Power and Madness: The Logic of Nuclear Coercion

By Edward Rhodes | Go to book overview

3
COERCIVE POWER AND COERCIVE STRATEGIES

SUCCESSFUL DETERRENCE requires coercive power. To understand what aspects of U.S. nuclear force posture are logically associated with successful deterrence and the role that irrationality might play, we must thus step back and examine the phenomenon of power--the ability to achieve a desired outcome in a situation involving some disharmony of interests.

Four questions arise. First, what is coercive power and what are the necessary and sufficient conditions for its existence? Second--a question prompted by the answer to the first--what does it mean to suggest that an opponent is coercible? Third, what are the logically possible modes of nuclear coercion? Fourth, what are the demands on rational action associated with each of these modes of coercion?


COERCIVE POWER

Power represents the ability to achieved a desired outcome.

Coercive power represents the ability to achieve a desired outcome by influencing another actor's behavior. More precisely, as Klaus Knorr has suggested:

When power is used coercively, an actor (B) is influenced if he adapts his behavior in compliance with, or in anticipation of, another actor's (A) demands, wishes, or proposals. B's conduct is then affected by something A does, or by something he expects A to do. In consequence, B will modify his behavior (if he would not have done so otherwise), or he will not change his behavior (if he would have altered it in the absence of external influence). 1

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Power and Madness: The Logic of Nuclear Coercion
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • INTROOUCTION 1
  • 1 - Mad and the Nuclear Deterrence Problem 19
  • 2 - Rationality and Irrationality 47
  • 3 - Coercive Power and Coercive Strategies 82
  • 4 - Credible Commitment and Modes of Commitment 107
  • 5 - Nuclear Weapons and Conflict Limitation 135
  • 6 - Doomsday Machines 155
  • 7 - Coercion and Contingently Irrational Behavior 171
  • 8 - Theory and Policy 203
  • Notes 231
  • Index 265
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