Deterring the Weak : Problems and Prospects

Le Centre des Etudes de Sécurité de l’Ifri vient de publier le numéro 43 de la série Proliferation Papers intitulé :

Deterring the Weak : Problems and Prospects

 

James J. Wirtz est doyen de la School of International Graduate Studies et professeur au Department of National Security Affairs de la Naval Postgraduate School à Monterey, Californie. Il est notamment co-éditeur des l’ouvrages  Over the Horizon Proliferation Threats (Stanford University Press, 2012) et Complex Deterrence: Strategy in the Global Age (University of Chicago Press, 2009).  Le professeur Wirtz a été président de l’ International Security and Arms Control Section de l’American Political Science Association et a occupé la chaire d’Intelligence Studies à l’International Studies Association.

Son nouveau Proliferation Paper est téléchargeable ici.

Résumé :

Strong states often fail to deter vastly weaker competitors. This paper explores some reasons of this failure and identifies factors that can increase the prospects that deterrence will succeed in these situations. It argues that deterrence fails between strong and weak powers not because the weaker party miscalculates the military balance or fails to perceive the existence of deterrent threats, but because of a perception that it is possible to circumvent deterrence. This perception is often rooted in strategic, political and social factors that the leaders of weak states believe they can manipulate to their advantage, hoping to prevent the strong from bringing their superior military capability to bear in an effective way. To illustrate these points, the paper describes some of these strategic, political and social factors that lead to optimism on the part of the weak, and identifies several considerations that should govern the behavior of stronger powers as they contemplate efforts to deter weaker competitors.

Sommaire :

Introduction

The Optimism of the Weak

Strategic Optimism: The Problem of Surprise Attack

Political Optimism: The Balance of Power Paradox

Social Optimism: The Manipulation of the Risk of Death and Destruction in Local Conflicts

Responding to the New Complexity

Conclusion

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