What the Bombing of Hanoi Tells Us About Compellence Theory
Title: What the Bombing of Hanoi Tells Us About Compellence Theory
Author: DEKKER, Willem Martijn
Series/Number: EUI MWP; 2011/28
This paper analyses the dynamics of coercion and counter-coercion and argues that, for compellence to be successful, the opponent’s counter-coercive strategy must be undermined. Existing theories rely on a cost-benefit model in which the target state is expected to give in when its costs outweigh the benefits. The problem with the existing model is that it neglects strategic interaction. This paper presents an improved model by including an interaction term that represents the effect of the target’s counter-coercion. Because of the importance of this interaction term, it can be shown that the cost benefit model only holds if the level of counter-coercion is very low. If the level is high, the target state can win the coercive contest even if the costs outweigh the benefits. As a result, the target will hold out in situations where existing theories predict it will give in. This is possible even if the compeller has lowered its demands to acceptable terms for the target, if the target believes that its counter-coercion might cause it to achieve better terms. The new model is tested using Operation LINEBACKER II as a crucial case. The findings of this analysis provide strong evidence for the new model. No supporting evidence can be found for the main rival hypothesis, but supporting evidence can be found for the strategic interaction hypothesis. Although inferences drawn from a single case must necessarily be tentative, the fact that a crucial case was selected offers a certain measure of confidence in the conclusions drawn.
Subject: coercion; compellence; counter-coercion; Linebacker II; airpower
Type of Access: openAccess