Power and Military Effectiveness
The Fallacy of Democratic TriumphalismeBook - 2008
Desch (Texas A&M U.) investigates the supposition that democratic states fare well in war, and finds that the theory of "democratic triumphalism" is flawed since these countries are often at a disadvantage when it comes to international relations. Using Francis Fukuyama's comment that the spread of democracy in today's world is "the end of history" as a launching point, the author examines the legitimacy of "democratic peace," and the link between military prowess and economic strength. Written for military leaders, policymakers and students of international relations, this book uses case studies spanning more than 2000 years through history to support the idea that most democracies are too absorbed with public opinion to consider all of the consequences of war. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Johns Hopkins University Press
Since 1815 democratic states have emerged victorious from most wars, leading many scholars to conclude that democracies are better equipped to triumph in armed conflict with autocratic and other non-representative governments.
Political scientist Michael C. Desch argues that the evidence and logic of that supposition, which he terms "democratic triumphalism," are as flawed as the arguments for the long-held and opposite belief that democracies are inherently disadvantaged in international relations. Through comprehensive statistical analysis, a thorough review of two millennia of international relations thought, and in-depth case studies of modern-era military conflicts, Desch finds that the problems that persist in prosecuting wars—from building up and maintaining public support to holding the military and foreign policy elites in check—remain constant regardless of any given state’s form of government. In assessing the record, he finds that military effectiveness is almost wholly reliant on the material assets that a state possesses and is able to mobilize.
Power and Military Effectiveness is an instructive reassessment of the increasingly popular belief that military success is one of democracy’s many virtues. International relations scholars, policy makers, and military minds will be well served by its lessons.