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APPENDIX B
Contemporary Strategic Deterrence and Precision-Guided Munitions

Paul H. Nitze and J.H. McCall, Johns Hopkins University

Two major developments in the post-Cold War era profoundly alter the objectives and potential effectiveness of contemporary U.S. deterrence efforts. The first is the obvious change in the international political and security environment and with it change in the goals of deterrence. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the direct threat of nuclear attack upon the United States has subsided. U.S. policy makers and strategic planners no longer face a specific nuclear threat, or even a general threat of war from one adversary. Instead, they find themselves confronted with an extremely complex international situation without clear adversaries, where regional aggression not necessarily directed against the United States or its interests has proven more likely than it has been at any time since before World War II. It is also an environment in which it is more important than ever that the United States attempt to define its national interests, its foreign policy goals, and its security strategy.

The second development is the evolution of the potential tools of deterrence. In the past decade, culminating with the Persian Gulf War and the deployment of stealth weapons, families of precision-guided munitions (PGMs), and the means to deliver them, have matured to a level of capability, sophistication, and reliability that permits us to use them in more than limited operational roles. The United States now possesses conventional weapons that can shoulder strategic missions—that is, missions engaging targets at the heart of the military, economic, and political power of an adversary—once thought the preserve of nuclear weapons. Because of the changes in our goals and in our weapons, it is appropriate that the United States recast its approach to strategic deterrence to meet new challenges and to take advantage of new capabilities.

WHAT IS DETERRENCE? WHY AND HOW?

To understand our options and possible new approaches to strategic deterrence, we should start by defining what we mean by the term. Although it may sound trite to remind ourselves, it is helpful to restate again that, in its simplest form, to deter means to inhibit or prevent someone from doing something. The definition implies specificity: We should know whom we are deterring from doing what, to whom, and when. From these considerations arises the notion of a broader process or act—deterrence—which we propose to translate into policy, whereby a specific government or state seeks to deter another from pursuing a specific policy goal. More commonly, we think of



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Page 75 APPENDIX B Contemporary Strategic Deterrence and Precision-Guided Munitions Paul H. Nitze and J.H. McCall, Johns Hopkins University Two major developments in the post-Cold War era profoundly alter the objectives and potential effectiveness of contemporary U.S. deterrence efforts. The first is the obvious change in the international political and security environment and with it change in the goals of deterrence. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the direct threat of nuclear attack upon the United States has subsided. U.S. policy makers and strategic planners no longer face a specific nuclear threat, or even a general threat of war from one adversary. Instead, they find themselves confronted with an extremely complex international situation without clear adversaries, where regional aggression not necessarily directed against the United States or its interests has proven more likely than it has been at any time since before World War II. It is also an environment in which it is more important than ever that the United States attempt to define its national interests, its foreign policy goals, and its security strategy. The second development is the evolution of the potential tools of deterrence. In the past decade, culminating with the Persian Gulf War and the deployment of stealth weapons, families of precision-guided munitions (PGMs), and the means to deliver them, have matured to a level of capability, sophistication, and reliability that permits us to use them in more than limited operational roles. The United States now possesses conventional weapons that can shoulder strategic missions—that is, missions engaging targets at the heart of the military, economic, and political power of an adversary—once thought the preserve of nuclear weapons. Because of the changes in our goals and in our weapons, it is appropriate that the United States recast its approach to strategic deterrence to meet new challenges and to take advantage of new capabilities. WHAT IS DETERRENCE? WHY AND HOW? To understand our options and possible new approaches to strategic deterrence, we should start by defining what we mean by the term. Although it may sound trite to remind ourselves, it is helpful to restate again that, in its simplest form, to deter means to inhibit or prevent someone from doing something. The definition implies specificity: We should know whom we are deterring from doing what, to whom, and when. From these considerations arises the notion of a broader process or act—deterrence—which we propose to translate into policy, whereby a specific government or state seeks to deter another from pursuing a specific policy goal. More commonly, we think of

