This chapter first sets out the purpose of the book, which is to present a widely generalizable theory of armed conflict outcomes based on a unique integration of insights from deductive models of war initiation and modern military doctrine. Scholars and military leaders have argued that poor strategy choices, domestic political constraints on democratic governments, or failure to commit sufficient resources to a war effort can explain why the materially strong do not always prevail in war. This book argues that the key to understanding strategic success in war lies in a better understanding of the nature of the political objectives that states pursue through the use of military force. The chapter then answers the question of whether political scientists should even be attempting to predict who will win wars. This is followed by a discussion of the present state of our knowledge about the determinants of war outcomes.
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