The Fallacies of Cold War Deterrence and a New Direction

By Shaw, John E. | Air & Space Power Journal, Summer 2003 | Go to article overview

The Fallacies of Cold War Deterrence and a New Direction


Shaw, John E., Air & Space Power Journal


The Fallacies of Cold War Deterrence and a New Direction by Keith B. Payne. University Press of Kentucky (http://www.uky.edu/UniversityPress), 663 South Limestone Street, Lexington, Kentucky 40508-4008, 2001, 172 pages, $19.95 (softcover), $35.00 (hardcover).

Since 11 September 2001, discussions about the applications of nuclear deterrence have been relegated to the back burner while our national security focuses more on the threat of nonstate actors and "axis of evil" rogue states than it has on possible peer competitors. Nevertheless, Keith Payne's book, although written before 11 September, is relevant to the national security needs of the moment. The passing of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty, the increasing likelihood that rogue actors may obtain nuclear weapons, and the recent episode of brinkmanship between India and Pakistan all combine to thrust to center stage any questions about the importance and utility of nuclear weapons in the twenty-first century.

Payne is no newcomer to this subject. The chief executive officer and president of the National Institute for Public Policy and the editor in chief of the journal Comparative Strategy, he has published numerous books and articles on nuclear deterrence, missile defense, and other strategic issues. In this most recent and relatively short work, his opening salvo sets the tone: because the logical structure of deterrence rests on a tautology, it is flawed. The tautology is as follows: "Rational leaders would be deterred via mutual nuclear threats because, by definition, they would be irrational if they were not so deterred." Payne then proceeds to tick off numerous examples of adversaries in recent history-including Hitler, Castro, and North Vietnam's leadership-who did not behave according to Washington's definition of "rational and reasonable." We have no reason, he continues, to expect that future adversaries will behave and respond in ways we would anticipate or could predict. Payne is so persuasive that readers will cringe, ever after, when they encounter categorical statements such as "the exact same kinds of nuclear deterrence that have always worked will continue to work" (Jan Lodal) or "if we could deter the 'evil' empire for four decades, we can almost certainly deter today's rogue states" (Harvard professor Steve Walt). If ever a clear message existed in the aftermath of the events of 11 September, it is that the threats to our nation have changed drastically from those in the Cold War and that the enemy mind-set is not necessarily one that shares our values or matches our description of "rational and reasonable."

From his basic rejection of all-encompassing deterrence, Payne begins to hint at the implications for missile defense: "In fact, in the post-Cold War era, missile defense in concert with other defensive capabilities may be necessary for the U.S. freedom of action long taken for granted in Washington." Although he fails to elaborate, his point is well taken-the failure of deterrence leaves the United States rather naked and vulnerable to the coercive power and threat of any nation or actor who might develop and field nuclear weapons. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Fallacies of Cold War Deterrence and a New Direction
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.