Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press


would be wise to work together in developing a comprehensive

strategy rather than viewing one another as competitors.


Perhaps the most striking result of Deterrence in the Twentyfirst

Century was the need for additional research in the areas

described above. Even with more than three dozen of the most

knowledgeable and experienced practitioners and scholars from

the United States and Great Britain, many questions were left

unanswered. In fact, the conference may have generated more

questions than solutions. As one of the principals pointed out in

his discussion of the conference’s findings, “Nuclear deterrent

behavior seems significantly different from other types of deterrent

behavior.” He then asked, “How should we refine the system

to represent what we want?” In asking this question, the

speaker struck at the heart of the matter. In addition, perhaps

inadvertently, he illustrated the work yet to be done. Nevertheless,

the success of future efforts may hinge on the ability of the

United States and its allies to develop clear national strategies

that offer an enduring course of action. When it was suggested

that neither the United States nor the United Kingdom “does

strategy anymore,” many participants agreed. Such a state of

affairs does not bode well for the future of deterrence.

Conference sponsors and attendees alike left with a clear understanding

that nonstate actors, extended deterrence, and cyberspace

offer untilled soil for further research. There is little

doubt, however, that this will not be the last conference of its

kind, as the United States and its allies continue to seek solutions

for the most pressing problems of national security.


1. Peer competitors are, however, the only adversary who poses an existential

threat to the United States and will again pose the greatest threat to

the United States in the future.


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