A number of nations, conspicuously Israel and the United States, have been increasingly attracted to the use of strategic barriers to promote national defense. In Do Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?, defense analyst Brent Sterling examines the historical use of strategic defenses such as walls or fortifications to evaluate their effectiveness and consider their implications for modern security.
Sterling studies six famous defenses spanning 2,500 years, representing both democratic and authoritarian regimes: the Long Walls of Athens, Hadrian's Wall in Roman Britain, the Ming Great Wall of China, Louis XIV's Pré Carré, France's Maginot Line, and Israel's Bar Lev Line. Although many of these barriers were effective in the short term, they also affected the states that created them in terms of cost, strategic outlook, military readiness, and relations with neighbors. Sterling assesses how modern barriers against ground and air threats could influence threat perceptions, alter the military balance, and influence the builder's subsequent policy choices.
Advocates and critics of strategic defenses often bolster their arguments by selectively distorting history. Sterling emphasizes the need for an impartial examination of what past experience can teach us. His study yields nuanced lessons about strategic barriers and international security and yields findings that are relevant for security scholars and compelling to general readers.
Domínguez has drawn together fifteen leading scholars on international relations and comparative politics from Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States, thus bringing to bear varying national perspectives from several corners of the hemisphere to analyze the intersection between regional security issues and the democracy building process in Latin America.
“[Fanis] demonstrates an impressive ability to travel nimbly between abstract theoretical concepts and a messy reality. In each one of the case study chapters, her analysis is rich, thoughtful, and imaginative.”
—Ido Oren, University of Florida
Combining insights from cultural studies, gender studies, and social history, Maria Fanis shows the critical importance of national identity in decisions about war and peace. She challenges conventional approaches by demonstrating that domestic ethical codes influence perceptions of threat from abroad. With an in-depth study of U.S.-British relations in the first half of the nineteenth century, and with an application to the recent War in Iraq, she ties changes in U.S. and British national interest to shifts in these nations’ domestic codes of morality.
Fanis’s findings have important implications for contemporary international relations theory. Apart from its relevance to current events, her work also makes a contribution to the literatures on foreign policy—specifically American and British foreign policies—and the causes of war.