Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press


• Diplomatic and worldwide reputational damage

• Outcomes in the media and public diplomacy

• Geographical distances and topographical intractability

• Police and other government organisational competencies

• Military force-to-space ratios, risks, and predicted casualty


Strategic Culture

The relative importance and public salience of these vulnerabilities

will help to frame national strategic culture—“a distinctive

body of beliefs, attitudes and practices regarding the use of force,

which are held by collective (usually a nation) and arise gradually

over time, through a unique protracted historical process.” 8 Strategic

culture is a difficult and evolving concept, 9 but it is likely to

be affected by the size, prestige, unity, and interconnectedness of

different constituencies and interest groups and their relative influence

over national decision makers. Significant groupings likely

to influence the stream of decisions relating to competitive NSAs

would typically include intelligence, police and military institutions,

nationalist or liberal politicians and opinion formers, free

and government-controlled media, ethnic or religious groups,

antiwar or antimilitary organisations, the judiciary, foreign ministries,

and business interests concerned about external condemnations,

disinvestment, and boycotts or sanctions. Further

relevant variables affecting NSA-related strategic culture might be

the degree of economic dependence on aid, trade, or military

assistance and the extent of public awareness or cultural acceptance

of external comment or criticism. Two illustrative types of

strategic culture appear in figures 2 and 3.

In softer strategic cultures, adherence to the legal process

guarantees significant, though not infinite, forbearance. And,

despite publicly voiced misgivings, nations with a highly legalistic

character may be unable to prevent themselves from taking

up hard positions by insisting on prosecuting offenders or

refusing to enter into hostage deals. But democracies can also

flip over into extreme and surprisingly disinhibited determination,

as with the United States after 9/11.


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