Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Airpower and the Hawk/ Dove Dynamic in American Politics: Post-Vietnam to Post-9/11
by Arndt, Thomas, Ph.D., Rutgers The State University of New Jersey - Newark, 2013, 282; 3600631
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation chronicles the role of airpower as a focal point in the evolution of the hawk vs. dove dynamic in American politics. It accounts for the relationship between changes in the viability of aerial weapons technologies and the general commitment of elected officials to expand or restrict the standing and use of hard power as a foreign policy tool. By comparing and contrasting the aftermath of two main paradigms of conflict -- the post-Vietnam era and the post-9/11 era -- it shows how disagreement over the size, scope, and role of the nation’s armed forces has changed amid the introduction of airpower technologies that have in many cases been developed to mitigate the increasing level of conflict asymmetry witnessed by the transition from one strategic threat environment to the next. Accordingly, the analysis follows a basic chronology of comparative case study: first it examines the waning years of the Vietnam War through to the years following its conclusion, establishing a baseline for the character of the hawk/ dove dynamic amid a mindset of mostly conventional conflict before proceeding to the post-9/11 era, evaluating how trends in the hawk/ dove debate have shifted in an age of extreme asymmetry and non-linear battlefields. The lion’s share of the research analyzes legislative voting data on the U.S. Congress from 1964-2012 to visually chart how the hawk/ dove dynamic has fluctuated over time in terms of its intensity, primary focal point(s), and the balance of the dynamic. Seven litmus tests are identified as individual moving parts: 1) airpower policy, 2) defense spending in general, 3) (de)escalation of conflict, 4) foreign military aid, 5) WMD policy, 6) war powers/ inter-branch relations, and 7) NASA support as part of air and space power. Providing a quantitative basis for analysis, the findings are revealed along with contextual points of interest found in the public communication of key intellectual leaders (including those in the executive branch). Taken together, the research offers a comprehensive view into the evolving debate over peace and war in an age of rapidly-advancing airpower systems used in increasingly asymmetrical conflict.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Samuels, Norman
Commitee: Ferguson, Yale, Kennedy, Leslie, Langhorne, Richard
School: Rutgers The State University of New Jersey - Newark
Department: Global Affairs
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 75/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American studies, American history, International law, Military history, Military studies
Keywords: Airpower, American politics, Asymmetrical warfare, Bombing, Conflict, Drones, Global affairs, Hard power, Hawks vs. Doves, Interventionism, Post-9/11, Post-Vietnam, Precision strike, Security, U.S. Congress
Publication Number: 3600631
ISBN: 978-1-303-50828-8
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