Cover: Operations Against Enemy Leaders

Operations Against Enemy Leaders

by Stephen T. Hosmer

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Abstract

Operations targeted against senior enemy leaders have long been viewed as a potential means of shaping the policy and behavior of enemy states. As a result, the United States has launched a variety of overt and covert operations in efforts to attack enemy leaders directly, facilitate their overthrow by coup or rebellion, or secure their ouster through external invasion. This book examines a number of leadership attacks from World War II to the present to offer insights into the comparative efficacy of various forms of leadership attacks, their potential coercive and deterrent value, and the possible unintended consequences of their ill-considered use. The book concludes that direct attacks, coups, and rebellions have met with only limited success and, even when successful, have sometimes yielded counterproductive results. Moreover, neither direct attacks nor coups have been of significant coercive or deterrent value, although rebellions have at times provided useful negotiating leverage. By contrast, external invasions have proved to be more efficacious both in shaping the targeted countries’ policy and behavior and in exerting coercive effects. The book concludes by outlining the likely conditions under which future leadership attacks are likely to be sanctioned and by delineating the prerequisites of effective use of air power in such contexts.

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Table of Contents

  • Preface PDF

  • Tables PDF

  • Summary PDF

  • Acknowledgements

    Acknowledgments PDF

  • Abbreviations PDF

  • Chapter One

    Introduction PDF

  • Chapter Two

    Attacking Leaders Directly PDF

  • Chapter Three

    Facilitating Coups or Rebellions PDF

  • Chapter Four

    Taking Down Regimes with External Military Force PDF

  • Chapter Five

    Concluding Observations PDF

  • Bibliography PDF

Book Review Excerpts

"Hosmer is one of RAND's best analysts, a sober student of contemporary military affairs… Hosmer considers direct attacks, coups, rebellions, and invasion and comes to a gloomy conclusion: leadership attacks are difficult to pull off."

- Foreign Affairs

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The research described in this report was performed under the auspices of RAND's Project AIR FORCE.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

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