An Analysis Of American Military Interventions Politics Essay

23 Mar 2015

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The War against Terrorism in Afghanistan and the War in Iraq have been the recent instances of U.S. military interventions. Since the end of the First World War, the U.S. has emerged as a vital player in the international political and economical scenario. After the Second World War, the U.S. claimed its position as one of the two polar states in the bipolar system and in the following post-cold war era, it emerged as the global hegemon. As an emerging powerful state during the cold war era, the U.S. was actively involved in international crisis scenarios through various economic, military, and diplomatic ways.

In the article, U.S. Military Intervention in Crisis, 1945-1994, Michael J. Butler studies the U.S. military interventions during the cold war era and tries to morally validate the U.S. military intervention decisions by establishing a relationship between the principles of jus ad bellum and the U.S. decisions to interfere militarily. Through this article, Butler tries to assert that the Just War Theory (JWT) had a strong influence in the U.S. policy decisions during the cold war era. Additionally, he introduces hegemonic power, structural realism, and ideological conflict as the three explanatory frameworks and tries to demonstrate how these frameworks interact with the principles of jus ad bellum. In an attempt to show that the principles of jus ad bellum had been the driving force for making the U.S policy decisions, Butler proposes three hypotheses and analyzes them using the International Crisis Behavior data. He successfully presents evidences supporting his first and second hypothesis in his data analysis; however, he fails to prove his third hypothesis because his analysis falls short in demonstrating how hegemonic power, structural realism, and ideological conflict did not significantly affect the impact of the Just War Theory on the U.S. decision to intervene militarily.

In the article, as an effort to support the first and second hypothesis, Butler demonstrates a vital role of just cause variables in the U.S. decisions to intervene militarily. Butler presents the U.S. as a third-party actor interventionist that chose to use military force to provide justice to the states in crisis during the cold war era (2003, 235). He argues that the presence of just cause variables in crisis scenarios strongly encouraged the U.S. intervention policies to favor military option (2003, 235). This argument is demonstrated effectively in Butler's analysis which shows that the chances of the U.S. making any decisions in support of the military option are increased when the variables of jus ad bellum, such as seizure of persons and property, presence of an authoritarian regime in crisis, and power inequalities between states are at a significant level (2003, 241). For instance, in the analysis Butler shows a significantly high probability of U.S. military interventions in the cases where U.S persons or property have been seized violently, which further strengthens his first and second hypothesis (2003, 242).

Additionally, Butler also shows that the U.S. had right intentions and competent authority for its military interventions during the cold war era. Butler illustrates the justice oriented nature of U.S. military interventions in the data showing the U.S. contribution to the pace of crisis abatement, which is statistically high in both of his models (2003, 242-44). The significant contribution of the U.S. in getting the target states out of their crisis scenarios effectively reflects the right intentions behind the U.S. preference for military force. While analyzing the impact of a competent authority on the U.S. decisions to intervene militarily, Butler gives more importance to the authorization granted by the target states than to the authorization given by a global or a regional organization. The significance of the authorization of a target state to intervene can be observed in the data that demonstrates that the U.S. is more likely to intervene in cases where a state undergoing crisis agrees to give up its sovereignty and demands for the U.S. intervention.

Though Butler succeeds in providing evidence for his first and second hypothesis, he fails to support his third hypothesis with his analysis. In the third hypothesis, Butler states that the three control factors-hegemonic power, structural realism, and ideological conflict-did not significantly impact the influence of the Just War Theory on U.S. policy decisions to interfere militarily (2003, 235). While explaining this hypothesis, Butler hesitantly alludes to the possibility that the U.S. intervention policies during the cold war era could have been influenced by the U.S. interest in claiming its hegemonic status in the regions of intervention (2003, 235). He also argues that the U.S. decisions to use military force were not profoundly affected by the "presence of a strong US political or military ally as a crisis actor" (2003, 236); however, while making this argument, he fails to mention the role played by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an intergovernmental military alliance, during the cold war era. Furthermore, in his research, Butler shows that the odds of U.S. intervening militarily increases quite significantly when the USSR is involved as a crisis actor (2003, 242). This analysis alludes to the possibility that the ideological conflict between the USSR and the U.S. could have been a major control factor affecting the U.S. military intervention decisions during the cold war era.

Moreover, in the analysis, Butler uses an approach that is biased against the three control factors; this biasness further weakens his argument proposed in the third hypothesis. Though Butler mentions that this prejudiced approach was used to examine the strength of the Just War Theory on U.S decisions in presence of the three control factors, it does not appeal to the readers as a convincing way to test this hypothesis. He further makes the third hypothesis unpersuasive as he mentions how the tier 2 model simultaneously illustrates the role of U.S as an ideological warrior and a champion of the free world, implying that ideological conflict and just cause equally affected the U.S decision to intervene militarily (2003, 244).

In this article, Butler presents the readers with an analysis that proves his first and second hypothesis. Through this analysis he successfully shows how the presence of the three components of jus ad bellum-just cause, competent authority, and right intention-affected the U.S. decision to use military force during the cold war era. Using the analysis, Butler is able to demonstrate the vital role played by the principles of Just War Theory in U.S. military intervention policies. However, after introducing the three explanatory frameworks -hegemonic power, structural realism, and ideological conflict- as the three control factors, Butler fails to prove that these factors did not have any significant effect as control variables of the Just War Theory on the U.S. military interventions during the cold war era.

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