Who Wins?: Predicting Strategic Success and Failure in Armed Conflict

Paperback | June 14, 2012

byPatricia L. Sullivan

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Despite their immense war-fighting capacity, the five most powerful states in the international system have failed to attain their primary political objective in almost 40% of their military operations against weak state and non-state targets since 1945. Why are states with tremendous militarymight so often unable to attain their objectives when they use force against weaker adversaries? More broadly, under what conditions can states use military force to attain their political objectives and what conditions limit the utility of military force as a policy instrument? Can we predict theoutcome of a war before the fighting begins? Scholars and military leaders have argued that poor military strategy choices, domestic political constraints on democratic governments, or failure to commit sufficient resources to the war effort can explain why strong states lose small wars. In contrast, Who Wins? by Patricia L. Sullivan arguesthat the key to understanding strategic success in war lies in the nature of the political objectives states pursue through the use of military force. Sullvian does not deny the importance of war-fighting capacity, military strategies, or resolve as determinants of war outcomes. But she providesboth a coherent argument and substantial empirical evidence that the effects of these factors are dependent on the nature of the belligerents' political objectives.The theory's predictions about the conditions under which states are able to attain their political objectives through the use of military force are tested against the most widely accepted alternative explanations of war outcomes with an abundance of historical data on violent conflicts. The resultssupport Sullivan's argument and challenge both existing theories and conventional wisdom about the impact of factors like military strength, resolve, regime type, and war-fighting strategies on war outcomes.

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Despite their immense war-fighting capacity, the five most powerful states in the international system have failed to attain their primary political objective in almost 40% of their military operations against weak state and non-state targets since 1945. Why are states with tremendous militarymight so often unable to attain their objec...

Patricia L. Sullivan is Assistant Professor of Political Science and Peace, War, and Defense in the Department of Public Policy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is the recipient of the 2011 SPIA Excellence in Teaching Award, the 2004-2006 Walter Isard Dissertation Award, given every two years by the Peace Science S...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:192 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:June 14, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199878358

ISBN - 13:9780199878352

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. Strength and Resolve in the Armed Conflicts We Observe3. War Aims and War Outcomes4. Testing the Argument5. Interstate Dispute Outcomes, 1919-20016. Military Interventions by Powerful States: At What Price Victory?7. ConclusionAppendix to Chapter 4Appendix to Chapter 6NotesBibliographyIndex