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Why Does America Fight So Many Wars?

Steve Walt has an excellent piece on the topic in the latest issue of Foreign Policy. He points to five reasons for US involvement in “foolish wars”:

  1. Because we can.
  2. The U.S. Has No Serious Enemies.
  3. The All-Volunteer Force.
  4. It’s the Establishment, Stupid.
  5. Congress Has Checked Out.

The whole thing is well worth reading here.

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categories: national security, war. | tags: , , .

Posted at 5:41 am


One Response

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  1. Konstantinos Travlos says

    I am sorry but his explanations are conjectures at most. First of all the US is not enganging in an indortinate amount of militarised interstated activity since the end of the cold war. Between 1993 and 2001 Russia enganged in 41 Miltirised Interstate Disputes while the US in the same period enganged in only 39 (COW 3.1 2008). The majority of US and Russian intervetion are before the 1993 period. Between 1816-1993 the Russian Empire/USR and the USA engaged in 301 MIDs and 316 MIDs repsectevly. That is in an era when number 2 explanation (unipolairty) did not exist for either power. Obiviously having an opponent was not a disincentive for miltirised actiivty. Quite the contrary it was correlated quite sensibly with militirised activity. After 1993 both the US and Russia have banged head at about the same amount.

    Between 1816 and 1895 when number 1 (major power status) is questionable the US enganged in 70 MIDs which is about 30 more then those it enganged in the era of unipolarity. Number 1 (major power status) thus is also questionable. The US was as about militiaristic when it was a weak power as when it was a strong power.

    Thus number 1 and 2 are non-sensible explanations in the form provided and resisted by emprical reality.

    Number 3 (AV)F is again not an explanation. The US has had a AVF since the inception of the state expcet for the era between 1941-1970s. The US had a more militaristic foreign policy in that era than today when number 1(major power status), number 2( unipolairty) and number 3 (AVF) exist. The US also had 101 MIDs from 1816 to 1917 when the AVF was the main force.

    Number 4 is not a realist explanation-> power not ideology explains foreign policy in realism (at least structural realism). One could say that number 1 (unipolarity) feeds number 4 (idoelogy), but then how to explain the fact that even when number 1 (unipolairty) was not the case (1816-1890s) the US was as MID propense or more as when number 1 is the case (1993-2001)?.

    Number 5 again is not a realist explanation. It does not answer the questions of why Congress ceded that power, why it continues to cede that power and why the presidency has used it in this way and not another.

    Number 4 and 5 are connected by Bacevitch who does a far better job of making a cutlural arguement . Walt can’t marry those five together as an explanation of us activity post 1993. 2 of them are not correlated with his outcome (nubmer 1 and number 2), 1 is a long term invariant (AVF) and only 4 and 5 actually vary and Walt has no story of why, and how they are connected. All in all a falshy piece of policy conjencture but not one of serious analysis, let alone political science.



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