Calculating credibility : how leaders assess military threats /
Daryl G. Press.
Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University Press, 2005.
ix, 218 p.
0801443431 (cloth : alk. paper), 9780801443435 (cloth : alk. paper)
More Details
Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University Press, 2005.
0801443431 (cloth : alk. paper)
9780801443435 (cloth : alk. paper)
contents note
Theories of credibility -- The "appeasement" crises : German assessments of British and French credibility, 1938-39 -- Crises over Berlin : American and British assessments of Soviet credibility, 1958-61 -- Missiles in Cuba : American assessments of Soviet credibility, 1962.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Daryl G. Press is Associate Professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2006-09-01:
This is an interesting study that challenges one of the most widely accepted principles of international relations, the definition of what constitutes "threat credibility." Conventional wisdom holds that a country's credibility is determined by past actions. Press suggests, in his current calculus approach, that decision makers in crisis situations are less impressed with past actions of adversaries. Indeed, their focus is much more immediate and largely confined to current balance of power situations. A nation's power and that of its allies against the adversary are much more important than previous histories of backing down. Press also believes that some political leaders are misled into accepting that a high level of threat credibility is dependent upon action, hence the Vietnam War and its continuation. He uses three examples to make his point: the pattern of appeasement prior to WW II, which is his weakest, the 1958-61 crisis over Berlin, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Press's well-written, well-researched, and controversial piece will likely provide the grist for many discussions in graduate seminars in international politics and national security. University and professional libraries will find this book a worthy acquisition. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, researchers, faculty, and practitioners. A. C. Tuttle emeritus, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, September 2006
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Bowker Data Service Summary
'Calculating Credibility' examines - and ultimately rejects - a fundamental belief held by the makers of American foreign policy and laypeople alike: the notion that backing down during a crisis reduces a country's future credibility. Press looks at the decision-making processes behind key events in history.
Long Description
Finds that, contrary to received wisdom, a country's bombs and bullets are more important than its national reputation during international crisis.
Main Description
Calculating Credibility examines-and ultimately rejects-a fundamental belief held by laypeople and the makers of American foreign policy: the notion that backing down during a crisis reduces a country's future credibility. Fear of diminished credibility motivated America's costly participation in the Korean and Vietnam wars, and, since the end of the Cold War, this concern has continued to guide American policy decisions. Daryl G. Press uses historical evidence, including declassified documents, to answer two crucial questions: When a country backs down in a crisis, does its credibility suffer? How do leaders assess their adversaries' credibility? Press illuminates the decision-making processes behind events such as the crises in Europe that preceded World War II, the superpower showdowns over Berlin in the 1950s and 60s, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. When leaders face the prospect of high-stakes military conflicts, Press shows, they do not assess their adversaries' credibility by peering into their opponents' past and evaluating their history of keeping or breaking commitments. Power and interests in the current crisis-not past actions-determine the credibility of a threat. Press demonstrates that threats are credible only if backed by sufficient power and only if pursuing important interests. Press believes that Washington's obsession with the dangers of backing down has made U.S. foreign policy unnecessarily rigid. In every competitive environment-sports, gambling, warfare-competitors use feints and bluffs to tremendous advantage. Understanding the real sources of credibility, Press asserts, would permit a more flexible, and more effective, foreign policy. Book jacket.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introductionp. 1
Theories of Credibilityp. 8
The "Appeasement" Crises: German Assessments of British and French Credibility, 1938-39p. 42
Crises over Berlin: American and British Assessments of Soviet Credibility, 1958-61p. 80
Missiles in Cuba: American Assessments of Soviet Credibility, 1962p. 117
Conclusionp. 142
Notesp. 163
Indexp. 213
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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