Asymmetric Warfare and the Will to Win   [open pdf - 653KB]

This thesis explores the will to win in asymmetric war. Asymmetric war, in which one side has an overwhelming advantage over its opponent, will likely be the war of the future for the United States in the post-Cold War uni-polar world. To win an asymmetric war, the individual and then the masses must be motivated to fight and, ultimately, the will to win must be cultivated and sustained for victory. Religion is a highly effective motivator for both the individual and the masses. This motivation, when properly directed, can provide the will to win in the face of overwhelming odds. This thesis focuses on religion as the primary motivator in an asymmetric war. Religion is a strong motivator for the individual because of four factors: appropriateness, identity, rationality, and religion's strength as an internally consistent logic. With a highly motivated individual, an organization gains specific advantages by focusing on the religious aspects of the conflict. These advantages are: commitment, legitimacy, membership, and longevity. These are the measurable elements that create a strong will to win. Three case studies - Iran and Iraq, Hezbollah and Israel, and the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) and Algeria - are explored as examples of contemporary asymmetric conflict. These case studies are used to examine the asymmetries between the countries in conflict and test the validity of our theory about the significance of the will to win.

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