Political Science 128: U.S. Foreign Policy
Mary Baldwin College, Staunton VA 24401
by Prof. Gordon L. Bowen, Ph.D.
definition: Limited War
an interstate conflict in which one or both sides tacitly limit
(1) the ends sought through armed conflict;
(2) the means employed in the conflict.
Limited wars of the Cold War era were subjected to geographic limitations, and were conducted so to minimize the chance of direct armed conflict between superpowers. Korea, Vietnam, El Salvador and Afghanistan were examples of limited wars.
During limited wars routine diplomatic exchanges continue between superpowers."The superpowers... fought three major limited wars since 1945, but in no case with each other: the possibility of direct Soviet - American military involvement was greatest --although it never happened-- in the Korean War;..."
John Gaddis, "The Long Peace," International Security 10, 4 (Spring 1986).
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