What is ‘Madman theory’ in Political science?

  • This refers to the strategy of deterrence adopted by a leader to portray himself as irrational and unpredictable in order to convince his enemies that it is better to stay away from him and avoid trouble.
  • It is linked to former U.S. President Richard Nixon who apparently tried to portray himself as an unpredictable and volatile person to scare the Soviet Union and other Communist countries during the Cold War.
  • It has also been used to explain the actions of North Korean president Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump.
  • The madman theory has been called “ineffective and dangerous” by some experts.


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