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Strategic Problems of an International Armed Force

  • Thomas C. Schelling


The relation of an international military authority to the industrial (once nuclear) powers in a disarmed world is an intriguing one. We should not expect much success in finding an ideal strategy for it. It is hard enough to find one for the United States, Britain, or the Soviet Union in the familiar world of competitive military force.



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1 Something else not decided—and the language of this article must, for that reason too, be ambiguous—is how the international armed forces will fit into some larger organization. There will be some parliamentary of formalized diplomatic body at the top, and there has to be some executive authority, military or civilian, over the armed forces or over each separate service or command. Whether there will be some executive-administrative body above the armed forces (as with the United Nations Secretariat) or parallel to them (or even subordinate to them for purposes of procurement, research, etc.), whether the international armed forces will be purely military or jointly military and civilian, how much autonomy they will have—even whether, like the Roman senate during Hannibal's invasion, a distrustful political authority will appoint a partnership of generals who rule on alternate days—must go unstipulated.

2 NATO is seriously precluded from acknowledging certain contingencies and making plans for them by the political sensitivity of the issues. Similarly it is often reported that the Russian and Chinese communists feel constrained—or used to feel constrained—to argue by “proxy,” using Yugoslavia or Albania as euphemistic code words for Russia and China.

3 For a discussion of these human factors see Dicks, Henry V., “National Loyalty, Identity and the International Soldier” in this issue, pp. 425—443.

1 Thomas C. Schelling is Professor of Economics at Harvard University.

Strategic Problems of an International Armed Force

  • Thomas C. Schelling


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