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Cornell Studies in Security Affairs

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The Origins of Major War

by Dale C. Copeland

One of the most important questions of human existence is what drives nations to war-especially massive, system-threatening war. Much military history focuses on the who, when, and where of war. In this riveting book, Dale C. Copeland brings attention to bear on why governments make decisions that lead to, sustain, and intensify conflicts.

Copeland presents detailed historical narratives of several twentieth-century cases, including World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. He highlights instigating factors that transcend individual personalities, styles of government, geography, and historical context to reveal remarkable consistency across several major wars usually considered dissimilar. The result is a series of challenges to established interpretive positions and provocative new readings of the causes of conflict.

Classical realists and neorealists claim that dominant powers initiate war. Hegemonic stability realists believe that wars are most often started by rising states. Copeland offers an approach stronger in explanatory power and predictive capacity than these three brands of realism: he examines not only the power resources but the shifting power differentials of states. He specifies more precisely the conditions under which state decline leads to conflict, drawing empirical support from the critical cases of the twentieth century as well as major wars spanning from ancient Greece to the Napoleonic Wars.

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Reassuring the Reluctant Warriors

U.S. Civil-Military Relations and Multilateral Intervention

by Stefano Recchia

Why did American leaders work hard to secure multilateral approval from the United Nations or NATO for military interventions in Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo, while making only limited efforts to gain such approval for the 2003 Iraq War? In Reassuring the Reluctant Warriors, Stefano Recchia draws on declassified documents and about one hundred interviews with civilian and military leaders to illuminate little-known aspects of U.S. decision making in the run-up to those interventions. American leaders, he argues, seek UN or NATO approval to facilitate sustained military and financial burden sharing and ensure domestic support. However, the most assertive, 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. In these circumstances, America's senior generals and admirals—as reluctant warriors who worry about Vietnam-style quagmires—can play an important restraining role, steering U.S. policy toward multilateralism.

Senior military officers are well placed to debunk the civilian interventionists' optimistic assumptions regarding the costs of war, thereby undermining broader governmental support for intervention. Recchia demonstrates that when the military expresses strong concerns about the 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 long-term burden sharing. By contrast, when the military stays silent, as it did in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq War, the most hawkish civilians 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. Recchia's argument that the military has the ability to contribute not only to a more prudent but also to a more multilateralist U.S. intervention policy may be counterintuitive, but the evidence is compelling.

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The Remnants of War

by John Mueller

"War . . . is merely an idea, an institution, like dueling or slavery, that has been grafted onto human existence. It is not a trick of fate, a thunderbolt from hell, a natural calamity, or a desperate plot contrivance dreamed up by some sadistic puppeteer on high. And it seems to me that the institution is in pronounced decline, abandoned as attitudes toward it have changed, roughly following the pattern by which the ancient and formidable institution of slavery became discredited and then mostly obsolete."-from the Introduction

War is one of the great themes of human history and now, John Mueller believes, it is clearly declining. Developed nations have generally abandoned it as a way for conducting their relations with other countries, and most current warfare (though not all) is opportunistic predation waged by packs-often remarkably small ones-of criminals and bullies. Thus, argues Mueller, war has been substantially reduced to its remnants-or dregs-and thugs are the residual combatants.

Mueller is sensitive to the policy implications of this view. When developed states commit disciplined troops to peacekeeping, the result is usually a rapid cessation of murderous disorder. The Remnants of War thus reinvigorates our sense of the moral responsibility bound up in peacekeeping. In Mueller's view, capable domestic policing and military forces can also be effective in reestablishing civic order, and the building of competent governments is key to eliminating most of what remains of warfare.

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Secession and Security

Explaining State Strategy against Separatists

Ahsan I. Butt

"The book is an excellent addition to the scholarly literature on subnational movements, both past and present, offering a range of insights to policymakers across the globe."—Ayesha Jalal, author of The Struggle for Pakistan

"With judicious use of empirical evidence and rich case studies, Ahsan I. Butt makes a compelling case that states’ responses to secessionist movements turn to a considerable degree on their external security environments."—S. Paul Kapur, author of Jihad as Grand Strategy

In Secession and Security, Ahsan I. Butt argues that states, rather than separatists, determine whether a secessionist struggle will be peaceful, violent, or genocidal. He investigates the strategies, ranging from negotiated concessions to large-scale repression, adopted by states in response to separatist movements. Variations in the external security environment, Butt argues, influenced the leaders of the Ottoman Empire to use peaceful concessions against Armenians in 1908 but escalated to genocide against the same community in 1915; caused Israel to reject a Palestinian state in the 1990s; and shaped peaceful splits in Czechoslovakia in 1993 and the Norway-Sweden union in 1905.

Using more than one hundred interviews and extensive archival data, Butt focuses on two main cases—Pakistani reactions to Bengali and Baloch demands for independence in the 1970s and India’s responses to secessionist movements in Kashmir, Punjab, and Assam in the 1980s and 1990s. Butt’s deep historical approach to his subject will appeal to policymakers and observers interested in the last five decades of geopolitics in South Asia, the contemporary Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and ethno-national conflict, separatism, and nationalism more generally.

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The Shadow of the Past

Reputation and Military Alliances before the First World War

by Gregory D. Miller

In The Shadow of the Past, Gregory D. Miller examines the role that reputation plays in international politics, emphasizing the importance of reliability-confidence that, based on past political actions, a country will make good on its promises-in the formation of military alliances. Challenging recent scholarship that focuses on the importance of credibility-a state's reputation for following through on its threats-Miller finds that reliable states have much greater freedom in forming alliances than those that invest resources in building military force but then use it inconsistently.

