Strategic Competition: Beyond Peace and War

By Daniel Burkhart and Alison Woody Joint Force Quarterly 86

Major Daniel Burkhart, USA, is a Strategist (FA-59) with operational experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. Alison Woody was an intern with the Army Capabilities Integration Center at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

The struggle for power is universal in time and space and is an undeniable fact of experience. . . . International politics, like all politics, is a struggle for power.

—Hans Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace

The struggle Morgenthau describes results in an evolving international distribution of power. After World War II, the majority of global power was divided between two poles until the fall of the Soviet Union gave rise to a unipolar system. The transformation of the international order continues today as rising powers join established powers, such as the United States, Japan, and the European Union, on the international stage.1 Although a more balanced distribution of power may have economic and humanitarian benefits, political and military tensions frequently accompany major transitions in the international order.2 Beyond the strains inherent as rising powers clash with those more established, the lack of globally dominant hegemons in a system of distributed power creates opportunities for revisionist state and nonstate actors to pursue their own, sometimes perilous, ambitions.3

CV-22 Osprey from 8th Special Operations Squadron flies members of deployed aircraft ground response element over Hurlburt Field, Florida, during Emerald Warrior, DOD’s only irregular warfare exercise, May 2, 2014 (U.S. Air Force/Jasmonet Jackson)

CV-22 Osprey from 8th Special Operations Squadron flies members of deployed aircraft ground response element over Hurlburt Field, Florida, during Emerald Warrior, DOD’s only irregular warfare exercise, May 2, 2014 (U.S. Air Force/Jasmonet Jackson)

As the global balance of power shifts, the United States will face several complex challenges requiring innovative responses, and indeed, is already facing rivals that it cannot optimally engage. Referred to by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph F. Dunford as the “four-plus-one challenges” (Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and the so-called Islamic State), these rival actors are evading U.S. strength by competing at a level below the threshold of a coercive U.S. or allied military response.4 These revisionist state and nonstate actors are working to contest the rules and norms established in the post–World War II order to create a system more sympathetic to their interests.

Although strategic competition is not a new phenomenon, planning and resource processes and current U.S. military doctrine are tailored to a paradigm in which the United States views its relations with other strategic actors as binary, within a context of either peace or war. In this view, military power is most applicable during hostilities, and certain actions are only permissible during a time of war.5 This restricted view leaves space for rivals to achieve their strategic objectives in conditions that do not constitute armed conflict. By operating in ways that do not evoke a military response, they are able to exploit U.S. processes.6 Consequently, the current modus operandi does not fully account for the utility of the U.S. military in conditions outside of armed conflict.

Recently, some security professionals have referred to these in-between activities as taking place in the gray zone. This term refers to an approach characterized by activities such as irregular warfare, low-intensity conflict, and gradual operations. As the term suggests, the gray zone is a form of competition accompanied by ambiguity concerning the actors involved, the nature of the conflict, and the relevant policy and legal frameworks.7 Revisionist actors are engaging in gray zone activities to increase their relative power in the global system.

While the idea of a gray zone contributes to our understanding of the operating environment given the challenge of contested norms, the joint force would benefit from a more comprehensive approach. This article introduces a way to view the operating environment using a model comprised of three conditions: cooperation, competition below armed conflict, and armed conflict. These conditions account for both war and peace as well as the gray zone in between. In addition to delineating competition as the gap between peace and war, the “conditions-based model” identifies an active role for the joint force within cooperation and details a unique understanding of armed conflict. The model also provides organization and context to enable decisionmakers to consider and offer guidance for the role of the military instrument of power in all conditions.

This article begins by charting a framework for the conditions-based model, clarifying the mechanisms of this model, and presenting a theoretical rationale for its adoption. The following sections describe the three conditions by providing definitions, outline typical activities and a historical example reflecting each condition, and briefly illuminate ways in which the joint force could operate in the context of this model.

