Deterrence.docx

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31 Mar 2014
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Deterrence 03/25/2014
Deterrence is:
An effort to preserve the status quo through the threat of force
In other words, challenge me and I will hurt you
Types of deterrence:
General trying to protect your own state & status quo
Successful means force is not used, if you see use of force than deterrence has failed
Extended offering to protect an ally, essentially
U.S trying to deter China from invading Taiwan
Structural Deterrence Theory (Branch of Classical Deterrence)
International stability determined by the distribution of power
So, security is determined by the structure of the system
What school of thought does this sound like?
Neorealist
Look at pair of states and see the distribution of power to determine how structure of system is affected
The costs of war are also important
Is war more or less likely as costs increase?
Less likely
Structural Deterrence Theory: Major Deductions
Parity (equal) relationships, when coupled with high war costs, are especially stable  Bipolar system (U.S
& U.S.S.R w/ nukes)
Asymmetric power relationships are unstable
If you’re weak & tell a stronger state not to mess with you (incredible threat)
As the absolute cost of war increases, the probability of war decreases
According to Mearsheimer, “the more horrible the prospect of war, the less likely it is to occur”
Peace in the Cold War caused by a “balance of terror”
Structural Deterrence Theory: Policy Implications
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Quantitative arms races can help prevent war
Balance is remaining b/c both sides are increasing their power. A launches an aircraft carrier so B launches
an aircraft carrier
Qualitative arms races are destabilizing
Balance falls apart b/c quality of weapons are different. A launches an aircraft carrier that is massive and B
launches one that is not. Qualitative imbalance
Effective defense systems are destabilizing
The selective proliferation of nuclear weapons can help prevent war
Give out nuclear weapons to help maintain parity, increase costs of war, promotes peace
Accidental war is the gravest threat to peace
Structural Deterrence Theory: Empirical Problems
A balance of power is not a good predictor of peace
Major power wars occur b/c of balance of powers
WWI & Cold War
Nuclear states do not seem to act differently than non-nuclear states
An asymmetric distribution of power is not a good predictor of major power war
States seldom pursue proliferation policies
Decision-Theoretic Deterrence: Major Premises & Predictions (also Classical)
Relationship between nuclear states is best modeled by Chicken
Worst outcome in Chicken is both states defecting
Multiple equilibriums
Both actors act at the same time never happens
Nuclear war is “irrational”
Only accidental war is possible
During crises, states should pursue “commitment tactics,” such as making an irrevocable commitment to a
hard-line strategy, forfeiting control over actions, and feigning “irrationality”
What’s Wrong with Modeling Superpower Strategy as Chicken?
There is no dominant strategies in Chicken
Conflict will inevitably occur if two players of Chicken, adopting mixed strategies, play the game often
enough
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