To explore the formation and maintenance of alliances based on reputation, Miller draws on insights from both political science and business theory to track the evolution of great power relations before the First World War. He starts with the British decision to abandon "splendid isolation" in 1900 and examines three crises--the First Moroccan Crisis (1905-6), the Bosnia-Herzegovina Crisis (1908-9), and the Agadir Crisis (1911)-leading up to the war. He determines that states with a reputation for being a reliable ally have an easier time finding other reliable allies, and have greater autonomy within their alliances, than do states with a reputation for unreliability. Further, a history of reliability carries long-term benefits, as states tend not to lose allies even when their reputation declines.

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Storm of Steel

The Development of Armor Doctrine in Germany and the Soviet Union, 1919–1939

by Mary R. Habeck

In this fascinating account of the battle tanks that saw combat in the European Theater of World War II, Mary R. Habeck traces the strategies developed between the wars for the use of armored vehicles in battle. Only in Germany and the Soviet Union were truly original armor doctrines (generally known as "blitzkreig" and "deep battle") fully implemented. Storm of Steel relates how the German and Soviet armies formulated and chose to put into practice doctrines that were innovative for the time, yet in many respects identical to one another.

As part of her extensive archival research in Russia, Germany, and Britain, Habeck had access to a large number of formerly secret and top-secret documents from several post-Soviet archives. This research informs her comparative approach as she looks at the roles of technology, shared influences, and assumptions about war in the formation of doctrine. She also explores relations between the Germans and the Soviets to determine whether collaboration influenced the convergence of their armor doctrines.

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The Tet Offensive

Intelligence Failure in War

by James J. Wirtz

In this account of one of the worst intelligence failures in American
history, James J. Wirtz explains why U.S. forces were surprised by the North Vietnamese Tet Offensive in 1968. Wirtz reconstructs the turning point of the Vietnam War in unprecedented detail. Drawing upon Vietcong and recently declassified U.S. sources, he is able to trace the strategy and unfolding of the Tet campaign as well as the U.S. response.

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Unclear Physics

Why Iraq and Libya Failed to Build Nuclear Weapons

by Malfrid Braut-Hegghammer

Many authoritarian leaders want nuclear weapons, but few manage to acquire them. Autocrats seeking nuclear weapons fail in different ways and to varying degrees—Iraq almost managed it; Libya did not come close. In Unclear Physics, Malfrid Braut-Hegghammer compares the two failed nuclear weapons programs, showing that state capacity played a crucial role in the trajectory and outcomes of both projects. Braut-Hegghammer draws on a rich set of new primary sources, collected during years of research in archives, fieldwork across the Middle East, and interviews with scientists and decision makers from both states. She gained access to documents and individuals that no other researcher has been able to consult. Her book tells the story of the Iraqi and Libyan programs from their origins in the late 1950s and 1960s until their dismantling.

This book reveals contemporary perspectives from scientists and regime officials on the opportunities and challenges facing each project. Many of the findings challenge the conventional wisdom about clandestine weapons programs in closed authoritarian states and their prospects of success or failure. Braut-Hegghammer suggests that scholars and analysts ought to pay closer attention to how state capacity affects nuclear weapons programs in other authoritarian regimes, both in terms of questioning the actual control these leaders have over their nuclear weapons programs and the capability of their scientists to solve complex technical challenges.

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Warring Friends

Alliance Restraint in International Politics

by Jeremy Pressman

Allied nations often stop each other from going to war. Some countries even form alliances with the specific intent of restraining another power and thereby preventing war. Furthermore, restraint often becomes an issue in existing alliances as one ally wants to start a war, launch a military intervention, or pursue some other risky military policy while the other ally balks. In Warring Friends, Jeremy Pressman draws on and critiques realist, normative, and institutionalist understandings of how alliance decisions are made.

Alliance restraint often has a role to play both in the genesis of alliances and in their continuation. As this book demonstrates, an external power can apply the brakes to an incipient conflict, and even unheeded advice can aid in clarifying national goals. The power differentials between allies in these partnerships are influenced by leadership unity, deception, policy substitutes, and national security priorities. Recent controversy over the complicated relationship between the U.S. and Israeli governments-especially in regard to military and security concerns-is a reminder that the alliance has never been easy or straightforward.

Pressman highlights multiple episodes during which the United States attempted to restrain Israel's military policies: Israeli nuclear proliferation during the Kennedy Administration; the 1967 Arab-Israeli War; preventing an Israeli preemptive attack in 1973; a small Israeli operation in Lebanon in 1977; the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982; and Israeli action during the Gulf War of 1991. As Pressman shows, U.S. initiatives were successful only in 1973, 1977, and 1991, and tensions have flared up again recently as a result of Israeli arms sales to China.

Pressman also illuminates aspects of the Anglo-American special relationship as revealed in several cases: British nonintervention in Iran in 1951; U.S. nonintervention in Indochina in 1954; U.S. commitments to Taiwan that Britain opposed, 1954-1955; and British intervention and then withdrawal during the Suez War of 1956. These historical examples go far to explain the context within which the Blair administration failed to prevent the U.S. government from pursuing war in Iraq at a time of unprecedented American power.

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