Triadic Deterrence: Coercing Strength, Beaten by Weakness

Boaz Atzili*, Wendy Pearlman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Triadic deterrence is the situation when one state uses threats and/or punishments against another state to coerce it to prevent non-state actors from conducting attacks from its territory. Under what conditions is triadic deterrence successful? Some attribute outcomes to the balance of power between states. By contrast, we argue that the complex asymmetrical structure of this conflict requires attention to the targeted regime's relationship to its own society. The stronger the targeted regime, the more likely deterrent action will prove effective. Moving against non-state actors requires institutional capacity, domestic legitimacy, and territorial control, which only strong regimes are able to furnish. Whereas strong regimes can act to uphold raison d'état, weak regimes lack the political tools and incentives to undertake controversial decisions and enforce them. We illustrate this argument through analysis of between- and within-case variation in Israel's attempts to deter Palestinian groups operating from Egypt between 1949 and 1979, and from Syria since 1963.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-335
Number of pages35
JournalSecurity Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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