Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press


traction. Religious proscription is likely to fall on deaf ears if it

must compete with noisy denunciations of collateral damage

and flagrant breeches of sovereignty. Doubtless, technical advances

will help to ease such tensions by providing the capability

to apply force from the air with ever-greater accuracy and

discrimination. Still, such advances will never in themselves

remove the requirement to apply such force with great judiciousness.

Clausewitz’s message that war is a political act, and

that acts of force must be shaped by the political context in

which they are made, remains excellent advice. In this regard,

the Air Force’s contribution to deterrence is a vital—if negative—one:

it must be able to apply lethal force effectively yet

without undermining the deterrent elements of the campaign

against al-Qaeda.


1. I borrowed these terms from Michael Howard, “Are We at War?” Survival

50, no.4 (August–September 2008): 253.

2. For a selection of Muslim responses to 9/11, along with links to other sites,

see “Islamic Statements against Terrorism,”


3. Arthur J. Arberry, The Koran Interpreted, vol. 1, Suras 1:20 (London:

George Allen & Unwin, 1955), 303.

4. Ibid., 301.

5. Bruce Lawrence, ed., Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama

bin Laden (London: Verso, 2005), 165.

6. Imam Zaid Shakir, “Islam and the Ethics of War,” http://www.newislamic war/.

7. “About Imam Zaid Shakir,”

nid/about/; and Laurie Goodstein, “U.S. Muslim Clerics Seek a Modern Middle

Ground,” New York Times, 18 June 2006. One assumes he is no relation

of Billy Mitchell!

8. Anya Hart Dyke, Mosques Made in Britain (London: Quilliam, 2009),


9. Cm 7547, The United Kingdom’s Strategy for Countering International

Terrorism (Norwich: TSO, 2009).

10. David Rennie, “Plot to Destroy Brooklyn Bridge,” Telegraph, 20 June


11. Michael Evans, “MI5’s Spymaster Jonathan Evans Comes Out of the

Shadows,” Times, 7 January 2009.


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