Force Without War: U.S. Armed Forces as a Political Instrument

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Force Without War: U.S. Armed Forces as a Political Instrument

By Barry M. Blechman and Stephen S. Kaplan
Brookings, 1978
584 pp. $19.95
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A massive and impressive-in both scope and methodology-analysis of the political use of military force short of armed conflict. The authors examined 215 incidents in which U.S. forces were used, ranging from the civil strife in Haiti in 1946 to the seizure of the Mayaguez in 1975. The evidence suggests that the discrete application of military power is often an effective way of achieving short-term foreign policy objectives by stabilizing volatile situations. But the "success rate" erodes sharply over time. Although such actions may delay unwanted developments and offer a respite, they are usually no substitute for more basic economic and political actions. Thus, the major benefit of the demonstrative use of armed forces may be to buy time for diplomacy. A bulky and overlong study, but one which is likely to become a seminal work.

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