On Escalation: Metaphors and Scenarios

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Transaction Publishers, Oct 1, 2009 - Political Science - 308 pages
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In this widely discussed and influential book, Herman Kahn probes the dynamics of escalation and demonstrates how the intensification of conflict can be depicted by means of a definite escalation ladder, ascent of which brings opponents closer to all-out war. At each rung of the ladder, before the climb proceeds, decisions must be made based on numerous choices. Some are clear and obvious, others obscure, but the options are always there.

Thermonuclear annihilation, says Kahn, is unlikely to come through accident; but nations may elect to climb the ladder to extinction. The basic material for the book was developed in briefings delivered by Kahn to military and civilian experts and revised in the light of his findings of a trip to Vietnam in the 1960s. In On Escalation he states the facts squarely. He asks the reader to face unemotionally the terrors of a world fully capable of suicide and to consider carefully the alternatives to such a path.

In the never-never land of nuclear warfare, where nuclear incredulity is pervasive and paralyzing to the imagination even for the professional analyst, salient details of possible scenarios for the outbreak of war, and even more for war fighting, are largely unexplored or even unnoticed. For scenarios in which war is terminated, the issues and possibilities of which are almost completely unstudied, the situation is even worse. Kahn's discussion throws light on the terrain and gives the individual a sense of the range of possibilities and complexities involved and are useful.

 

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Contents

INTRODUCTION
3
The Strike and Chicken Metaphors
9
Sources of Control and Cooperation in International Society
15
The Question of Who Whom and Why
23
Some Examples of the Importance of Who Whom and Why
24
An Example of Restraint and Negotiation in Total War World War II
25
A Standard Crisis Scenario
34
THE RUNGS OF THE ESCALATION LADDER
37
Rung 24 Unusual Provocative and Significant Counter Measures
140
Rung 25 Evacuation Approximately 70 per cent
141
The Central Sanctuary Threshold
142
The Rungs of Exemplary Central Attacks
143
Rung 27 Exemplary Attack on Military
144
Rung 29 Exemplary Attacks on Population
145
Rung 31 Reciprocal Reprisals
146
Some Comments on the Relative Technical Simplicity of Exemplary Central Attacks
147

Description of the Rungs and Thresholds
41
Traditional crises The Boat Is Rocked
42
Intense Crises The Unthinkable Nuclear War Becomes Credible
43
Bizarre crises Nuclear Weapons Are Used
45
Exemplary central attacks Violating the Central Sanctuary Nuclear Gunboat Diplomacy
46
Military central wars The New Kind of AllOut War
47
Civilian central wars Violation of the NoCity Threshold
49
DISAGREEMENTS AND SUBCRISIS MANEUVERING
52
The Rungs of Subcrisis Maneuvering
53
Rung 2 Political Economic and Diplomatic Gestures
55
Rung 3 Solemn and Formal Declarations
56
RationalityofIrrationality and Committal Strategies
57
The Rung 2 Escalation of the Summer of 1964
59
TRADITIONAL CRISES
62
The Rungs of Traditional Crises
66
Rung 5 Show of Force
67
Rung 6 Significant Mobilization
69
Rung 7 Legal Harassment Retortions
72
Rung 8 Harassing Acts of Violence
73
Rung 9 Dramatic Military Confrontations
74
INTENSE CRISES
83
The Rungs of Intense Crises
84
Rung 11 SuperReady Status
85
Rung 12 Large Conventional War or Actions
86
Rung 14 Declaration of Limited Conventional War
87
Rung 15 Barely Nuclear War
88
Rung 16 Nuclear Ultimatums
89
Rung 17 Limited Evacuation Approximately 20 per Cent
90
Rung 18 Spectacular Show or Demonstration of Force
91
Rung 20 Peaceful WorldWide Embargo or Blockade
93
THE NUCLEAR THRESHOLD
94
The Nuclear Threshold as a Prototype Restraint
97
The Nuclear Consensus An Example of Systems Bargaining
101
The Considerations To Be Examined
104
Some Disadvantages to the US
105
Pressures for Continued Escalation
109
The Immediate Consequences on the Wider Power Balance
114
Effects on Stability the Arms Race and Nuclear Proliferation
117
Some Additional Arguments in Favor of a Breach of the Nuclear Threshold
121
Recapitulation and Concluding Remarks on Preserving the Nuclear Threshold
128
Application of the No Nuclear Use Discussion to the Other Basic Thresholds
132
BIZARRE CRISES AND EXEMPLARY CENTRAL ATTACKS
134
The Rungs of Bizarre Crises
138
Rung 22 Declaration of Limited Nuclear War
139
THE IMPORTANCE OF CRISES CONCEPTS
149
Crisis and Damage Limitation2
153
Seven Basic Options
154
A Proposal for ABM Deployment
157
A Proposal for Evacuation Preparations
159
Some Pros and Cons
162
Conclusion
166
MILITARY AND CIVILIAN CENTRAL WARS
167
The Rungs of Military Central Wars
170
Rung 33 SlowMotion CounterProperty War
172
Rung 34 SlowMotion Counterforce War
173
Rung 36 Constrained Disarming Attack
174
Rung 37 CounterforcewithAvoidance Attack
178
Rung 38 Unmodified Counterforce Attack
179
Rung 39 SlowMotion Countercity War
182
Rung 40 Countervalue Salvo
183
Rung 43 Some Other Kinds of Controlled General War
184
Rung 44 Spasm or Insensate War
194
SOME COMMENTS ON WARFIGHTING
196
The Need for Limited Objectives If Deterrence Fails and the Consequent Central Role of Negotiation
200
Bargaining in a Central War
205
The Problem of the Fog of War
211
DEFECTS OF THE ESCALATIONLADDER METAPHOR
214
Criteria for Evaluating the Position of Rungs
216
The Question of Style
217
Objections to the Upper Rungs
220
DEESCALATION AND ITS AFTERMATH
230
Approaches to Deescalation
233
Learning to Cooperate Systems Bargaining?
234
Setting Precedents More Systems Bargaining?
236
WarFighting or Hostile Aspects
237
An Aspect of Crisis Management
238
Aftermaths of Deescalation from the Upper Rungs
242
OTHER ASPECTS OF ESCALATION AND CRISES
244
Various Ways of Viewing Crises and Escalation
245
Strategy and Tactics
246
CrisisManagement Problems
255
Conflict Management Crises Escalation and Arms Control
260
European Defense Policy A Suggestion for a Proportionate Nuclear Reprisal Force
264
How Will Escalation Be Handled in the Twentyfirst Century?
269
RELEVANT CONCEPTS AND LANGUAGE FOR THE DISCUSSION OF ESCALATION
275
INDEX
301
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About the author (2009)

Herman Kahn (1922-1983) was a renowned political scientist, economist, historian, geostrategist, and considered by many to be the founder of futurology as a serious field of study. Associated for many years with the RAND Corporation, he was the founding director of the first independent "think tank," the Hudson Institute. Among his many books are Thinking About the Unthinkable, The Year 2000, The Next 200 Years, The Coming Boom, The Resourceful Earth, and On Thermonuclear War. Thomas C. Schelling is Distinguished University Professor at the School of Public Policy, University of Maryland. In addition to being the 2005 Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics, he is the author of numerous works, including Choice and Consequence, The Strategy of Conflict, and Micromotives and Macrobehavior.