Reassurance strategy: incentive for use and conditions for success
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Reassurance strategy is derived from a critique of deterrence strategy. It is the persuasion of one's opponent that a state has no malignant intentions to be an aggressor, demonstrated by limiting offensive capabilities, in order to reduce tensions and the possibility of war. The main research questions addressed in this dissertation are under what conditions is reassurance most likely to be an appropriate strategy, and what factors are associated with the success or failure of reassurance strategy. To answer the research questions, the case study method of "structured, focused comparison" was used. The three case studies include--a partial success case of South Korea toward North Korea, a failure case of the United States toward North Korea, and a success case of the Soviet Union toward the United States. From the case studies, this dissertation concludes that explanations based on any one theory (realism, liberalism, or constructivism), any one level of analysis (individual, state, or alliance), or any one party (sending or receiving state) alone cannot provide a satisfactory account for the outcome of reassurance strategy. An eclectic and broad approach incorporating two-party (the sending and receiving states) and three-level (leader, domestic politics and alliance politics) analysis, along with an understanding of the two states' circumstances and relations is necessary to increase the explanatory power. In sum, reassurance strategy must be viewed in the context of the individual, domestic, and international factors of both sending and receiving states. This dissertation shows that reassurance can succeed, but only when several conditions are met. Of these, leader's perceptions are the most important, but they alone cannot bring about change in the relations between two states unless other factors in the domestic and international environments are supportive.
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