Whether they are under American command, or completely within the control of one of our allies or subject to joint control, they present the severest problems for the preservation of a deterrent force. "Balance of Terror" is one of the books in Captain Georgiou's ready room. The complexities of the problem, if they were more widely understood, would discourage the oracular confidence of writers on the subject of deterrence. The proponents do not seem to regard an addition of capability for NATO at the all-out end of the spectrum as the required broadening; but if they do, they are faced with the question previously considered: the actuality of this all-out response under all-out attack. Before we look at any examples, we do need to remember that the balance of threat theory does rely on a few basic assumptions. At the fourth hurdle — ability to reach enemy territory with fuel enough to complete the mission — several of our short-legged systems have operational problems such as coordination with tankers and using bases close to the enemy. We have heard so much about the atomic stalemate and the receding probability of war which it has produced, that this may strike the reader as something of an exaggeration. The balance of threat ( BoT) theory was proposed by Stephen M. Walt first in his article Alliance Formation and the Balance of World Power, published in the journal International Security in 1985. The alternative was to launch bombers on their way to target with instructions to continue unless recalled. Let me suggest at this point the inadequacy of the popular conception of the airborne alert — an extreme form of defense by mobility. It is conceivable that we might attempt the intercontinental delivery of iron bombs as well as ground troops and ground-support elements. One of the most important of these assumptions — that a general thermonuclear war is extremely unlikely — is held in common by most of the critics of our defense policy as well as by its proponents. Insofar as these weapons are expensive to operate and support they are likely to displace a conventional capability that might be genuinely useful in limited engagements. This is one reason deterrence is only a part and not the whole of a military and foreign policy. But finally there is no question at this late date that strategic deterrence is inadequate to answer limited provocation. It imposes some dangers of its own. Because it involves our ballistic missiles it appears directly to answer the Russian rockets. Long distance communication may be jammed and, most important, communication centers may be destroyed. Such assumptions suggest that Soviet leaders will be rather bumbling or, better, cooperative. The early B-52 radius is roughly that of the B-36; the B-47, roughly that of the B-50 or B-29. The Thors and Jupiters will be continuously in range of an enormous Soviet potential for surprise attack. The unvaryingly immoderate claims for each new weapons system should make us wary of the latest "technological breakthroughs." Therefore such a decision must wait for much more unambiguous evidence of enemy intentions. The emergence of China as a major nuclear power threatens to throw this balance of terror off-kilter, as Beijing, Moscow, and Washington each view the other two as rivals. Aerial photography would have its uses in a disarmament plan — for example, to check an exchange of information on the location of ground bases. But the protection of retaliatory power remains essential; and the better the protection, the smaller the burden placed on the agreement to limit arms and modes of operation and to make them subject to inspection. It has also been argued that in this respect it merely advances the inevitable date at which our allies will acquire "modern" weapons of their own, and that it widens the range of Soviet challenges which Europe can meet. Start studying American History. Matching weapons, however, misconstrues the nature of the technological race. A protected power to strike back does not come automatically, but it can hardly be stressed too much that it is worth the effort. It is hard to talk with confidence about the mid- and late-Sixties. The "thousands of coordinated air sorties and/or missile firings," he concludes, are not feasible. He overestimates the number of such bases by more than a factor of ten,[5] and in any case, missile firings on the scale of a thousand or more involve costs that are by no means out of proportion, given the strategic budgets of the great powers. On the other hand, it would be unwise to look for miracles in the new weapons systems, which by the mid-1960's may constitute a considerable portion of the United States force. There are two principal points. The last of these types of use (involving continuous close-in operation and exposure before the outbreak) is, of course, the most vulnerable. Yet I would conjecture that if one considers the implications of modern surface-to-air missiles in the context of conventional war in which the attacker has to make many sorties and expose himself to recurring attrition, these weapons would look ever so much better than they do when faced, for example, with the heroic task of knocking down 99 percent of a wave of, say one thousand nuclear bombers. One outmoded A-bomb dropped from an obsolete bomber might destroy a great many supersonic jets and ballistic missiles. (In