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Cornell Studies in Security Affairs

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Living Weapons

Biological Warfare and International Security

by Gregory D. Koblentz

"Biological weapons are widely feared, yet rarely used. Biological weapons were the first weapon prohibited by an international treaty, yet the proliferation of these weapons increased after they were banned in 1972. Biological weapons are frequently called ‛the poor man’s atomic bomb,’ yet they cannot provide the same deterrent capability as nuclear weapons. One of my goals in this book is to explain the underlying principles of these apparent paradoxes."-from Living Weapons

Biological weapons are the least well understood of the so-called weapons of mass destruction. Unlike nuclear and chemical weapons, biological weapons are composed of, or derived from, living organisms. In Living Weapons, Gregory D. Koblentz provides a comprehensive analysis of the unique challenges that biological weapons pose for international security. At a time when the United States enjoys overwhelming conventional military superiority, biological weapons have emerged as an attractive means for less powerful states and terrorist groups to wage asymmetric warfare.

Koblentz also warns that advances in the life sciences have the potential to heighten the lethality and variety of biological weapons. The considerable overlap between the equipment, materials and knowledge required to develop biological weapons, conduct civilian biomedical research, and develop biological defenses creates a multiuse dilemma that limits the effectiveness of verification, hinders civilian oversight, and complicates threat assessments.

Living Weapons draws on the American, Soviet, Russian, South African, and Iraqi biological weapons programs to enhance our understanding of the special challenges posed by these weapons for arms control, deterrence, civilian-military relations, and intelligence. Koblentz also examines the aspirations of terrorist groups to develop these weapons and the obstacles they have faced. Biological weapons, Koblentz argues, will continue to threaten international security until defenses against such weapons are improved, governments can reliably detect biological weapon activities, the proliferation of materials and expertise is limited, and international norms against the possession and use of biological weapons are strengthened.

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The Logic of Positive Engagement

by Miroslav Nincic

Recent American foreign policy has depended heavily on the use of negative inducements to alter the behavior of other states. From public browbeating through economic sanctions to military invasion, the last several presidents have chosen to use coercion to advance U.S. interests when dealing with adversaries. In this respect, as Miroslav Nincic notes, the United States differs from many of its closest allies: Canada has long maintained diplomatic relations with Cuba, and several of the European democracies have continued diplomatic engagement with governments that the United States considers pariah regimes. In The Logic of Positive Engagement, Nincic outlines the efficacy of and the benefits that can flow from positive rather than negative engagement.

Nincic observes that threats and punishments may be gratifying in a symbolic sense, but that they haven't affected the longevity or the most objectionable policies of the regimes against which they are directed. Might positive inducements produce better results? Nincic examines two major models of positive inducements: the exchange model, in which incentives are offered in trade for altered behavior, and the catalytic model, in which incentives accumulate to provoke a thorough revision of the target's policies and priorities. He examines the record with regard to long-term U.S. relations with Cuba, Libya, and Syria, and then discusses the possibility that positive inducements might bring policy success to current relations with Iran and North Korea.

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Logics of War

Explanations for Limited and Unlimited Conflicts

by Alex Weisiger

Most wars between countries end quickly and at relatively low cost. The few in which high-intensity fighting continues for years bring about a disproportionate amount of death and suffering. What separates these few unusually long and intense wars from the many conflicts that are far less destructive? In Logics of War, Alex Weisiger tests three explanations for a nation's decision to go to war and continue fighting regardless of the costs. He combines sharp statistical analysis of interstate wars over the past two centuries with nine narrative case studies. He examines both well-known conflicts like World War II and the Persian Gulf War, as well as unfamiliar ones such as the 1864-1870 Paraguayan War (or the War of the Triple Alliance), which proportionally caused more deaths than any other war in modern history.

