Rationality, Culture and Deterrence   [open pdf - 567KB]

"This research project reviews three other approaches that have been applied to studying deterrence: social constructivism, domestic politics, and psychology and neuroscience. None of these approaches, either alone or in combination, offers a perfect framework for predicting the outcomes of deterrence efforts. Each adds valuable insights, however, that are relevant to developing deterrence strategies. They draw attention to the degree of overlap in how the two sides understand key issues related to deterrence, to the range of internal debate on the other side, and to common biases and heuristics likely to affect the decisions of actors on the receiving end of deterrent threats. In particular, recent work has highlighted the dangers of pushing the other side into the domain of losses or tapping into underlying concerns about justice and fairness. This study recommends that, in thinking about whether and how to deter other actors, analysts make use of all the different models available for anticipating how the other side will be influenced. This will not guarantee success in deterrence, but compared to relying on just a single framework for thinking about deterrence, use of multiple perspectives should reduce the chances of overlooking a critical flaw in deterrence planning. Making sure that policymakers and planners are familiar with a range of alternative approaches should therefore improve the U.S. ability to craft effective deterrent strategies." 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:
Report No. 2013-009
Public Domain. Downloaded or retrieved via external web link as part of the PASCC collection.
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