Deterrence and Security in a Dangerous World: How Much is Enough?

Deterrence and Security in a Dangerous World: How Much is Enough?

1985Working Paper No. 844

Ever since the appearance of Bernard Brodiet s (1959) Strategy in the Missile Age, the fundamental conceptions which have dominated and shaped U.S. theory and policy regarding the utility of strategic weapons have been derived from the theory of nuclear deterrence. In its simplist form, the theory has a compelling, if not beguiling, logic: “Deterrence means discouraging an enemy from taking military action by posing for him a prospect of cost and risk which outweighs his prospective gain” (Snyder, 1961, p. 3). At first glance, the theory appears to provide a rather straightforward conception of the relationship between a nation’s deterrent capability and its perceived security: National security is contingent upon a nation’s strategic capabilities being regarded as so great that no adversary will be tempted to initiate aggression against it for fear of the consequences. Thus, possession of such a deterrent enhances a nation’s security, while its absence erodes it.

Keywords
economics of war, defense