Leaders at War: How Presidents Shape Military Interventions (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs)

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One of the most contentious issues in contemporary foreign policy―especially in the United States―is the use of military force to intervene in the domestic affairs of other states. Some military interventions explicitly try to transform the domestic institutions of the states they target; others do not, instead attempting only to reverse foreign policies or resolve disputes without trying to reshape the internal landscape of the target state. In Leaders at War, Elizabeth N. Saunders provides a framework for understanding when and why great powers seek to transform foreign institutions and societies through military interventions. She highlights a crucial but often-overlooked factor in international relations: the role of individual leaders.

Saunders argues that leaders’ threat perceptions―specifically, whether they believe that threats ultimately originate from the internal characteristics of other states―influence both the decision to intervene and the choice of intervention strategy. These perceptions affect the degree to which leaders use intervention to remake the domestic institutions of target states. Using archival and historical sources, Saunders concentrates on U.S. military interventions during the Cold War, focusing on the presidencies of Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson. After demonstrating the importance of leaders in this period, she also explores the theory’s applicability to other historical and contemporary settings including the post–Cold War period and the war in Iraq.

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About the Author:

Elizabeth N. Saunders is Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University.

Review:

"In this fascinating book, Elizabeth N. Saunders offers new insight on matters of momentous contemporary importance. But she does so with remarkable sensitivity to the complexities of the historical record, showing how past U.S. presidents have gone about intervening overseas. As convincing as it is deftly written and deeply researched, Leaders at War deserves the careful attention of anyone interested in understanding how the United States uses its power abroad."

(Mark Lawrence, University of Texas at Austin, author of The Vietnam War: A Concise International History)

"Leaders at War is a theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich analysis of the role presidents play in the decision to intervene. Elizabeth N. Saunders helps us understand the implications of transformative and nontransformative strategies as well as the important implications for contemporary policy debates. Leaders at War will be required reading for my students and is sure to emerge at the very top of the list of books advancing our understanding of the links between leadership, beliefs, and external factors that make some interventions more successful than others."

(Larry Berman, University of California, Davis)

"Structuralists take note: With an admirably simple theory, sound case selection, meticulous process tracing, and judicious treatment of alternative explanations, Elizabeth N. Saunders makes what may be the strongest case to date that individual leaders really do affect international relations in predictable ways. The implications extend far beyond the academy―to the White House and indeed the voting booth."

(John Owen, University of Virginia, author of The Clash of Ideas in World Politics)

"Elizabeth N. Saunders has written a terrific book. Closely examining Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson, she asks a simple yet bedeviling question: Why do the leaders of a great power such as the United States choose to intervene militarily in the affairs of another state? Her answers are sophisticated, incisive, multitextured, well informed, and compelling. Leaders at War is important political science and it is important history. Not only students of the Cold War will want to read it."

(Richard H. Immerman, Professor and Edward J. Buthusiem Family Distinguished Faculty Fellow in History and Marvin Wachman Director, Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy, Temple University)

"Elizabeth N. Saunders asks the important questions of why great powers intervene in other countries and why that intervention sometimes aims to replace leaders, restructure institutions, and transform societies. Her answer focuses on the distinctive role of individual leaders and their causal beliefs about the origins of threats. Leaders at War adds much to our understanding of the history of American foreign policy during the Cold War and the role of individual leaders in foreign security policy and international conflict. It belongs on the shelf of every serious scholar interested in these central questions of theory, history, and policy."

(Jack S. Levy, Rutgers University)

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Book Description Cornell University Press, United States, 2011. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. One of the most contentious issues in contemporary foreign policy-especially in the United States-is the use of military force to intervene in the domestic affairs of other states. Some military interventions explicitly try to transform the domestic institutions of the states they target; others do not, instead attempting only to reverse foreign policies or resolve disputes without trying to reshape the internal landscape of the target state. In Leaders at War, Elizabeth N. Saunders provides a framework for understanding when and why great powers seek to transform foreign institutions and societies through military interventions. She highlights a crucial but often-overlooked factor in international relations: the role of individual leaders.Saunders argues that leaders' threat perceptions-specifically, whether they believe that threats ultimately originate from the internal characteristics of other states-influence both the decision to intervene and the choice of intervention strategy. These perceptions affect the degree to which leaders use intervention to remake the domestic institutions of target states. Using archival and historical sources, Saunders concentrates on U.S. military interventions during the Cold War, focusing on the presidencies of Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson. After demonstrating the importance of leaders in this period, she also explores the theory's applicability to other historical and contemporary settings including the post-Cold War period and the war in Iraq. Seller Inventory # AAJ9780801449222

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