fact he grants it rather more than I since in his policy of disengagement it seems that he would substitute a threat something like that of massive retaliation for even conventional American and English forces on the Continent.). If there is to be any prospect of realistic and useful agreement, we must reject the theory of automatic deterrence. Mr. Kennan refers to American concern about surprise attack as simply obsessive,[2] and many people have drawn the consequence of the stalemate as has Blackett, who states: "If it is in fact true, as most current opinion holds, that strategic air power has abolished global war, then an urgent problem for the West is to assess how little effort must be put into it to keep global war abolished. In consequence, the discussion will be advanced if a little more precision is given such terms as "missiles" or "modern" or "advanced weapons." E-Realism and morality. The only way of preventing such damage with high confidence is to prevent the war. Unfortunately, both the privileged and unprivileged information on these matters is precarious. 21 – 34; and ‘The Balance of Power and the Balance of Terror’, in Seabury, P. But aside from the special problems of joint control, which would affect the certainty of response adversely, precisely who their legal owner is will not affect the retaliatory power of the Thors and Jupiters one way or another. balance which, it is generally supposed, would make aggression irrational or even insane. These are best called "Western-preferred-Soviet strategies." Or, taking a specific bomber with a fixed radius, the cost of extending its radius by buying and operating aerial tankers will also grow at an increasing rate, with additional air refuelings to extend radius. If the alarm was in response to an actual attack and some radio communications should fail, this failure would mean only a small percentage diminution of the force going on to target. These other objectives of military and foreign policy are important and many of them are vital. Since Sputnik, the United States has made several moves to assure the world (that is, the enemy, but more especially our allies and ourselves) that we will match or overmatch Soviet technology and, specifically, Soviet offense technology. Strategic deterrence will be hard. On the other hand, if it is clear that the aggressor too will suffer catastrophic damage in the event of his aggression, he then has strong reason not to attack, even though he can administer great damage. But is we could obtain a leakproof air defense, many things would change. But in fact progress in disarmament too will be made easier if it is complemented by a defense against aggression. This depends essentially on how well the rest of the force, which does not have range extension problems, can get over each of the other five obstacles: for example, the problem of surviving attack on the continental United States and penetrating enemy passive and active defense. none, 1958. https://www.rand.org/pubs/papers/P1472.html. They have a variety of military, political and economic roles which are beyond the scope of this paper. The less warning, the more difficult this problem is. Before publishing your articles on this site, please read the following pages: 1. Now, the focus is on Pakistan. And there is a good chance that we will do so. For close-in targets the Soviets can use a larger variety of weapons carrying larger payloads and with improved accuracies. 1. The critics of current policy who perceive the inadequacy of the strategy of deterrence are prominent among those urging disarmament negotiations, an end to the arms race, and a reduction of tension. In neither world war, then, did the United States enter for considerations of the balance of power. In this way, no single state should be able to dominate the others. The most important thing to say perhaps is that it doesn't make much sense to talk about whether general war is likely or not unless we specify a good deal else about the range of circumstances in which the choice of surprise attack might present itself to the Russians. There is nothing on the other hand, or very little, in the notion that dispersal in several countries makes the problem of destruction more difficult in the military sense. But how we go about this will be conditioned by our appreciation of the problem of deterrence itself. Even if the bombers were dispersed at ten different points, and protected by shelters so blast resistant as to stand up anywhere outside the lip of the bomb crater — even inside the fire ball itself — the chances of one of these bombers surviving the huge attack directed at it would be on the order of one in a million. Both involve the acceptance of such national policies which are in reality dangerous and risky. It was our bomb. Systems relying on extensive movement by land, perhaps by truck caravan, are an obvious example; the introduction of these on European roads, as is sometimes suggested, would raise grave questions for the governments of some of our allies. It is a curious paradox of our recent intellectual history that, among the pioneers of both the balance of terror theory of automatic deterrence and the small nuclear weapon theory of limited or tactical war were the last true believers in the possibility of near perfect defense — which would have made deterrence infeasible and both it and the ability to fight limited war unimportant. [11] This belief is belied by the public record. There are several quite plausible circumstances in the future when the Russians might be confident of being able to limit damage to considerably less than this number — if they make sensible strategic choices and we do not. He died in 1994. Fortunately now, the humankind has fully realized the dangers of balance of terror. The chance of even some of our unprotected planes or missiles surviving would be greater. