Robert Jervis Security Dilemmas Summary

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In the article, Offense, Defense, and the Security Dilemma, Robert Jervis argues that the security dilemma is more lethal and that the international conflict is more likely to occur when the offense has an advantage over defense. Robert Jervis also maintains that, when a defense is prominent the chance of war and conflict decreases exponentially. Throughout the article, Jervis makes multiple compelling arguments regarding the offense-defense balance and the security dilemma. The security dilemma exists when "many of the means by which a state tries to increase its security and decrease the security of others." Security dilemma provides a rational foundation referred to as the ‘spiral model’, which is a term used in international …show more content…

Jervis argues that war will be brisk and conclusive and hence beneficial, so greedy states will view war as more tempting. Taking after the fundamental rationale of the security dilemma, states will be more erratic, making expansion more substantial, which makes war more alluring to states looking for security. And, the point of interest of attacking first develops with the offensive advantage, which builds the likelihood of increase in crises through defensive attacks and accidents. Robert Jervis states, “Three beneficial consequences follow. First, status-quo powers can identify each other, thus laying the foundations for cooperation. Conflicts growing out of the mistaken belief that the other side is expansionist will be less frequent. Second, status-quo states will obtain advance warning when others plan aggression… The third beneficial consequence of a difference between offensive and defensive weapons is that if all states support the status-quo, an obvious arms control agreement is a ban on weapons that are useful for …show more content…

While his ideas can work well to explain how adversaries think normatively in deciding on defensive/offensive strategies (although I cannot help but think that they work better in explaining what did occur than what would or could happen), their applicability to the types of international conflicts that bedevil today's world leaders is at least less apparent. For who would ascribe to religiously-inspired terrorists the same analytical thought patterns as, presumably, by their avowed enemies?
Can we assume that Al-Qaeda, and its offshoots, for example, employ the same self-preservation thinking, when there clearly are, in their view, greater rewards waiting in the next world for opposing the infidel? Personal safety, or even the survival of their populace, does not appear to be a variable in the calculus of opposition, and even death itself seems to be the noblest sacrifice for a cause so fanatically

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