Military analysts have focused on the problems of war initiation and conduct while largely ignoring the problem of how to terminate war on acceptable terms. This paper attempts to define the necessary conditions for war termination and proposes a framework for assessing alternative termination strategies. Deterrence and limited war theories suggest three war termination strategies: (1) attrition of warfighting capabilities; (2) protracted stalemate; and (3) coercive threats of unacceptable damage. A review of recent armed conflicts indicates the limitations on effective pursuit of these strategies and reveals an alternative formulation of the conditions necessary for effective war termination strategies. Based on these notions, current U.S. force posture and force employment doctrines are evaluated in terms of their consistency with war termination requirements. Finally, an agenda of issues related to the development of war termination strategies is proposed.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.
Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.