Aggression and Retaliation

  • Lawrence FreedmanEmail author
  • Jeffrey Michaels


In order to understand the development of post-war strategic thought it is necessary to recognize the deep-rooted nature of the belief in the inevitability of a massive surprise attack as the opening shot in any war. It was particularly strong in the US, because of the experience of Pearl Harbor, but was widely accepted in Europe. The Soviet view was complicated by the fact that though they had been the victim of a massive surprise attack in 1941 they had also demonstrated that such an attack need not be decisive. The focus on surprise attacks reflected not only the tactical value of surprise as a way of beating strong defences, but also a presumption that this was the way of aggressors.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of War StudiesKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Defence StudiesKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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