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Page 76 strategic deterrence as our will and ability to wield military power to prevent or inhibit the use of force by another state in a manner of which we disapprove. Successful deterrence lies with careful and precise application of such a policy. In practice, deterrence is an element of a specific security strategy, and such strategy does not evolve in isolation. There is a logic, or a series of steps based on a broad policy objective, that we follow to arrive at a strategy. To reason out and implement deterrence in foreign policy, we identify whom we want to deter from doing something, how we want to deter them, under what circumstances, and by what means we plan to deter them. Thereafter we must decide how we obtain those means. More simply, we have to know which states we want to deter from doing what—and we have to decide what we need to do so and how to get it. To deter specific cases of aggression, the best deterrent is possession of superior military fighting capabilities coupled with well-thought-through "use" and "declaratory" doctrines. However, it is also essential, although often overlooked, that the target government and leadership we wish to deter respond to the logic of deterrence—that they recognize, understand, and react to our efforts to inhibit their actions as we would have them do. Such behavior requires a similar logical thought process to our own, an assumption not always justified. Much of the Cold War discussion about deterrence has muddled our understanding of the concept. We should guard against a general notion of deterrence as an end in itself rather than as a tool, a means to an end. Many writers, and even policy makers, attempted to treat deterrence as an abstract. In the Cold War years, these efforts aimed at creating a general theory and policy of deterrence, with an associated clutch of models one might apply to help understand and address unfolding challenges to the United States. The unique security challenges to the United States during the Cold War helped engender this search for a general theory. It was a bipolar world, and to deter war meant inhibiting the Soviet Union from using force to further its foreign policy goals. Furthermore, since we could assume that any use of force between the superpowers would lead to escalation into eventual nuclear war, debate centered on coupling nuclear and conventional arms deterrence as the key to prevent general war. Ultimately, these Cold War efforts toward "general" deterrence against all types of aggression failed, although the idea has resurfaced more recently. COLD WAR DETERRENCE AND THE LIMITS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS During the Cold War, U.S. foreign policy and security strategy flowed from the threat of the Soviet Union and the ultimate threat of nuclear war. We designed and implemented a national security strategy centered on containing further Soviet expansion and deterring Soviet use of force toward achieving their foreign policy ends. Although we sought to reduce the risk of nuclear war,

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Page 77 we were prepared to use nuclear weapons as part of that containment. We built a huge and diverse nuclear arsenal to that purpose. The primary mission of U.S. strategic nuclear weapons reflected this principal focus of deterrence. U.S. strategy called for deploying a large number of nuclear weapons targeted against Soviet nuclear weapons and other military targets. With the existing technology, the best weapon against a nuclear weapon was another nuclear weapon and to ensure a reliable and credible nuclear deterrent the United States fielded parallel land-, sea-, and air-based nuclear forces all with varying types of weapons both strategic and tactical. With the enormous destructive capability of nuclear weapons, many theorists and policy makers tended to treat them as the catch-all deterrent against any and all aggression. This was certainly the case in the early nuclear era, when contemporary attitudes allowed some to see atomic bombs as simply another weapon. However, in practice we rapidly learned that nuclear weapons can provide no such absolute security. Because we were unwilling to unleash nuclear weapons in small conflicts, they added little to our practical ability to deter petty aggressors. We also discovered that the "finesse" of nuclear security depended in part upon our ability to control those small conflicts, preventing regional disturbances from escalating into nuclear confrontations between their sponsors. In response, the United States attempted to construct another layer of deterrence based on conventional capabilities designed not only to deter or deal with Soviet incursions but those of its surrogates. The ensuing bipolar stability, based upon mutual deterrence and the effort to impose political and military limits on small conflicts, lasted throughout the remainder of the Cold War. The lessons of the limited military utility of nuclear weapons in the Cold War era should be frankly acknowledged. We will never be certain what has deterred the use of nuclear weapons since 1945. It is possible, even probable, that the strategic nuclear arsenals in their morbid way did stay the use of these weapons, i.e., that mutually assured destruction helped prevent the use of nuclear weapons against other nuclear powers. At the same time, using nuclear weapons was never entirely ruled out, and much of the debate of nuclear strategy during the Cold War reflected this reality. In some circles there was discussion, and even advocacy, of the American use of nuclear weapons in Korea and elsewhere. Furthermore, revelations of Warsaw Pact plans regarding the first hours of any invasion of Western Europe are said to have included the use of tactical nuclear weapons against conventional troops and civilian targets. Surely these are not indicative of a complete aversion to employing nuclear weapons in combat, in a limited nuclear exchange. Military planners believed that escalation might be controlled and that limited use of nuclear weapons was possible and might stay limited. What inhibited the American use of nuclear weapons was clearly our sensitivity to the moral and political implications of the weapons and their destructiveness. Use of nuclear weapons in a regional crisis was never really an option for the United States-despite talk of it. Some troublesome governments have known this and exploited it as a weakness in U.S. military posture.

