NUCLEAR DETERRENCE AND DEFENSE: Strategic Considerations

Article excerpt

NUCLEAR DETERRENCE AND DEFENSE: Strategic Considerations, James M. Smith, ed., USAF Institute for National security Studies, U.S. Air Force Academy, CO, February 2001, 166 pages, price unavailable.

Nuclear Deterrence and Defense: Strategic Considerations, a collection of four papers on post-Cold War deterrence and strategic defense; nuclear strategy; and regional considerations, is far from exhaustive of all of the dimensions that should come under review. The essayists raise valuable questions and make recommendations. The first paper, "Triad 2025: The Evolution of a New Strategic Force Posture," is a thesis on the reformulation of what constitutes effective deterrence in today's evolving strategic environment. The authors present and develop an argument for a strategic U.S. nuclear deterrence concept to replace the traditional land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) concept. The authors argue that the old ICBM concept was based on punishment, offense, and offensive parity. Their construct embraces both punishment and denial, adding defense to the mix and a multilateral dimension to the determination of effectiveness. Much of their argument is on emerging strategic threats, and it raises several issues about potential complications and strategic considerations.

The other three papers specifically address threats, issues, and complications involved with Russia, China, and the positions of European allies on a national missile defense concept. For example, "Shrimp or Barracuda? Contemplating a Unified and Nuclear Capable Korea," forecasts "an accelerated soft landing" for Korean unification on negotiated terms between 2015 and 2020. The authors hypothesize that Korea might opt for retaining an independent nuclear capability to ensure national security, present a detailed examination of the implications of such a decision-whether declared or covert-on regional actors and the United States, including special emphasis on the receptivity of theater missile defenses (TMD) or nuclear missile defenses (NMD). …