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RELATIVE AND ABSOLUTE GAINS AND THEIR IMPACT IN THE DECISION MAKING PROCESSES OF CONVENTIONAL AND NUCLEAR WAR

by VEENEMAN, DENNIS RICHARD

Abstract (Summary)
This thesis attempts to contribute to the debate of why states go to war and what calculations dominate a state’s decision making process as it relates to war. This paper attempts to explain this by an examination of the relationship between the weapon environment of a prospective war and the decision calculus of states. To do this, this thesis draws on literature concerning deterrence and prospect theory as well as the broader international relations theoretical debate over state preferences. The thesis offers two heuristic case studies of the Cuban missile crisis and the Persian Gulf war to explore the potential conditional relationship that exists between the broad category of weapon types (conventional or nuclear) and state preferences (relative versus absolute gains calculations). Through these case studies this thesis suggests that the weapon system that defines the strategic environment is the main factor impacting whether a state will base its calculations to go to war in terms of relative or absolute calculations.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:University of Cincinnati

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:relative gains losses absolute prospect theory nuclear deterrence conventional

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2003

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