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Page 78 Although the McNamara-era decision to move away from a nuclear trip wire toward flexible response led to a more credible U.S. military presence and deterrence against a Soviet threat, it did not necessarily improve our strategic deterrent options elsewhere against rogue states. We were left with a massive investment in a nuclear arsenal of limited use except in possibly deterring a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union directly against the United States. It was a one-use strategic deterrent. POST-COLD WAR STRATEGIC DETERRENCE AND THE PERSIAN GULF WAR After the Cold War, an undeclared "general" approach to deterrence returned to American security policy in a new guise. During the Bush administration years, conventional wisdom held that aggression previously subsumed or neutralized in superpower rivalry might now be addressed by the combination of a functioning U.N. Security Council able to act upon, and a United States determined to combat, aggression. In this new era, an emerging U.S.-Soviet cooperation would reduce or remove superpower-sponsored aggression. Furthermore, removing the fear of escalation between the superpowers might allow the United States to act more freely in response to aggression when it did occur, and even help deter some international conflicts. In a sense, the United States was in a position to enforce a peace where and when it chose. The Gulf War was the first test of an emerging "general" deterrence and revealed some weaknesses in it—although probably because of shortsightedness on the part of Saddam Hussein. Some of the initial inability to deter Iraq's invasion of Kuwait may well have been ill-communicated policy—that is, the vocal, or declared, determination that the United States would not tolerate aggression in the region. However, even after the United States made clear that it would not let Iraq's action stand, Saddam Hussein did not back down, despite the growing, though never complete, certainty that the United States fully intended to carry through with restoring Kuwaiti independence. It appears that Iraq discounted the resolve and credibility of the United States to follow through on its threat to act or its ability to use its military capabilities. It may also be true that Saddam Hussein was unresponsive to the "logic" of deterrence, in which case he was ''undeterrable." In any case, the existence of strategic nuclear missiles, as part of the looming, if dimly understood, American deterrence, appeared once again to have had limited value in deterring conventional aggression either in the invasion itself or the subsequent conduct of operations during the war. Although the U.S. nuclear arsenal did not inhibit Saddam Hussein from invading and annexing Kuwait, some observers hoped that massive allied superiority in all strategic weapons, particularly nuclear ones, would deter Iraqi Scud attacks on Israel or their use of chemical weapons generally. The prevailing fear of the time was that, if attacked, Israel might enter the conflict

