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Coercion--the use of threatened force to induce an adversary to change its behavior--is a critical function of the U.S. military. U.S. forces have recently fought in the Balkans, the Persian Gulf, and the Horn of Africa to compel recalcitrant regimes and warlords to stop repression, abandon weapons programs, permit humanitarian relief, and otherwise modify their actions. Yet despite its overwhelming military might, the United States often fails to coerce successfully. This report examines the phenomenon of coercion and how air power can contribute to its success. Three factors increase the likelihood of successful coercion: (1) the coercer's ability to raise the costs it imposes while denying the adversary the chance to respond (escalation dominance); (2) an ability to block an adversary's military strategy for victory; and (3) an ability to magnify third-party threats, such as internal instability or the danger posed by another enemy. Domestic political concerns (such as casualty sensitivity) and coalition dynamics often constrain coercive operations and impair the achievement of these conditions. Air power can deliver potent and credible threats that foster the above factors while neutralizing adversary counter-coercive moves. When the favorable factors are absent, however, air power--or any other military instrument--will probably fail to coerce. Policymakers' use of coercive air power under inauspicious conditions diminishes the chances of using it elsewhere when the prospects of success would be greater.
China, Iran, Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan are critical players in the security and economic issues that will determine the future of Central Asia and affect U.S. interests in the region. By assessing the developing relations between Central Asia and its neighbors, it is evident that each country stands to benefit from stability and economic growth in Central Asia, but opinion toward U.S. presence and policy in the region could be a point of conflict.
Iran is one of the United States' most important foreign policy concerns. It has also been an extraordinarily difficult country with which to engage. Ironically, while the leadership has been hostile to the United States, Iranian society has evolved in ways friendly to the United States and U.S. interests. This monograph assesses current political, ethnic, demographic, and economic trends and vulnerabilities in Iran. For example, the numbers of young people entering the Iranian labor force are at an all-time high. The authors then provide recommendations for U.S. policies that might foster trends beneficial to U.S. interests. For example, greater use of markets and a more-vibrant private sector would contribute to the development of sources of political power independent from the current regime. The authors finally note a need for patience. Even if favorable trends take root, it will take time for them to come to fruition.
Securing Tyrants or Fostering Reform? U.S. Internal Security Assistance to Repressive and Transitioning Regimesby Olga Oliker Peter Chalk Seth G. Jones Rollie Lal C. Christine Fair
This study examines the results of U.S. assistance to the internal security forces of four repressive states: El Salvador, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Efforts to improve the security, human rights, and accountability of security forces appear more likely to succeed in states transitioning from repressive to democratic systems. In addition, several factors are critical for success: the duration of assistance, viability of the justice system, and support and buy-in from the local government (including key ministries).