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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

War Burden-Sharing

I just completed some work on "cooperative security" as grand strategy. Hopefully, in October (during my sabbatical!!!), I'll be able to deliver a paper on this topic in London at Millennium's annual conference. The 2011 theme is "Out Of The Ivory Tower: Weaving the Theories and Practice of International Relations." The proposal I submitted evaluates "cooperative security" as a critical IR theory -- particularly given its contemporary emphasis on consensual decision-making and human security concerns.

While the multilateral approach has obvious implications for nonproliferation and "the war on terrorism", policymakers should also keep in mind that it likewise has significance for the use of force.

Arguably, the Libyan operation is an example of cooperative security in practice, as was the first Persian Gulf War.

Though I have blogged about this point previously, even scholars and policy analysts in the security field sometimes forget on important dimension of the first Gulf war. Put simply, U.S. contributions were mostly financed by other states.

The most recent Iraq war has cost the U.S. more than $1 Trillion by some measures. In contrast, the UN Security Council-approved 1991 Persian Gulf War, which involved over 500,000 U.S. troops and associated equipment, directly cost only a small fraction of that total. The overwhelming majority of the $61 billion cost was paid by contributions from Gulf States (primarily Saudi Arabia and Kuwait), Japan, and Germany in 1990 and 1991. In total, international payments towards U.S. costs amounted to $53 billion, or 86.9% of the costs.

The U.S. also benefited from many indirect in-kind contributions from Saudi Arabia -- and the world certainly viewed the operation as legitimate.

For full details, see Appendix P, Department of Defense, Final Report to Congress, Conduct of the Persian Gulf War, April 1992, p. P-2, 3.

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