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Page 79 and in doing so, break up the new and delicate association of Arab powers arrayed with Western powers against a fellow Arab state. Such a disruption would have handicapped coalition efforts to stop Iraq, let alone restore Kuwaiti independence. To preserve an element of deterrence against these possibilities, the Bush administration carefully neither ruled in nor ruled out the use of nuclear weapons in the war, particularly in response to Iraqi threats of chemical warfare. At the same time, it was clear, although unspoken, that the administration would probably not equate conventionally armed Scud missile attacks with nuclear weapons. Despite the array of weaponry, and the calculated uncertainty over coalition willingness to use nuclear weapons, an undeterred Iraq did launch Scuds against Israel. It seems that, in choosing to attack, it made little difference to Saddam Hussein whether the coalition could strike Iraq with nuclear strategic weapons or conventional weapons. In Saddam's mind apparently, the chance of embroiling Israel in the war was worth these risks, or perhaps he did not care. American use of nuclear weapons was politically improbable, and Iraq could expect the United States to deploy strategic conventional weapons in a range of missions in any case. In short, Saddam Hussein perceived no added risk for Iraq in attacking Israel and launched what missiles he could. As it turned out, Iraq's offensive strategic weapons proved of little value. The Scud strikes against Israel did not provoke an Israeli military response and served no purpose, although the Israelis were sorely tested and were restrained only with the greatest effort on the part of the Bush administration. The coalition war effort went on unimpaired, settling into a one-sided exchange of strategic conventional strikes in which Iraq experienced the full destructive effects of smart conventional strategic weapons hitting targets at will throughout the depth of the country, followed by a ground war to physically remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait. The question remains, however: If Saddam Hussein had had nuclear weapons, would his influence on allied political and military decisions have been greater and more troubling, complicating the prosecution of the war? Would Iraqi nuclear weapons have deterred the coalition in some way? There was no useful role for Iraqi nuclear weapons in the Gulf War. In practical military terms, it would not have been possible for Saddam Hussein to diminish significantly the overwhelming military superiority of the forces arrayed against him. Even had he developed nuclear weapons in time for use in the war, the international military might arrayed against Saddam Hussein was overpowering. It is true that a nuclear weapon in Saddam Hussein's hands might well have led to unfortunate consequences. Nuclear weapons used in desperation, or from wild plans of revenge against Israel, could have resulted in great human tragedy. Furthermore, had Saddam struck with a nuclear weapon, Israel undoubtedly would have struck back in kind, leading to untold casualties and suffering. However, the political costs were high. For Saddam to have used such a nuclear capability as he might have developed would merely have

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Page 80 isolated him and reinforced the determination of the coalition powers to eliminate him. Despite the political costs, and limited military utility of an Iraqi nuclear weapon, it is not clear whether Saddam Hussein would have used nuclear weapons had he possessed them. However, it is also unclear whether the coalition's, or Israel's, nuclear threat could ever have been counted upon to deter him from using them. After all, Saddam Hussein chose to start a nuclear weapons program in the very face of the overwhelming nuclear power of the states arrayed against him, including the Israelis he sought to provoke. There was no apparent logical reason for Iraq to build a nuclear weapon outside of this very threat of irresponsible behavior: the looming threat of a wildcard regional nuclear power. Saddam Hussein's decision to embark on a nuclear weapons program itself demonstrates that there was little or no nuclear deterrent at play in Iraq's evaluation of the strategic situation in the Gulf. Although the United States proved unable to deter the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the Gulf War did offer an opportunity to reinforce the future credibility of our resolve to act by making an example of Iraq's invasion for future wouldbe aggressors. The Bush administration carefully followed the U.N. path, seeking peaceful resolution of aggression before resorting to force. At the same time, it equally carefully orchestrated and led a multinational response to Iraq, culminating in a U.N.-sanctioned use of force to eject Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. In this way, the Bush administration laid the foundations for what might be a model for the response to future aggression—determined and decisive American-led multinational efforts in the United Nations and on the ground. The Persian Gulf War also opened a further opportunity to restore credibility to U.S. deterrence efforts in the form of the PGMs it used against Iraq. The war confirmed that smart conventional strategic weapons had a practical combat mission. Against Iraq, these weapons rapidly countered and rendered essentially useless Iraq's offensive weapons and military forces—even if such offensive weapons were confined to Scud missiles with relatively limited warheads posing little threat to allied forces in the Gulf region. In the Gulf War, the United States demonstrated that it had both the resolve and the reach to strike devastating blows against the economic, military, and political power bases of an adversary without resorting to the use of nuclear weapons. CURRENT CHALLENGES As the Persian Gulf War demonstrated, in the current context of international relations, one without an overarching threat such as the Soviet Union and general nuclear war, the problem of deterrence is more complex than in the Cold War and its solutions must be more flexible. We must now seek to deter aggression from a variety of other states on a number of levels, while the rules of power and deterrence have altered along with the resources behind them. The already questionable ability of large powerful states to control the

