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Coercive Force and Military Strategy: Deterrence Logic and the Cost-Benefit Model of Counterinsurgency Warfare

Richard Shultz
The Western Political Quarterly
Vol. 32, No. 4 (Dec., 1979), pp. 444-466
DOI: 10.2307/447907
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/447907
Page Count: 23
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Coercive Force and Military Strategy: Deterrence Logic and the Cost-Benefit Model of Counterinsurgency Warfare
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Abstract

In this article the 1965-68 American Counterinsurgency strategy, based on the concepts of coercive force, intimidation, and deterrence logic, will be analyzed both theoretically and as it was operationalized in Vietnam. The study begins by identifying the theoretical linkages between strategic deterrence strategy and the cost-benefit model of counterinsurgency. Following this the basic tenents of this model are identified and their theoretical soundness scrutinized. Finally, the operationalization period is examined. Based on various official governmental and military documents, the study concludes, in the first place, that the theoretical linkages between the cost-benefit counterinsurgency strategy and strategic deterrence theory are very problematic. Furthermore, a number of crucial theoretical weaknesses in the strategy are identified and the serious limitations these weaknesses present for the potential effectiveness of the strategy discussed. Finally, the impact of these limitations, in terms of strategy effectiveness, becomes very evident in the critique of the operationalization period.

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