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. In suggesting that a carefully planned surprise attack can be checkmated almost effortlessly, that in short we may resume our deep pre-Sputnik sleep, it is wrong and its nearly universal acceptance is terribly dangerous. Privacy Policy 8. A totalitarian country can preserve secrecy about the capabilities and disposition of his forces very much better than a Western democracy. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors. Almost everyone seems concerned with the need to relax tension. This is the basis for the common view. In fact it would be appropriate to say something about the limitations as well as the necessity of strategic deterrence in this as well as other connections. The critics who feel that deterrence if "bankrupt," to use the word of one of them, sometimes say that we stress deterrence too much. And the less we knew, the more hopeful we were. The many critics of the massive retaliation policy who advocate a capability to meet limited aggression with a limited response are on firm ground in suggesting that a massive response on such an occasion would be unlikely and the threat to use it therefore not believed. Since retiring in 1970, he wrote and did research with his wife. Not even the most advanced reconnaissance equipment can disclose an intention from 40,000 feet. Balance of terror definition, the distribution of nuclear arms among nations such that no nation will initiate an attack for fear of retaliation: maintaining the balance of … These claims are seldom revisited or talked about: De mortuis nil nisi bonum. Deterrence will require an urgent and continuing effort. They assume, for example, that the enemy will attack in mass "over-the-Arctic" through our Distant Early Warning line, with bombers refueled over Canada — all resulting in plenty of warning. Summary Contents It is only when one side of a conflict is so powerful, so wealthy, and so militarily … The balance of threat theory modified the popular balance of power theory in the neorealist school of international relations. The power to deter a rational all-out attack does not relieve us of the responsibility for defending our cities in case deterrence fails. That's not the world we live in today. The difficulty of describing in a brief article the best mixture of weapons for the long-term future beginning in 1960, their base requirements, their potentiality for stabilizing or upsetting the balance among the great powers, and their implications for the alliance, is not just a matter of space or the constraints of security. The balance, I believe, is in fact precari ous, and this fact has critical implications for policy. Some but not all of the systems listed can be chosen and the problem of choice is essentially quantitative. He spent ten years working and teaching at a clinic in Massachussets, and ten years more back at Harvard. What of the bases for Thor and Jupiter, our first intermediate range ballistic missiles? Contributor: Payne, Keith B. The end of cold war and the emergence of process of close economic cooperation between East and West, have given rise to a positive qualitative change in contemporary international relations. ... pp. 5 | 17 (With the rising noise level of alarms on the international scene and the shortening of the time available for such momentous decisions, this possibility becomes more real; with the widespread distribution of nuclear weapons with separate national controls, it is possible that there will be separate calculations of national interest. Introduction. Mr. Alsop's argument is numerical and has the virtue of demonstrating that at least the relative numbers are important. Wohlstetter, Albert, The Delicate Balance of Terror. Such deterrent systems must have (a) a stable, "steady-state" peacetime operation within feasible budgets (besides the logistic and operational costs that are, for example, problem of false alarms and accidents). The actions that need to be taken on our own to deter attack might usefully be complemented by bilateral arguments for inspection and reporting and, possibly, limitation of arms and of methods of operating strategic and naval air forces. Nevertheless, if the Thor and Jupiter have these defects, might not some future weapon be free of them? The flurry of statements and investigations and improvised responses has died down, leaving a small residue: a slight increase in the schedule of bomber and ballistic missile production, with a resulting small increment in our defense expenditures for the current fiscal year, a considerable enthusiasm for space travel, and some stirrings of interest in the teaching of mathematics and physics in the secondary schools. Some of the principal difficulties I have sketched will remain and others will grow. Or the planes would have to be kept grounded until evidence of an attack