How the Weak Win Wars: A Theory of Asymmetric Conflict
How do the weak win wars? The likelihood of victory and defeat in asymmetric conflicts depends on the interaction of the strategies weak and strong actors use. Using statistical and in-depth historical analyses of conflicts spanning two hundred years, in this 2005 book Ivan Arregúin-Toft shows that, independent of regime type and weapons technology, the interaction of similar strategic approaches favors strong actors, while opposite strategic approaches favors the weak. This approach to understanding asymmetric conflicts allows us to makes sense of how the United States was able to win its war in Afghanistan (2002) in a few months, while the Soviet Union lost after a decade of brutal war (1979-89). Arreguín-Toft's strategic interaction theory has implications not only for international relations theory, but for policy makers grappling with interstate and civil wars, as well as terrorism.
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adversary adversary’s Afghan Civil War Afghanistan analysis argues argument armed forces arms diffusion army artillery asymmetric conflict outcomes authoritarian regimes barbarism strategy battle Boca Britain British brutal campaign capture casualties Caucasus Chechnia Coffey COIN strategy colonial combat command conquest conventional attack strategy conventional defense costs Daghestan defeat democratic strong actors destroy effective enemy escalate Ethiopian explains fight fought guerrilla warfare interest asymmetry Italian Italo-Ethiopian Italy Italy’s killed leadership loses/tie same-approach Mack Mack’s Merom military mujahideen Murid Mussolini mustard gas noncombatants North Vietnam offensive operations opposite-approach interactions Orange Free Pakenham Panjsher percent political vulnerability regime type relative material power relative power resistance Russian Shamil small wars soldiers South Africa Soviet strategic approach strategic interaction thesis STRATINT strong actor failure strong actors tactics target Transvaal troops United victory Vietnam Vietnamese Voronzov war’s weak actors wins same-approach World World War II