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Sala StampaSalami Tactics: Faits Accomplis and International Expansion in the...

Salami Tactics: Faits Accomplis and International Expansion in the Shadow of Major War

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Salami tactics offer an attractive option for expansionist powers in the shadow of major war — using repetitive, limited faits accomplis to expand influence while avoiding potential escalation. Despite its long history of colloquial use, however, the term has never received a thorough conceptualization. Modeling a state’s decision to initiate salami tactics reveals five conditions that increase their appeal to policymakers: when retaliation would be costly, reversal is unlikely, faits accomplis are easy, fears of future predation can be undercut, and further gains are possible. Two case studies 200 years apart illustrate how these conditions operate: the U.S. annexation of Florida and Russia’s interventions in Georgia and Ukraine. Deterring salami tactics poses unique strategic challenges to current U.S. foreign policy, which should work to ensure that the key escalation decision remains with potential aggressors rather than being foisted onto defenders via faits accomplis.

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