|dc.description.abstract||This dissertation offers a new understanding about wartime decision making in
the face of likely, but unintended, harm to foreign civilians. It empirically identifies
conditions under which leaders in democratic nations are more or less likely to choose to
attack a target when confronted with a dilemma between pursuing national security
objectives and avoiding civilian casualties.
An innovative targeting decision model was constructed that described both the
theorized structure of the decisions inputs and the process by which these inputs are
assembled into a choice. The model went beyond the normal target benefit and civilian
casualty cost considerations of proportionality to also include the contextual input of
prospect frame. Decision makers were expected to address the same benefit and cost
differently depending on whether they were winning or losing the conflict. This was
because the prospect frame would influence their risk attitudes, as predicted by prospect
theory. This model was then tested via two decision-making experiments that used
military officers and defense civilians as participants. Additionally, a statistical analysis of data collected from an extended period of the second Intifada was done to seek
evidence that the model also applied in actual wartime decision making.
All three tests supported portions of the targeting decision model. Higher target
benefit and lower civilian casualty estimates increased support for the planned attack.
Prospect frame influenced decisions in the cases where both target value and the civilian
casualty estimates were high and the resulting dilemma was very difficult. In these
situations, those told that their forces were losing the conflict were less sensitive to
humanitarian harm and more likely to support the attack than when they were told their
side was winning. Furthermore, the Intifada data analysis of attacks approved by Israeli
officials against Palestinians found this same effect of prospect frame held generally
across all six years of observations.||