Thomas Crombie Schelling (born 14 April 1921) is an American economist and nuclear strategist. His 1967 book Arms and Influence was one of the most influential books of the Cold War.
Schelling developed the concept of "compellence" in military strategy. This basically meant taking military (or other) action to compell the enemy to act (as apposed to deterence which was supposed to prevent action). In real terms it meant punishing whole nations until they comply with US wishes. The concept is explained in the book American Defence Policy as follows:
Compellence, in Schelling’s words, “involves initiating an action…that can cease, or become harmless, only if the opponent responds.” Compellence can employ force either physically or peacefully. A state can start actually harming another with physical destruction until the latter abides by the former’s wishes…America’s bombing of North Vietnam in early 1965 was an example of physical compellence.
According to Denis Healey: "after [Schelling's] first visit to Vietnam, where he saw his abstract theory of 'compellence' put into bloody and senseless action, he expressed his resulting guilt in a moving address to the annual ISS conference.
- RAND Corporation
- National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, member of Advisory Board
- Intelligence and National Security, Asssistant Editor
- The Journal of Strategic Studies
- Peter L. Hays, Brenda J. Vallance, Alan R. Van Tassel, American Defense Policy (JHU Press, 1997) p.19
- Denis Healey, The Time of My Life (London: Penguin, 1989) p.246