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After the Rubicon: Congress, Presidents, and the Politics of Waging War (Chicago Series on International and Domestic Institutions) Paperback – December 1, 2010

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After the Rubicon: Congress, Presidents, and the Politics of Waging War (Chicago Series on International and Domestic Institutions) + Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State + The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Many [have] concluded that Congress has little to no influence over how presidents use military force. This book is a powerful corrective to that long-held view. Kriner marshals considerable quantitative and qualitative evidence—the use of archival data from the Reagan Library is particularly welcome—to illustrate how congressional actions influence the use of military force, the scope of military actions, and the duration of military actions in the post-WW II period. Building on a well-developed theoretical model, he demonstrates that legislation, congressional hearings, and the resulting national debates shape how presidents prosecute wars. An important contribution to the scholarly literature.”
(Choice)

“This is a terrific book: rigorous, important, and one of the very best contributions on political accountability.”
(Bruce Russett, Yale University)

“Douglas Kriner closely scrutinizes how and when Congress influences foreign policy in this very fine book. This is the best statement, quantitative or qualitative, I've seen on the role of Congress in American foreign policy making.”
(David Clark, Binghamton University)

“Studies of war and research on Congress typically stand in isolation from each other. Kriner’s new book demonstrates big payoffs from examining the two in concert. He shows how the balance of party power in the legislature trumps conventional strategic variables in explaining the duration of U.S. military conflicts. Kriner also reveals how informal legislative actions, such as hearings, investigations, and resolutions, limit the president’s use of force. The book draws on a wide range of statistical and qualitative evidence and should cause even diehard realists to look more seriously at domestic constraints on U.S. actions abroad. In sum, Kriner’s work suggests that reports of Congress’s death as a participant in international relations are greatly exaggerated.”
(Linda L. Fowler, Dartmouth College)

“In this important book, Douglas Kriner challenges those who argue that the president dominates U.S. military policy and can ignore Congress with impunity. In his careful theoretical and empirical analysis, Kriner demonstrates that, contrary to conventional wisdom, Congress in fact often exerts considerable influence over presidential military decisions. Anyone concerned with national security policymaking will benefit immensely from this book.”
(James P. Pfiffner, George Mason University)

CHOICE Outstanding Academic Titles, 2011
(Choice)

About the Author

Douglas L. Kriner is assistant professor of political science at Boston University and coauthor of The Casualty Gap: The Causes and Consequences of American Wartime Inequalities.

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Product Details

  • Series: Chicago Series on International and Domestic Institutions
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (December 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226453561
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226453569
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,367,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Douglas L. Kriner graduated Phi Beta Kappa from MIT and received his Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University in 2006. He is currently an assistant professor of political science at Boston University where he studies American political institutions, with a focus on military policy-making.

Kriner's dissertation, which investigated the indirect, yet potentially powerful ways in which Congress constrains the Commander in Chief, received Harvard University's Herrnstein Prize for "the best dissertation that exhibits excellent scholarship, originality and breadth of thought, and a commitment to intellectual independence." The resulting book manuscript, After the Rubicon: Congress, Presidents and the Politics of Waging War, will be published by the University of Chicago Press in Fall 2010.

Kriner's second book (with Francis Shen), The Casualty Gap: The Causes and Consequences of American Wartime Inequalities, documents how, beginning in the Korean War, American combat casualties have come disproportionately from communities on the bottom rungs of the socioeconomic ladder. The book then traces how these inequalities in military sacrifice pose both immediate political ramifications for the conduct of military policy-making as well as long-term consequences for the very vibrancy of American democracy.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Douglas Kriner's After the Rubicon argues convincingly that Congress has influenced the duration of America's war since 1945. It has done so through a mix of formal and informal "tools"-- proposing legislation, holding oversight hearings, debating presidential policies, speaking out in the public and the like. As one would expect, the best predictor of when Congress will oppose a president's conduct of a war is when the opposition party controls one or both houses.
Kriner's study is complimentary to Howell and Pevehouse's When Danger Gathers (2007). Their study argued that Congress moves to influence a president's decision to go to war under three conditions: control of one or both houses by the opposition party, the size of the deployment, and the strength of the international treaty commitments involved. Kriner has now extended congressional influence into the on-going conduct of the war.
The not surprising take away from both studies is that divided government produces stronger congressional influence on presidential war making--both on the initial decision and the subsequent conduct.
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After the Rubicon: Congress, Presidents, and the Politics of Waging War (Chicago Series on International and Domestic Institutions)
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