No Illusions: The Role of Air Strikes in Coercive Diplomacy
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
Pagination or Media Count:
The post Cold War era has seen an increase in international violence and internal conflicts ignited by nationalism, separatist ethnic groups and religious fundamentalism. As the worlds only superpower, the United States has been pressured to intervene more frequently in the affairs of other states to maintain an international environment favorable to its national interests. In an effort to minimize the amount of resources expended and lives put at risk, the United States has increasingly resorted to a strategy of coercive diplomacy. This involves threats of force or the limited use of force in conjunction with diplomatic efforts to coerce an adversary to stop or undo an act of aggression. This monograph addresses the role of air strikes in coercive diplomacy. Coercive diplomacy is not a panacea that will solve all international crises, but it does provide the chance to achieve political objectives with little or no bloodshed and less financial, political, and psychological costs. Historically naval forces have been employed more often than other elements for coercive diplomacy. In more recent years, this gunboat diplomacy has given way to air strike diplomacy. Airpower is now used more frequently for coercive diplomacy because it is faster to employ, can have a tremendous shock effect, can put targets at risk with a high probability of successful attack using precision munitions, and can be more temporary in nature than other military options. It is difficult to assess the effectiveness of coercive air strikes because international affairs are complex and there are multiple factors at work that affect the outcome of a crisis. Experts can point to incidents where coercive airpower was successful and incidents where it was not. When certain conditions are present in a crisis, the outcome is more likely to be favorable to the coercer. It is often difficult to determine when these conditions exist, let alone when they favor the coercer.
- Government and Political Science
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics