Inescapable Entrapments?

The Civil-Military Decision Paths to Uruzgan and Helmand

About this book

Military involvement in foreign policy decision-making, and its role as a driving force in that process, has long been anathema to both academic and practitioner circles. Without wanting to pursue the quest for principles or ultimate predictions this study looks specifically into the role of the military in foreign policy decision-making. It does so by carefully reconstructing and comparing the sequential series of decisions of a group of British and Dutch senior civil and military decision-makers which have led to the deployment of their militaries into to Afghan provinces of Helmand and Uruzgan.

One of the most prominent findings of this analysis is the shaping ability of military initiatives on the series of decisions and the consequent path dependent reasoning during political deliberations on the deployment of military forces: the decision of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands to deploy their troops to southern Afghanistan was based on an emergent case that largely built itself.

Dr (LtCol) Mirjam Grandia Mantas is a commissioned officer serving in the Royal Netherlands Army, and a scholar. In her military career she has been deployed on various missions to Bosnia, Afghanistan and Ethiopia. She currently holds the post of Assistant Professor of International Security Studies at the War Studies Department of the Faculty of Military Sciences of the Netherlands Defence Academy.

Interview Mirjam Grandia in Militaire Spectator
Podcast Politiek-Militaire besluitvorming Afghanistan
Podcast BNR De Wereld ‘De verloren oorlog in Afghanistan’

Format: Paperback

Pages: 294

ISBN Print: 9789087283643

ISBN ePUB: 9789400604094

ISBN ePDF: 9789400604087

Published: 30 April 2021

Language: English

Categories: ,

Price 54.50

Reviews

This is a fascinating book not just because of its contents but also due to the identity of the author. Mirjam Grandia Mantas is Assistant Professor of International Security Studies at the Netherlands Defence Academy and a commissioned officer serving in the Royal Netherlands Army. Yet unlike so many of her colleagues who are military academics, or academic militarists, Mantas has had the integrity to write a PhD and now a book which has deeply radical implications for military institutions and the democratic conduct of war in NATO states.

Mantas has drawn on 100 interviews to show how military and defence officials in the UK and the Netherlands drove their countries to war, in a joint deployment to southern Afghanistan in 2006 with the Canadians, without proper democratic oversight and control. ‘The initiative for the mission to southern Afghanistan, and the initial negotiations with partnering nations, was a distinct military...

The book offers a fresh and illuminating interpretation of how, by whom and when, decisions were made in the NL and UK as they sought to take part in the NATO operation in Afghanistan. The analysis is original and shows convincingly that the practice had little relationship to the theory upon which political and military processes for the use of armed force are structured.

A very rich, empirically interesting project with significant potential to contribute to a wide range of areas of scholarship, including civil-military relations, military-political decision making, interventions and ‘peace-building’ missions, and international security more generally. It is of relevance to both academic and non-academic readers. A real strength is its comparative nature, and it will be of interest to those who study and participate in Dutch and UK foreign policy.

In this book, Mirjam Grandia Mantas proposes a radical and subversive thesis. She shows that the Dutch and British decision to deploy to the NATO mission in southern Afghanistan in 2006 was not made independently by the respective governments of these countries, as might be expected. Rather, both countries were mutually committed to the operation by their transnational military interconnections and obligations. The book represents a major contribution not just to understanding NATO's campaign in Afghanistan but strategy in the twenty-first century.

Grandia argues forcefully for theoretical approaches to both strategy
and civil-military relations which are grounded not in abstractions about
normative behaviour but in these operational realities. If her call is not heeded,
then we risk further failures, probably greater than those in Iraq and
Afghanistan. Now more than ever, we need to respond to Mirjam Grandia’s call for a more realistic approach to civil-military relations and to the making of strategy.

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