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Title: The Day After: Lessons in U.S. Postwar Planning
Authors: Gallagher, Brendan Robert
Advisors: Friedberg, Aaron L
Contributors: Public and International Affairs Department
Keywords: Afghanistan
Postwar Planning
War Termination
Subjects: Public policy
Political science
International relations
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Why does the U.S. have difficulty planning for the aftermath of war? In recent conflicts, the U.S. succeeded brilliantly in battle, but then was caught flatfooted with no adequate plan for the day after. This dissertation contends that there is a tension between the deeply-rooted American desire to establish a democracy and the desire to conduct a quick withdrawal. The more aggressively the U.S. pursues one of these aims, the more it tends to undermine the other. This tension fosters uncomfortable choices that policymakers usually want to sidestep, but when they do so it can spawn an incoherent postwar approach that is at odds with itself. To help bring this tension to the surface and prompt tough but necessary decisions, postwar planning should tackle three fundamental tasks: (1) identify a clear, achievable political goal; (2) anticipate and seek to mitigate the foreseeable obstacles; and (3) mobilize resources aligned with the goal. This approach does not embody a magic elixir, but it does constitute a sensible way to try to force the key trade-offs in front of senior officials, particularly the president. Although in theory these fundamentals are rather simple, in practice there are significant pathologies that render them difficult to manage, including wishful thinking, deficient learning, under-utilization of the NSC, and crosscutting domestic political pressures. An analysis of U.S. postwar planning for Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya illustrates how the U.S. government has handled these challenges both successfully and unsuccessfully, in ways that strongly influenced the lasting political outcomes. This can shed light on what exactly went wrong in recent conflicts, and how the U.S. might improve the odds of winning the peace.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Public and International Affairs

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