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date: 27 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Implementing deterrent and compellent strategies are among the most critical tasks of the national security decision maker. However, as the case of U.S.-Iranian relations since 1979 demonstrates, deterring another state from taking action—especially if it considers those steps to be in its national interests—or compelling it to adopt policies in line with one’s own preferences but which represent a setback to the goals of the other state can be a difficult proposition. In addition, the Iran relationship demonstrates howthe use of deterrent and compellent instruments must be weighed against costs and other second- and third-order effects which may cause the policymaker to accept a less than optimal outcome in order to avoid greater complications in other areas.

Keywords: deterrence, compellence, Iran, hostages, nuclear program

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