Military Persuasion in War and Policy: The Power of Soft

By Stephen J. Cimbala | Go to book overview

8

Military Persuasion and Small Wars

Small wars and military peace operations are not identical, either in their objectives or in the preferred methods for conducting them. But they share at least one important commonality: Psychological strategy is as important, if not more important, than actual combat. Small wars and peace operations are won or lost in the minds of participants and observers. Victory or defeat is tabulated not by body count but by the sum of allegiance or disaffection that the various combatants or peacekeepers can call upon. War, or antiwar in the case of peace operations, is about cultural and social privations and priorities. Most often in the 1990s, small wars were ethnonationalist or religious conflicts resulting from the decline of legitimacy in failed or failing states, but there were many other causes too numerous to mention here. The complexity of causes made the design of peace wars, intended to terminate small wars growing out of various causes, all the more difficult.

This chapter considers the demands made upon U.S. and allied forces in peace operations and small wars. First, we review existing concepts having to do with small wars, including so-called unconventional wars and low-intensity conflicts. This conceptual thicket cries out for some clarity, and we offer a small contribution in this regard. Second, we discuss some U.S. armed forces doctrine for organizing and conducting military “operations other than war” (OOTW). 1 Third, we consider the special complexities of urban conflict, since the next century may see more warriors and peace operators tasked to work in urban environments. Fourth, we discuss the problem of conducting small wars or peace operations with allies, using U.S. relations with NATO as il-

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