The Fallacies of Cold War Deterrence and a New Direction

Article excerpt

THE FALLACIES OF COLD WAR DETERRENCE AND A NEW DIRECTION, Keith B. Payne, University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, 2001, 225 pages, $19.95.

Keith B. Payne's book, The Fallacies of Cold War Deterrence and a New Direction, argues that the U.S. approach to deterrence is based on flawed assumptions and that it creates a dangerous overconfidence and complacency among policy-makers. Cold War deterrence policy was based on the premise that the Soviet Union would behave in accordance with what the United States perceived as rational. Today, the Cold War framework for deterrence remains unchanged despite the dramatic changes to the international context. Payne exposes the flaws within that framework and offers a more comprehensive and empirical methodology for formulating U.S. deterrence postures.

Payne deconstructs the U.S. faith in Cold War nuclear deterrence and reveals the chilling facts of Soviet war plans that diverged from U.S. expectations. Despite this, the U.S. approach to deterrence in the postCold War era continues to rely on the same invalid assumptions of rationality. Policymakers apply this framework indiscriminately to every potential threat regardless of specific contextual considerations. …