Triadic Coercion

Israel’s Targeting of States That Host Nonstate Actors

Wendy Pearlman and Boaz Atzili

Columbia University Press

Triadic Coercion

Google Preview

Pub Date: October 2018

ISBN: 9780231171847

384 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $65.00£50.00

Pub Date: October 2018

ISBN: 9780231548540

384 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $64.99£50.00

Triadic Coercion

Israel’s Targeting of States That Host Nonstate Actors

Wendy Pearlman and Boaz Atzili

Columbia University Press

In the post–Cold War era, states increasingly find themselves in conflicts with nonstate actors. Finding it difficult to fight these opponents directly, many governments instead target states that harbor or aid nonstate actors, using threats and punishment to coerce host states into stopping those groups.

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.
Both policy makers and scholars talk a lot about deterring state sponsors of terrorism, but until now we have lacked a serious study of the topic. With theoretical sophistication and careful empirical research, Pearlman and Atzili show that this approach can work, but paradoxically only if the host regime being targeted is strong. This is a major contribution to understanding an important topic. Robert Jervis, Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Politics, Columbia University
Two accomplished political scientists tackle an issue that has received little attention in the literature: dealing with nonstate actors by targeting their hosts. They find that Israel tends to adopt this strategy far more than Turkey and India, despite its mixed results, particularly when regimes of targeted states are weak. They persuasively attribute this to 'strategic culture' which often trumps sound decisions. A thoughtful and informative contribution. Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development, University of Maryland
Triadic Coercion will serve as a milestone in international relations theory and especially in the realms of deterrence and coercion theories. Pearlman and Atzili's book makes a significant contribution to the literature on asymmetrical conflicts and counterinsurgencies and to literature on the conflicts between Israel and its neighbors. Ami Pedahzur, University of Texas at Austin
Map of Israel and the Surrounding Region
Preface and Acknowledgments
1. Understanding Triadic Coercion
2. Israel’s Use of Triadic Coercion: Sources and Historical Evolution
3. Egypt Since 1949: Triadic Coercion from Raids to Peace
4. Syria Since 1949: Triadic Coercion from Coups to Revolution
5. Israel and the Palestinian Authority Since 1993: Strategic Culture in Asymmetric Conflict
6. Lebanon Before and Since 1965: Strategic Culture at War
7. Triadic Coercion Beyond the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

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).