Storming the Security Council: The Revolution in UNSC Authority Over the Projection of Military Force
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Why have states requested international authorization for their projections of military force more after 1989? One perspective suggests powerful states should not make such requests. Rather, they should look to their own power instead of international organizations. Another view suggests international authorization is a way to provide credible signals about state intentions. A third perspective suggests states view international authorization of military force as appropriate. I establish that states have changed their behavior, requesting international authorization more often after 1989. Then, I develop hypotheses involving material power, burden-sharing, informational signaling, and international norms. I assess their ability to explain the increase in authorization requests through evidence from over 150 military force projections by a wide range of states and through a detailed evaluation of United States behavior. The U.S. provides a strong test case for the theories evaluated, since powerful states should be least susceptible to pressures for requesting authorization, and yet it does so more frequently after 1989. I find the expectation that states should request international authorization emerged after the U.S. set a precedent during the Persian Gulf War. The end of the Cold War changed the perceived "viability" of different strategies for projecting military force for U.S. policy-makers. Requesting authorization from the UN became a plausible alternative. The decision to request international authorization--and the justifications U.S. decision makers offered for doing so--led to the expectation by other states that the U.S. would do so for future projections of military force. This international norm helps explain the politics of international authorization for the airstrikes on Iraq (1998), the Iraq War (2003) and the Libyan intervention (2011). The response of other countries to the Clinton Administration's failure to request authorization for airstrikes on Iraq in 1998 demonstrates that expectations regarding whether the U.S. should request authorization had shifted. The subsequent consolidation of the norm helps explain the requests for authorization by the Bush Administration for the Iraq War in 2003 and by the Obama Administration for Libya in 2011. The dissertation increases our understanding of the relationship, and the role of authority, between states and international organizations.