Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

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Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press

STYMIEING LEVIATHAN

ing a rational and instrumental calculus. NSAs driven by expressive,

sacred, or emotional concerns are unlikely to think

clearly or consistently in these terms. Expressive motivations

may drive out strategic rationality while cloaking themselves

with it. Any interest in achieving or maintaining deterrence

risks being overwhelmed by what was called, in the northern

Ireland troubles, the politics of the last atrocity, on the basis

that “we will always defend our suffering people by showing we

can hit back to hurt the enemy’s most vulnerable interests and

assets, too.”

NSA leaders, like state authorities, have to preserve their internal

credibility, which will frequently mean their reputations

for toughness. Neumann and Smith suggest that the sum total

of pressures acting on NSA leaderships once they adopt terrorism

as a strategy tends to create an escalation trap, which

would of course be incompatible with deterrence. 6

Timing and Perceived State Vulnerabilities Will Affect

NSA Deterrence Choices. Apart from the NSAs’ underlying

ideology, NSA interest in deterrence may depend on the stage

of their operations and their vision of the end state. They will

frequently have good reason early on in their campaigns to prioritise

cautious, unhindered, organisational preparations, before

risking strong state responses. Thereafter, they will continually

update judgements on the deterrability of their

opponents. These will rest upon their readings of the present

situation and of the vulnerabilities of the opposing state.

Perceived State Vulnerabilities as Resources for NSA

Deterrence Strategies. NSAs will be aware that, in responding

to the challenges that they themselves could pose, states might

well have to consider inhibiting combinations of the following:

• Legal challenges in national and international law

• Effects on budgets and economic development, international

reprisals such as sanctions and boycotts, or foreign

military assistance

• Domestic consequences for national politics and community

cohesion—particularly the problem of inflicting mass

humiliation by proxy 7

• Religious and ethnic frictions

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