Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press


elimination of al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks became the

objective of US foreign and military policy. As this shift occurred,

deterrence was given little attention because nonstate actors

were seen as irrational and undeterrable. Kinetic force became

the primary instrument of power.

With the election of a new administration (November 2008)

and a prolonged recession, there is a new opportunity to examine

the usefulness of deterrence in an international system

where the primary threats to security and stability are, and will

remain, rogue regimes and nonstate actors. 1 For deterrence to

play a prominent role once again, the instruments of deterrence

must be applicable to current threats.

Unlike the Cold War, Islamic fundamentalism does not pose

an existential threat to the United States. However, this does

not mean that the United States should not maintain its capabilities

(instruments) at all levels of conflict (fig. 1).

Figure 1. Conflict Pyramid

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