Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Stratagem in asymmetry: Nonstate armed groups' use of deception
by Jessee, Devin Duke, Ph.D., Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University), 2011, 378; 3475330
Abstract (Summary)

The primary question this dissertation seeks to answer is: What factors affect whether nonstate armed groups (NSAGs) employ deception and what kind of deception strategy they target against an adversary?

The thesis proposes the endgame theory of deception, which is called such because it argues that for NSAGs engaging in deception, outcome is more important than process, planners, or target levels, and NSAGs sometimes use tactical or operational measures to achieve strategic results. The theory states that given an NSAG’s aim to use deception against a state target, then five requirements summarized by Abram Shulsky—strategic coherence, an understanding of the target, an infrastructure to coordinate deception and security, channels to feed false information, and the ability to receive feedback—as well as the target’s counterdeception capabilities and the threat presented to the NSAG by the target are the primary factors that affect whether the NSAG can engage in behaviorally targeted deception (BTD) or status quo deception (SQD), two new models proposed as part of the theory, and the likelihood it will use one deception type over the other.

With BTD, the deceiver employs deception to change a target’s behavior. In SQD, the deceiver employs deceptive tactics to keep an adversary on a status quo course until the deceiver can affect a chosen end.

This study tests these propositions against al Qaeda’s, Hezbollah’s, and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s use of deception in historical cases. The study’s findings suggest that if an NSAG fulfills Shulsky’s requirements, it will be able to engage in deception; however, to use SQD, it can maintain less robust channeling and feedback capabilities than would often be needed for BTD. The paper finds that weak target counterdeception helps make deception possible for the NSAG, and also concludes that the threat level presented by the target to the NSAG is the primary variable that determines what kind of deception—BTD or SQD—the NSAG chooses; high threat appears to increase incentives for the NSAG to turn to BTD.

This work is intended to add to the academic literature about deception and to propose a theory that national security scholars and practitioners can use to help predict when and what types of deception an NSAG adversary could use in the current era of asymmetric warfare.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Shultz, Richard H., Jr.
Commitee: Gunaratna, Rohan K., Pfaltzgraff, Robert L., Jr.
School: Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University)
Department: Diplomacy, History, and Politics
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 73/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Modern history, International Relations, Political science
Keywords: Deception, Nonstate armed group, Terrorist
Publication Number: 3475330
ISBN: 978-1-124-93485-3
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