Persuading Hamas: An Exploration of the Strategic Uses of Diplomacy, Actions, and the Media for Coercion during the War in Gaza

20 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2014

Date Written: 2014


Deterrence, compellence, and other forms of coercion have constituted one of the central research areas of International Relations scholarship for decades. Despite the importance of this literature to the field, IR scholarship exploring the functional means by which signals are delivered for coercion is severely lacking. In an anarchic system, how can an actor effectively influence the perception of the decision makers of the adversary in order to convince them to accede to demands? Since no statements or actions can be considered unambiguous in anarchy, understanding the mechanics of how coercive messages are delivered is a key step in measuring the effectiveness of attempts at deterrence and compellence. Particularly given the changes in communication that have accompanied the digital revolution – especially those elements of communication that are critical to conflict situations – these issues are taking on an ever-greater importance to political and military decision makers. This paper seeks to remedy this theoretical oversight by continuing to explore a new model for explaining the relationship between signaling paths and the eventual success of coercion in war that was first outlined in a paper prepared for the 2012 APSA conference. Building primarily on the coercion literature, as well as on related work from the fields of political psychology and communications theory, this paper further develops a model which traces the different outcomes associated with signals sent via actions, diplomacy, and public channels, and hypothesizes how the use of each of these three signaling paths can best be employed to maximize the probability of successful coercion in war. After an exploration of these theoretical questions, the explanatory value of the theory is demonstrated using examples gathered from the 2008-2009 war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.

Keywords: Israel, Hamas, Coercion, Diplomacy, Actions, Media, 2008, Gaza

Suggested Citation

Snow, Jonathan, Persuading Hamas: An Exploration of the Strategic Uses of Diplomacy, Actions, and the Media for Coercion during the War in Gaza (2014). APSA 2014 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Jonathan Snow (Contact Author)

Public Affairs ( email )

Salem, VA 24153
United States

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