War: Psychology and Deterrence

Context: Psychology and Deterrence

“(…)deterrence strategies often backfire by aggravating a nation’s sense of insecurity, thereby calling forth the very behavior they seek to prevent.” This kind of feedback loop is really quite foundational in the analysis of complex systems, of which strategic standoffs are a salient (and topical) instance.

Something which I haven’t (yet) read anything compelling on is the ways in which the large scale narratives and those variously pathological ideologies that natively orient themselves towards conflict appear to emerge and sustain themselves as a function of endemic (i.e. all too human) psychological factors in the populations they influence. Should we expect the perennial return of ideologues and tyrants were it not that the narratives they reinvent and so insidiously cultivate are always and already potential flashpoints of insecurity and identity inside the minds and symbolic life of a nation? That is, is the arrival of an autocratic imperialist (take your pick) a function of their own Machiavellian skill or is it as much, if not more, a function of the ebb and flow of tides of narrative archetype and symbolic abstraction? Is the arrival of the dictator a function of the crowd as a property of collaborative insecurities?

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