Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press


weak, are pushed to the bottom of the pyramid where they

must resort to kinetic effects that present the least probability

of altering the status quo. As Mao Zedong wrote, every terrorist/insurgent

seeks to move through the stages of conflict until

he can defeat his adversary in large-scale conflict.

According to the above logic, it is possible to develop an understanding

of nonstate actors that attaches rationality to their

behavior. If an adversary is rational, he can be deterred. And,

just as with states, the success of deterrence depends on determining

what a nonstate actor values, holding it at risk (capability),

and effectively communicating a threat to the nonstate actor


If terrorists were to acquire nuclear weapons, they would be

more useful as a tool for blackmail or propaganda than as a

weapon of mass destruction. Terrorists seek to change the status

quo by targeting noncombatants who can then shift the

policies of the target government.


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