How do the weak win wars? The likelihood of victory and defeat in asymmetric conflicts depends on the interaction of the strategies weak and strong actors use. Using statistical and in-depth historical analyses of conflicts spanning two hundred years, in this 2005 book Ivan Arreguin-Toft shows that, independent of regime type and weapons techlogy, the interaction of similar strategic approaches favors strong actors, while opposite strategic approaches favors the weak. This approach to understanding asymmetric conflicts allows us to makes sense of how the United States was able to win its war in Afghanistan (2002) in a few months, while the Soviet Union lost after a decade of brutal war (1979-89). Arreguin-Toft's strategic interaction theory has implications t only for international relations theory, but for policy makers grappling with interstate and civil wars, as well as terrorism.
Ivan Arreguin-Toft is Fellow at the International Security Program, the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He has authored numerous conference papers and his articles have appeared in International Security and The Cambridge Review of International Affairs. He is a veteran of the US Army where he served in Augsburg, Germany as a military intelligence analyst from 1985 to 1987.