Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Arms and Influence

Arms and Influence

Copyright Date: 1966
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 303
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Arms and Influence
    Book Description:

    Traditionally, Americans have viewed war as an alternative to diplomacy, and military strategy as the science of victory. Today, however, in our world of nuclear weapons, military power is not so much exercised as threatened. It is,

    Mr. Schelling says, bargaining power, and the exploitation of this power, for good or evil, to preserve peace or to threaten war, is diplomacy-the diplomacy of violence. The author concentrates in this book on the way in which military capabilities-real or imagined-are used, skillfully or clumsily, as bargaining power. He sees the steps taken by the U.S. during the Berlin and Cuban crises as not merely preparations for engagement, but as signals to an enemy, with reports from the adversary's own military intelligence as our most important diplomatic communications. Even the bombing of North Vietnam, Mr. Schelling points out, is as much coercive as tactical, aimed at decisions as much as bridges. He carries forward the analysis so brilliantly begun in his earlierThe Strategy of Conflict(1960) andStrategy and Arms Control(with Morton Halperin, 1961), and makes a significant contribution to the growing literature on modern war and diplomacy. Stimson Lectures.

    Mr. Schelling is professor of economics at Harvard and acting director of Harvard's Center for International Affairs.

    "An exemplary text on the interplay of national purpose and military force."-Book Week."A grim but carefully reasoned and coldly analytical book. . . . One of the most frightening previews which this reviewer has ever seen of the roads that lie just ahead in warfare."-Los Angeles Times."A brilliant and hardheaded book. It will frighten those who prefer not to dwell on the unthinkable and infuriate those who have taken refuge in the stereotypes and moral attitudinizing."-New York Times Book Review.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-18670-3
    Subjects: Political Science, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. 1-34)

    The usual distinction between diplomacy and force is not merely in the instruments, words or bullets, but in the relation between adversaries—in the interplay of motives and the role of communication, understandings, compromise, and restraint. Diplomacy is bargaining; it seeks outcomes that, though not ideal for either party, are better for both than some of the alternatives. In diplomacy each party somewhat controls what the other wants, and can get more by compromise, exchange, or collaboration than by taking things in his own hands and ignoring the other’s wishes. The bargaining can be polite or rude, entail threats as...

    (pp. 35-91)

    No one seems to doubt that federal troops are available to defend California. I have, however, heard Frenchmen doubt whether American troops can be counted on to defend France, or American missiles to blast Russia in case France is attacked.

    It hardly seems necessary to tell the Russians that we should fight them if they attackus.But we go to great lengths to tell the Russians that they will have America to contend with if they or their satellites attack countries associated with us. Saying so, unfortunately, does not make it true; and if it is true, saying so...

    (pp. 92-125)

    If all threats were fully believable (except for the ones that were completely unbelievable) we might live in a strange world—perhaps a safe one, with many of the marks of a world based on enforceable law. Countries would hasten to set up their threats; and if the violence that would accompany infraction were confidently expected, and sufficiently dreadful to outweigh the fruits of transgression, the world might get frozen into a set of laws enforced by what we could figuratively call the Wrath of God. If we could threaten world inundation for any encroachment on the Berlin corridor, and...

    (pp. 126-189)

    Most of the wars we know of have been restrained wars—conditionally restrained, each side’s restraint somewhat depending on the enemy’s. “Unconditional surrender,” the announced aim of the Allies in the Second World War, sounds like an unbounded objective, and the national energies that went into that war were pretty unstinting. But the very idea of “surrender” brings bargaining and accommodation into warfare. Contrast “unconditional surrender” with “unconditional extermination.”

    Implicit in our demands for surrender was an understanding, a well-grounded expectation, that once Italy, Germany, or Japan laid down its arms it would not be treated to a massacre. In...

    (pp. 190-220)

    As a doctrine, “massive retaliation” (or rather, the threat of it) was in decline almost from its enunciation in 1954. But until 1962 its final dethronement had yet to be attempted. All-out, indiscriminate, “society-destroying” war was still ultimate monarch, even though its prerogative to intervene in small or smallish-to-medium conflicts had been progressively curtailed. Beyond some threshold all hell was to be unleashed in a war of attempted extermination, a competition in holocaust, a war without diplomacy and without “options” yet unused, a war in which the backdrop of ultimate deterrence had collapsed on the contenders—a war that would...

    (pp. 221-259)

    With every new book on the First World War it is becoming more widely appreciated how the beginning of that war was affected by the technology, the military organization, and the geography of Continental Europe in 1914. Railroads and army reserves were the two great pieces of machinery that meshed to make a ponderous mechanism of mobilization that, once set in motion, was hard to stop. Worse: it was dangerous to stop. The steps by which a country got ready for war were the same as the steps by which it would launch war, and that is the way they...

    (pp. 260-286)

    Nuclear age communications were dramatized by the Soviet-American hot line, a leased transatlantic cable with teletype machinery at both ends. Some people hailed it as a notable innovation; others were simply astonished that, in an age when one can directly dial his mother 3,000 miles away to wish her happy birthday, facilities did not already exist for a more urgent conversation. The hot line is a reminder that even in the era of Telstar and radio-dispatched taxis, facilities for quick communication between heads of government may not exist unless somebody has thought to provide them.

    The hot line was foreshadowed...

  11. INDEX
    (pp. 287-293)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 294-294)