Conditions-Based Model

The international system is a vastly complex and densely populated network comprised of actors with interests and relationships that are overlapping to various degrees and, at times, conflicting. To understand the dynamics within this intricate system, one must necessarily simplify or generalize aspects of it. A model provides a framework for organizing ideas wherein some aspects of reality are abstracted to produce insight regarding something of special importance. While simplification is necessary in a model, it must also be nuanced enough to resemble reality. The conditions-based model attempts to reflect dynamics that already exist in the operating environment while providing a framework for thinking about and organizing relationships in the international system. Rather than being predictive, this model is a guide to understanding interactions between actors of strategic importance. Additionally, it assumes rational actors, defined as states having situational awareness of their external environment and behaving logically to achieve their own goals.8 While a historical examination of state relations on a case-by-case basis would generate fewer exceptions than model-based understanding, models have great use for delineating overarching frameworks. Moreover, this model is limited in scope to those actors in the operating environment viewed by the implementer of the model as strategically important, whether they be state or nonstate actors.

At Brookings Institution, February 23, 2017, General Dunford assessed risk posed by Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and violent extremism <br />(DOD/D. Myles Cullen)

At Brookings Institution, February 23, 2017, General Dunford assessed risk posed by Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and violent extremism (DOD/D. Myles Cullen)

In the conditions-based model, the term condition describes the way in which two strategic actors are associated in the international system. The three conditions used to categorize relationships are cooperation, competition below armed conflict, and armed conflict. The model pertains to the state or nonstate actor as a whole and concerns all its instruments of strategic power: diplomacy, information, military, and economics (DIME). The three possible conditions result from the interaction of interests, the importance of those interests, and the capabilities available to advance them. Since rational actors behave according to their interests, the activities they employ are indicative of the condition at hand. For each strategic relationship, the actor using the model must identify the current condition and the desired condition, the latter being that which the actor hopes to bring about based on internal interests and ambitions. The way in which the user of the model perceives the intersection of both actors’ interests and intentions results in a categorization of the current condition. To provide clarity of explanation, this section refers to Red and Blue, two imaginary strategic actors in the international system.

Although a single actor may engage in various activities reflecting different intentions, classifications of conditions are mutually exclusive. For instance, while Red and Blue may cooperate economically and compete militarily, all activities in their relationship are component elements of the underlying condition.9 Additionally, while the model does not imply that the three conditions follow a linear progression, there is an implied hierarchy of coercive measures employed. The lowest level condition is cooperation, since actors primarily use cooperative activities to facilitate mutually beneficial relationships. Coercion is more central to the condition of competition below armed conflict, while armed conflict involves the highest intensity of coercive force. Since a rational actor will not engage in activities that reflect a higher level of coercive intensity than their interests dictate, the highest level activity is indicative of the current condition between two actors.

Actors will always have multiple interests, which will vary in importance, priority, and feasibility. An actor employing the conditions-based model will conduct a cost-benefit analysis to determine the level of priority of a given interest. For instance, Red may strongly disagree with Blue’s environmental policy. Blue’s policy inflicts some cost on Red, but this cost does not significantly impinge on Red’s high priority interests. Should Red choose to take military action to counter this policy, Red would be inciting a war over a relatively low-priority interest. Instead, Red would more likely seek to counter this policy through sanctions or negotiations.

In addition to the relative importance of an interest, available capabilities are a limiting factor in an actor’s determination to pursue an interest. Perhaps the Blue government is kidnapping and killing Red citizens, and the Red government is unable to resolve the situation through any means short of war. However, in this case, Red is a nonstate actor with limited power and scope, negligible military might, and meager financial resources. Red may indeed attempt to take military action despite its relative weakness, but this enterprise is likely to result in the annihilation of Red as an actor on the international stage. A more prudent option for Red would be to undermine Blue’s violence through other means or make concessions.

