A new investigation into how the advent of precision-guided munitions affects the likelihood of US policy makers to use force. As such, this is an inquiry into the impact of ethics, strategy and military technology on the decision calculus of national leaders.
Following the first Gulf War in 1991, this new study shows how US Presidents increasingly used stand-off precision guided munitions (or PGMs, especially the Tomahawk cruise missile) either to influence foreign adversaries to make specific policy choices or to signal displeasure with their actions.
Such uses of force are attractive because they can lead to desirable policy outcomes where conventional diplomacy has failed but without the large cost of lives, economic resources, or political capital that result from large-scale military operations. In a post-9/11 world, understanding alternative uses of force under significant policy constraints is still of supreme importance.
About the Author: Reuben Brigety II is Assistant Professor of Government and Politics, at George Mason University, Washington DC. He holds a PhD in International Affairs from Cambridge University .