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A matter of choice: strategy and discretion in the shadow of World War Two

Porter, P. (2012) A matter of choice: strategy and discretion in the shadow of World War Two. Journal of Strategic Studies, 35 (3). pp. 317-343. ISSN 1743-937X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/01402390.2012.667369


American policy-makers are predisposed towards the idea of a necessary war of survival, fought with little room for choice. This reflects a dominant memory of World War II that teaches Americans that they live in a dangerously small world that imposes conflict. Critics argue that the ‘choice versus necessity’ schema is ahistorical and mischievous. This article offers supporting fire to those critiques. America’s war against the Axis (1941–45) is a crucial case through which to test the ‘small world’ view. Arguments for war in 1941 pose overblown scenarios of the rise of a Eurasian super-threat. In 1941 conflict was discretionary and not strictly necessary in the interests of national security. The argument for intervention is a closer call that often assumed. This has implications for America’s choices today.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:30843
Publisher:Taylor and Francis

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