was unambiguous — which would make these forces more vulnerable and, hence, such an attack more probable. Our own interest in "fail-safe" responses for our retaliatory forces illustrates this. These have to be close to the enemy, and they must of course be operating bases, not merely refueling stations. Count-down procedures for early missiles are liable to interruption, and the cryogenic character of the liquid oxygen fuel limits the readiness of their response. The effectiveness of our own choices will depend on a most complex numerical interaction of Soviet and Western plans. At present peaceful coexistence, peaceful conflict-resolution and cooperation, and sustainable development through democratization, liberalisation, denuclearization, demilitarization and development are the principles lines upon which the international relations of the 21st century are being developed. A serious study of the competing systems in the late Sixties, as I stressed earlier, will have to consider the fact that a sensible enemy will design his offense and his active and passive defense so as to exploit the known weaknesses of whatever systems we choose. - 1969, p. 114-126 Full and comprehensive Nuclear Disarmament and global agreement on arms control must be secured for finally ending the balance of terror in international relations. (2) Or they might provide emergency landing facilities for the bombers returning from target. At the end of the last decade, overseas bases appeared to be an advantageous means of achieving the radius extension needed by our short-legged bombers, of permitting them to use several axes of attack, and of increasing the number of sorties possible in the course of an extended campaign. The balance of power is one of the oldest and most fundamental concepts in international relations theory. 3. It finds that there are two main aspects of this ‘general’ concept of stability. It must and will take a longer time to make and is less likely to be made at all. The psychology of interpersonal relations. But we must face seriously the question whether this move will assure either the ability to retaliate or the decision to attempt it, on the part of our allies, or ourselves. And we should ask at the very least whether further expansion of this policy will buy as much retaliatory power as other ways of spending the considerable sums involved. Second, deterring general war in both the early and late Sixties will be hard at best, and hardest both for ourselves and our allies wherever we use forces based near the enemy. C-Intervention in the Third World. The solid-fueled rockets, Minuteman and Polaris, promise in particular to be extremely significant components of the deterrent force. Indeed, with the actual composition of our tanker and bomber force only a small proportion could be operated from the current continental United States base system to our Russian targets and back without some use of overseas bases. I am inclined to believe that most of those who rely on tactical nuclear weapons as a substitute for disparities in conventional forces have in general presupposed a cooperative Soviet attacker, one who did not use atomic weapons himself. The critical part of the bomber coordination problem depends especially on the time spent within warning nets rather than simply the time of travel, and warning, as I have stressed, is difficult to come by, close to the Soviets. structure of people’s opinions about other individuals and objects as well as the perceived relation In this case the first wave might be smaller and less well organized than in a carefully prepared attack. (The problem of obtaining warning of a surprise attack, deciding on a response and communicating the decision — which last is especially acute for the mobile systems — would be very much easier if we did not have to be concerned with both goals: to deter a rational act of war and to reduce the chance of its happening by accident.) Because it involves using European bases, it appears to make up for the range superiority of the Russian intercontinental missile. 2. Such a situation is clearly extremely unstable. He will also be free, within limits, in the Sixties to choose that composition of forces for offense, and for active and passive defense which will make life as difficult as possible for the various systems we might select. The important thing would be to find some discontinuities if these steps are not to lead too smoothly to general war. After the Thor, Atlas, and Titan there are a number of promising developments. There is no question that it was genuinely urgent not only to meet the Russian threat but to do so visibly, in order to save the loosening NATO alliance. For example, five half-megaton weapons with an average accuracy of 2 miles might be expected to destroy half the population of a city of 900,000, spread over 40 square miles, provided the inhabitants are without shelters. Although there are many variations of balance of power theory and interpretations of the concept, all are premised on the minimum of a tendency and the maximum of a lawlike recurrent equilibrium model. But the notion of massive retaliation as a responsible retort to peripheral provocations vanished in the harsh light of a better understanding here and abroad that the Soviet nuclear delivery capability meant tremendous losses to the United States if we attacked