Wendy Pearlman and Boaz Atzili investigate this strategy, which they term triadic coercion. They explain why states pursue triadic coercion, evaluate the conditions under which it succeeds, and demonstrate their arguments across seventy years of Israeli history. This rich analysis of the Arab-Israeli conflict, supplemented with insights from India and Turkey, yields surprising findings. Traditional discussions of interstate conflict assume that the greater a state’s power compared to its opponent, the more successful its coercion. Turning that logic on its head, Pearlman and Atzili show that this strategy can be more effective against a strong host state than a weak one because host regimes need internal cohesion and institutional capacity to move against nonstate actors. If triadic coercion is thus likely to fail against weak regimes, why do states nevertheless employ it against them? Pearlman and Atzili’s investigation of Israeli decision-making points to the role of strategic culture. A state’s system of beliefs, values, and institutionalized practices can encourage coercion as a necessary response, even when that policy is prone to backfire.
A significant contribution to scholarship on deterrence, asymmetric conflict, and strategic culture, Triadic Coercion illuminates an evolving feature of the international security landscape and interrogates assumptions that distort strategic thinking.
Wendy Pearlman is Martin and Patricia Koldyke Outstanding Teaching Associate Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University. She is the author of Occupied Voices: Stories of Everyday Life from the Second Intifada (2003), Violence, Nonviolence, and the Palestinian National Movement (2011), and We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria (2017).
Boaz Atzili is associate professor and director of the Doctoral Studies Program in the School of International Service at American University. He is the author of Good Fences Bad Neighbors: Border Fixity and International Conflict (2012) and coeditor of Territorial Designs and International Politics: Inside-Out and Outside-In (2018).
Reminiscent of the work of Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, an astonishing collection of intimate wartime testimonies and poetic fragments from a cross-section of Syrians whose lives have been transformed by revolution, war, and flight.
Against the backdrop of the wave of demonstrations known as the Arab Spring, in 2011 hundreds of thousands of Syrians took to the streets demanding freedom, democracy and human rights. The government’s ferocious response, and the refusal of the demonstrators to back down, sparked a brutal civil war that over the past five years has escalated into the worst humanitarian catastrophe of our times.
Yet despite all the reporting, the video, and the wrenching photography, the stories of ordinary Syrians remain unheard, while the stories told about them have been distorted by broad brush dread and political expediency. This fierce and poignant collection changes that. Based on interviews with hundreds of displaced Syrians conducted over four years across the Middle East and Europe, We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled is a breathtaking mosaic of first-hand testimonials from the frontlines. Some of the testimonies are several pages long, eloquent narratives that could stand alone as short stories; others are only a few sentences, poetic and aphoristic. Together, they cohere into an unforgettable chronicle that is not only a testament to the power of storytelling but to the strength of those who face darkness with hope, courage, and moral conviction.
In this book, Boaz Atzili argues that the process of state building has long been influenced by external territorial pressures and competition, with the absence of border fixity contributing to the evolution of strong states—and its presence to the survival of weak ones. What results from this norm, he argues, are conditions that make internal conflict and the spillover of interstate war more likely. Using a comparison of historical and contemporary case studies, Atzili sheds light on the relationship between state weakness and conflict. His argument that under some circumstances an international norm that was established to preserve the peace may actually create conditions that are ripe for war is sure to generate debate and shed light on the dynamics of continuing conflict in the twenty-first century.