How Democracies Lose Small Wars: State, Society, and the Failures of France in Algeria, Israel in Lebanon, and the United States in Vietnam

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Gil Merom argues that modern democracies fail in insurgency wars because they are unable to find a winning balance between expedient and moral tolerance for the costs of war. Small wars are lost at home when a critical minority shifts the balancing element from the battlefield to the marketplace of ideas. This minority, representing the educated middle class, abhors the brutality involved in effective counterinsurgency, but also refuses to sustain the level of casualties resulting from fighting in other ways.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The ongoing debate about democracy, war, and peace has been enlivened and enriched by this exceptional book." Journal of Political and Military Sociology

"Merom's work is a welcome addition... excellent and timely." Perspectives on Politics

"...this is a highly informative and readable study." American Journal of Sociology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521804035
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2011
  • Pages: 310
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction; 2. Military superiority and victory in small wars: historical observations; 3. The structural original of defiance: the middle-class, the marketplace of ideas, and the normative gap; 4. The structural origins of tenacity: national alignment and compartmentalization; 5. The French war in Algeria: a strategic, political, and economic overview; 6. French instrumental dependence and its consequences; 7. The development of a normative difference in France and its consequences; 8. The French struggle to contain the growth of the normative gap and the rise of the 'democratic agenda'; 9. Political relevance and its consequences in France; 10. The Israeli war in Lebanon: a strategic, political, and economic overview; 11. Israeli instrumental dependence and its consequences; 12. The development of a normative difference in Israel and its consequences; 13. The Israeli struggle to contain the growth of the normative gap and the rise of the 'democratic agenda'; 14. Political relevance and its consequences in Israel.

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