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The Sword's Other Edge
Trade-offs in the Pursuit of Military Effectiveness


Dan Reiter, Emanuele Castelli, Lorenzo Zambernardi, Rosella Cappella Zielinski, Jason Lyall, Joseph Felter, Michael C. Horowitz, Caitlin Talmadge, Jeffrey A. Friedman, Filippo Andreatta
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  • Date Published: December 2017
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108416726

£ 75.00

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About the Authors
  • This book is the first work to build a conceptual framework describing how the pursuit of military effectiveness can present military and political tradeoffs, such as undermining political support for the war, creating new security threats, and that seeking to improve effectiveness in one aspect can reduce effectiveness in other aspects. Here are new ideas about military effectiveness, covering topics such as military robotics, nuclear weapons, insurgency, war finance, public opinion, and others. The study applies these ideas to World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the 1973 October War, as well as ongoing conflicts and public policy debates, such as the War on Terror, drone strikes, ISIS, Russian aggression against Ukraine, US-Chinese-Russian nuclear competitions, and the Philippines insurgency, among others. Both scholarly and policy-oriented readers will gather new insights into the political dimensions of military power, and the complexities of trying to grow military power.

    • Develops new ideas about important elements of military effectiveness
    • Mathematical treatments are avoided
    • Addresses contemporary policy topics such as drone strikes, military robotics, counterinsurgency, and others
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The Sword's Other Edge presents a path-breaking new perspective on how states and non-state actors pursue military effectiveness, focusing on tradeoffs they often must confront. Previous work focusses either on gains or losses in effectiveness that technologies and tactical innovations provide. This new volume presents a coherent approach to understanding the net effect on effectiveness of changes in the ways that states employ military power. The authors provide insights into critical dimensions of contemporary foreign policy issues, including drone strikes, military robotics, counterinsurgency, ISIS, nuclear weapons, rising military threats from Russia, and others. The chapters and examples are filled with rich historical depth, including case studies of World War II, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Korean War, and others, as well as quantitative analyses of the ongoing Philippine insurgency, and of all conventional wars since 1800. A must-read for students, policy makers, and concerned citizens.' Allan C. Stam, Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, University of Virginia

    'How should states employ force? Eschewing simplistic arguments, this fascinating volume studies the tradeoffs militaries inevitably struggle with. From financing, to force mix, to tactics, the chapters show us that there is no free lunch in war; every choice has costs and benefits. Policymakers would do well to heed the lessons in this volume.' Jacob N. Shapiro, Princeton University, New Jersey

    'The Sword's Other Edge is a must-read for students of war. For starters, it does a fine job showing that military effectiveness is a function of a host of different factors, which are nicely catalogued in the book. Moreover, it makes clear that maximizing military effectiveness often involves significant costs, and thus policymakers and strategists need to think hard about the resulting tradeoffs. Toward that end, Reiter and his fellow contributors provide a first-rate framework for analyzing the various tradeoffs that arise when a country tries to employ its fighting forces in the most effective way possible.' John J. Mearsheimer, R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago

    'An excellent read for advanced students of military theory or the history of warfare, and policy makers.' D. N. Nelson, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2017
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108416726
    • length: 288 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 157 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.54kg
    • contains: 10 b/w illus. 5 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Confronting tradeoffs in the pursuit of military effectiveness Dan Reiter
    2. Force protection and its tradeoffs Emanuele Castelli and Lorenzo Zambernardi
    3. War finance and military effectiveness Rosella Cappella Zielinski
    4. Forced to fight: coercion, blocking detachments, and tradeoffs in military effectiveness Jason Lyall
    5. Sources of military effectiveness in counterinsurgency: evidence from the Philippines Joseph Felter
    6. Military robotics, autonomous systems, and the future of military effectiveness Michael C. Horowitz
    7. Too much of a good thing? Conventional military effectiveness and the dangers of nuclear escalation Caitlin Talmadge
    8. Making tradeoffs without assessing probabilities: the costs and benefits of vague information in national security decision making Jeffrey A. Friedman
    9. Conclusion: the complexity of military effectiveness Filippo Andreatta.

  • Editor

    Dan Reiter, Emory University, Atlanta
    Dan Reiter is the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Political Science at Emory University, Atlanta. He is the award-winning author of three books, Crucible of Beliefs: Learning, Alliances and World Wars, Democracies at War (with Allan C. Stam, 1996), and How Wars End (2009), as well as dozens of articles about the causes, prosecution, and termination of war, alliances, domestic politics and international relations, nuclear weapons, terrorism, and other topics. He is a recipient of the Karl Deutsch Award, given annually to the leading scholar of international relations under the age of 40 or within ten years of having received a Ph.D.


    Dan Reiter, Emanuele Castelli, Lorenzo Zambernardi, Rosella Cappella Zielinski, Jason Lyall, Joseph Felter, Michael C. Horowitz, Caitlin Talmadge, Jeffrey A. Friedman, Filippo Andreatta

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