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News Essentials of Post Cold-War Deterrence

  1. Feb 26, 2005 #1
    this came out of strategic command, which is the part of the pentagon that controls all the nukes, in 1995:

    "Because of the value that comes from the ambiguity of what the US may do to an adversary if the acts we seek to deter are carried out, it hurts to portray ourselves as fully too rational and cool-headed. The fact that some elements may appear to be "out of control" can be beneficial to creating and reinforcing fears and doubts in the minds of an adversary's decision makers. This essential sense of fear is the working force of deterrence. That the US may become irrational and vindictive if its vital interests are attacked should be part of the national persona we project to all adversaries."

    is this going to be a short millenium or what?!

    :surprised :eek: :surprised :eek: :surprised

  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 27, 2005 #2


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    That's nothing new and its acually perfectly logical to talk irrationally (or, more true to the way it actually works: to remove rationality from the issue) in this way. Deterrence only works if the threat of force is credible.

    Right now our conventional deterrence effectiveness is at about an all time high and bizarre things are happening as a result: Libya's playing ball, Egypt is having elections, the Palestinians are threatening peace, Syria is talking about pulling out of Lebanon, etc.

    Its tougher to have a credible threat to use for nuclear deterrence unelss you actually are irrational (terrorists, Kim, etc.) - its tough for a respectable country to convince people that they might actually use nukes. The result (and we've discussed this before) is the US's long-standing stated policy of responding to any WMD attack with a full nuclear strike. This (somewhat) removes rationality from the issue: the policy could be implimented without consideration simply because it is policy. But like I've said before, I don't think this nuclear deterrence threat from the US is credible: I don't think any President would actually consider using nukes unless our very existence was threatened - and that's not a reasonable possibility for the forseeable future.

    edit: so what would actually happen if li'l Kim decided to lob a nuke toward Anchorage (or even Tokyo)? In 2 days, his navy would be at the bottom of the Indian Ocean/Sea of Japan, in 3 days his air force would be a collection of black streaks, in a month his armor would be scattered piles of scrap metal, and in 2 months he'd be sharing a cell with Saddam Hussein.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2005
  4. Feb 27, 2005 #3


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    Woo hooo !! This sounds like one Mr. John Clark ! :biggrin:
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