Military Persuasion in War and Policy: The Power of Soft

By Stephen J. Cimbala | Go to book overview

10

Military Persuasion in War and Policy: Conclusion

REVISITING THEORY

Although all human conflict involves some degree of thinking, not all wars are exercises in military persuasion. Military persuasion is a special kind of psychological strategy. Strategy is the use of the most efficient and effective means to accomplish the goals of an individual or group: Parents, police, governments, robbers, and demonstrators all employ strategies of various kinds. Military persuasion is a psychological strategy with a political object that relates to the use or threat to use military power. Various forms or manifestations of military persuasion appear in politics: coercive diplomacy, psychological warfare, propaganda, negotiating and bargaining strategies, prestige policies, and others. A rich political tapestry in world politics can provide numerous illustrations for each kind of military persuasion.

It would be presumptuous to expect that we could even raise all of the important issues pertinent to military persuasion in a single study. The object was to open a door and walk part of the way through it. Our concept of military persuasion included five elements or attributes:

First, the object of a psychological strategy of military persuasion is to influence the will of the opponent, not necessarily to weaken his actual military capability or hardware. The idea is to upset the opponent's assumptions about the course of battle and his optimism about his control over events. This can be done by the use of threats, by actual combat operations, or by both means, but in any case it usually involves careful planning of intelligence and deception. Military per-

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