The Art of Military Coercion

Why the West’s Military Superiority Scarcely Matters

Rob de Wijk

The Art of Military Coercion

Rob de Wijk

Distributed for Amsterdam University Press

325 pages | 4 color plates, 4 halftones | 6 x 9
Paper $52.50 ISBN: 9789089646743 Published January 2015 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada
The United States spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined, and Western nations in general spend far more than developing nations around the globe. Yet when Western nations have found themselves in conflicts in recent decades, their military performance has been mixed at best. In this fully updated new edition of The Art of Military Coercion, Rob de Wijk explains this discrepancy through a theory on the use of force. He argues that the key is a failure to use force decisively and to understand properly the dynamics of conflict and balance, means and ends. Without that ability, even a superiority of dollars, numbers, and weaponry will not necessarily translate to victory.

Introduction (Second and Revised Edition)

Introduction (First Edition)

Introduction: Understanding Coercion

Military coercion, coercive diplomacy and political culture

Instruments of coercion

How this book is organized

Part I Political Culture: Why the West Coerces

1 A Western Civilization of Warriors?

Two cases: Iraq and Somalia

Realism, Idealism, and interventions

Western civilization

A universal and superior civilization?

The international legal order

Transatlantic differences in political culture


2 Liberal Democracies and Interventions

Democracy and the justification of interventions

Democratization and war

Democracies and interventions: the Cold War period

Democracies and interventions: the post-Cold War era

The decay of the non-intervention principle

America’s primacy


3 The Strategic Efficacy of Power Instruments

The theoretical foundation of coercion

Decision making

The instruments of coercion

The dynamics of coercion

Two strategies of coercion

Applications of military force in coercion strategies

Strategies and Opponents

Policy implications

Part 2 Strategic Culture: How the West Coerces

4 The Evolution of Modern Military Doctrine

Flexible response

Active defense


Attrition warfare versus maneuver warfare

The debate on active defense

The European reactions

AirLand Battle and NATO tactical doctrine

Follow-on Forces Attack

Doubts about the feasibility of AirLand Battle

The doctrinal mess of the 1990s

Lessons learned: the development of joint doctrine

New capabilities for full spectrum dominance

Two strategic cultures


5 Premodern Challenges and the Modern and Postmodern World

Trends explained

Interstate conflicts

Intrastate wars and complex contingencies

Non-state actors and the use of black holes

Religious anti-systemic terrorism

Biological and chemical threats

Nuclear and radiological weapons

Missile proliferation


6 Dealing with Complex Security Challenges

Western preoccupations

Savage warfare

Revolutionary warfare

Planning an operation

Special forces and intelligence

The Chechen wars

Operation Defensive Shield

Operation Cast Lead

Afghanistan: Operation Enduring Freedom

Afghanistan: the stabilization phase

Unified Protector (2011)

New doctrines

Operation Iraqi Freedom

Stabilization operations: reinventing population-centric COIN

Field Manual 3-24

NATO Doctrine

Measuring success in Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan

Postmodern warfare


7 The Art of Military Coercion

The successful application of force

The principles of military operations

The timing of an intervention

Coalition warfare

Political preconditions

Public support

Concept of operations

Balancing means and ends

Military aid



About the author

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