Conventional Deterrence (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs)

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9780801493461: Conventional Deterrence (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs)
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Conventional Deterrence is a book about the origins of war. Why do nations faced with the prospect of large-scale conventional war opt for or against an offensive strategy? John J. Mearsheimer examines a number of crises that led to major conventional wars to explain why deterrence failed. He focuses first on Allied and German decision making in the years 1939–1940, analyzing why the Allies did not strike first against Germany after declaring war and, conversely, why the Germans did attack the West. Turning to the Middle East, he examines the differences in Israeli and Egyptian strategic doctrines prior to the start of the major conventional conflicts in that region. Mearsheimer then critically assays the relative strengths and weaknesses of NATO and the Warsaw Pact to determine the prospects for conventional deterrence in any future crisis. He is also concerned with examining such relatively technical issues as the impact of precision-guided munitions (PGM) on conventional deterrence and the debate over maneuver versus attrition warfare.

Mearsheimer pays considerable attention to questions of military strategy and tactics. Challenging the claim that conventional detrrence is largely a function of the numerical balance of forces, he also takes issue with the school of thought that ascribes deterrence failures to the dominance of "offensive" weaponry. In addition to examining the military consideration underlying deterrence, he also analyzes the interaction between those military factors and the broader political considerations that move a nation to war.

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Review:

"Mearsheimer offers a fine example of how defense policy analysis should be conducted. He demonstrates an excellent grasp of proportion and priority in concentrating on some of the most important yet understudied questions of deterrence and modern warfare. Why, he asks, are offensive strategies accepted or avoided by states facing the prospect of large-scale conventional war? In answering this question, Mearsheimer confronts other questions of politics and perceptions that the strategic nuclear deadlock has only accentuated. The historic and technical details are handled masterfully while lessons are drawn for assessing the pivotal military balance in central Europe. This is a sophisticated yet thoroughly lucid book worthy of careful attention by any student of U.S. national security policy."―Journal of Policy Analysis and Management



"John Mearsheimer has got his timing just right. There is much current talk about the need to this and do that to bolster NATO's conventional forces, but there is no conceptual framework for assessing all these proposals. This is a carefully argued and well-written study that should immediately raise the quality of the debate. Most importantly, it draws effectively on history to illuminate contemporary problems."―Lawrence Freedman, New Republic



"An intelligent, well-researched, and organized study."―Foreign Affairs

About the Author:

John J. Mearsheimer is R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. He is the author of many books, includingWhy Leaders Lie: The Truth about Lying in International Politics

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9780801415692: Conventional Deterrence (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs)

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ISBN 10:  0801415691 ISBN 13:  9780801415692
Publisher: Cornell University Press, 1983
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