Instead of attempting to make predictions about state behavior, this model provides insight and context for decisionmaking. Policymakers may more accurately understand and respond to actions of other actors, while military professionals are enabled to provide best military advice and convey intent. Taking a simplistic view of this model, an interest will be either high or low priority and the actor will have either high or low capability for acting on that interest. Of course, this is an intentionally reductionist view and, in reality, interests will fall on a scale of greater complexity and nuance.

Actors’ intentions and interests determine conditions, but perception is also important in this model for two reasons. The first is the problem of imperfect information: one actor cannot know another’s intentions with certainty (for example, Red may think that Blue is cooperating, when Blue is actually competing). Second, there is an alignment problem: two actors’ intentions regarding each other may differ (for example, Red may compete with Blue, while Blue is cooperating with Red).10 Therefore, some amount of interpretation and speculation is necessary to categorize relationships. Reality and perception may not always align, but any actor seeking to classify a relationship according to this model must work diligently to limit the gap between truth and its interpretation.

Returning now to our fictional actors, Red chooses to employ the conditions-based model and begins by examining several factors about the actor in question, including Blue’s behavior, capabilities, ideology, experience, and statements. This examination informs Red’s perception of Blue’s interests and intentions. In addition, Red must account for the reality of its own interests regarding Blue, and consider Blue’s perception of Red’s interests and intentions. After Red cultivates an understanding of these elements, Red decisionmakers can make a determination regarding relations with Blue according to one of the three conditions: cooperation, competition below armed conflict, or armed conflict. Once Red identifies the current condition it is in vis-à-vis Blue, it must decide whether it is advantageous to remain in this condition or to try to change the nature of relations to reflect the desired condition.

Thinking about strategic relationships in terms of these three conditions provides several advantages. Compared to a limited peace/war model, the conditions-based model is more descriptive in its portrayal of reality through its accounting of activities below the threshold of armed conflict. It addresses perception biases, identifies conditions resulting from interests, and outlines possibilities for influencing conditions. This all-encompassing approach to categorizing relations with an actor, in lieu of piecemeal responses to each individual action, provides a greater context for decisionmakers to set policy aims. In addition, the model enables policymakers to maintain continuity of perspective and articulate condition-based guidance for interacting with any given actor. It offers a useful way of organizing perceptions, interests, and intentions in order to think more clearly and plan effectively. The following sections describe the three conditions in more depth, provide examples reflecting each condition, and briefly illustrate the role of the joint force in the context of this model.

HH-60 Pave Hawks from 33rd Rescue Squadron, 943rd Rescue Group, and Japan Air Self-Defense Force fly in formation behind MC-130J from 17th Special Operations Squadron during exercise Keen Sword 17, November 7, 2016, near Okinawa, Japan (U.S. Air Force/Stephen G. Eigel)

HH-60 Pave Hawks from 33rd Rescue Squadron, 943rd Rescue Group, and Japan Air Self-Defense Force fly in formation behind MC-130J from 17th Special Operations Squadron during exercise Keen Sword 17, November 7, 2016, near Okinawa, Japan (U.S. Air Force/Stephen G. Eigel)


The peace/war paradigm lends a passive connotation to actors not in conflict, even though various instruments of national power are required to actively maintain and strengthen peace. Mutually beneficial relationships between actors with similar or compatible high-priority interests are the basis for the condition of cooperation. In the global context, cooperation occurs in a variety of forms and across a range of issues, including, for example, security, nuclear nonproliferation, environmental issues, and economics. Actors may cooperate over the long term or they can cooperate on a specific issue in an isolated instance. Activities within a condition use various instruments of power. Cooperative activities across DIME instruments could include friendly diplomatic actions, training exercises to increase interoperability, security cooperation, and economic partnerships.

