Strategy after Deterrence

By Stephen J. Cimbala | Go to book overview

nuclear crisis management than in other cases, the development of nuclear crisis relevant CSBMs is limited by the small number of historical cases from which to draw. Conversely, despite the complexity of conventional force structures and command systems compared to strategic nuclear forces of the superpowers, the opportunity for CSBMs might be larger in the conventional case. In case of good-faith cooperation by one side that is disappointed by the actions of the other, the losses are less than catastrophic if the failure of confidence-building measures leads to inadvertent war or deliberate attack. There is still time and opportunity to retrieve the situation prior to the unacceptable loss of social values, however dreadful the losses in battle might be.

Finally, although the difference between conventional dissuasion and nuclear deterrence has been stressed here, there may be ironical similarities at the level of individual and group psychology of decision making. This is a tentative hypothesis only. Conventional dissuasion depends on the expected outcome of battle. The essence of the expected outcome of battle rests upon the cohesion or disintegration of primary groups under fire.48 The essence of successful nuclear deterrence rests on the balance between cohesion and disintegration of decision-making groups of principal policymakers and their advisors. Research supports both assertions, but with a caution. In battle, the objective of each side is to preserve its own cohesion but to bring about disintegration of the opponent's. In nuclear crisis management, both sides would want to preserve the opponent's decision-making cohesion as long as possible, unless the opponent were judged to be irrational. But in that exceptional case, the opponent would be beyond deterrence -- or would it be more correct to say, beyond dissuasion?


NOTES
1
See Patrick M. Morgan, Deterrence: A Conceptual Analysis, 2nd ed. ( Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1983), Ch. 3.
2
I believe this is James R. Schlesinger's term.
3
Desmond Ball, "The Development of the SIOP, 1960-1983", Strategic Nuclear Targeting, eds. Desmond Ball and Jeffrey Richelson ( Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1986), 57-83.
4
Carl Sagan, "Nuclear Winter and Climatic Catastrophe: Some Policy Implications", Foreign Affairs 62 (Winter 1983/ 1984: 257-92. The nuclear winter thesis became controversial in the scientific community on technical grounds, but its most interesting implication was that even "light" strategic nuclear war might have unacceptable climatic effects for both sides.
5
Sheldon S. Wolin, Politics and Vision ( Boston: Little, Brown, 1960), 220-35, cf. Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, ed. and trans. Robert M. Adams ( New York: W. W. Norton, 1977), 185-94.

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