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Title: Immaculate destruction : war as a political instrument in American military culture
Author: Buley, Benjamin Louis.
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis examines how the concept of war as an instrument of national policy has been received in American military culture. The' American way of war' has traditionally been characterized by scholars as narrowly apolitical: the Clausewitzian precept that war should be regarded as a political instrument was held to have been incompatible with the American cultural heritage. Yet this account of American military culture provides an incomplete overview of US military thought and practice, for the United States has also devoted more resources than any other nation to the precise calibration of military force, and thus its employment as a 'surgical' instrument of policy. This latter project was manifested most recently in the 2003 Iraq War, when the fall of Baghdad was hailed as the triumphant validation of a 'new' American way of war. Yet as political chaos took hold in Iraq, the continuities between the 'old' and the 'new' American way of war began to appear more apparent than the differences. Rejecting the notion of a linear transition from an old to a new style of war, the central argument of this thesis is that within American military culture, the interpenetration of the political and military dimensions of war has been the subject not of consensus, but of prolonged contention. There is no single American discourse on the proper relationship between military force and national policy. Rather, American strategy since at least the early Cold War period has reflected the influence of a cultural dialectic between polarized interpretations of the political utility of military force. This thesis traces the emergence and evolution of these competing cultural paradigms for the use of force from the Cold War to the War on Terror, and explores the expression of this cultural dialectic in American strategy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available