Unintended Consequences : The United States at War, Hardback Book

Unintended Consequences : The United States at War Hardback


Most people think that wars end when hostilities cease and armistices and treaties are signed, but this is not the case.

Wars the United States has fought may have ended formally, but in reality us military, political, and economic involvement in the 'defeated' country continued long afterwards, producing profound and unexpected consequences for both parties.

Despite this repeated historical phenomenon, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld claimed at the beginning of the current Iraq War, 'The United States does not do nation building'.

The authors of this book claim that, on the contrary, after most of the wars it has fought, occupation and nation building are precisely what the United States has done.

In "Unintended Consequences: The United States at War", Ian J.

Bickerton and Kenneth J. Hagan describe and analyse the unintended consequences of ten major wars fought by the United States, pointing out critical turning points in the conflicts and the remarkable similarity of dilemmas following the conclusion of hostilities. The effect is to demonstrate that the unintended consequences of the wars not only outweighed the intended consequences in shaping subsequent events, they produced sharp and significant shifts in United States foreign, military and domestic policy.

Most wars embarked upon by the United States when measured against this criterion were not only catastrophic and destructive they were avoidable, unnecessary and unpredictable in outcome.

Once they understand this reality, Americans concerned with contemporary foreign and military policy can approach Iraq, and any prospective conflict, with greater sophistication.

More importantly, policymakers thinking of undertaking wars in the future may be made more cautious and circumspect in their planning than were those who launched the war in Iraq.

It will also prove to be an invaluable corrective to the traditional views of American wars to which we are routinely exposed.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: History of the Americas
  • ISBN: 9781861893109

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