Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Emeritus Cecil V. Crabb, Jr


Direct U.S. military intervention in the Third World featured prominently in American foreign policy during the post-World War II era. However, the Cold War placed restraints on where and how Washington could intervene. The collapse of the former Soviet Union appears to have removed many of the barriers to, if not the ideological justifications for, American intervention. Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has militarily intervened in several countries. However, these post-Cold War interventions seem to be guided by different motives than those traditionally given. Likewise, such operations, now free from the fear of counter-intervention by any other superpower, seem to be governed by a new set of rules. This dissertation considers the efficacy of direct U.S. military intervention: when it will work, when it will not, and how to undertake such action in a manner that will bring rapid victory at an acceptable political cost. Consequently, this study develops a typology of the preconditions that tend to favor the success of direct U.S. military intervention in the post-Cold War Era. The criteria considered relate to the various aspects of intervention, including: the motives underlying the decision to intervene, the nature of the situation in the target country, domestic political conditions, how the operation is carried out, exit strategies. In addition, aspects of civilian-military relations are considered, with an emphasis on the role of the theater commander in both the decision making process and the prosecution of the action. The propositions advanced are tested by the use of focused case studies of the major episodes of direct American military intervention since 1989: Panama (1989), Iraq (1991), and Somalia (1992-1994).