Unintended Consequences: The United States at War by Kenneth J. HaganUnintended Consequences: The United States at War by Kenneth J. Hagan

Unintended Consequences: The United States at War

byKenneth J. Hagan, Ian J. Bickerton

Paperback | November 15, 2008

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“The United States does not do nation building,” claimed Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld three years ago. Yet what are we to make of the American military bases in Korea? Why do American warships patrol the Somali coastline? And perhaps most significantly, why are fourteen “enduring bases” being built in Iraq? In every major foreign war fought by United States in the last century, the repercussions of the American presence have been felt long after the last Marine has left. Kenneth J. Hagan and Ian J. Bickerton argue here that, despite adamant protests from the military and government alike, nation building and occupation are indeed hallmarks—and unintended consequences—of American warmaking.

In this timely, groundbreaking study, the authors examine ten major wars fought by the United States, from the Revolutionary War to the ongoing Iraq War, and analyze the conflicts’ unintended consequences. These unexpected outcomes, Unintended Consequences persuasively demonstrates, stemmed from ill-informed decisions made at critical junctures and the surprisingly similar crises that emerged at the end of formal fighting. As a result, war did not end with treaties or withdrawn troops. Instead, time after time, the United States became inextricably involved in the issues of the defeated country, committing itself to the chaotic aftermath that often completely subverted the intended purposes of war.

Stunningly, Unintended Consequences contends that the vast majority of wars launched by the United States were unnecessary, avoidable, and catastrophically unpredictable. In a stark challenge to accepted scholarship, the authors show that the wars’ unintended consequences far outweighed the initial calculated goals, and thus forced cataclysmic shifts in American domestic and foreign policy.

A must-read for anyone concerned with the past, present, or future of American defense, Unintended Consequences offers a provocative perspective on the current predicament in Iraq and the conflicts sure to loom ahead of us.

Kenneth J. Hagan is professor of strategy at the United States Naval War College, and professor of history emeritus at the United States Naval Academy. He is author of The People's Navy and coauthor of American Foreign Relations: A History. Ian J. Bickerton is Visiting Research Fellow and former associate professor of history at the Un...
Title:Unintended Consequences: The United States at WarFormat:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.7 inPublished:November 15, 2008Publisher:Reaktion BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1861894090

ISBN - 13:9781861894090

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Table of Contents

1. The First Major War, 1775-83
2. The Second War against Great Britain, 1912-15
3. The War against Mexico, 1846-48
4. The Civil War, 1861-65
5. The War against Spain, 1898
6. The United States in World War I, 1917-18
7. The United States in World War II, 1941-45
8. The War in Korea, 1950-53
9. The War in Vietnam, 1964-75
10. The Wars against Iraq, 1991-2007

Editorial Reviews

"This is an imaginative, wonderfully written but sober satire on the conceits of an age whose leaders still suppose that war is the way to power over others. "Unintended Consequences" identifies with the tradition of great scholarship that stretches from Adam Ferguson to Hannah Arendt, in order to show how and why the greatest military power in human history does not know why it does what it does. Bickerton and Hagan brilliantly show that American military actions have typically had effects quite different from what their leaders have said, or imagined. And so "Unintended Consequences" cleverly helps us grasp why the present Bush administration is sleepwalking its way through problems of its own making--and why, disturbingly, it seems to want nothing more than to bequeath a global crisis to the next administration."--John Keane, professor of politics and director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster, London