Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What is Sarah Kreps reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Sarah E. Kreps, author of Coalitions of Convenience: United States Military Interventions after the Cold War.

Her entry begins:
Over the break I've been reading popular history accounts of American wars (a nerdy academic's version of the airport novel). In particular, I’ve enjoyed re-reading David Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest, which I picked up again because I’ve been thinking about the question of how smart people end up getting the US involved in costly wars. It’s obviously difficult to generalize from the Vietnam experience, since it was probably sui generis in a number of ways, but I’m fascinated by a couple of things. First, the role of individuals. There was certainly a sense that intelligence was a sufficient condition for effective formulation of policy, that bringing a bunch of academics from Cambridge, MA to Washington, DC would result in sound foreign policies. Instead, it seems that bringing like-minded individuals into the administration created a good deal of group think and reinforced each others’ biases, including the unflinching belief in American power as a force for good. That France hadn’t been successful in Vietnam had no application to the US experience, according to Kennedy’s and Johnson’s advisers, since France was no longer a great power and the US was the US. Those who challenged these prevailing views, such as George Ball or James Thomson, were...[read on]
Among the early praise for Coalitions of Convenience:
"When will countries seek allies for military intervention, and when will they go it alone? This is one of the most pressing security questions of today, and Coalitions of Convenience provides the best answer I've seen to date. Sarah Kreps' clear-eyed assessment of how the United States makes this decision evokes E.H. Carr in its supple analysis and graceful prose."
--Daniel W. Drezner, Professor of International Politics, Tufts University, and author of All Politics is Global

"The striking variation in the United States' proclivity to act alone or in consort with other states has befuddled scholars and policymakers since the Cold War's end. In Coalitions of Convenience Sarah Kreps provides a rich and yet logically concise explanation, one that combines scholarly rigor with a feel for the realities of statecraft. This important book will shape the debate for years to come."
--William C. Wohlforth, Professor of Government, Dartmouth College, and author of World Out of Balance
Read more about Sarah Kreps' Coalitions of Convenience at the Oxford University Press website.

Writers Read: Sarah E. Kreps.

--Marshal Zeringue