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Global Master of Arts Program II, Third Term, 2005-2006 - page 5 / 15





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the probability of an adversary's behavior. What might be the advantages of measuring coercive "success" in this manner?


Byman and Waxman identify several "ideal types" of coercive mechanisms—power base erosion, unrest, decapitation, denial, and weakening—triggered by the use of various coercive instruments—air strikes, invasion, threat of nuclear attack, economic sanctions and international isolation, or combinations thereof. In designing and then executing coercive strategies, why might an understanding of coercive mechanisms be important? Would you agree that most policy debates about the "effectiveness" of various coercive instruments (e.g., bombing or economic sanctions) really involve debates about coercive mechanisms?

Session 3: Technology and Military Power—the Offense-Defense Theory Debate Required Readings

Stephen Van Evera, "Offense, Defense, and the Causes of War," in Brown, et al., eds. Offense, Defense, and War, pp. 227-65.

Charles L. Glaser and Chaim D. Kaufmann, "What is the Offense-Defense Balance and How Do We Measure It?" Ibid, pp. 266-304

Kier A. Lieber, "Grasping the Technological Peace: The Offense-Defense Balance and International Security," Ibid, pp. 366-399.

Recommended Readings

Richard K. Betts, "Must War Find a Way? A Review Essay," in Brown, et al., eds., Offense, Defense, and War, pp. 333-365.

Karen Ruth Adams, "Attack and Conquer? International Anarchy and the Offense-Defense-Deterrence Balance," Ibid, pp. 400-438.

James W. Davis, Jr., Bernard I. Finel, Stacie Goddard, Stephen Van Evera, Charles L. Glaser, and Chaim Kaufmann, "Correspondence: Taking Offense at Offense-Defense Theory," Ibid, pp. 305-333.

Stephen Biddle, Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004).

Stephen Van Evera, The Causes of War: Power and the Roots of Conflict (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999).

Discussion Questions

  • 1.

    What are the relative merits and problems with the core version of the offense-defense balance (which Charles Glaser and Chaim Kaufmann define as the cost ratio of attacker forces to defender forces) and the broad version (which incorporates additional variables such as Stephen Van Evera's)?

  • 2.

    Does offense-defense theory (ODT), or at least Van Evera and Glaser and Kaufmann's version of the theory, deliver on its explanatory and predictive claims? Or is ODT deductively and empirically flawed, as Kier Lieber, claims? How might proponents of ODT address the common criticism of the literature: Just about any weapon or doctrine has both offensive and defense applications depending upon one's perspective?

  • 3.

    What are the advantages and the disadvantages of "operationalizing" the offense-defense balance at the operational level—as Glaser and Kaufmann do—as opposed to the strategic level—as Van Evera and most other offense-defense theory proponents do? Does the distinction between "defense dominance" and "deterrence dominance" help us


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