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

Cornell University Press, 2015

Why did U.S. policymakers work hard to secure approval from the United Nations and regional institutions such as NATO for major military interventions in the Balkans (1995, 1999), Haiti (1994), and Libya (2011), while they made only limited efforts to gain such approval for the 2003 Iraq War? This book focuses on the role of civil-military relations and related bureaucratic bargaining.

Drawing on declassified documents and more than 100 interviews that I conducted with senior policymakers, I demonstrate that pro-intervention civilian leaders frequently downplay the costs of overseas combat missions and are inclined to bypass multilateral institutions out of a desire to maximize U.S. freedom of action. Yet, the calculus of these civilian leaders is likely to change when top U.S. generals and admirals push back against rash intervention plans by raising legitimate concerns about the operational cost, thereby threatening to tilt the bureaucratic balance of power in Washington toward non-intervention. In such circumstances, I argue, even the most pro-intervention civilian leaders can be expected to become more favorable to multilateral cooperation; indeed, they will often seek endorsements from the UN and regional multilateral institutions to lock in support from international allies and partners, thus reassuring the military about burden sharing and maximizing the likelihood that the intervention will ultimately go ahead. By contrast, when top generals and admirals do not express serious concerns, because they agree that a rapid (and unilateral) use of force is warranted, or they are in thrall to bellicose civilian leaders (as during the run-up to the 2003 Iraq War), the United States is less likely to place a premium on multilateralism as a catalyst for burden sharing and more likely to bypass relevant multilateral institutions.

“Recchia’s analysis of how bureaucratic politics plays out in the civil-military context is as good as anything written on the topic since Richard Betts’ classic study.”

— Prof. Peter Feaver in The Journal of Strategic Studies

“Recchia’s research, including over 100 interviews with top officials, is thorough and convincing.”

— Prof. Andrew Bennett, H-Diplo/ISSF

“A valuable study in the practical aspects of obtaining legitimacy through multilateral endorsement. Highly recommended.”

— Prof. David Forsythe in Choice magazine

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

French Interventions in Africa: Reluctant Multilateralism

(co-edited, with Thierry Tardy)
London and New York: Routledge, 2021

French Interventions in Africa: Reluctant Multilateralism

This book explores France’s African intervention policy and related legitimation strategies through the United Nations, the European Union, and various ad hoc multilateral frameworks. France’s enduring ability to project military power on the African continent and influence political events there has been central to its self-perception as a major power. However, since the end of the cold war, France’s paternalistic interference has been increasingly questioned, not least by African audiences. This has produced a gradual and somewhat reluctant turn to multilateralism on the part of French leaders. Drawing on in-depth case studies of recent French intervention policy, this edited volume critically assesses France’s efforts to reassure critics by securing multilateral endorsements; share burdens and liabilities through collective implementation; and re-affirm its status as a major power by spearheading complex missions.

“This book has the great merit of proposing social science based, well-informed, and mutually complementary analyses of a question—France’s multilateralization of its military interventions in Africa—that remains relevant today.”

— Prof. Sonia Le Gouriellec in Afrique Contemporaine

“A good overview of debates about the role of multilateralism in French military interventions.”

— Christian Deubner in
Annuaire Français de Relations Internationales 2022

Just and Unjust Military Intervention: European Thinkers from Vitoria to Mill

(co-edited, with Jennifer Welsh)
Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Classical arguments about the legitimate use of force have profoundly shaped the norms and institutions of contemporary international society. But what specific lessons can we learn from the classical European philosophers and jurists when thinking about humanitarian intervention, preventive self-defense or international trusteeship today? The contributors to this volume take seriously the admonition of contextualist scholars not to uproot classical thinkers’ arguments from their social, political and intellectual environment. Nevertheless, this collection demonstrates that contemporary students, scholars and policymakers can still learn a great deal from the questions raised by classical European thinkers, the problems they highlighted, and even the problematic character of some of the solutions they offered. The aim of this volume is to open up current assumptions about military intervention, and to explore the possibility of reconceptualizing and reappraising contemporary approaches. 

“This is a vital source for specialists on humanitarian intervention who wish to dig a little deeper into the history of their field and the ideas that have inhabited it.”

— Prof. Cian O’Driscoll in International Affairs

“A work of careful scholarship and considered judgment.”

— Prof. Nicholas Onuf, in H-Diplo/ISSF

Just and Unjust Military Intervention: European Thinkers from Vitoria to Mill

A Cosmopolitanism of Nations: Giuseppe Mazzini’s Writings on Democracy, Nation Building, and International Relations

(co-edited, with Nadia Urbinati)
Princeton University Press, 2009.

A Cosmopolitanism of Nations: Giuseppe Mazzini's Writings on Democracy, Nation Building, and International Relations

This volume gathers Giuseppe Mazzini’s most important essays on democracy, nation building, and international relations, including some that have never before been translated into English. These neglected writings remind us why Mazzini was one of the most influential political thinkers of the nineteenth century—and why there is still great benefit to be derived from a careful analysis of what he had to say. Mazzini (1805-1872) is best known today as the inspirational leader of the Italian Risorgimento. But, as this book demonstrates, he also made a vital contribution to the development of modern democratic and liberal internationalist thought.

The writings collected here show how Mazzini developed a sophisticated theory of democratic nation building—one that illustrates why democracy cannot be successfully imposed through military intervention from the outside. He also speculated, much more explicitly than Immanuel Kant, about how popular participation and self-rule within independent nation-states might result in lasting peace among democracies. In short, Mazzini believed that universal aspirations toward human freedom, equality, and international peace could best be realized through independent nation-states with homegrown democratic institutions. He thus envisioned what one might today call a genuine cosmopolitanism of nations.

“Most of Mazzini’s important essays and works are included in this collection, [which] is a great contribution toward a better understanding of Mazzini’s political thought.”

— Paolo Morisi in Political Studies Review

“A very valuable collection that nicely balances Mazzini’s high-principled appeals and his everyday work as a political leader and as a propagandist for his cause outside Italy.”

— Prof. Michael Freeden