Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press


A precedes B does not prove A caused B. Indeed, B might have

another cause altogether. 10

How does one prove without a certain deterrence policy that

something otherwise might have happened? Unless one were

able to step out of the present and rerun history to see what

would have happened differently without a given deterrence

policy or posture, one cannot prove that the deterrence stance

caused the outcome. So deterrence is far from an exact science.

Deterrence is an art, and we can only infer when it is successful,

since we have not yet found a way to read an adversary’s

mind or re-run historical events with one or more of the variables


The Faceoff: George H. W. Bush

versus Saddam Hussein

The 1990–1991 Gulf War involved 34 coalition governments

and leaderships all pitted against Iraq. It was not simply crisis

bargaining and warfare directed by two men. Thirty-four coalition

leaderships had to be coordinated, and military personnel

from 34 militaries had to be made into one effective fighting

force with a unity of command.

Things were simpler on the other side. In Iraq, important

military and diplomatic decisions were those of Saddam Hussein

acting essentially alone. This was far less true of Pres.

George H. W. Bush. But in the end, he mobilized and led the

coalition to war. He also made the final decision about when to

attack the Iraqi Army in Kuwait, and, after 40 days of air bombardment

and 100 hours of a ground war later, it was his decision

to declare and negotiate a cease-fire with Iraq that stopped

short of going on to Baghdad.

It would be difficult to find two more different men facing

each other in a crisis or a war. They were separated widely in

their education, exposure to the wider world, family upbringing,

values, culture, language, regional, and political systems.

Moreover, the leader of each country inherited a different set of

world, regional, and domestic problems and pressures. Both

inherited a different set of commitments and policies from their

predecessors and had a different public to deal with. Saddam


More magazines by this user
Similar magazines