One example of bilateral cooperation is the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. According to this agreement, Japan acts as a host nation to U.S. forces, and the United States is committed to defending Japan and essentially responsible for Japanese security.11 Since 1960, the United States and Japan have perpetuated a symbiotic security relationship, and the longevity of this alliance is evidence that the two countries’ interests are more compatible than incompatible.12 In the context of the Cold War, the alliance allowed Japan to concentrate its efforts on rebuilding its economy while the United States was able to maintain a forward presence in East Asia and extend its nuclear umbrella. This forward strategy allowed the United States to observe Soviet maritime movement in the region.13 Today, both countries are invested in maintaining the status quo power balance in the Far East. Over time, the United States and Japan have negotiated the terms of the alliance and adjusted them to meet the changing needs of both actors. Security cooperation has been enhanced by an increase in military-to-military engagement, benefiting force and intelligence interoperability.14

Cooperation is strategically important for the United States. It underpins the current international order, enhances collective security, helps to ensure access to global commons, enables burden-sharing, and deters conflict.15 Military power supports and enables cooperation in many ways. Joint force participation in military engagement builds trust and enables information-sharing with U.S. partners.16 Joint actions such as nation assistance and foreign humanitarian assistance bolster friendly relations and cooperation efforts.17 Show of force and enforcement of sanction missions augment deterrence and assure partners of U.S. resolve. Assurance is also vital for enabling nations to maintain military forces at levels unlikely to trigger arms races.

Competition Below Armed Conflict

The condition of competition below armed conflict exists when two actors in the international system have incompatible high-priority interests and one or both actors engage in or intend to engage in behavior that will be detrimental to the other’s interests. The incompatible interest is either too low a priority or too difficult to attain given actor capabilities to rise to the level of open armed conflict. To be an act of competition, the behavior must negatively affect another actor’s vital interests or suggest that future activities are likely to do so. Competitive intentions may become apparent over time, as in the case of coercive gradualism, where an aggregate of seemingly benign actions could over time change the environment in a manner contrary to the interests of another actor.18

Regarding the instruments of power, diplomatic acts of competition could include espionage and sabotage. Information operations range from deception and disinformation techniques to propaganda. The military aspect of power can be employed through proxy warfare, guerrilla tactics, covert operations, or a mix of covert and overt operations. Economic activities in competition can take the form of sanctions, trade barriers, or tariffs. Competitive behavior is often asymmetric and can include criminal action employed for political gain, terrorism, and annexation of foreign territory. Competitive behavior is normally covert, ambiguous, gradual, indirect, or some mixture thereof.

Conditions are perspective-dependent. For instance, the Ukrainian government perceived Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the ensuing disorder in 2014 as armed conflict, but from the point of view of the United States, it reflected a condition of competition below armed conflict. Russia’s behavior was consistent with the Kremlin’s interest in geostrategic expansion to former Soviet territories.19 By preparing the “battlefield,” President Vladimir Putin was able to create an opportunity to accomplish his goals without engaging the West in armed conflict. Preparations included a robust information operations offensive, consisting of a heavy barrage of propaganda targeting Russian-speaking viewers of state-run media in the near abroad.20 As the expansion unfolded, Russian tactics included espionage and both covert and overt military action.21 Even though Putin engaged the military instrument of power, he did not consider the behavior as constituting war, and he neither declared war nor stated an intention to seize Crimea.22 Repeated denials of Russian involvement from the Kremlin also contributed to widespread confusion about the actors involved in the crisis. The international community did not take military action in the conflict, most likely because analysis revealed the cost of intervention would outweigh any resultant benefits. As the risk of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization military backlash subsided, Russian forces gradually transitioned to more overt uses of force.23

Proxy warfare is another manifestation of competition below armed conflict when considered from the perspective of actors employing the proxies, since the parties in question are not using their own forces for overt coercive military action. Consider, for example, the Houthi insurgency currently unfolding in Yemen. Analyzing this situation from multiple points of view demonstrates how the conditions-based model, using binary interactions as a building block, can be applied to complicated situations involving multiple state and nonstate actors.

