Use of Force Article Review

  • Length: 5 pages
  • Sources: 1
  • Subject: Terrorism
  • Type: Article Review
  • Paper: #55061980

Excerpt from Article Review :

Force: Examining the Most Relevant Articles

The article "The Four Functions of Force" by Robert Art details exactly that: the main purposes for using force in a given situation. Those purposes are as follows: defense, deterrence, compellence and swagger. While these reasons are indeed distinct, as Art demonstrates, it can be difficult from time to determine the exact purpose that a particular state has selected. In this sense, the main issue revolves around the fact that it can be challenging to determine clearly the motives of a given state at any time. Examining the first use of force, defense, it can be described as mainly using military power to reduce destruction to oneself if attacked, and to help motivate decisions to act early. Art describes deterrence as "the threat of retaliation to prevent something undesirable from happening" (2012). This move for deterrence can be focused at a particular group of people or an industrial infrastructure and its effectiveness is based on the ability to demonstrate that as a force one has the will and power to punish. Both defense and deterrence are designed to protect state or allies in from a physical attack. Both have a focus on dissuading and desiring to not persuade others to take harmful action against one. When it comes to defense and deterrence, their success depends on "a) quantitative balance of forces between state and adversary b) qualitative balance of forces i.e. does the states military technology favour defense or offense" (Art, 2012).

On the other hand, Art describes compellence as the deployment of military power to thwart an adversary from continuing a particular action and to attempt to impact an adversary to engage in a new action (2012). As Art describes, this can be either physical or peaceful. Both deterrence and compliance are distinguished by their active/passive use of force. Finally, swaggering refers to the use of military power for needs not connected to defense, deterrence of compliance, but which is usually a function of increasing the ultimate and overall prestige of a given state (Art, 2012).

On the other hand, in "The Diplomacy of Violence" Schelling maintains that a subtle but important distinction between the ideas of deterrence and compellence: these slight differences are necessary to understand what he views as "the diplomacy of violence." One of the most memorable statements from this article is the following: "The diplomacy of violence is the art of coercion and intimidation" (1966). Schelling firmly believes that because modern weapons technology has dramatically changed the nature of war, making it more punitive than seeking to acquire land or people, it simply isn't accurate to view military strategy in the traditional science (Schelling, 1966). Schelling argues that this is the age of nuclear weapons, and that military power is not so much exercised as it is threatened over people -- thus creating what he believes to be the diplomacy of violence, creating a premium on the mastery of threat methodologies, such as deterrence and compellence (Schelling, 1966). Thus, as Schelling explains, deterrence is the threat intended to prevent an adversary from starting something, whereas compellence is what he views as the threat or push to an adversary to do something -- to engage in some manner. Thus, the overall distinction is founded on the timing and the overall initiative in who is compelled to make the first move, and who's initiative is ultimately being tested (Schelling, 1966). Schelling offers a clear example -- deterrence might be as simple as burning escape bridges behind one.

Likewise, the chapter, "The Shape of Violence Today" illustrates an ultimate decline with international and civil wars despite the fact that criminal violence is growing each day. The World Bank demonstrates that his is a fact that needs to better appreciated by our species as a whole. Violence has declined in the international and civil arena, pointing perhaps to the fact that as the world becomes smarter and better educated, it is also becoming more peaceful. The number of wars is decreasing, as are the numbers of people getting killed in battles. This chapter demonstrates that on a global level it is possible that we're becoming more peaceful, though on a street level this is not the case. While some might argue with this, one can't dispute the numbers. For instance, the number of genocide deaths per world population was thousands of times higher decades ago. A range of theories exist for this, one of which is connected to IQ. Testing the IQs of world populations demonstrates that with each decade, teenagers are smarter than the previous decade, thus, creating a gentler, kinder world. Criminal violence is on the rise, most likely because we've been recovering from a global economic crisis and that conditions of instability in finance create breeding grounds for more crime and violence.

On a slightly different note, Bruce Hoffman is able to redefine terrorism in a compelling and meaningful manner which helps people to view it through a new perspective with a more persuasive definition. Hoffman pushes for viewing terrorism as a political concept which is a key attribute that he argues that is necessary for understanding the pillars which shape and impact terrorism, and the motivations and goals of terrorism. "Terrorism, in the most widely accepted contemporary usage of the term, is fundamentally and inherently political. It is also ineluctably about power: the pursuit of power, the acquisition of power, and the use of power to achieve political change. Terrorism is thus violence -- or, equally important, the threat of violence -- used and directed in pursuit of, or in service of, a political aim" (Hoffman, 1998). This is an important point to bear in mind, Hoffman argues, as one can support the idea of a terrorist as someone who tries to further his own views through a system of coercive intimidation (Hoffman, 1998). Another detail that Hoffman offers which is an important distinguishing detail, is that in order for a criminal act to be qualified as a terrorist act, the violence needs to be pushed forth by a particular organizational entity with a structure that has an element of conspiratorial structure and a concrete chain of command that moves beyond a single individual moving on his or her own (Hoffman, 1998). This leads to an incredibly noteworthy point of Hoffman, which is that terrorism is more than anything an "altruistic" individual: "he believes that he is serving a 'good' cause designed to achieve a greater good for a wider constituency -- whether real or imagined -- which the terrorist and his organization purport to represent. The criminal, by comparison, serves no cause at all, just his own personal aggrandizement and material satiation" (Hoffman, 1998). In this manner, Hoffman makes it abundantly clear that a terrorist "without a cause" is not actually a terrorist at all. A terrorist and acts of terrorism are characterized by politically founded aims and motives, violence, far-reaching psychological repercussions with a set chain of command and are often perpetrated by a subnational group or non-state entity (Hoffman, 1998).

On a connected note, Robert Pape details the motivations and methodologies which thrive and exist behind terrorism, ultimately finding that suicide terrorism is rising all over the world, but the most common explanations do not really shed light on the motivations which allow this phenomenon to thrive. Answers like religious fanaticism are insufficient in understanding what motivates so many terrorists and psychological explanations have also frequently been contradicted by increasingly large ranges of socioeconomic backgrounds which does not help in advancing the understanding of suicide terrorists at all (Pape, 2003). Pape's article seeks to aggressively advance the understanding of this dynamic, collecting a strong gathering of suicide terrorist attacks from 1980 to 2001, which all contrast the existing explanations for the reasons which motivate…

Cite This Article Review:

"Use Of Force" (2014, February 12) Retrieved January 17, 2017, from

"Use Of Force" 12 February 2014. Web.17 January. 2017. <>

"Use Of Force", 12 February 2014, Accessed.17 January. 2017,