Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Emeritus Cecil V. Crabb, Jr


Over forty years since the Korean War, Americans continue to face limited war as a fundamental challenge to their security. In order to help the public to deal more effectively with the problem, this study seeks a pragmatic understanding of limited war (i.e., one in which it is possible to judge in retrospect the cumulative practical results of previous limited wars). In achieving that goal, two other objectives are sought: first, to model and critically evaluate two types of knowledge used by policymakers to wage limited wars; and, second, to detail the development of such knowledge from its historical origins in the Korean War. The first model of knowledge dealt with is the deductive theory of limited war. In order to assess the policymaking impact of the theory, the study addresses the following questions. What framework does the theory provide for limited war strategy? What variables are identified by the theory to which policymakers must give specific strategic content? What logic does the theory associate with the successful employment of limited war strategy? What strategic use did policymakers make of the theory? The second model of knowledge dealt with is derived from Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger's 1984 speech to the National Press Club. Reformulated to allow for a comparison of five limited-war case studies, the Weinberger criteria provide five open-ended questions. What interests were used to justify the commitment of troops to combat? What were the political and military objectives to be accomplished? What were the main decisions regarding and consequences of mobilization? What were the levels and timing of public support relative to combat? What combination of military and nonmilitary means were used to achieve political objectives?