Yemen is composed of a diverse population with a fractured political system plagued by sectarian fighting and economic crises.24 Alliances there shift frequently; actors must constantly evaluate their relations with others to determine the current condition. In 2011, the previous centrality of power dissolved when President Ali Abdullah Saleh resigned following youth-led uprisings and was replaced by then–Vice President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.25 The government remained weak, thus allowing various groups such as the Harak southern separatists, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and the Houthi rebels to control most of the country.26 After a gradual consolidation of power and transformation into a militia, the Houthis fought their way to the capital and, in January 2015, removed Hadi from power.27

At the local level, these events reflect a power struggle between various tribal and sectarian alliances, domestic political parties, and the military. From a regional perspective, the crisis in Yemen has become indicative of the geopolitical competition for influence between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The former perceives Yemen as a border-state vulnerable to Iranian influence that requires its careful attention, as illustrated by Saudi financial contributions to Yemeni domestic political actors.28 Saudi Arabia has opposed the Houthis through both direct military and economic action, reflecting a condition of armed conflict between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis.29 Iran is cooperating with the Houthi rebels by providing financial and material support.30 Saudi Arabia and Iran are engaged in a broad competition, not armed conflict, since Iranian forces are not openly fighting Saudi Arabian forces.

U.S. activities in the condition of competition below armed conflict can aim at either directly accomplishing U.S. goals or countering the advancement of adversaries. U.S. military activities are a critical component of achieving and maintaining national security interests within the condition of competition. Joint actions to counter rival actors include security force assistance, building partner capacity to improve collective deterrence, show of force, counterterrorism, and foreign internal defense.31

Yemen's Frontlines

Armed Conflict

When one or both actors have extremely incompatible high-priority interests and sufficient capabilities to pursue these interests, they are likely to enter into a condition of armed conflict.32 The value of the interest is such that the actor is unable to continue operating according to the status quo and becomes willing to risk crossing the threshold into open armed conflict. Armed conflict is not ubiquitous, and the intensity ranges from limited warfare to traditional great power warfare and even to total war with nuclear weapons. Activities reflecting the condition of armed conflict are hostile in nature and employ the overt use of coercive military power against another actor in the international system.33 This use of force can target civilian or military citizens, infrastructure, or resources, and may result in adversary retaliation. Once one actor escalates the condition to armed conflict, the other must decide whether to engage the opponent’s military forces and continue to operate in armed conflict or use other means in an attempt to depart from armed conflict.34 Whether the activity triggers a military response depends on a variety of factors, including the value of the object in view, the scale of the attack, the actor’s available capabilities, and the desired condition from the point of view of the target actor.

Activities reflecting the condition of armed conflict involve coercive use of DIME instruments of power. One role of diplomacy in this condition is to communicate the conditions of war termination directly or through the cessation of diplomatic interaction. Information operations can include cyber attacks to impede or destroy the opponent’s capabilities. Military action in the condition of armed conflict can aim to either contain, defeat, or destroy an enemy. Economic activities reflecting the condition of armed conflict can include embargo, sanctions more severe than those used in competition, and the use of naval, air, and/or ground forces to cut the adversary off from resources.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the ensuing conflict between Japan and the United States is an example of two great powers crossing the threshold of armed conflict and engaging in traditional warfare. Given the magnitude of U.S. power at the time, many have contemplated and studied Japan’s reasons for what appeared to be “national suicide.”35 While it is beyond the scope of this article to dissect the substantial literature surrounding causes of war, this model asserts that armed conflict occurs when high-priority interests are not reconcilable through measures short of coercive force.36 Analyses of the attack on Pearl Harbor present varying arguments about the direct causes of war, but it is evident that Japan and the United States had directly incompatible interests at the time: Japan sought expansion into Southeast Asia and U.S. interests prioritized the prevention of this expansion.37 Although neither government desired war with the other, a series of events resulted in misperception and miscalculation and led the Japanese government to conclude that it had no acceptable alternative.

