The gunfighter's dilemma: multiple adversary deterrence and coercion
Palmer, Jess D.
Stebbins, Mark L.
Zacherl, Andrew M.
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Throughout history great powers have had to wrestle with the problem of maintaining their influence over the world around them. Often these powers were simultaneously faced with more than one opponent. In order to meet multiple challenges, leading nations have had to maximize the number of potential adversaries they could influence with each action or policy. Those faced with this dilemma have included the Romans, Byzantines, and the British Empire. Studying these nations in their struggle to maintain control revealed tactics and techniques that proved effective. Forward deployment, statements of perseverance, the use of coalitions, strategic distraction of opponents, and the demonstration of their relative superiority over adversaries all helped to preserve the longevity of these empires. Additionally, an effective information campaign, which amplified successes, proved invaluable to these world powers. This thesis explores how a single action often affects more than just the two parties taking and receiving action. It then discusses the flow of how the information content of foreign policy actions transfers from the primary actor to multiple secondary actors. We then use historical cases of multi-adversary deterrence and coercion as models of how our hypotheses, coupled with a good information strategy, maximized the studied powers' effectiveness.