nuclear deterrence of WMD use. The paper goes on to explore the incentives and disincentives that regional states and others could have for joining such a coalition and supporting its nuclear deterrence strategy. Finally, the paper discusses some practical steps that can be taken to speed the implementation of a coalition nuclear deterrence strategy should a WMD-backed regional challenge arise.
Further investigation of the potential features and requirements for a political-military strategy for protecting against challenges by WMD-armed regional states seems essential. It can inform and motivate advance preparations that should help to deter such challenges from being made.
It is a fundamental truism that the United States and its friends and allies benefit enormously from the world order that they have largely created with its complex economic, political, and military interdependencies. They are accordingly prepared to defend this order against military aggression threatening either the more important interdependencies or revolutionary change to the larger order itself. Some few other states are not content with their lot within this world order and are prepared to use force to better their positions when the opportunity presents itself. As current examples, North Korea, Iraq, and perhaps to a lesser extent, Iran, all oppose the current status quo within their regions. All have demonstrated a willingness to use violence to challenge the status quo. All appear to be pursuing improved WMD capabilities which can underwrite future challenges. As such states' capabilities to threaten mass destruction improve, they will expect their interests to be given more weight and will also expect to obtain concessions they had formerly been denied.
There is a logic to such expectations. Any WMD proliferator would expect every state within striking range to revise sharply upward its assessments of the losses it could suffer in a war with the proliferator. Given these increased risks, the proliferator would expect states involved in the region to evaluate more conservatively which of their interests is worth being strongly defended. Thus the task facing an aggressive regional state, newly armed with WMD, is to discover which of the interests of importance to it could be pressed successfully and to capture whatever gains are found to be available.
Deciding just how aggressively to proceed in order to capture the greatest possible concessions at reasonable risk will not be straightforward. Subtlety and patience might seem to promise substantial gains at lower risk by accommodating graceful adjustments to the new distribution of power. At the same time, a more patient approach could allow the prospective victims time to counterbalance the potential aggressor's power, perhaps by obtaining their own WMD.
Alternatively, a very aggressive pursuit of concessions could lead to an excessively risky military confrontation. This could happen if the prospective losers and their supporters saw the concession as unwarranted, or felt intolerably