When leaders go to war expecting easy victory, events usually correct their misperceptions quickly and with fairly low casualties, thereby setting the stage for a negotiated agreement. A second explanation involves motives born of domestic politics; as war becomes more intense, however, leaders are increasingly constrained in their ability to continue the fighting. Particularly destructive wars instead arise from mistrust of an opponent's intentions. Countries that launch preventive wars to forestall expected decline tend to have particularly ambitious war aims that they hold to even when fighting goes poorly. Moreover, in some cases, their opponents interpret the preventive attack as evidence of a dispositional commitment to aggression, resulting in the rejection of any form of negotiation and a demand for unconditional surrender. Weisiger's treatment of a topic of central concern to scholars of major wars will also be read with great interest by military historians, political psychologists, and sociologists.

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The Mediation Dilemma

by Kyle Beardsley

Mediation has become a common technique for terminating violent conflicts both within and between states; while mediation has a strong record in reducing hostilities, it is not without its own problems. In The Mediation Dilemma, Kyle Beardsley highlights its long-term limitations. The result of this oft-superficial approach to peacemaking, immediate and reassuring as it may be, is often a fragile peace. With the intervention of a third-party mediator, warring parties may formally agree to concessions that are insupportable in the long term and soon enough find themselves at odds again.

Beardsley examines his argument empirically using two data sets and traces it through several historical cases: Henry Kissinger's and Jimmy Carter's initiatives in the Middle East, 1973-1979; Theodore Roosevelt's 1905 mediation in the Russo-Japanese War; and Carter's attempt to mediate in the 1994 North Korean nuclear crisis. He also draws upon the lessons of the 1993 Arusha Accords, the 1993 Oslo Accords, Haiti in 1994, the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement in Sri Lanka, and the 2005 Memorandum of Understanding in Aceh. Beardsley concludes that a reliance on mediation risks a greater chance of conflict relapse in the future, whereas the rejection of mediation risks ongoing bloodshed as war continues.

The trade-off between mediation's short-term and long-term effects is stark when the third-party mediator adopts heavy-handed forms of leverage, and, Beardsley finds, multiple mediators and intergovernmental organizations also do relatively poorly in securing long-term peace. He finds that mediation has the greatest opportunity to foster both short-term and long-term peace when a single third party mediates among belligerents that can afford to wait for a self-enforcing arrangement to be reached.

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The Military Lens

Doctrinal Difference and Deterrence Failure in Sino-American Relations

by Christopher P. Twomey

In The Military Lens, Christopher P. Twomey shows how differing military doctrines have led to misperceptions between the United States and China over foreign policy-and the potential dangers these might pose in future relations. Because of their different strategic situations, histories, and military cultures, nations may have radically disparate definitions of effective military doctrine, strategy, and capabilities. Twomey argues that when such doctrines-or "theories of victory"-differ across states, misperceptions about a rival's capabilities and intentions and false optimism about one's own are more likely to occur. In turn, these can impede international diplomacy and statecraft by making it more difficult to communicate and agree on assessments of the balance of power.

When states engage in strategic coercion-either to deter or to compel action-such problems can lead to escalation and war. Twomey assesses a wide array of sources in both the United States and China on military doctrine, strategic culture, misperception, and deterrence theory to build case studies of attempts at strategic coercion during Sino-American conflicts in Korea and the Taiwan Strait in the early years of the Cold War, as well as an examination of similar issues in the Arab-Israeli conflict. After demonstrating how these factors have contributed to past conflicts, Twomey amply documents the persistence of hazardous miscommunication in contemporary Sino-American relations. His unique analytic perspective on military capability suggests that policymakers need to carefully consider the military doctrine of the nations they are trying to influence.

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Occupational Hazards

Success and Failure in Military Occupation

by David M. Edelstein

Few would contest that the U.S. occupation of Iraq is a clear example of just how fraught a military occupation can become. In Occupational Hazards, David M. Edelstein elucidates the occasional successes of military occupations and their more frequent failures. Edelstein has identified twenty-six cases since 1815 in which an outside power seized control of a territory where the occupying party had no long-term claim on sovereignty.

