The Uses and Limits of Small-Scale Military Interventions

The Uses and Limits of Small-Scale Military Interventions

Stephen Watts
Caroline Baxter
Molly Dunigan
Christopher Rizzi
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 158
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  • Book Info
    The Uses and Limits of Small-Scale Military Interventions
    Book Description:

    The authors assess the utility and limitations of “minimalist stabilization”—small-scale interventions designed to stabilize a partner government engaged in violent conflict—and propose policy recommendations concerning when minimalist stabilization missions may be appropriate and the strategies most likely to make such interventions successful, as well as the implications for U.S. Army force structure debates and partnership strategies.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-7656-4
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xiii-xx)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxiii-xxviii)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    The enormous costs of the American interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan have inevitably sparked a backlash against military interventions generally, especially as the magnitude of the American fiscal crisis has become apparent. Many critics argue that the United States should abandon efforts to stabilize extremely weak and failed states altogether. They insist that these states pose much less of a security threat to the United States than was often claimed in the days after the September 11 attacks, and they point to Iraq and Afghanistan as evidence of the disappointing returns to “nation-building” missions.

    Other observers are equally critical of...

  10. CHAPTER TWO Arguments For and Against Minimalist Stabilization
    (pp. 15-26)

    This chapter lays the groundwork for a broader assessment of minimalist stabilization. It reviews the arguments for and against this approach—arguments that tap a rich vein of academic and policy literature extending back to the Vietnam War.

    Proponents of minimalist stabilization make three broad claims. First, minimalist operations have vastly lower costs and so can be more easily sustained by outside powers like the United States. Second, smaller missions are less likely to spark nationalist backlashes against external forces and their local allies. Third, minimalist approaches are less likely to breed a culture of dependence in the host nation’s...

  11. CHAPTER THREE Overview of the Results of Minimalist Stabilization
    (pp. 27-46)

    In attempting to parse between arguments about the utility of minimalist stabilization, we must be able to define what success looks like, how likely the different approaches to intervention are to secure success, and what the costs of each approach are likely to be. Reality, as always, is much more complex than such a simple formula suggests, posing multiple challenges to research design. There are multiple dimensions to “success,” for instance, and it is not clear how to weight the tradeoffs between these dimensions. Either a great many indicators of success would have to be adopted, or many unanticipated second-and...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Case Studies
    (pp. 47-84)

    The quantitative analysis of the last chapter demonstrated that minimalist stabilization typically can prevent defeat but not secure victory. It did not, however, explain why this pattern predominates. This chapter focuses on four case studies of minimalist stabilization—in El Salvador in the 1980s, the CAR in the 1990s, and Colombia and the Philippines in the past decade—to help identify why minimalist stabilization produces this pattern of results. One case was selected from each of the four operational environments discussed in Chapter Three in order to understand minimalist stabilization missions across a range of contexts. Although three of the...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Conclusion
    (pp. 85-94)

    Minimalist stabilization missions do not significantly increase a partner government’s odds of victory in a counterinsurgency campaign, but they do dramatically reduce the probability of defeat. Minimalist stabilization typically yields operational successes that degrade rebel capabilities and make it unlikely that the insurgents can topple the government. Such missions typically do not, however, alter the underlying structure of the conflict. They usually do not help foster significant political reforms in the partner government. Nor are they typically able to cut insurgents off from their resource bases.

    These dynamics suggest that the operational gains attributable to minimalist stabilization can usually be...

  14. APPENDIX A Cases and Coding Notes
    (pp. 95-112)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 113-130)