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Democratic Militarism
Voting, Wealth, and War

$32.99 (P)

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Part of Cambridge Studies in International Relations

  • Date Published: June 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107667372

$ 32.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • Why are democracies pursuing more military conflicts, but achieving worse results? Democratic Militarism shows that a combination of economic inequality and military technical change enables an average voter to pay very little of the costs of large militaries and armed conflict, in terms of both death and taxes. Jonathan Caverley provides an original statistical analysis of public opinion and international aggression, combined with historical evidence from the late Victorian British Empire, the US Vietnam War effort, and Israel's Second Lebanon War. This book undermines conventional wisdom regarding democracy's exceptional foreign policy characteristics, and challenges elite-centered explanations for poor foreign policy. This accessible and wide ranging book offers a new account of democratic warfare, and will help readers to understand the implications of the revolution in military affairs.

    • Proposes a new argument about when the average voter supports war
    • Shows an original link between economic inequality and military aggressiveness
    • Supported by a wealth of anecdotal, statistical, and case-based evidence
    Read more


    • Honourable Mention, 2015 William H. Riker Book Award, Political Economy Section, American Political Science Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    "Jonathan Caverley's Democratic Militarism links economics, domestic politics, and international security in a fresh and thought-provoking way. This book deserves to be pondered by both scholars and policy-makers alike."
    Thomas G. Mahnken, Jerome Levy Chair of Economic Geography and National Security, US Naval War College

    "Caverley gives us a provocative explanation of why rich democracies with highly unequal income distribution may have costly capital-intensive military machines and wage war often. Observers of US politics and policy have much to consider here."
    Bruce Russett, Dean Acheson Research Professor of International Relations, Yale University

    "Caverley has produced what will come to be regarded as one of the best IR books of the past decade. Since the end of the Cold War there have been very few books that advance truly new ideas. He has built a new theory linking states’ domestic political economy to their relative bellicosity, strategic doctrine, and armaments bias. Caverley’s historical illustrations guide the reader through a wholly novel way of thinking about the nature of domestic and international politics."
    Allan C. Stam, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

    "Democratic Militarism may transform how we think about democracy, wealth and war. Caverley builds a bold theory from the ground up, provides substantial initial empirical support for it, and applies it to some of the most important and enduring questions of our time. I firmly expect that this will come to be seen as one of the most influential books in international security produced in years."
    William C. Wohlforth, Daniel Webster Professor of Government, Dartmouth College

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107667372
    • length: 326 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.53kg
    • contains: 26 b/w illus. 1 map 18 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: sources of democratic military aggression
    2. Cost distribution and aggressive grand strategy
    3. Analyses of public opinion
    4. Analyses of arming and war
    5. British electoral reform and imperial overstretch
    6. Vietnam and the American way of small war
    7. Becoming a normal democracy: Israel
    8. Conclusion: strategy wears a dollar sign.

  • Author

    Jonathan D. Caverley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Jonathan D. Caverley is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University, where he co-chairs the Working Group on Security Studies at the Roberta Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies. For 2013–14, he is a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He previously served as a submarine officer in the US Navy.


    • Honourable Mention, 2015 William H. Riker Book Award, Political Economy Section, American Political Science Association

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