Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press


to be for recruitment and morale reasons) as headed for

eventual success.

A Final Observation on

Actors’ Self-Understandings

Not all of the tactics and behaviours discussed here have been

deliberately adopted for self-conscious strategic advantage. Nor

would they necessarily emerge in that way in the future. Neither

states nor their NSA opponents would often understand or calibrate

their own choices through the neutral analytical optic of

deterrence. They are more likely to experience either a frustrating

struggle against subversion, lies, and interference while trying

to maintain decency, civilisation, and the national interest

or, on the other side, desperate efforts to improvise temporary

stratagems to mitigate or evade oppression and unjust force.

These intensely held interpretations of the situation may lead to

interactive outcomes profoundly different from those predicted

by cool deterrent analysis. In passionate and protracted struggles,

especially within the same national community, chessplaying

deliberations of equally cool strategic decision makers

are evidently not impossible but are unlikely to be the rule.


1. I take this simple but fundamental distinction from Paul J. Smith, The

Terrorism Ahead: Confronting Transnational Violence in the 21st Century

(M. E. Sharpe: New York and London, 2008), 46. But I emphasise that there

will be a complex spectrum rather than a simple dichotomy.

2. This understanding of self-deterrence is based upon the usage in T. V.

Paul, The Tradition of Non-Use of Nuclear Weapon” (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford

University Press, 2009), 203–4. Paul’s analysis also emphasises (p. 32) the

contribution that norm entrepreneurs, described as “reputation intermediaries

and facilitators” made to nuclear self-deterrence in framing and calling

attention to issues “using language that names, interprets, and dramatises”

them. Presumably, today’s best-known human rights and counterterrorist

experts now play the role of norm entrepreneurs in the development of standards

and expectations governing state responses to competitive nonstate


3. Max Manwaring, Insurgency Terrorism and Crime: Shadows from the

Past and Portents for the Future (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press,

2008), 104–28.


More magazines by this user
Similar magazines