In Chapter One: “The Diplomacy of Violence”of Arms and Influence, Schellingasserts that the traditional military strategy has become the diplomacy ofviolence. He supports his claim bymaking a distinction between brute force,taking what you want, and coercion”the diplomacy of violence” as using threats to force an adversary to comply.In addition, Schelling supports his claim by analyzing the strategic role ofpain and damage as well as the impact of nuclear weapons on military strategy.First, Schelling makes a clear distinctionbetween brute force and coercion in terms of strengths,intent,and the use offorce versus the threat of force. Schelling asserts that brute force isconcerned with enemy strength, not enemy interest.
On the other hand, thecoercive use of the power to hurt is the very exploitation of enemy wants andfears. Pertaining to intent, brute force intent was to destroy forextermination sake. For example, Indians being killed because authoritiescouldn’t confine them and decides to exterminate them. By way of contrast,coercion intent is to make an example out of someone if they fail to comply.For instance, If some Indians were killed to make other Indians behave, thatwas coercive violence-or intended to be, whether or not it was effective.Furthermore, Schelling asserts that the difference cannot quite be expressed asone between the use of force and the threat of force.
To further clarify,Schelling states that the actions involved in forcible accomplishment, on theone hand, and in fulfilling a threat, on the other, can be quite different. Lastly,coercion and brute force differ in relative versus absolute power. Brute forceis measured by relative power whereas coercion is not reduced by an adversaryability to hurt in return. Next, Schelling discusses the strategicrole of pain and damage. Schelling asserts that pure violence appears mostly inunequal countries with confrontation accusing at the end of a war. In addition, military victory is often aprerequisite to the exploration of the power to hurt.
Schelling employs theexample of Xenophon burning the villagesto show other tribes what would happen if they did not give in. On thecontrary, If enemy forces are not strong enough to oppose, or are unwilling toengage, there is no need to achieve victory as a prerequisite to getting onwith a display of coercive violence. For instance, American strategy to achievevictory over enemies by technology and geography of warfare.
This exampleillustrates that the American strategy in World War II kept coercive violence from being decisive beforemilitary victory. Lastly, Schelling disproves of the assertionthat man for the first time in history has enough military power to eliminatehis species from earth. Schelling asserts that this is false by referring tothe United States bombing on Japan.
In addition, he asserts that nuclearweapons can do it quickly. Furthermore, Schelling asserts that military forcehas usually had to penetrate, to exhaust, or to collapse opposing military force.For instance, the allies in WWI could not inflict coercive pain and sufferingdirectly on the Germans in a decisive way until they could defeat the Germanarmy; and the Germans could not coerce the French people with bayonets unlessthey first beat the Allied troops that stood in the way. Schelling concludesthat victory is no longer a prerequisite for hurting the enemy. Schelling then discusses the three stages inthe involvement of noncombatants.
The first stage (1648-Napoleonic era) peoplemay get hurt by inconsiderate combatants. Also, there was little concern withthe territory in which they lived had a new sovereign. Furthermore, hurting wasnot a decisive instrument of warfare. The second stage was characterized by warbeing a national effort. In addition, propaganda caused war to become vulgarized.In the third stage, if one can coerce people and their governments while war isgoing on, one does not need to wait until he has achieved victory. In conclusion, Schelling states thatcoercive diplomacy, based on the power to hurt, is commensurate with the powerto take and hold.
Furthermore, we are in an era in which the power to hurt hasbeen enhanced by modern technology. In addition, war is no longer a contest ofstrength rather a contest of pain and endurance. While Armsand Influence is now six decades old, the theme it stresses is especiallypertinent at a time with the current state of American foreign policy. In hisbook, Schelling asserts that modern military strength is based on the power tohurt.
It’s interesting to see whether or not the diplomacy of violence is a viable way to win a war.