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Inter-State Strategic Competition and Security


Since the victory in World War 1 and World War 2, the United States, as the representatives of the Allies, remains the most powerful county globally. The US Department of Defense (DOD) endeavors to maintain this position by deterring war and protecting the security of the country. However, the chosen position of the world leader becomes the center of attention for enemies and rebels who intend to displace American leadership. Terrorist attacks such as the 9/11 events keep the military alert and provoke the necessity to develop new defense strategies. Although there is a decrease in the intensity and occurrence of similar threats, the country has to cope with technological advancement in land, sea, and air areas, which provokes new complex issues in the security environment. The strategic frameworks of such airpower theorists as John Boyd and John Warden may be effective in addressing the existing security problems and promoting control in the United States. Strategic paralysis supported by Boyd (psychological incapacitation) and Warden (physical paralysis) is the solution for the US government to win the inter-state competition and stabilize its national security through the prism of airpower theory.

Prerequisites to the Current Situation

During the last several decades, the 9/11 attack has been considered the major terrorist threat for Americans. The remaining terrorist groups, including the jihadist and Al-Qaida, are not powerful to subdue the military of the country. A number of successful attempts have been made to reduce the threat of terrorism by arresting people and executing. The 2018 Cyber Strategy rightly points to the shift in security challenges and approaches for sharpening America’s competitive military age during the last three years. Many countries demonstrate their desire to cooperate or demonstrate individual achievements in technology and management to overpower the United States. As a result, economic progress, combat expansion, and technological development turn out to be the primary fuels of inter-state strategic rivalry.

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Unlike terrorist attacks, the promotion of the inter-state competition is on a wide scale. To demonstrate its cooperative abilities, the United States also supports the alliance with Japan to enhance regional stability and underline its shared global strategic goals. At the same time, the leader’s role has to be identified due to their direct participation in guiding and analyzing hard choices at strategic levels. The implication is that the threat of international cooperation is more complex and impossible to deter through traditional tactics such as arresting offenders or leadership improvement. Evidence of such interstate strategic rivalry is plenty and apparent even to laypersons.

Strategic Competition and Security

During the last century, the United States served a good example of how alliances should be created and promoted to achieve certain national and international benefits. Historically, the United States has tried to establish relations with different nations across the globe, including Singapore and its free-trade agreement. However, the US principle to use a realistic approach in joining inter-state collaboration causes its allies to back-off. For example, Uz Zaman reports that the relation between Pakistan perceives the US Asia Pivot policy and treaty as being more advantageous to America. As a result, the United States realizes that it is wrong to stay dependent on its allies in the non-western regions because China’s and Russia’s interests are involved. The leaders of the country think about the necessity to discover some new perspectives in their positions.

The growing potential of resurgent and the emergence of great powers call for the national defense to change their tactics and prioritize their resources. Besides, the United States should not be ignorant of its diminishing military base since the end of the Cold War. Pietrucha states that it is imprudent to assume that the United States’ current position as a world power will remain static. However, such shortages as the lack of fully integrated air and space operations, limited operational opportunities, and simultaneous funding and execution create certain challenges. America has a great potential for leadership, but attention should be paid not to internal problems but outside threats, and strategic paralysis may be a solution for the country.

Strategic Paralysis

There are many approaches to support the enhancement of national security and defense in regard to the fast-spreading technological progress. For example, Gorrell’s ideas lied in the necessity to attack the main commercial and communication centers, but the effectiveness of this method could be observed until supporting infrastructure is intact. Mitchell’s theory was based on attacking the enemy just at the beginning of the war, neglecting its possible recovery or additional sources of support. The position of Pape is close to the design of strategic paralysis because this political scientist focused on the mechanisms that provoked the enemy’s destruction. However, his thoughts are not as effective and relevant to the current technological challenge of the United States as those of Warden and Boyd.

