Co-Authored Books

Power and Military Effectiveness is an instructive reassessment of the increasingly popular belief that military success is one of democracy’s many virtues. International relations scholars, policy makers, and military minds will be well served by its lessons.

Civilian Control of the Military
Power and Military Effectiveness

Above the politics and ideological battles of Washington, D.C., is a committee that meets behind locked doors and leaves its paper trail in classified files. The President's Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB) is one of the most secretive and potentially influential segments of the U.S. intelligence community. Established in 1956, the PIAB advises the president about intelligence collection, analysis, and estimates, and about the legality of foreign intelligence activities.

When the Third World Matters

The end of the Cold War brought widespread optimism about the future of civil-military relations. But as Michael Desch argues in this thought-provoking challenge to Harold Lasswell's famous "garrison state" thesis, the truth is that civilian authorities have not been able to exert greater control over military policies and decision making. In wartime, civil authorities cannot help but pay close attention to military matters. In times of peace, however, civilian leaders are less interested in military affairs―and therefore often surrender them to the military.

Cult of the Irrelevant: The Waning Influence of Social Science on National Security

Examines US strategy relating to Latin America at four critical points in history: World War I, World War II, the Cuban missile crisis and the later Cold War. Desch argues that the lessons learned from these cases are relevant to the making of US post-Cold War strategy elsewhere in the Third World.


(Forthcoming in 2018)