Nudging Toward Rationality in Middle Eastern Rivalries
Routledge – 2013 – 328 pages
This book offers a reconceptualisation of conventional deterrence theory, and applies it to enduring rivalries in the Middle East.
The work argues that many of the problems encountered in the development of deterrence theory lay in the fact that it was developed during the Cold War, when the immediate problem it had to address was how to prevent catastrophic nuclear wars. The logic of nuclear deterrence compelled a preoccupation with the problem of stability over credibility; however, because the logic of conventional deterrence is different, the solution of the tension between credibility and stability is achieved by deference to credibility, due to the requirements of reputation and costly signaling.
This book aims to narrow the gap between theory and evidence. It explores how a reconceptualization of the theory as a process that culminates in the internalization of deterrence within enduring rivalries is better suited to account for its final success: a finding that has eluded deterrence theorists for long.
This interdisciplinary book will be of much interest to students of deterrence theory, strategic studies, international security, Middle Eastern studies and IR in general.
"Lieberman challenges traditional deterrence theory, arguing that the concepts developed to explain Cold War rivalries are not suitable for non-nuclear (conventional) deterrence. He uses as case studies the Egyptian-Israeli rivalry up to 1973 and the tension between Israel and Hezbollah." - Survival
"Looking at deterrence theory and history through the lens of “a learning process,” as is so well detailed in this book, will enable the strategic thinker to see beyond solitary military crises and find the reasons behind periods of stability. Reconceptualizing Deterrence adds greatly to our understanding not only of the Middle East, but of deterrence in general, and the painstaking process it takes to maintain it." - Matthew R. Costlow
"This thoughtful study, which centers primarily on the Israel–Egypt relationship, offers a convincing response to the literature on conventional deterrence…this well-written, nicely organized, and judiciously argued book brings insights to an important subject. Its lasting relevance is clear in the short penultimate chapter that explores the deterrence relationship that appears to have emerged between Israel and Hezbollah after their 2006 confrontation in Lebanon."
"The book is a major contribution to the literature on conventional deterrence… classic deterrence theory is insufficient to explain the Indo-Pak nuclear situation (Sridharan 2007: 9-10). The book under review comes in very handy here. The author’s thrust on credibility in the conventional sense, as against stability in the nuclear sense, can prove to be significant tool to analyze the feasibility of deterrence getting established in the conventional context of the ongoing India Pakistan rivalry."
1. Theoretical Considerations 2. The Israeli-Egyptian Rivalry, 1948-1973 Part I: From Failure to Success, 1948-1967 Part II: Turning Point: The Six-Day War Part III: "Design Around I": The War of Attrition Part IV: "Design Around II" The Yom Kippur War 3. The Israeli-Hezbollah Rivalry Conclusion
Elli Lieberman is a Lecturer on International Relations at the Missouri State University, Department of Defense and Strategic Studies and at Loyola University Maryland. His work has appeared in Security Studies, the Institute for National Strategic Studies, and several books. He is a MacArthur Scholar recipient.