Buy now, pay later

American military intervention and the strategic cost paradox

Thomas Waldman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper explores the notion that US efforts to evade the political costs of war paradoxically contribute to the subsequent exacerbation of costs over time. Leaders seek to purchase political capital in the short term by limiting the costs and requirements of military operations, but in doing so cause strategic and political liabilities to mount in the long run. While identification of such behaviour is not new, insufficient attention has been devoted to explaining its causes, dynamics, and manifestations in relation to key decisions on and in war. Evidence derived from studies of recent American discretionary campaigns is analysed to advance an argument with respect to this pattern of self-defeating strategic behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-105
Number of pages21
JournalDefence Studies
Issue number1
Early online date8 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • US military strategy
  • modern warfare
  • intervention
  • politics of war

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Buy now, pay later: American military intervention and the strategic cost paradox'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this