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International crises in a sub-nuclear context. An analysis of crisis management during the crises of July 1914, Suez 1956 and the Falklands 1982.

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posted on 19.11.2015, 08:56 by J. (Jim) Broderick
This thesis examines theories of crisis management as they relate to 'sub-nuclear' crises, a term which refers to a class of international crisis occurring in an international system dominated by two superpowers, but not taking place directly between the United States and the Soviet Union. It is stressed that the approach adopted is not 'scientific' as are, for example, laboratory simulations and game theory analyses. However, the first two chapters do examine the nature of the theoretical models which underpin existing notions of crisis and crisis management and also formulate a definition of the term 'crisis' which is used in this thesis. Such a definition rests primarily on the perceptions of decision-makers themselves rather than on 'objective' systemic evaluations. Hence, the main unit of analysis is the decision-making group responsible for the formulation of policy. Yet, it is argued that a number of conceptual problems arise from an apparent predisposition, in the literature concerned with crisis and crisis management, towards the generation of theories which are designed primarily to explain the development of superpower crises. What is suggested is that a way of resolving these difficulties would be to try and reconcile the concept of 'crisis management' with that of the rationality of a use of 'limited war' as a means of ameliorating perceived political problems. It is noted that the purposes for which limited war was waged prior to the advent of nuclear weapons resemble the assumptions which govern behaviour observed during sub-nuclear crises. However, that there are significant factors which distinguish 'sub-nuclear crisis management' from both conventional crisis management and pre-nuclear era limited war strategies. The hypotheses of the first two chapters are tested in an analysis of the three historical crises which form the subject matter of the case studies: the crisis preceding the first world war, the Suez crisis of 1956 and the Falklands conflict of 1982. The concluding chapter of this study assesses the theory and practice of 'sub-nuclear crisis management' in the nuclear age.


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Politics and International Relations

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University of Leicester

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