War Aims and War Outcomes

Patricia L. Sullivan

in Who Wins?

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199878338
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950294 | DOI:
War Aims and War Outcomes

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This chapter develops the argument that a critical characteristic of war aims—the degree to which attaining them requires target compliance—determines whether relative war-fighting capacity or resolve has a greater impact on a war's outcome. Although this theoretical approach is intuitive, the implications of the theory are frequently surprising. A state with greater military capacity than its adversary is more likely to prevail in wars with “total” war aims—the overthrow of a foreign government or annexation of territory—than in wars with more limited objectives. On the other hand, a state's ability to compel forcibly an adversary to change an objectionable foreign or domestic policy is expected to decline as its material strength relative to the adversary increases.

Keywords: war outcomes; war aims; military capacity; annexation

Chapter.  9459 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: International Relations

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