Strategy after Deterrence

By Stephen J. Cimbala | Go to book overview

standings prerequisite to successful involvement in atypical wars. These more fundamental understandings, absent as they are, then ripple into lack of political and military preparedness across the board.

Those understandings are, as we have seen, that the policy process for evaluating and applying intelligence is rarely adequate; that the military sense of professionalism is frequently compromised in atypical wars at the very time when a sense of unambiguous rightful duty is most important; and that there are alternative models to the Marxist one for social and political development, but these do not guarantee military success. Nor does military stalemate, desirable as that might be, guarantee a favorable political outcome. As one expert in national security studies has noted:

Military intervention is usually a technique of last resort. Other instruments of policy are available and quite likely preferable in most circumstances. No matter how well informed, how wise and influential U.S. foreign policy is, this country cannot have absolute control over events. Many things will happen that are opposed to our interests and may have to be accepted for what they are. Not all radical movements or all revolutions constitute a threat to us. Not all gains by the Soviets are losses on our score sheet. Moreover, neither gains nor setbacks am likely to be permanent.40

What are the implications of arguments for U.S. and other major power options for the use of force outside of European and North Asian core security zones? Recent U.S. experience would suggest that there is some likelihood, under very favorable scenarios, for conducting hostage rescues; for interposing a trip-wire or plate-glass light infantry force into a hotspot as a deterrent; and for military aid and other kinds of security assistance to regimes that can use it effectively. What seems less likely to succeed are U.S. or Soviet efforts to fight extended Third World conflicts or to serve as the mediators or enforcers of peacekeeping operations.


NOTES
1
For a discussion of this in broader compass, see Offense-Defense Working Group, Commission on Long-Term Strategy, The Future of Containment: America's Options for Defending Its Interests on the Soviet Periphery ( Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Defense, 1988). For perspective on unconventional wars and U.S. foreign policy, see Richard Shultz, "Strategy Lessons from an Unconventional War: The U.S. Experience in Vietnam"," Nonnuclear Conflicts in the Nuclear Age, ed. Sam C. Sarkesian ( New York: Praeger Publishers, 1980). For additional perspective on U.S. dilemmas in

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