multilateral bodies and may end up shouldering a heavy stabilization burden largely by itself. 

H-Diplo/ISSF Roundtable Review, with contributions by Anrew Bennett, Risa Brooks, and Joel Westra. 

Review by Terrence Chapman (Political Science Quarterly)
Review by Peter Feaver (Journal of Strategic Studies) 
Review by David Forsythe (Choice magazine)
Review by Jason Davidson (European Review of International Studies)
Review by David Fitzgerald (International Affairs)
Review by Marybeth Ulrich (Parameters)
Review by Harvey Sapolsky (Perspectives on Politics)

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