Theses Doctoral

The Militarist Trap: Linking Militarism, (Dis)Integrated Grand Strategy, and Military Efficacy

Samotin, Laura Resnick

This dissertation seeks to explain why states sometimes produce disintegrated wartime grand strategies; doing so is of both scholarly and policy importance because wartime grand strategy is a key component of military effectiveness, and therefore has a vital role to play in military victory or defeat. To do so, this dissertation explores the link between militarism, civil-military bargaining, and the formation of integrated—or disintegrated—grand strategy. I hypothesize that civilians and military leaders possess divergent preferences over the use of force that are exogenous to any one conflict, and represent enduring, rational preference divergences between civilian and military positions on the use of force.

Under conditions of militarism, defined as high levels of societal admiration for the military, the civil-military bargaining space will be distorted in favor of military preferences, with the military having more power in the civil-military negotiating process due to its potentially outsized ability to shape public opinion compared to civilians. This will lead to the formation of disintegrated grand strategy—one which does not balance civilian and military preferences—which has been shown in the literature to be linked to reduced military effectiveness. I provide evidence for my hypotheses in the form of two case studies which are examined via process-tracing methodology—the United States performance in the 1991 Gulf War, and the United States performance in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. I conclude that under conditions of militarism, states produce disintegrated wartime grand strategies.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Political Science
Thesis Advisors
Biddle, Stephen Duane
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 26, 2022