Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Threat, military culture, and strategy: The United States in Afghanistan and Iraq
by Nishi, Takayuki, Ph.D., The University of Chicago, 2009, 222; 3369458
Abstract (Summary)

States need to match military strategies and political aims in order to deter attacks and win wars. When are they more or less likely to be integrated? This dissertation tests balance of power theory and organizational culture theory with the United States' conduct of the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Chapter 1 defines integration between political objectives, which directly require the use of force, and theater strategy, which specifies military objectives. Chapter 2 specifies the theories in terms of their predictions of political-military integration. Chapters 3 and 4 assess the actual changes in integration by dividing each case over time by changes in political objectives and military strategy. There were six phases in the U.S.-Afghan conflict from August 1998 through 2006, and four in the U.S.-Iraq conflict from November 2001 through 2006. Chapter 5 generates predictions for each phase from Barry Posen's mechanisms for change in civilian leaders' perception of external threat, and evaluates them. Chapter 6 generates predictions from Elizabeth Kier's theory of military culture in terms of the gaps between the mainstream cultures of the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps and the theater strategy required by political objectives, and evaluates them. Chapter 7 discusses theoretical and empirical implications in three steps. First, I evaluate the two theories' relative performance. Among the ten phases of the two wars, the seven for which military culture predicted integration or disintegration correctly included all three phases for which balance of power theory's predictions were correct. Then, I explain the disintegration in excess of predictions, including phases where one or both theories predicted it in broad terms. When civilians believed that goals and objectives beyond immediate ones were attainable, and reached for them despite their contradiction with current objectives, their intervention worsened disintegration. Finally, I examine whether the two theories and this new explanation could have operated in the U.S. strategy toward Iraq in 2007. The conditions under which integration improved for the first time since the invasion indicate the bluntness of the military instrument for all but the simplest political goals.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mearsheimer, John J.
Commitee: Glaser, Charles L., Pape, Robert A.
School: The University of Chicago
Department: Political Science
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 70/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: International law, Military studies
Keywords: Afghan War 2001-, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iraq War 2003-, Military culture, Military doctrine -- United States, Threat
Publication Number: 3369458
ISBN: 9781109315684
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