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Abstract

Why do military intervening actors decide to stay after the initial purpose of the intervention has changed? Following armed intervention, actors such as the US have commonly maintained a residual presence. It is not clear however why intervening actors decide to stay past their initial objectives and what drives the degree of their involvement in multilateral follow-on missions via the UN or NATO. Moreover, the US has repeatedly engaged in follow-on missions whose duration and costs became counterproductive, in regions presenting no core security interest. In this study I show that US involvement in follow-on missions has been a transitional phase for US exit strategies. I argue that the varying degree of US involvement in follow-on missions can be explained through the lens of strategic narratives and their interactions. Strategic narratives are essential not only in gathering public and parliamentary support for continuous troop commitment abroad, but also in shaping institutional arrangements in multilateral missions. Specifically, I argue that internal narrative consistency and multilateral narrative congruence help explain the varying degree of US involvement in follow-on multilateral missions. Case studies cover post-intervention transitions in the 1990s: UNOSOM II (1993-95), UNMIH (1995-96) and SFOR (1996-2004). The concluding chapter considers the model’s implications for US involvement in ISAF-NATO (2003-14), the aftermath of the Libya intervention (2011) and coalition efforts against ISIS. The chapter ends with thoughts on the future of military intervention and the concept of exit strategy, as well as on the salience of strategic communication in war.

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