For deterrence to be successful, it is essential that the generation agent understand the decision maker's perception of the value of their possession and achievement of their objectives. More specifically, achieving the objective of an expected behavior has a certain level of preciousness, or value, to the decision maker, the generation agent must know that value and also know the other possessions the antagonist has that may be perceived as even more precious.
Conflict is a state of being where the parties involved have primary objectives that are mutually exclusive. Theoretically, conflict could continue for perpetuity without being remedied or elevated to war. Most conditions called “peace” by theorists and historians are actually conditions of conflict that have not elevated to a war status.
War is state of being where violence is being used by one or more of the parties in a conflict to obtain resolution. The antagonist initiates war. Even on occasions, when the protagonist chooses to make a preemptive assault against an imminent attack by the antagonist, it was the antagonist that brought it about.
In 1941, the US chose to wait until the Japanese fleet bombed Pearl Harbor before responding against the Japanese. In post war surveys, the Japanese said that they didn’t believe the Americans would fight. They had seen videos of the US Army training with wooden guns. Those images reinforced the misplaced stereotype of a people who were not serious about fighting. They assumed the Americans would accept a negotiated peace, one where the Japanese controlled most of the land, people, and resources of the Pacific and Asia. Deterrence failed because the Japanese decision makers did not believe the Americans would have the will to go to the effort of taking their precious empire from them.
In 1967, Israel launched a preemptive strike in response to Egypt’s provocations fearing that Israel might not survive the imminent attack. The six-day war had many things that happened in the military and political realms, but one thing that happened is the Arab militaries were badly beaten and Israel gained control of much territory. If Nasser could have, somehow, been convinced that Arab losses would have been so great he would not have initiated the provocations that led to Israel’s response.
War is either limited or total in its purpose. A total war is a war with an objective of removing the other state’s government and replacing it with something else. A limited war is a war with an objective of less than removing the other state’s government and replacing it with something else. For example:
· World War II was a total war for both sides. The Axis powers wanted to remove the governments of the countries they conquered. The Allied powers sought to remove the governments of Japan and Germany, which they did.
· The American Civil War was a total war for the Union and a limited war for the Confederacy. The Union wanted to remove the government of the Confederacy and replace it with the government that used to be there. The Confederacy wanted to survive as a government; it never intended to topple the Union, just to sever themselves from it.
· The wars called Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom were total wars for the US. Even though tremendous restraint was used to limit collateral damage and loss of live, the objective was to replace the governments with something else. The Global War on Terror is being fought as a serious endeavor.
The goal of any war is always a better condition of “peace” than the condition of “peace” that preceded the war. After all, if the initial condition of peace had been acceptable, the conflict would never have elevated to become a war. Decision makers should carefully analyze the expected responses of antagonists and protagonists before they enter into the deadly game of provocation. Once the war begins, the actions that are executed will have great influence on the type of “peace” that follows the war. Wars that include great loss of life will have a strained peace at least until the generation that fought the war eventually loses its political influence.