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Political Use of the United States Armed Forces, 1946-1976 (ICPSR 7595)

Principal Investigator(s): Kaplan, Stephen; Blechman, Barry


The data in this collection were generated in 1976 as part of a Brookings Institution project studying the use of the United States Armed Forces as a political instrument. By the study's definition, political use of the armed forces occurs when physical actions are taken by one or more components of the uniformed military services as part of a deliberate attempt by the national authorities to influence, or to be prepared to influence, specific behavior of individuals in another nation without engaging in a contest of violence. The study yielded 226 such cases between January 1, 1946, and December 31, 1976. The data can be grouped into seven categories: dates of the events, contextual characteristics of events, types and sizes of United States Armed Forces involved, movement and readiness of forces, activities of forces, non-United States actors involved, and United States public approval of the president within two months of the event.

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Study Description


Kaplan, Stephen, and Barry Blechman. Political Use of the United States Armed Forces, 1946-1976. ICPSR07595-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1978. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR07595.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR07595.v1

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This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Defense. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (2820)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    arms race, armed forces, Cold War, disputes, international politics, military civilian relations, military strategies, military strength, politics, public approval, presidential performance

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 1946--1976

Date of Collection:   

  • 1975--1976

Universe:    All incidents (226) in which United States armed forces were used as a discrete political instrument between 1946 and 1976.

Data Type(s):    aggregate data, and event/transaction data


Data Source:

(1) official records of military organizations such as air force, fleet, and division histories, (2) chronologies of international events such as the quarterly chronology in the MIDDLE EAST JOURNAL, and (3) secondary sources, including various events data files, and compilations of United States military activities prepared for other purposes.


Original ICPSR Release:   1984-05-03

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