Determinants of multilateralism in US use of force: State of economy, election cycle, and divided government

Atsushi Tago*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


US presidents used military force 212 times from 1948 to 1998. In 45 of these cases, the force was embedded in a multilateral context. The article distinguishes between procedural multilateralism, where US military operations are endorsed by an international organization, and operational multilateralism, where military actions are coordinated with the armed forces of other countries. In some cases, such as the Korean War and the first Gulf War, the United States obtained UN authorization and created a multinational force. However, there are also partially multilateral cases, in which either political endorsement or execution of the use of force is made by a multilateral approach while the other is subject to unilateralism. This article focuses on the varieties of multilateralism and homes in on exploring why such varieties of multilateralism exist. An original dataset for studying multilateral-unilateral choice in US use of force is analyzed using a multinomial logit model and a bivariate probit model. The analyses suggest that three domestic conditions - recession, election cycle, and divided government - can cause partial multilateralism, since they create different incentives for the president to seek burden-sharing with allies or seek collective legitimacy in international organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-604
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Peace Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Sept
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations


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