In a book that has implications for present-day policy, he draws evidence from such historical cases as well as from four current occupations-Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq-where the outcome is not yet known. Occupation is difficult, in Edelstein's view, because ambitious goals require considerable time and resources, yet both the occupied population and the occupying power want occupation to end quickly and inexpensively; in drawn-out occupations, impatience grows and resources dwindle.

This combination sabotages the occupying power's ability to accomplish two tasks: convince an occupied population to suppress its nationalist desires and sustain its own commitment to the occupation. Structural conditions and strategic choices play crucial roles in the success or failure of an occupation. In describing those factors, Edelstein prescribes a course of action for the future.

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The Remnants of War

by John Mueller

"War . . . is merely an idea, an institution, like dueling or slavery, that has been grafted onto human existence. It is not a trick of fate, a thunderbolt from hell, a natural calamity, or a desperate plot contrivance dreamed up by some sadistic puppeteer on high. And it seems to me that the institution is in pronounced decline, abandoned as attitudes toward it have changed, roughly following the pattern by which the ancient and formidable institution of slavery became discredited and then mostly obsolete."-from the Introduction

War is one of the great themes of human history and now, John Mueller believes, it is clearly declining. Developed nations have generally abandoned it as a way for conducting their relations with other countries, and most current warfare (though not all) is opportunistic predation waged by packs-often remarkably small ones-of criminals and bullies. Thus, argues Mueller, war has been substantially reduced to its remnants-or dregs-and thugs are the residual combatants.

Mueller is sensitive to the policy implications of this view. When developed states commit disciplined troops to peacekeeping, the result is usually a rapid cessation of murderous disorder. The Remnants of War thus reinvigorates our sense of the moral responsibility bound up in peacekeeping. In Mueller's view, capable domestic policing and military forces can also be effective in reestablishing civic order, and the building of competent governments is key to eliminating most of what remains of warfare.

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The Shadow of the Past

Reputation and Military Alliances before the First World War

by Gregory D. Miller

In The Shadow of the Past, Gregory D. Miller examines the role that reputation plays in international politics, emphasizing the importance of reliability-confidence that, based on past political actions, a country will make good on its promises-in the formation of military alliances. Challenging recent scholarship that focuses on the importance of credibility-a state's reputation for following through on its threats-Miller finds that reliable states have much greater freedom in forming alliances than those that invest resources in building military force but then use it inconsistently.

To explore the formation and maintenance of alliances based on reputation, Miller draws on insights from both political science and business theory to track the evolution of great power relations before the First World War. He starts with the British decision to abandon "splendid isolation" in 1900 and examines three crises--the First Moroccan Crisis (1905-6), the Bosnia-Herzegovina Crisis (1908-9), and the Agadir Crisis (1911)-leading up to the war. He determines that states with a reputation for being a reliable ally have an easier time finding other reliable allies, and have greater autonomy within their alliances, than do states with a reputation for unreliability. Further, a history of reliability carries long-term benefits, as states tend not to lose allies even when their reputation declines.

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Storm of Steel

The Development of Armor Doctrine in Germany and the Soviet Union, 1919–1939

by Mary R. Habeck

In this fascinating account of the battle tanks that saw combat in the European Theater of World War II, Mary R. Habeck traces the strategies developed between the wars for the use of armored vehicles in battle. Only in Germany and the Soviet Union were truly original armor doctrines (generally known as "blitzkreig" and "deep battle") fully implemented. Storm of Steel relates how the German and Soviet armies formulated and chose to put into practice doctrines that were innovative for the time, yet in many respects identical to one another.

As part of her extensive archival research in Russia, Germany, and Britain, Habeck had access to a large number of formerly secret and top-secret documents from several post-Soviet archives. This research informs her comparative approach as she looks at the roles of technology, shared influences, and assumptions about war in the formation of doctrine. She also explores relations between the Germans and the Soviets to determine whether collaboration influenced the convergence of their armor doctrines.

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