International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration - Vol. 2

By Jay M. Shafritz | Go to book overview

financial centers of global finance; nationalized industries were freed from public ownership; trade union powers in national wage determination were emasculated. In each case, the British government did not dismantle all controls, sometimes replacing one set with another, suitably packaged to conform to the doctrine of deregulation. For example, the government-appointed watchdogs of the newly privatized monopolies act in ways very similar to the old, decried interference by ministers in the running of the nationalized monopolies.

For its devotees, deregulation is the means by which capitalism can be freed, following the alleged distortions of demand management regimes, and the operation of market forces ensured. It is the badge of those who, in government, seek to facilitate economic growth through an unfettered private sector. A slightly more balanced approach might be that deregulation has moved a number of mixed economy countries away from a half-public, half-private system to one that marginally emphasizes the private sector over the public. Governments, after all, of whatever ideological hue, find the giving away of power something best left to rhetorical celebration.

PETER FOOT


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Hutton, Will, 1995. The State We're In. London: Jonathan Cape.

Jenkins, Simon, 1995. Accountable to None: The Tory Nationalization of Britain. London: Hamish Hamilton.

Riddell, Peter, 1991. The Thatcher Era and Its Legacy. London: Blackwell.

Young, Hugo, 1991. One of Us. London: Macmillan.

DETERRENCE. A feature of some elements of public policy used by governments to dissuade either individuals or other states from doing something that might damage the interests of the state. At the heart of any deterrent policy is a threat of such a nature that those exposed to it conclude that the possible benefit to be gained from pursuing a particular course of action is not worth the risk associated with the possible or probable consequences. The term deterrence is today most frequently associated with strategic theory and the use of military power, especially but by no means exclusively with those aspects concerned with the utility of nuclear weapons; in relation to military affairs in general, it has only appeared in print since World War II. It has its origins, however, in nineteenth-century jurisprudence dealing with punishment in criminal justice systems. Deterrence in the broadest sense, therefore, has applications in the domestic as well as in the international sphere and is by no means restricted to the military dimension of public policy.

The core of any deterrent policy is a threat. No matter how or in what context deterrent threats are employed, to be consistently and fully effective four essential ingredients must be in place. In theory, if all of those ingredients are in place the policy will be sound and invariably effective. If any of those ingredients are missing the policy will be unsound or flawed (although it will not necessarily fail to deter).

First and foremost, the core threat must be credible. The target of the threat (be it an individual or another state) must believe that there is a realistic chance of it being carried out if the action it is designed to deter is taken. An important element of credibility is proportionality. If the threat is out of all proportion to the action it is intended to deter, the target may not take it seriously. This could be the case whether threat is too great or too small. Even if the threat is proportional the target still needs to be convinced that there is a sufficiently high risk that the threat will be carried out. There is, therefore, an important psychological dimension to deterrence, arising from both the determination of a government to activate the threat and a calculation by the target of the strength of that determination. Neither side can know for sure what the other will do; each has to live with a degree of uncertainty. In the case of a sound deterrent policy, the degree of that uncertainty will be minimized, but it cannot be erased altogether. Where uncertainty does exist it is important that it is minimized to the point at which a rational target would not be prepared to take the risk of the threat being activated.

The second ingredient of sound deterrence is capability: a government must be able to deliver its threat if the action it is meant to deter is carried out. There is an important distinction to be made here between sound deterrence (which will invariably work) and flawed deterrence (which might also appear to do so). The threat might appear credible despite the government being quite incapable of turning it into action. If the target of the threat does not realize that the capability is lacking, the threat might be just as effective as if it were backed up by the ability to deliver. Such a flawed deterrent policy might go on working provided the government is able to hide from view the fact that it is incapable of carrying out its threat. It goes without saying that if the lack of capability is ever exposed, the deterrent policy will surely fail.

The third essential ingredient is rationality. If either the government or the target act irrationally the policy will be flawed. Rationality is extremely difficult to define; one could say that it is largely in the eyes of the beholder. For that reason, governments need to base their deterrent policies, in particular their core threats, on careful analyses of the likely reaction of those against whom they are targeted. There will be occasions when it will prove quite impossible to deter-when an individual or a state is determined on a course of action based on emotional conviction or insanity rather more than careful calculation. In truth there is more likelihood of irrationality in individuals than there is in states, although neither can be ruled out entirely. A state might appear to be charting an irrational course when in reality its leaders are calculating every move. They may

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International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration - Vol. 2
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