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discriminatory aspects of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
are to be erased over time. This ultimate result remains highly
uncertain under current world conditions.
These developments associated with weapons of mass destruction,
together with the issues involved in deterring the use of
conventional force for purposes inimical to our interests, further
complicate the already intricate environment into which we would
extend the concept of deterrence that served so well during the
Cold War period. At the same time, changing attitudes in the United
States, deriving from the subsidence of the most extreme dangers to
U.S. security and that of our long-term allies, have altered the
way we can respond to threats against our interests and against
other nations whose security is related to ours. The tools
available to us to respond have also changed, with the advent of
conventional weaponry of unprecedented precision and power. All of
these factors require new answers to the question of how to think
about deterrence in today's world.
It is not easy to disengage from thinking about matters
affecting the potential for peace, war, and survival that evolved
for half a century. The discussions and the collection of papers
(see the appendixes) that form the foundation of this overview of
the subject represent the best thinking about the problem that
could be generated at this stage of development of the new world
outlook. Some of the points of view presented will solidify in much
the form presented; others are not yet ready to do so. Important
differences remain within the special group of study participants
and in the nation; they are highlighted in this chapter. They occur
especially in areas having to do with:
• The potential uses and value of nuclear weapons in
deterring attacks on close U.S. allies and vital U.S. interests by
states using powerful conventional forces or chemical and
• Active defense against ballistic missiles attacking the
United States; and
• Assessments of the extent to which less-than-vital U.S.
interests might justify the use of military force, with attendant
casualties, in the eyes of the American public.
To answer the lead question, this chapter first examines what
deterrence means in the new environment. The group of study
participants found that some principles endure; these are reviewed
in the new context. The group next examined ways to extend these
principles into the post-Cold War world situation. Finally, this
chapter examines some approaches to analyzing deterrence policies
that can shed light on how such policies may function in the new
environment and that can help the United States and the U.S. naval
forces prepare for action in future situations.