Robert Jervis – Global Homework Experts


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Robert Jervis has contrasted two views of international relations. One is based on the notion of deterrence and explains that states must be strong in order to prevent wars. The other is based on the spiral model. It explains that being strong may be counter-productive, and identifies the ‘Security Dilemma’. The root of this dilemma is the following fact: actions one undertakes in order to defend oneself may appear aggressive and threatening to others, who may feel they have to respond with actions that they consider necessary for their defense, but which appear threatening to oneself, etc.. . It is possible for both sides in a conflict to have defensive aims, but to drive each other into ever more threatening responses so that the security of all is diminished.

It is natural to conclude from this analysis that everyone should make sure his defensive deployments and actions do not threaten others and do not appear to threaten others. For example, the search for non-provocative the defense has been prominent in the West European security debate for a number of years. Recently the Soviets have also started to characterize their security policy by the phrase ‘defensive-defense.’ But is it possible to have a the defensive posture that is effective yet non-provocative? Is it possible to have a defensive defense? One of our goals is to answer these questions. The security dilemma is especially important in the nuclear age. While preventing nuclear war is obviously a goal common to all, the nuclear forces of one may appear threatening to others, and may therefore drive the arms race and reduce crisis stability. As a result, it may even lead to an accidental or inadvertent nuclear war.


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