Strength and Resolve in the Armed Conflicts We Observe

Patricia L. Sullivan

in Who Wins?

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199878338
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950294 | DOI:
Strength and Resolve in the Armed Conflicts We Observe

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This chapter develops the first part of a broadly generalizable theory about the utility of organized violence as a policy instrument. The theory incorporates insights from both strategic selection models of war initiation and military doctrine. It begins by establishing a definition of victory in war and positing three paths by which actors can achieve strategic victory in armed conflict. It then explains how the process by which state and nonstate actors “select” themselves into violent conflicts helps us to understand the war outcomes we observe. It uses two post-Cold War military confrontations between the United States and Iraq to illustrate how the balance of military capabilities, relative tolerance for costs, and each side's beliefs about these distributions influence decisions to initiate and terminate armed conflicts.

Keywords: organized violence; war initiation; military doctrine; victory; military confrontations; United States; Iraq

Chapter.  11243 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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