War and the Art of Governance

Consolidating Combat Success into Political Victory

Nadia Schadlow

"Meticulously researched and presents readers with clear lessons."
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Success in war ultimately depends on the consolidation of political order. Nadia Schadlow argues that the steps needed to consolidate a new political order are not separate from war. They are instead an essential component of war and victory.

The challenge of governance operations did not start with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US Army’s involvement in the political and economic reconstruction of states has been central to all its armed conflicts from large-scale conventional wars to so-called irregular or counterinsurgency wars. Yet, US policymakers and military leaders have failed to institutionalize lessons on how to consolidate combat gains into desired political outcomes. War and the Art of Governance examines fifteen historical cases of US Army military interventions, from the Mexican War through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Improving future outcomes will require US policymakers and military leaders to accept that plans, timelines, and resources must be shaped to reflect this reality before they intervene in a conflict, not after things go wrong.

Schadlow provides clear lessons for students and scholars of security studies and military history, as well as for policymakers and the military personnel who will be involved in the next foreign intervention.

Table of Contents


1. American Denial Syndrome: Failing to Learn from the Past

2. The Early Years: Improvisation
The Mexican-American War
The Civil War and Reconstruction
The Spanish-American War
World War I

3. World War II: Building an Organization
Civil-Military Tensions

4. The Cold War: Illusive Lessons
The Korean War
The Dominican Republic

5. Afghanistan and Iraq: Lessons Ignored


Selected Bibliography
About the Author


"[Schadlow's] recent book . . . is a full-throated endorsement of the importance of the political dimensions of military operations and a clear rejection of quick exits following interventions. Schadlow argues, convincingly, that more than 100 years of US military interventions abroad have shown that the United States consistently makes the mistake of focusing on the tactical operations and ignoring the hard work of political development and reconstruction — not nation-building per se, but sustained attention after the bombs stop dropping."—Josh Rogin, The Washington Post

"It is clear from "War and the Art of Governance" that the nation must never go to war again until it can definitely answer Gen. Petraeus's question about "how this ends." It ends only when the U.S. Army assumes the mantle of leadership and commits itself to remaining on the field until the lives of the population can be protected, the damage repaired and a political future guaranteed."—Wall Street Journal

"Meticulously researched and presents readers with clear lessons."—Foreign Affairs

"[Offers] a vital treatise on the responsibility and duties of senior civilian and military leaders in times of war. If I were king, I would decree [it] required reading for those about to take up that mantle."—Foreign Policy

"[Schadlow's] recommendations are bold . . . serious, sober, and relentlessly argued."—Claremont Review of Books

"A seminal history that should be required reading. . . . Well-written, readable, and thoroughly researched . . . As we continue to search for a solution to this nation's longest wars . . . it is hoped that Schadlow's War and the Art of Governance will be a well-worn, much-read, permanent addition to the bookshelf of every US soldier, politician, and intelligence officer."—Studies in Intelligence

"This is a very important book that should be read by soldiers and policymakers alike."—Parameters

"The major strength and contribution of this study is its bold effort to bring together the insights and lessons of US military governance and occupation over a broad spectrum of time."—H-Net

"A wonderful resource for those looking to compare present performance to past experiences."—H-War

"The U.S., for all its brilliance in so many areas, has shown a repeated incapacity for governing in Third World countries. Any concerned American who wants to know the why of this should read a brilliant recent book, 'War and the Art of Governance.'"—The Meridian Star

"[The] conclusions represent important guidelines for every potential use of force in our future."—World Affairs Journal

"A thought-provoking and constructive addition to the debate over postwar governance policies."—Michigan War Studies Review

"An important book . . . [and] contribution to policy and doctrine."—PRISM

"This is an important work. Nadia Schadlow has been working on this topic for a long time, pointing out again and again in her work that winning battles and winning wars are not the same thing. . . . Policy-makers should pay close attention to War and the Art of Governance. Whether we like it or not, war is a part of international politics, and if the United States is to avoid the errors of Iraq and Afghanistan, those responsible for American policy—military and civilian alike—are well advised to take Nadia Schadlow's observations to heart."—The Weekly Standard

"In her excellent book . . . Schadlow argues eloquently that war is not over until battlefield success is translated into political victory."—Washington Times

"Why is American military success on the battlefield not yielding successful political outcomes? In this critically crafted must-read before we enter another war, Dr. Schadlow lays out the post-combat challenges no amount of denial will excuse, persuasively charting what history tells us is required for our military victories to achieve a better peace."—James Mattis, USMC (Ret.), Hoover Institution

"Nadia Schadlow’s War and the Art of Governance is a must read for any senior political or military official trying to understand how to turn military interventions into successful and enduring political outcomes—and for anyone aspiring to these positions. . . . Quite simply, this is a timely and brilliant book."—David Johnson, Principal Researcher, RAND Corporation Adjunct Scholar, Modern War Institute at West Point Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University

"In theory, wars are conducted to serve policy and obtain what the British historian Liddell Hart termed "a better peace." All too often, policy makers fail to plan to translate military results into that elusive better peace or at least a sustainable political end state. With insights drawn from case studies, Nadia Schadlow lays out the persistent flaws in the American Way of War. Civilian policy makers will wince, but Schadlow demonstrates that they are often to blame for the failure to gain strategic results commensurate with the costs of military interventions. Clear implications for both civilian and military strategists are drawn out by the author's impressive scholarship. A must read for anyone who wants to understand the underlying failures of the last 15 years and wants those searing experiences to better position US strategy in the future."—Frank Hoffmann, author Decisive Force: The American Way of War


Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Nadia Schadlow is a senior program officer in the International Security
and Foreign Policy Program of the Smith Richardson Foundation. She has published articles about national security in the Wall Street Journal,, The American Interest, Parameters, War on the Rocks, and elsewhere. She has a PhD from Johns Hopkins University’s Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

339 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-1-62616-409-3
Mar 2017

339 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-1-62616-410-9
Mar 2017

339 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-62616-411-6
Mar 2017

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