The next election looms over nearly all decisions democratic leaders make.  Choices about military strategy are no exception.  Whatever the merits of a particular policy, it could well be overturned, along with the rest of a leader’s agenda, if it prompts voters to remove him or her from office.  Some observers have long worried that electoral pressures give rise to short-term thinking and other pathologies in foreign policy decisionmaking.[1]  Others have argued, on the contrary, that electoral accountability leads to greater caution and prudence about war and peace.[2]  Andrew Payne’s article addresses the important question of how electoral pressures actually worked in an important recent conflict. Its case studies of decisionmaking under the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama during the latter stages of the Iraq War are detailed and compelling.  The evidence reviewed in the article could also speak to alternative theoretical mechanisms that the article does not consider in detail.

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Books on Chinese military issues have traditionally been of interest to a small and inward-looking community of security-minded China-focused academics and policy analysts far from the mainstream of their disciplinary fields and professions. But with China’s growing prominence on the global stage, interest in Chinese defense and strategic matters has also become more widespread. This roundtable on M. Taylor Fravel’s examination of contemporary Chinese military strategy underscores the gradual coming of age of Chinese security studies as an important and relevant component of the general security studies field, and in the process draws attention to a book that is both timely and highly significant.

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