Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press



1. Quoted in Admiral Mullen, “It’s Time for a New Deterrence Model,” 2.

2. See Wolf, When the Weak Attack the Strong.

3. Original source was Dupuy and Dupuy, The Encyclopedia of Military

History, 910–11. See also Schneider, Future War and Counterproliferation,

chapter 4.

4. See Wikipedia, Constitution and Founding Fathers, “What Ever Happened

to the Founding Fathers?” This was their promise: “For the support of

this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence,

we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes and our sacred


5. For another good discussion, see Lebow, “Conclusions,” chapter 9.

6. Mutual assured destruction went by the acronym MAD. Dr. Warner

Schilling later added another acronym for those who wanted to develop offensive

nuclear options to disarm the other side with a counterforce strike in

this heavily armed nuclear environment. He called this option capable of firing

first if necessary (COFFIN).

7. Of course this still begs the question of how much US and allied nuclear

capability was enough to inflict that unacceptable level of damage, and

what did the adversary think was an unacceptable level of damage? Further,

how could we know that for sure? What metrics could we use to determine

this? This information or estimation of what was needed, of course, would be

used to guide our deterrence strategy, our targeting policy (SIOP), our nuclear

force composition, our DOD and DOE acquisition, and budget strategies.

8. For example, during the year leading up to the Cuban missile crisis, it

appears that Nikita Khrushchev, general secretary of the Communist Party

and leader of the Soviet Union, had concluded that Pres. John F. Kennedy

was a weak leader who would not act to thwart a Soviet fait accompli that put

Soviet missiles into Cuba. Khrushchev had seen Kennedy’s administration

fail in the Bay of Pigs crisis to respond to a communist invasion of Laos and

fail to respond to Soviet pressure on Berlin. Khrushchev had also engaged in

bullying Kennedy at a Paris summit conference where the young president

seemed not to acquit himself forcefully. The relative youth and inexperience

of Kennedy compared to Khrushchev may have also played a part in the

Kremlin’s risky decision to place missiles into Cuba.

9. Kahn, On Thermonuclear War.

10. Here is an example of the logical problem. If almost all war began in

the spring of the year, and the US baseball season starts in the spring, does

this then mean that the inception of the baseball season triggers war? No,

obviously not. Just because A precedes B does not mean it causes B. Both

might be caused by factor C. Correlation (e.g., A then B) is not causation. It

is likely that another factor leads to fewer wars starting in the winter—the

weather (factor C). Military campaigns are far easier to launch in moderate

weather than in the dead of winter when roads are clogged with ice and snow,

and army movements are much more difficult. Spring is the opening of campaigning

season (and baseball) in parts of the world with severe winters.


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