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Page 81 actions of smaller ones has disappeared altogether. We are, therefore, less able to predict, prevent, or control the occurrence of security problems, let alone to stop them from spilling over into larger conflicts. The spread of technology exacerbates the complexity of the diverse sources of new security problems. Not only is nuclear proliferation a headache, but a host of lethal and efficient nonnuclear technologies makes deterrence of specific threats ever more difficult to implement. Aside from missile technology, or chemical and biological weapons, detection technologies such as sophisticated radar defenses, advances in information nets, and the like make even smaller states more powerful and quicker than in the past. We can no longer construct a security strategy and policy around the belief that sheer numbers and firepower will deter aggression generally; we must create better, more specific, focused policies and strategies with better technology for the job if we hope to inhibit the aggression of rogue states. Post-Cold War deterrence will require creating forces that can offer a credible deterrent on these new terms. Developing true strategic conventional weapons offers us the core of a flexible, credible strategic capability that no aggressor should discount in a wide range of circumstances. These weapons allow us to use them when the use of a nuclear weapon of any sort would be politically or militarily impractical. However, no mixture of forces will prevent any and all aggression or offer the preparedness we would wish. As the very occurrence of the Gulf War itself reminds us, no strategic weapon, or array of forces, can forestall the ambitions of a tyrant. New strategies and well-balanced nonstrategic conventional forces should permit the United States the ability to prevent escalation—to limit the spread of conflict—and allow us the power to redress aggression as it unfolds. However, we must still balance the popular perception of these weapons. To much of the world viewing the Gulf War on television, PGMs appeared a miracle weapon, a new panacea for all sorts of conflicts which could do the job with little loss of military personnel and limited civilian losses. This perception caught the imagination of a people with the reasonable desire to limit human suffering and loss of life under any circumstances. Unfortunately, this is an unreasonable perception, especially at the current stage of strategic conventional weapons development. Smart weapons can do much to limit loss of life, but they cannot take on all missions, and they cannot address all emerging challenges. We should also take special care to underscore that we should not view possession of precision-guided munitions as an alternative to our possession of nuclear weapons; we should have both. The United States should continue to maintain a secure and widely dispersed array of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems until we are assured that the nuclear weapons of others constitute no threat to the overwhelming strategic nuclear superiority of U.S. forces. However, even though it may be necessary for us to maintain an overwhelming nuclear strategic capability, it is unwise and unnecessary for us actually to use that capability, even in retaliation. The improvements in PGMs

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Page 82 offer us the option to respond to nuclear attack with nonnuclear weapons. If we can rely on a proven capability to disarm a nuclear aggressor with conventional strategic weapons, we should not merely retaliate, as eye for eye, or out of anger; we should act with wisdom and a sense of the great responsibility that comes with great power. In the future, both strategic nuclear weapons and strategic conventional weapons can offer us a tailored deterrence mission. Strategic nuclear weapons may now fulfill a broader, or nonspecific, deterrence mission, poised not against another state but against the threat of nuclear attack upon the United States and its allies by a major nuclear power. Strategic conventional weapons, in the form of a variety of precision-guided munitions and the ships or planes equipped to deliver those munitions, may help create a more specific deterrence against particular emerging threats, once those threats are identified and a strategy to combat them is crafted. In a real sense, the end of the Cold War and the maturing of better conventional weapons have returned deterrence from the further reaches of abstract theory to the fold of practical policy. They encourage us to plan and declare more focused, practical, and credible deterrence policies and provide us the means with which to back them up. In the aftermath of the Gulf War, as the lessons of the successes, failures, and potential of conventional, strategic, high-precision strategic, smart weapons are digested by all nations, one message should come home most emphatically: the United States, when provoked, can and will use strategic conventional weapons against whatever targets it considers appropriate. A general understanding of this one lesson, at home and abroad, may offer us the first credible and therefore useful strategic deterrent we have seen since the early days of the nuclear era. At the same time, the United States should not squander its credibility by allowing challenges to go unmet and forfeit international leadership in moments of crisis. Unless and until the United States is willing to closely examine its new national interests as well as publicize them, and to take the foreign policy and security measures required to meet those interests, no amount of weapons, no matter how sophisticated, will succeed in deterring aggression.