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Comparing Deterrence

Wednesday, April 13th 2011

By: Indira Agustin/071012006

            As war was the first ultimate issue in the realm of international relations, several sides was said that war is becoming obsolete as the realists fall after the World War. It is becoming old because the liberalists had found the other way to reach the interests of international actors. Even every interest might be clashed and there would be some egoistic that emerged of the actors between states. The liberalists said that the conflict could be reduced by making arms control and disarmament, and also by the collective security (Mingst, 2008).

            War itself according to Mingst divided into two; they are general wars and limited wars. A general war was the war that we used to know, that using power to reach the target of actors and defeated the opponent. This general war usually fights using arm races and military forces between the great powers. It had always resulted a huge numbers of deaths, and seemed to give more loss than gain. The example of general wars was the civil wars. And the second is the limited war. These kinds of wars don’t mean to occupy the territory of the enemy. It prominently uses the soft power of the actors. But, by ignoring kinds of war, war still have so many bad impacts, either to the actors of war or the actors near them. The bad impacts were like the great number of deaths, destructions of infrastructures of the actors, degradation in economical realm, and so on. So that war is need to be deterred to not happening anymore.

            And deterrence of war is one of two realist’s ways to manage security besides the balance of power, while liberalist’s ways as I said were collective security and arms control and disarmament. War can be deterred by three assumptions; decision makers are rational, threat of destructions, and alternative to war. In the context of decision makers are rational, the decision of the leader is very important in here. How the leader can decide to avoid the war, by calculating the cost that should be paid if he still want to get the interest by war than by another way. The cost that will be paid might be more expensive than the value of the interest that they will get. The second is the threat of destructions. By gaining the military force that an actor has, it could be threat the opponent so that the opponent will be threaten and won’t be brave to fight with him. In this case, the attempt to strengthen the military force is worked in vice versa. So after several time, there might be appear the balance of power. And the third is alternatives to war. In the realm of international relations, there must be several something to be reached and avoided that same each other –common interest and common aversion. By those common, actors could do coordination to get what they need. It can reduce the cost if they try to reach together than if they try to get them by their self.

            In my opinion, this concept is little hypocrite. As the deterrence was the realists view, which the states are anarchy and war is the only way to get their interest, but why it have alternative ways to war by making coordination and collaboration which is the way of the liberalists.



Mingst, Karen. 2008. The Essentials of International Relations. Chapter 8. Pp 207-246

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