Barack Obama and the Politics of Military Force, 2009–2012

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How did domestic politics shape President Barack Obama's use of military force during his first term? This article expands and improves upon existing assessments by coupling insights from political science theory with novel evidence from original interviews with administration officials. It systematically analyzes Obama and his administration across three theoretically important dimensions: belief structure, the White House national security advisory apparatus, and decision making in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. It finds that, along each dimension, President Obama appears to display high political sensitivity. Findings shed new light on how the administration understood and weighed domestic political considerations and translated these into security policy outcomes.




Kenealy, A. (2022). Barack Obama and the Politics of Military Force, 2009–2012. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 52(4), 785–815.

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