In This Review

Asymmetric Conflicts: War Initiation by Weaker Powers
Asymmetric Conflicts: War Initiation by Weaker Powers
By T. V. Paul
Cambridge University Press, 1994, 248 pp

This dissertation turned book looks at six cases of weaker states attacking stronger ones. Stripped of its political science superstructure, part of the reason they did it is that they thought they could get away with it. However, an ability to launch a limited surprise offensive and then assume the defensive helped, as did some expectation of patronage from other powers. In some cases, decision makers simply underestimated the resolve or capabilities of their opponents, which suggests that military power is more difficult to assess than it would appear in retrospect. This latter proposition deserves greater exploration than it receives here. Nonetheless, the case studies are well presented, and the argument clearly put.