What Is Military Coercion and What Factors Determine Its Success or Failure?

1499 Words Sep 27th, 2012 6 Pages
Military coercion strategy has long since existed as a means to enforce a desired set of outcomes, behaviours, or policies. The definition of coercion covers a lot of theoretical ground, including both compellence and deterrence. The successes and failures of military coercion can be seen through the mechanisms of, Destruction, Punishment, and Denial that theorists have argued are part of the methods of coercion. The effectiveness of military coercion may be linked to the credibility, capability and communication of a threat. These factors that determine what military coercion is are highlighted through historical examples, including the Cuban Missile Crises, nuclear warfare, counterinsurgency and the Kosovo air campaign.
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However, like destruction this process of punishment can be costly as well logistically troubling.
Lastly, denial seeks to change an enemy’s will to resist this achieved by reducing their perceived capability for resistance and reducing the enemy’s perceived options to a choice between surrendering now or later. This can be seen through the strategies of counterinsurgency, denial can be seen as a way of manipulating the costs of expanding insurgent activity to new locations. Russia currently uses the idea of denial when considering an approach of isolating centres of any insurgent activity from areas of non-violence, so as to avoid any reprisals of insurgency and convince such groups of an inability to succeed. Needless to say, denial is inherently linked to destruction as both mechanisms seek to make the objectives of any enemy unachievable in some sense and essentially focus on attacking the military resources and infrastructure so as to coerce them into taking an alternative approach or to stop all intentions.
Dr K Mueller further argues that coercion stems from the ‘three Cs’ – Credibility, Capability and Communications . These few factors will assist in determining whether military coercion is successful or has failed. According to Mueller a threat will only carry ‘coercive weight to the degree that the adversary believes the coercer will actually carry it out if compliance is not forthcoming.’ Ultimately, the
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