Strategy after Deterrence

By Stephen J. Cimbala | Go to book overview

4
ATYPICAL WARS: BEYOND DETERRENCE?

Atypical wars are politico-military conflicts that will occur outside of the core security zones of the superpowers, and especially outside of Europe, and for which the Soviet and U.S. professional military establishments and policy elites have been least well prepared. War in Europe is now judged by many national security experts to be an off-line case for which stable deterrence at lower force levels is sufficient to guarantee against deliberate attack or inadvertent war.1 Therefore, conflicts that were thought to be atypical in the past (hence, the chapter title) will now be typical, in terms of frequency of occurrence. However, atypical wars originating outside of Europe have the potential to involve the superpowers and their allies: The "escalation connection" between first and third world conflict can be made through deliberate involvement of allies or through catalytic expansion of a war.2 Thus, the isolation of wars with the potential to inflict serious harm on NATO and Soviet interests from the European continent requires a "containment" strategy that disconnects East-West issues from the mélange of nationalism, religion, and other primordial value struggles occurring outside Europe.

Three defining characteristics of atypical wars can be identified. First, since the conflicts are located geographically outside of the superpowers' core security zones, they have ambiguous implications for their vital interests. Second, since U.S. and Soviet professional armed forces are structured and trained for high-technology combat in the main security zones of European, North American, and Soviet territory, atypical wars place new demands on the training and professional self-concepts of

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