them. It seemed only to complete the preponderance of American power provided by our enormous industrial mobilization base and to dispense with the need to keep it mobilized. My comments will take the form of a swift run-through of the characteristic advantages and disadvantages of various strategic systems at each of the six successive hurdles mentioned earlier. General deterrence and the balance of power - Volume 15 Issue 2 - Lawrence Freedman. He stated: But unfortunately his evaluation of the use of intercontinental ballistic missiles against bomber bases shows that it was not at all safe to "disregard this possibility." The problem of intercontinental versus overseas bombers is mainly a matter of costs, provided we have the time and freedom to choose the composition of our force and our budget size. Moreover, these probabilities are not independent. Western forces at the end of the war were larger than those of the Soviet Union and its satellites. 546 –76. However, these do not affect the balance of terror because no alliance can create a preponderance of power against a nuclear power. Only a very short time ago the ballistic missile itself was supposed to be intrinsically invulnerable on the ground. Some of the complexities can be suggested by referring to the successive obstacles to be hurdled by any system providing a capability to strike second, that is, to strike back. Although there are many variations of balance of power theory and interpretations of the concept, all are premised on the minimum of a tendency and the maximum of a lawlike recurrent equilibrium model. This is the "fail-safe" procedure practiced by the U.S. Air Force. Missiles placed near the enemy, even if they could not retaliate, would have a potent capability for striking first by surprise. The first shock administered by the Soviet launching of Sputnik has almost dissipated. At the second hurdle — surviving enemy offense — ground alert systems placed deep within a warning net look good against a manned bomber attack, much less good against intercontinental ballistic missiles, and not good at all against ballistic missiles launched from the sea. Insko, C. A. The contrary is the case. 20th-century international relations - 20th-century international relations - Nuclear weapons and the balance of terror: The postwar arms race began as early as 1943, when the Soviet Union began its atomic program and placed agents in the West to steal U.S. atomic secrets. Deterrence is not dispensable. In this way they will accelerate the general trend toward dependence on all-out response and so will have the opposite effect to the one claimed. TOS 7. I know in fact of no high confidence way of avoiding enormous damage to our cities in a war initiated by an aggressor with a surprise thermonuclear attack. So James E. King, Jr., one of the most sensible writers on the subject of limited war, suggests[15] that weapons needed for "unlimited" war are those which both sides can most easily agree to abolish, simply because "neither side can anticipate anything but disaster" from their use. This was plausible then because nuclear power was all on our side. Suppose both the United States and the Soviet union had the power to destroy each others' retaliatory forces and society, given the opportunity to administer the opening blow. New York: Wiley. Another argument, which will not hold water and which is in fact dangerous, is sometimes used: Little wars are likely, general war improbable. For example, a squadron of heavy bombers costing, with their associated tankers and penetration aids, perhaps a half a billion dollars over five years, might be eliminated, if it were otherwise unprotected, by an enemy intercontinental ballistic missile costing perhaps sixteen million dollars. In case deterrence fails, they might support a counterattack which could blunt the strength of an enemy follow-up attack, and so reduce the damage done to our cities. It follows that, though a wider distribution in the ownership of nuclear weapons may be inevitable, or at any rate likely, it is by no means inevitable or even very likely that the power to deter an all-out thermonuclear attack by Russia will be widespread. We should ask then whether further expansion of the current programs for basing Thor and Jupiter is an efficient way to increase American retaliatory power. The Balance of Terror Theory: A Comparative Analysis By Terrance Jones Even if one accepts the balance –of-terror theory, including the belief that there are almost no circumstances in which the Soviets would launch a deliberate attack on the continental United States (and vice versa), some important strategic problems remain. For example, vehicles like Minuteman and Polaris, which were made small to facilitate dispersal or mobility, may suffer here because they can carry fewer penetration aids. Probing the assumptions behind conventional wisdom, and drawing upon newly declassified documents, he weaves together theory and practice to show how a particular school of thought—advocating a so-called "stable balance of terror"—came to dominate policies on such issues as nuclear deterrence, arms control, and missile defenses. It is, moreover, only an average, admitting variance down as well as up. ... (‘US slams India, praises Pak on terror!’Indian Express, July 15, 2005,). 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