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The Dynamics of Deterrence

The value of a theory of deterrence lies in its ability to reconstruct and predict strategic behavior accurately and consistently. Contemporary scholarship on deterrence has drawn upon decision models and classical game theory, with some success, to explain how deterrence works. But the field is marked by unconnected and sometimes contradictory hypotheses that may explain one type of situation while being inapplicable to another.

The Dynamics of Deterrence is the first comprehensive treatment of deterrence theory since the mid-1960s. Frank C. Zagare introduces a new theoretical framework for deterrence that is rigorous, consistent, and illuminating. By placing the deterrence relationship in a "theory of moves" framework, Zagare is able to remedy the defects of other models. His approach is illustrated by and applied to a number of complex deterrence situations: the Berlin crisis of 1948, the Middle East crises of 1967 and 1973, and The Falkland/Malvinas crisis of 1980. He also examines the strategic relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union from 1945 to the present.

Zagare studies the dynamics of both mutual and unilateral deterrence games in nuclear and non-nuclear situations, and the impact of credibility, capability, and power asymmetries on deterrence stability. He shows that his theory is applicable for analyzing deterrence situations between allies as well as between hostile states. One of the additional strengths of his model, however, is its general usefulness for other levels and settings, such as deterrence games played by husband and wife, parent and child, employer and employee, and the state and its citizens. With its lucid prose and illustrative examples, The Dynamics of Deterrence will be of interest to a wide audience in international relations, peace studies, and political science.

208 pages | 25 line drawings. | 5.50 x 8.50 | © 1987

Political Science: Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, and International Relations

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables
Part I - Toward a Reformulation of the Theory of Deterrence
1. The Problem with Deterrence Theory
1.1. On Rationality
1.2. The Berlin Crisis of 1948
1.3. A Decision-Theoretic Explanation of the Berlin Crisis
1.4. A Game-Theoretic Explanation of the Berlin Crisis
2. The Logic of Mutual Deterrence
2.1. The Structural Characteristics of Mutual Deterrence Games
2.2. The Paradox of Mutual Deterrence
2.3. A Reconciliation of Game Theory and the Theory of Mutual Deterrence
2.4. Relaxing the Rules: The Concept of a Limited-Move Equilibrium
2.5. Other Mutual Deterrence Games
2.6. Summary and Conclusions
3. The Dynamics of Unilateral Deterrence
3.1. The Pathology of Unilateral Deterrence
3.2. Two Questions About Unilateral Deterrence
3.3. The Absorbing Criteria and Attitudes Toward Risk
3.4. The Impact of Nuclear Weapons
3.5. Summary and Conclusions
4. On Capability and Power
4.1. Capability
4.2. Holding Power
4.3. The Berlin Crisis Revisited
4.4. Strategic Implications of Holding Power
4.5. Summary and Conclusions
Part II - Applying the Model
5. Explaining the Middle East Crisis of 1967
5.1. The First United States-Israel Game
5.2. The Second United States-Israel Game
5.3. The Superpower Game
5.4. Summary and Conclusions
6. Evaluating the Cease-Fire Alert Decision of 1973
6.1. The United States-Soviet Union Cease-Fire Game
6.2. The United States as Israel’s Protector
6.3. The United States as Honest Broker: Détente versus Realpolitik
6.4. Summary and Conclusions
7. Analyzing the US-USSR Strategic Relationship
7.1. Summarizing the Model
7.2. The American Nuclear Monopoly: 1945-50
7.3. The First Period of American Strategic Superiority: 1951-55
7.4. The Period of Mutual Vulnerability: 1956-61
7.5. The Second Period of American Superiority: 1962-66
7.6. The Period of Essential Equivalence: 1967 to date
7.7. Summary and Conclusions

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