Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press


concerning reductions in the US nuclear arsenal by expressing

their desire to maintain current numbers. The Japanese view

continued reductions as both undermining capability and credibility.

German leaders are playing a different game. In public,

for example, the German foreign minister recently called for the

removal of remaining American tactical nuclear weapons. In

private, Germany maintains that the small number of tactical

nuclear weapons remaining in Germany is vital to its national


With the United States having already reduced its nuclear

arsenal by 80 percent since the end of the Cold War, further

reductions threaten to undermine extended deterrence credibility

and may lead to proliferation. The primary factor that

may prevent proliferation among states covered by American

extended deterrence is the expense, which is particularly high

for advanced nations with stagnant economies.

5. What is the relationship between capability and credibility?

A state’s past behavior is perhaps the best indicator of the

relationship between capability and credibility. If, for example,

a state has a long history of bluffing, the relationship

between capability and credibility may be low. If, however, a

state has a history of carrying out threats, capability and

credibility may be strongly correlated.


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