Wilson Center Experts

David M. Edelstein

Fellow
International Security Studies

Expertise:
Security and Defense
Affiliation:
Assistant Professor, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and Department of Government, Georgetown University
Wilson Center Project(s):
"Exit Strategies: How States End Military Interventions"
Term:
Sep 01, 2008
-
May 01, 2009

Many of the most pressing issues in international security both before and after September 11, 2001 have involved military intervention. In my previous book, Occupational Hazards: Success and Failure in Military Intervention, I examined why some military occupations succeed whereas others fail. Like all my work, it sought to develop theoretical concepts that hopefully could help us understand contemporary policy challenges.My current research on exit strategies continues along this avenue. In some ways, it is a follow-on project from my research on military occupations. In the first book, I focused on the decision to occupy another country. In this book, I focus on the challenges of withdrawing from an intervention. Again, the goal is to develop theoretical tools for understanding policy challenges.My interest in international relations was honed as a graduate student at the University of Chicago in the 1990's. Then, scholars of international relations struggled to identify the most pressing questions in an international system suddenly absent the concentrating force of the Cold War. Intellectually, I have moved around a bit examining some of the pressing issues that we identified then from the rise of China as a potential peer competitor to the United States to the questions about intervention raised in the Balkans, Somalia, and Haiti. The events of September 11, 2001 generated an¬other period of reflection for scholars of international security.With the invasions of Afghanistan and then Iraq, the critical challenges of understanding military intervention seemed only more pertinent. Out of this pertinence grew my first book, and the interest is obvious in this new research as well. In the future, even as I contemplate exit strategies from military intervention, I am already considering future research on questions about the legitimacy of military intervention in the contemporary international system. I live in Washington, D.C. with my wife, Robin, and our two-year old son, Levi. I have time for few hobbies other than chasing our son around, but I do aspire to be a gourmet chef.
 

Education

B.A. (1994) Colgate University; M.A.(1996) Political Science, University of Chicago; Ph.D. 2001) Political Science, University of Chicago
 

Experience

  • Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University, 2000-02
  • Pre-doctoral Research Fellow, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University, 1999-2000

Expertise

International security; U.S. foreign policy; military intervention

Project Summary

How do states end military interventions? Though increasing attention in recent years has been paid to the dynamics of military intervention, how states withdraw from those interventions remains understudied. This project addresses this important gap in the theoretical literature by developing a typology of exit strategies, explaining why intervening powers choose certain exit strategies, and testing that explanation with both a new data set of exit strategies and historical case studies. From a policy perspective, even though this research is most obviously relevant to the contemporary situation in Iraq, how states exit military interventions is likely to remain a significant policy concern long into the future.

Major Publications

  • Occupational Hazards: Success and Failure in Military Occupation (Cornell University Press, 2008).
  • "Occupational Hazards: Why Military Occupations Succeed or Fail," International Security, 2004.
  • "Managing Uncertainty: Beliefs about Intentions and the Rise of Great Powers," Security Studies, 2002.

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