Strategic paralysis may be introduced as a military decision or a tactic with the help of which political leaders achieve their goals. Fadok gives a clear definition of this concept as “a military option with physical, mental, and moral dimensions which intends to disable rather than destroy the enemy”. It is an opportunity for the United States to hinder the success of hostile nations and the development of their military strategies. On the one hand, the US government demonstrates its positive intentions in rescuing, relieving, and rebuilding military capabilities. On the other hand, the same approaches could be useful for the incapacitation of the enemy. The country that has control of the air has a competitive advantage over their enemies. Historically, war missions made airpower appealing for security, including the possibility of being fast in transportation and providing an ideal aerial view for observation, ground attacks, and air defense. Notably, the airpower is not only useful during active warfare but also in times of peace. The belief in its strength has, thus, made the United States invest heavily in mechanization and strategizing its air defense.

Warden’s Position

John Warden was a significant proponent of the airpower theory, who noted that since the 1939 attack of Germany on Poland, no country could win the enemy with air superiority. Airpower was a useful tool in delivering strategic information either for a positive or negative application. Warden’s strategic paralysis aimed at promoting physical, form-oriented influence within the frames of five strategic rings – leadership, organic essentials, infrastructure, population, and field forces. The main emphasis of Warden’s theory is leadership and the willingness of those in authority to work towards establishing peace. The focusing of military power is to ensure fairness and protection without catalyzing war. The other significant element of Warden’s model is that he recognized the reality of the military-technical revolution (MTR). This theorist emphasized the physical presence of conflict and tried to educate the participants on how to solve it, using available resources and people. Although inter-state competitions should not always be defined as conflicts, the idea remains the same – it is required to choose a good leader, learn the infrastructure, and develop forces that help achieve the desired outcomes.

Boyd’s Model

Boyd’s strategic paralysis is another approach to defeat the enemy in inter-state competition. Compared to Warder, Boyd represented a process-oriented method in terms of which psychological incapacitation is possible. His method, known as the observe-orient-decide-act (OODA) loop model, is applicable for solving new security challenges. The specific idea in his theory is that breaking the spirit of the enemy and creating surprising situations provoke powerlessness. With the help of regular observations and analysis, it is easy to stay oriented on the competitors’ weaknesses and opportunities. Then, the decision is made to destruct harmony and influence the quality of connection with the entire world. Finally, it is high time to act and move to the initial target, using the stock of knowledge and observations. Another important element of the model is its emphasis on speed and fast reaction. Since the enemies lack time to retaliate, they become weak and unable to make important decisions. Following Boyd’s principle, it is possible to examine the world, its current changes, and perspectives, and create an impression of a powerful figure that suppresses the enemy and wins the race.

Specific Areas for Expansion

The chosen airpower theory provides clear guidance on combat initiation in several ways. To succeed, the air force needs to move beyond the use of techniques, tactics, and procedures. Therefore, strategic paralysis may be expanded in such areas as management and leadership. The current and future rivalry requires influential individuals with a vision of a world and the enemy’s system from the inside. Despite the complexities of security issues, the air force continues to be the most reliable defense force due to command and control. Leaders must understand the transformations that take place and make adjustments.

Emphasis on technology by both Boyd and Warden shows that air forces considerably invest in the mechanization of their process. A significant advantage of computers is that it reduces human labor. For example, robotics can be useful in large-scale repetitive tasks. The United States Air Force is already benefiting from the investments in drones, which contributes to air surveys and observation. The application of strategic paralysis in the computerization area also quickly provides information to the military at any place through the utilization of cloud computing. The defense department should, therefore, continue to use technology to enhance its competitiveness amid inter-state rivals.


The United States faces a number of challenges because of the complex security environment. Rapid technological changes cover almost all the areas of human life, and it is necessary for the country to protect its leading positions and win the inter-state strategic competition. There are many theories and models with the help of which American leaders could adjust their policies and strategies, but strategic paralysis by Warden and Boyd remains one of the most relevant in overcoming current and future security challenges. Their five strategic rings and the OODA loop turn out to be effective for such areas as management, leadership, and computerization because of the possibility to focus on the physical and psychological impact of fast military decision-making.


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