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Secret Wars$
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Austin Carson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691181769

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691181769.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Introduction
Secret Wars

Austin Carson

Princeton University Press

This chapter argues that escalation control and a shared desire to limit war can motivate covert intervention up front, collusion by major powers that detect it, and official non-acknowledgment if it is widely exposed. Since World War I, large-scale escalation of war has become unacceptably costly, yet leader control of the escalation process has been simultaneously weakened. While a range of factors influence the escalation potential for war, this chapter focuses on two specific escalation-control problems: constraints created by domestic hawks and misunderstandings among adversaries about the value of limited war. It claims that backstaging military intervention allows rival leaders to insulate themselves and one another from domestic hawkish constraints. In addition, embracing the backstage communicates shared interest in keeping war limited. This basic relationship provides a unifying logic for the initial decision to intervene covertly, a detector's decision to collude after detection, and an intervener's continuing non-acknowledgment of a widely exposed intervention.

Keywords:   escalation control, limited war, covert intervention, collusion, official non-acknowledgement, escalation process, escalation potential, military intervention

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