Occupational Hazards: Success and Failure in Military Occupation

Overview

Few would contest that the U.S. occupation of Iraq is a clear example of just how fraught a military occupation can become. In Occupational Hazards, David M. Edelstein elucidates the occasional successes of military occupations and their more frequent failures. Edelstein has identified twenty-six cases since 1815 in which an outside power seized control of a territory where the occupying party had no long-term claim on sovereignty.

In a book that has implications for present-day...

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Occupational Hazards: Success and Failure in Military Occupation

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Overview

Few would contest that the U.S. occupation of Iraq is a clear example of just how fraught a military occupation can become. In Occupational Hazards, David M. Edelstein elucidates the occasional successes of military occupations and their more frequent failures. Edelstein has identified twenty-six cases since 1815 in which an outside power seized control of a territory where the occupying party had no long-term claim on sovereignty.

In a book that has implications for present-day policy, he draws evidence from such historical cases as well as from four current occupations—Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq—where the outcome is not yet known. Occupation is difficult, in Edelstein's view, because ambitious goals require considerable time and resources, yet both the occupied population and the occupying power want occupation to end quickly and inexpensively; in drawn-out occupations, impatience grows and resources dwindle.

This combination sabotages the occupying power's ability to accomplish two tasks: convince an occupied population to suppress its nationalist desires and sustain its own commitment to the occupation. Structural conditions and strategic choices play crucial roles in the success or failure of an occupation. In describing those factors, Edelstein prescribes a course of action for the future.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Occupational Hazards is one of those rare books that seamlessly blends theory, historical case studies, and policy relevance. For all of those reasons, this is a very good book. I really hope that it attracts the attention it deserves from U.S. policymakers, the ones who most need to do so before they embark on future military occupations."—Perspectives on Politics

"This is an excellent work that is also a groundbreaking piece of scholarship. Occupation, especially after a dictatorial regime, often gives rise to nationalistic and ethnic groups who may have been oppressed and have incentive to organize and resist foreign troops. Also, without internal controls such groups may declare war on one another, hence the probability of civil strife and war. Therefore, chaos usually is the result because the occupiers want to impose new political institutions and cultural values. This is a powerful work that should be required reading in all of the military academies and war colleges. Policymakers in the Bush administration may have learned a thing or two had the book been available five or six years ago. Policymakers of the present and future should put it on their must-read list. Essential."—Choice

"Military occupations are inherently risky affairs. According to David Edelstein, only seven of the twenty-six international military occupations conducted since 1815 have succeeded. Occupational Hazards attempts to explain not only this high failure rate for military occupations but also what distinguishes a successful occupation from an unsuccessful one. Given the challenges the United States faces in its recent occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, this broad analysis is a welcome addition to the literature."—Military Review

"If only we had had this book before the invasion of Iraq! David Edelstein lucidly and compellingly explains why successful military occupations have been so rare in history and what conditions are needed for them to succeed."—Jack Snyder, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Relations, Columbia University

"In Occupational Hazards, David M. Edelstein offers a simple, clear argument about the question of why occupations succeed or not. This theory and policy question is a timely one, and Edelstein has researched it well."—Barry R. Posen, Ford International Professor of Political Science and Director of the Security Studies Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     vii
Introduction: The Challenge of Military Occupation     1
When to Occupy: The Threat Environment     22
How to Occupy: Strategies of Occupation     49
When to Leave: The Occupation Dilemma     87
Who Occupies: Multilateralism and Military Occupation     136
Conclusion: The Future of Military Occupation     153
Case Selection     171
Military Occupations, 1815-2007     175
Notes     193
Index     229
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