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Questioning the efficacy of violence to achieve security : the 1991 Gulf War

Thomas, Claire


Claire Thomas


Thomas M., 1969 Kane


International Relations theory tends to assume that the use of violence is both necessary and effective. Supporters of non-violence however propose that violence is not effective to achieve ones aims. This study will question these contrasting perspectives by asking to what degree violence is effective in obtaining security in international politics. The study focuses on International Relations theory, testing its assumption that violence is effective against the case of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, a conflict that is often seen as a clear case for the success of violence. If the security benefits of this war cannot be proven clearly, then it brings the effectiveness of violence to build security into question. The study questions the effectiveness of violence in this case for three main areas: territory, military power and non-military power. It finds that Iraq's use of violence was mostly counter-productive, leading to further losses rather than gains. The use of violence on the Coalition side brought the Coalition some benefits, but these benefits were not as high as one might expect, and they were not long-lasting. This leads to the conclusion that the benefits of the use of violence are not easy to achieve, even for the victor. It is easier for the victor to destroy the power and ability to act of another actor than it is to build the benefits from that destruction afterwards. The final conclusion of the study is that the use violence needs to be treated more critically in International Relations theory, as it cannot be assumed that the successful use
of violence will bring security.


Thomas, C. (2007). Questioning the efficacy of violence to achieve security : the 1991 Gulf War. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Aug 22, 2013
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Politics
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Politics and International Studies, The University of Hull
Award Date Sep 1, 2007


Thesis (188.8 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2007 Thomas, Claire. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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