Strategic Surrender

The Politics of Victory and Defeat

by Paul Kecskemeti

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Abstract

A 1958 study dealing with strategic surrender as a problem in political theory and, in particular, with the surrender policy of the Western Allies in World War II. The context in which this theoretical problem arises is that of the transition from war to peace when one side is completely victorious. Four major cases of strategic surrender are examined to show the interaction of strategic constraints and of political desires and beliefs in shaping the concluding stage of hostilities. It is concluded that the "unconditional surrender" formula of World War II was ill conceived, that no surrender, not even Germany's, was entirely unconditional, and that in some cases the Allies actually harmed themselves by pursuing that unattainable goal.

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