Deterrence Theory in the Contemporary Operating Environment
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS
Pagination or Media Count:
The events of 11 September 2001 and the ensuing global war on terrorism have demonstrated the importance of developing deterrence strategies that can be successful in confronting not only traditional, but also non-traditional threats to national security. While the events of 11 September 2001 challenge the traditional notions of deterrence, so too have the events of the past 70 years. Throughout the Cold War and even today, there have been numerous acts of aggression by both state and non-state actors that should have been deterred under traditional notions of deterrence. The fact that these acts were not deterred have caused many to question whether the deterrence-based theories behind the U.S. National Security Strategy are adequate to address the current and future strategic environment. Given the inability of the international system and specifically the United States to deter these acts of aggression there needs to be a serious reevaluation of the theories of deterrence that form the foundation of the U.S. strategy of deterrence. Looking at four case studies, this study finds that while the existing theories do not account for some acts of aggression and limited deterrence failures, deterrence theory in general is still applicable to the current and future strategic environment. While deterrence theory is applicable, it is not static and must continually be improved. The rise of non-state actors require additional refinement in order for deterrence theory to gain further applicability in the future.
- Government and Political Science