Theses Doctoral

Statesmen, Soldiers, and Strategy: The Influence of Civil-Military Relations on U.S. National Security Decision-Making

Zagorcheva, Dessie

This dissertation analyzes how statesmen and soldiers make decisions on war and peace and identifies key linkages between a state's civil-military relations and its international relations. It shows that there is a clear connection between a state's civil-military relations and the making of strategy. This study analyzes how different patterns of civil-military relations affect a state's propensity to use military force, as well as its ability to design effective military strategies to achieve its political objectives. It develops a framework, which allows us to derive hypotheses as to the conditions under which policy-makers would be more likely to make informed decisions on the use of force. The dissertation studies how top decision-makers process information and advice and the political and psychological dynamics that affect the policy-making process. I show that firm civilian control, while necessary, is not a sufficient condition and does not automatically translate into effective national security decision-making or victorious military strategies. Even wealthy and powerful states with firm control over their militaries have paid, at times, enormous cost in blood and treasure due to poorly-conceived diplomatic and military strategies. In the coming years, we are certain to have many occasions when the U.S. uses or considers the use of military force. That is why scholars should continue studying the dynamics of the relations between civilian and military leaders at the pinnacle of government and their effect on the making of military strategy and national security policy.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Political Science
Thesis Advisors
Jervis, Robert
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 18, 2013