Preventive War and Its Alternatives: The Lessons of History
ARMY WAR COLL STRATEGIC STUDIES INST CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
Pagination or Media Count:
The 2002 National Security Strategy NSS describes several policy tools available to curtail threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical NBC weapons, including diplomacy, deterrence, preventive attacks against NBC programs, and others. This monograph asks the question What mix of these policies best addresses the NBC threat posed by rogue leaders and terrorists This question must be asked because the NBC threat remains, and because financial and other constraints prevent the pursuit of all policy choices simultaneously. The central findings are that, while some of the NSS recommendations are sound, preventive wars are not attractive policy options for addressing NBC threats. Examination of the historical record reveals that limited strikes on NBC programs are generally ineffective. Larger-scale attacks intended to overthrow a regime are sometimes successful, though their financial, human, military, and geopolitical costs including counterproductive effects on the war on terrorism are so substantial that they are unattractive policy choices. The financial costs are especially disturbing, given the hundreds of billions spent on regime change attacks which could more effectively be spent on other counterproliferation and counterterrorism initiatives, including ballistic missile defense, missile material recovery, and a variety of counterterrorism initiatives such as port security. Fortunately, the other elements of the NSS do promise to address the NBC threat effectively. Diplomacy generally has been successful at dissuading many states from acquiring NBC weapons, and persuading others to give up such weapons. Deterrence has been extremely successful at preventing the state use of NBC weapons. Some ballistic missile defense systems are showing promise of addressing short- and medium-range missile threats. Finally, evidence suggests that defensive counterterrorism measures work. The monograph recommends pursuing the policies.
- Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies
- Unconventional Warfare