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The Road to Total War: Escalation in World War II

Author: Sallagar, F. M.
Corporate Author: RAND Corporation
Corporate Report Number: R-465-PR
Date of Publication: 1969-04
Pages: 283
Contract: F44620-67-C-0045
Project: Project RAND
AD Number: AD0688212

An examination is made of the circumstances that led to escalation from controlled to indiscriminate air warfare in World War 2, with implications for the waging of future major conflicts. Escalation in World War 2 resulted from various factors that impelled leaders on both sides to respond to immediate problems with actions resulting in effects that were often neither planned nor foreseen. Although the specific events that contributed to World War 2 escalation are unique, the pressures and the manner in which decisionmakers responded could recur. In a controlled general war fought on the periphery of the Soviet Union, the outcome could depend on whether U.S. decision makers understand the process of escalation well enough to avoid mistakes provoked by the unfamiliar problems of a controlled general war.

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