Although the destructive nature of war makes it an undesirable option, strategic actors may view armed conflict as the best available means to achieve their political ends. The high level of coercion implicit in armed conflict aims to affect another actor’s cost-benefit analysis so that the other believes the costs to his own entity will outweigh the benefits of pursuing whatever interest is in question. As Clausewitz stated, “War is thus an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will.”38 The military is the instrument of power most capable of incurring costs on the adversary. The joint force must be prepared to prevail in open armed conflict. The military instrument of power has utility both for offensive coercive purposes and for defending against the threat of external coercion. Thus, the primary purpose of the U.S. military is to fight and win the Nation’s wars.39

Soldiers begin loading supplies on UH-60 A+ Black Hawk, February 22, 2012, as part of task force to provide humanitarian assistance at request of government of Montenegro after heavy snowfall (U.S. Army/Edwin Bridges)

Soldiers begin loading supplies on UH-60 A+ Black Hawk, February 22, 2012, as part of task force to provide humanitarian assistance at request of government of Montenegro after heavy snowfall (U.S. Army/Edwin Bridges)

The uncertainties of the future and the realities of the present require a paradigm shift in the way the joint force views the operating environment. Even as the joint force must be prepared to prevail in war, it has significant utility for conditions outside of armed conflict. The conditions-based model is a comprehensive approach to understanding strategic relationships in an increasingly complex world. Categorizing relationships in terms of cooperation, competition below armed conflict, and armed conflict equips joint leaders with an improved lexicon for providing best military advice and conveying intent. Furthermore, the model has utility beyond the joint force, offering a basis for all instruments of national power to achieve policy aims with a consistent view of U.S. strategic relationships. JFQ


1 Examples of rising powers include Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

2 Henry Kissinger, World Order (New York: Penguin Books, 2015), 212–233.

3 John J. Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (New York: Norton, 2001), 341: “Power asymmetries among the great powers are more commonplace in multipolarity than bipolarity, and the strong become hard to deter when power is unbalanced, because they have increased capability to win wars.” See also John J. Mearsheimer, “Why We Will Soon Miss the Cold War,” in Conflict After the Cold War: Arguments on Causes of War and Peace, ed. Richard K. Betts, 4th ed. (New York: Pearson, 2012), 18–34; Thomas H. Henriksen, “The Coming Great Powers Competition,” World Affairs 158, no. 2 (Fall 1995), 63–69.

4 See Colin Clark, “CJCS Dunford Calls for Strategic Shifts: ‘At Peace or at War is Insufficient,’” Breaking Defense, September 21, 2016, available at <>.

5 In this instance, “war” can be either declared or part of an active contingency plan.

6 Christopher Paul, “Confessions of a Hybrid Warfare Skeptic,” Small Wars Journal (March 3, 2016), available at <>.

7 U.S. Special Operations Command, The Gray Zone, white paper, September 9, 2015.

8 States may exhibit behavior that appears irrational due to imperfect information. See John J. Mearsheimer, “Reckless States and Realism,” International Relations 23, no. 2 (June 2009), 241–256.

9 Competition in this model reflected by economic activities is distinct from economic competition. In the field of economics broadly, competition is understood to be a necessary and beneficial characteristic of open economies. In this model, competitive economic activities should be understood as activities undertaken when one actor intends to strategically compete for its vital interests. These activities are coercive and would likely include embargoes, tariffs, sanctions, among others.

10 “The true state of the military balance can be determined only by war; states’ intentions may be impossible to determine, even after the fact and with all the relevant records open for inspection.” See Robert Jervis, “War and Misperception,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 18, no. 4 (Spring 1988), 675–700.

11 Yukio Okamoto, “Japan and the United States: The Essential Alliance,” The Washington Quarterly 25, no. 2 (2002), 59–72.

