Milevski, Lukas. “Modern liberal wars, illiberal allies, and peace as the failure of policy.” Defense & Security Analysis (2020): 1-14.


The post-Cold War period nearly up to the present has been characterised as the age of liberal wars, yet key facets of the liberal guidance of war remain under appreciated. This article seeks to address this wider gap with regard to the particular concern of war termination and the fulfilment or failure of policy. First, it develops characterisations of liberal wars based on the existing literature, identifying three broad types through consideration of context—defensive versus offensive—and of political and strategic agency, particularly regarding the motives for and intents of action. Three types of liberal wars result: defensive liberal wars, offensive liberal wars with humanitarian motive and geopolitical intent, and offensive liberal wars with geopolitical motive and humanitarian intent. The article then presents one exemplary case for each liberal war with an emphasis on how liberal strategy required an illiberal ally and that ally’s effect on the subsequent peace.