Whose War is it Anyway? Explaining the Black-White Gap in Support for the Use of Force Abroad

Naima Green-Riley, Andrew Leber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Building on long-standing work on a “gender gap” in war support, this article documents a recurring “race gap” in which Black Americans display less enthusiasm for war than their White counterparts. We compile time-series data on public opinion during the Iraq War collected from over fifty national polls and successive waves of the Cooperative Congressional Election Study to assess potential explanations for the gap. We show that concerns about casualties best explain lower levels of support for war among Black Americans. Feelings of political alienation and preferences for domestic spending serve as more salient contributors to Black disapproval of war during the George W. Bush years. Meanwhile, having a family member in the military does not explain lower Black support for war. Black antiwar rhetoric suggests that our casualty sensitivity and alienation findings stem from linked fate attitudes and concerns about fairness and “justness” of the war effort among Black Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)811-845
Number of pages35
JournalSecurity Studies
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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