Minding the factors of public support: How lessons from Panama could prevent future Iraqs
Handlan, Michael S.
Salazar, Michael D.
Robinson, Dr. Glenn E.
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This thesis poses the question Under what conditions can the United States government gain and maintain public support for the use of force? and contends that public support for the use of force is a byproduct of the interactions among four factors: the articulation of clearly defined political objectives; an appropriate strategy to enable the accomplishment of those political objectives; proper strategic cooperation; and the perceived legitimacy of the conflict. To demonstrate how national-level decision-makers can gain and maintain public support for the use of force, by appropriately addressing these factors, this thesis compares Operations Just Cause and Promote Liberty in Panama with Operation Iraqi Freedom. In both instances, the United States sought regime change and many of the key decision-makers were the same. Yet, the United States fared much better in Panama than Iraq. A closer examination of our four factors--policy, strategy, strategic cooperation, and legitimacy--helps explain why.
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