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A theory of deterrence

Description: The purpose of this monograph is to start a theory of deterrence which has the capability of quantitatively answering the question of what is required to deter a nation or alliance from certain acts. Despite the existence of voluminous writing on deterrence, from the beginning of the nuclear age and even before, none of it attempts a theoretical discussion of how to calculate what it takes to deter a country from committing some acts which are objectionable to another country. Many theories of deterrence have already been created. They have exclusively been of two separate forms -- those of the social scientists, which deal with political questions, and how the concept of mass destruction psychological deters the initiation of war; and those of the mathematicians, who model the quantities of one country`s arsenal of strategic systems needed to destroy a certain portion of another country`s. Only the latter is quantitative, but they lack an essential element added to answer the question ``How much is enough?`` In order to use the techniques of operations research on the questions of what type and amount of weapons are adequate for deterrence, the definitions of quantities occurring in the calculations need to be made in quantifiable way. Numbers of weapons have been the only quantified parameter in previous deterrence calculations. Yet weapons alone do not deter. The threat of destruction and damage does. How is that threatenable damage to be measured, and as through defensive system construction, counterforce capability improvement, arms control, or other means, it becomes less when is the threshold for deterrence met and crossed? The calculation of this damage, and the implication of that damage to decision-makers capable of making a war initiation decision, is a complicated process, and it is what constitutes a theory of deterrence. 36 refs.
Date: March 20, 1991
Creator: Erickson, S. A. Jr.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department