Asymmetric Conflicts: War Initiation by Weaker Powers

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This book asks why weaker powers so often engage in wars against stronger opponents. It examines six cases where this occurred in this century, including the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982. The key argument of deterrence theory is that the military superiority of a relatively strong power, coupled with a credible retaliatory threat, will prevent attack by challengers. This book seriously challenges this assumption, and has wide implications for the study of war, deterrence, diplomacy and strategy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" important contribution to the literature on the causes of war. Students of history and international politics should find the book accessible and provocative. Paul raises an important and timely issue that has received limited attention, and his contribution is certain to spark debate. The book serves as an excellent reminder that conflict processes are often complex and do not lend themselves to easy solutions." Martin Malin, Journal of International Affairs

"...the case studies are well presented, and the argument clearly put." Foreign Affairs

"Asymmetric Conflicts makes a valuable contribution to initiation theory by investigating a puzzling, yet recurring, phenomenon in international politics: the tendency of weak states to initiate war against stronger adversaries....[T]he case studies make a good read; they are structured around a consistent set of theoretically interesting questions and present a sensible understanding of historical events. Moreover, the author has conducted extensive research, including personal interviews with historians and participants....Paul's book studies a familiar question in a fresh light....[B]y bringing together a number of important hypotheses and carefully applying them to a specific set of cases, Paul's work advances our understanding of an issue vital to the study of foreign and security policy." Susan Peterson, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Part I. Theoretical Framework: 1. Introduction: war initiation in international relations theory; 2. Explaining war initiation by weaker powers in asymmetric conflicts; Part II. The Case Studies: 3. The Japanese offensive against Russia, 1904; 4. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 1941; 5. The Chinese intervention in Korea, 1950; 6. The Pakistani offensive in Kashmir, 1965; 7. The Egyptian offensive in the Sinai, 1973; 8. The Argentine invasion of the Falklands/Malvinas, 1982; 9. Conclusion.

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