Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

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Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press

Chapter 21

Quick Look

Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

Nonstate Actors versus State

Dale L. Hayden, PhD

Issue/Question

The terrorist attacks on the United States on 11 September

2001 changed the perspective in the United States and in much

of the world on what constituted a threat to security and the

applicability of deterrence to the changing strategic environment.

In the post–9/11 era, the question becomes, “How do

nonstate actors (NSA) change our understanding of deterrence

and can their actions deter states?” The Royal United Services

Institute (RUSI), King’s College—London; and the Air Force Research

Institute co-sponsored a conference on 18–19 May 2009

to explore this question and other issues related to deterrence.

Background/Discussion

Paul Schulte, senior visiting fellow, Centre for the Study of

Global Governance, London School of Economics, addressed

how we should define deterrence of states by NSAs, the kinds of

state action that might deter NSAs, and how the strategic cultures

of states might affect the interaction between states and

NSAs. We must first define what deterrence against NSAs might

look like. NSAs may be criminals, simply wanting to provide an

illegal product, or insurgents, wanting to overthrow the government.

In either case, NSAs have certain common factors: they

must portray states as illegitimate; they can talk about ceasefires

as deterrent strategy; they fear threats to their legitimacy

such as being branded as criminals or vigilantes by states,

roundups, preventive arrests, imprisonment, removal from the

“battlefield”; and they fear military intervention in areas they

control. More importantly, they value survival and fear eradication.

Often, NSAs want to escalate levels of violence, or they

want the benefits of deterrence and may switch back to provocation.

They constantly evaluate their adversaries, and often

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