Deterrence-terrorism: the use of strategic terrorism as the basis of deterrence in theory and in the case of Hezbollah-Israel, 2006-2020
Elgindy, Mahmoud Ahmed
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This thesis seeks to examine the dynamics of strategic terrorism when implemented in the pursuit of deterrent, rather than compellent effects. In doing to so, it addresses a gap in the theoretical literature concerning terrorism as a coercive strategy. The focus of existing studies on compellent terrorism, to the neglect of its potential for deterrence, results in an inability to understand how terrorism may be used to sustain the status-quo. This theoretical consideration is reflected in an empirical case of deterrence, as identified in inductive studies. The study of Hezbollah’s strategy of deterrence vis-à-vis Israel in the years since 2006 features both threats of terrorist violence by Hezbollah, and military restraint on part of Israel. Against this background, the aims of this thesis are twofold; theoretically, to examine if threats of terrorism can be used to pursue deterrent effects. In other words, to conceptually distinguish the novel subtype deterrence-terrorism, to stand alongside existing nuclear and conventional deterrence. To assess the analytical utility of the concept, this study seeks to examine if deterrence-terrorism can explain the deterrent dynamic between Hezbollah and Israel from 2006-2020. This thesis seeks to solve the question of terrorism’s deterrent potential through theory building in the form of deductive reasoning. Herein a novel concept; deterrence-terrorism is proposed to clarify the implications of existing theory in cases where threats are formed through terrorism. In this study, terrorism, defined here as violent, extra-normal and symbolic actions, was applied to the abstract framework of deterrence in accepted theory. Empirically and in pursuit of confirming utility, this concept of deterrence-terrorism was then applied in a theory driven plausibility probe, examining if deterrence-terrorism by Hezbollah has caused military restraint by Israel. This thesis found that the influence of threats through terrorism on the general deterrence practices of forming a credible threat and signalling are sufficient bases for the consideration of deterrence through terrorism as unique type, alongside existing nuclear and conventional architypes. In the case of Hezbollah and Israel from 2006-2020, empirical analysis suggests necessary evidence is present that deterrence-terrorism has caused military restraint in the studied period. As a result, the analytical utility of deterrence-terrorism is confirmed.
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