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Coercion, Survival, and WarWhy Weak States Resist the United States$
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Phil Haun

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780804792837

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804792837.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Introduction
Coercion, Survival, and War

Phil Haun

Stanford University Press

This chapter introduces the question of why the United States so often fails to coerce weak states. Coercion is defined as the threat of force or restricted use of force to convince a target to comply with a challenger’s demands. In asymmetric interstate conflict a powerful challenger chooses between accommodation, brute force or coercion. The chapter includes a table and summary statistics for the thirty asymmetric crises between the United States and weak states since World War II. The chapter considers conventional non-rational and rational explanations for coercion failure and introduces an alternative explanation based on a weak state’s survival concerns. The chapter concludes by reflecting on why the United States would knowingly make coercive demands that threaten survival and offers an explanation based on the desire to lower the diplomatic and political costs of going to war.

Keywords:   coercion, asymmetric interstate crisis, accommodation, brute force, coercive strategy, survival, war, rational, non-rational

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