12 George R. Packard, “The United States–Japan Security Treaty at 50: Still a Grand Bargain?” Foreign Affairs 89, no. 2 (March–April 2010), 92–103.

13 Ibid.

14 Ibid.

15 Patrick M. Cronin, Mira Rapp-Hooper, and Harry Krejsa, Dynamic Balance: An Alliance Requirements Roadmap for the Asia-Pacific Region (Washington, DC: Center for a New American Security, 2016), available at <>.

16 Joint Publication (JP) 1-0, Doctrine for the United States Armed Forces (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, 2013).

17 JP 3-0, Joint Operations (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, 2011).

18 For example, China has expanded gradually into the South China Sea by constructing artificial islands, thereby expanding its territorial control and regional influence. Combined with other individual actions, such as its naval defense investment and issuance of an Air Defense Identification Zone, China’s behavior could eventually culminate in a permanent change in territorial holdings and dominance over the South China Sea.

19 Timothy Thomas, “Russia’s Military Strategy and Ukraine: Indirect, Asymmetric—and Putin-Led,” Journal of Slavic Military Studies 28 (2015), 445–461.

20 “Russian Propaganda: 1984 in 2014,” The Economist, March 29, 2014, 52, available at <>; “Putin’s Gambit: Russia and the Ukraine,” The Economist, May 10, 2014, 49, available at <>; Andrei Aliaksandrau, “Brave New War: The Information War Between Russia and Ukraine,” Index on Censorship 43, no. 4 (December 1, 2014), 54.

21 Philip Shishkin, “How Russian Spy Games Are Sabotaging Ukraine’s Intelligence Agency,” Wall Street Journal, March 11, 2015; Kristin Ven Bruusgaard, “Crimea and Russia’s Strategic Overhaul,” Parameters 44, no. 3 (Autumn 2014), 81–90; Dan Peleschuk, “Russia Today vs. Ukraine Tomorrow,” Maclean’s, March 16, 2015.

22 Ven Bruusgaard, 81–90.

23 Ibid.

24 Laura Kasinof, “How the Houthis Did It,” Foreign Policy, January 23, 2015.

25 Eric Schmitt and Robert F. Worth, “With Arms for Yemen Rebels, Iran Seeks Wider Mideast Role,” New York Times, March 15, 2012; Silvana Toska, “Shifting Balances of Power in Yemen’s Crisis,” Washington Post, September 26, 2014.

26 Schmitt and Worth.

27 Kasinof.

28 Frederic Wehrey, “The Authoritarian Resurgence: Saudi Arabia’s Anxious Autocrats,” Journal of Democracy 26, no. 2 (April 2015), 71–85; Peter Salisbury, Yemen and the Saudi-Iranian “Cold War” (London: The Royal Institute of International Affairs, 2015).

29 Wehrey, 71–85; Mona El-Naggar, “Shifting Alliances Play Out Behind Closed Doors in Yemen,” New York Times, January 25, 2015.

30 Salisbury, 1–13; Wehrey, 71–85; Schmitt and Worth; Kasinof.

31 JP 3-0, Joint Operations.

32 This model assumes that actors are rational.

33 The conditions-based model is designed for actors in the international system. Overt use of coercive force internal to one actor is beyond the scope of this model (including civil wars where none of the participants constitute a significant distinct nonstate actor or military force used against a country’s own citizens).

34 This action can take the form of concessions, surrender, negotiations, treaty, among others.

35 Scott D. Sagan, “The Origins of the Pacific War,” The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 18, no. 4 (1988), 893–922.

36 Causes of war studies parse the various reasons why interests may not be reconcilable short of war.

37 Sagan, 895.

38 Carl von Clausewitz, On War, eds. Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), 75.

39 “Coercion generates effects through the application of force (to include the threat of force) to compel an adversary or prevent our being compelled.” See JP 1-0, I-13.