I only write what I remember from the exam. Examples added.

  • Conflict in terms of trade, environment, border/land dispute


  • Too costly to wage war as many countries have WMDs, if someone launches a missile, the fallout alone would be unfathomably destructive, not to mention long term nuclear winter, and retaliation by other nuclear power, which all have second strike capability (Nuclear Armageddon)
  • Military assets not designed for it, (because full blown war is too costly)
    • Japan’s Self-Defense Force for self defence
    • SAF based on deterrence
    • US Army Corps of Engineers maintaining public works
    • SAF mobilised for search and rescue, rescue and recovery, disaster relief
    • counter terrorism
  • Diplomacy more versatile. Militant action is a blunt policy, bludgeon the other into submission. Diplomacy can lead to win-win situation, cooperation on issues that need both countries(e.g. natural disaster, transboundary pollution, epidemic outbreak, education policy) plus need the experts of respective fields to discuss(e.g. business leaders) (except for unfair trade practice it is not really a conflict)


  • Some countries still use war to solve conflicts
    • Israel will always have war as an option as they are surrounded by hostile Muslim nations
    • Russia, China and USA still use overwhelming military might to influence international and regional politics, for example USA and Russia use drones to fight proxy war in Syria, all these superpowers still R&D like crazy in defence sectors showing that war is still a viable option
    • Tamil Tigers which were crushed in 2006 and the IRA are examples of armed conflict for political agendas (non-state military actors)
  • Cyber warfare instead of conventional warfare is increasingly utilised, to capture sensitive data, troop movements, classified research
    • Can include industrial espionage
  • Track II diplomacy is increasingly overlooked as seen in deportation of Dr Huang Jing, a Chinese professor with NUS who was accused of attempting to influence government to further foreign state’s interests, which is basically the job of a diplomat


  • Pursue war and diplomacy concurrently as they both fall under the umbrella of foreign policy, since foreign policy literally means strategies to safeguard the national interest when dealing with nations and non-state actors
  • Threat of war(security theatre) used to be effective as a form of deterrence but N.Korea getting bolder, signalling a pivot towards actual military action


Diplomacy obviously better because less losses, and some conflicts can be solved by further antagonising the other party. But War is still very important. Furthermore, informal diplomacy may be put aside, due to increasing pushback against foreign influences and more conflicts.