Strategic Personality and the Effectiveness of Nuclear Deterrence: Deterring Iraq and Iran   [open pdf - 2MB]

The likelihood of some future rogue state launching an ICBM in what would certainly be a suicidal act of vengeance or retaliation against the United States is, if not altogether impossible, then at least vanishingly small. The real reason the United States must keep nonproliferation and nuclear deterrence at the very center of its national security strategy is the imperative to defend its oldest and most cherished Ultimate Concern: maintaining the global strategic, economic, and diplomatic freedom of action that enables the US to continue to implement and expand its national vision of personal, political, and economic liberty. If any state, anywhere, is allowed to achieve its strategic objectives through either the employment of nuclear weapons or through nuclear blackmail, then the ability of the US to pursue its global economic and political as well as strategic interests will be impaired to a degree that will prove devastating to its Ultimate Concerns and, hence, unacceptable. The challenges of long-term threat reduction in the Persian Gulf region point to a larger challenge for US strategy. The widespread acceptance of US strategic hegemony that characterized the 1990s is gradually eroding. Unless the United States is willing to accept the burden of a constant cycle of regional crisis, strategy in the post-Kosovo era will have to find ways to advance US Ultimate Concerns in ways that are more responsive or, at the very least, less provocative to the Ultimate Concerns of the less-than-major powers -even the ones it finds distasteful in terms of its vision and values. The only alternative is the establishment of an Imperial US that even our allies are likely to resist, that will constitute a major long-term drain on national blood and treasure, and for which little US domestic political will exists. This paper explores nuclear deterrence and threat reduction in reference to Iran and Iraq, concluding with recommendations and concerns. Note: This document has been added to the Homeland Security Digital Library in agreement with the Project on Advanced Systems and Concepts for Countering WMD (PASCC) as part of the PASCC collection. Permission to download and/or retrieve this resource has been obtained through PASCC.

Report Number:
IDA Paper P-3658
2000, 2001 Institute for Defense Analyses. Posted here with permission. Downloaded or retrieved via external web link as part of the PASCC collection.
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