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Deterrence Theory is a Fraud

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posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 03:02 PM
Deterrence theory is that theory which says nuclear weapons will not be used due to retaliation and death to both nations. Deterrence theory is based on game theory.

Picture you and your opponent facing each other at a table with individual buttons in front of you. You can sit there and stare at each other for as long as you like until either player pushes his button. Whoever pushes their button first wins. If the losing player pushes his button quickly therafter, he invalidates the win of the other party. As you can imagine, all such games end in a draw.

This analogy is simple, but in real life, espionage and deception are the rule. We can't see the opponents button so the urge to push ours becomes very powerful. If he has secretly pushed his, we must not miss the window to invalidate his victory.

Nuclear Deterrence therefore becomes entirely based on the fearsomness of a nation's war-face. You want your opponent to think you are just on the brink of attacking anyway, and are only restrained by the morality of your principles. "If he EVER pushes his button," your posture communicates, "he will be annihilated." This keeps both parties from playing the game of nuclear war. Nobody pushes their button because both of them are so convinced that any play will result in an eventual draw/dead planet. Even when one of the players is totally nuts, cooler heads usually prevail. [Nixon's Madman Theory]

Unfortunately, nuclear proliferation is like adding another player to that button-game. Suddenly, there are not TWO BUTTONS on planet earth, there are THREE buttons. There are FOUR buttons. As of the last twenty years or so, we live a world of around EIGHT buttons. If ANY button gets pressed, Deterrence theory REQUIRES other gamers to press their button also, otherwise you lose the nuclear war. You must launch not just SOME of your nukes, mind you, but EVERYTHING to ensure that Deterrence theory follows its course and your enemy dies.

Deterrence theory, in the event of a first use, increases the chance of TOTAL nuclear war. Total nuclear war would be much, much worse. Saying this a different way, Deterrence Theory ensures that if a first strike does occur, we will kill tens of millions more for no reason but that the rules of the game require it.

The movie 'War Games' is much more fact-based and truthful than people realize. At the end of that movie, the computer theorizes about nuclear war by playing Tic-Tac-Toe with itself. Tic-Tac-Toe is a two-player game.

We have seen dramatizations of how difficult it can be to communicate at times of crisis. These dramatizations are correct. It is difficult to determine what your enemy is thinking when his missiles are detected as launched. A clock is ticking (14 minutes if launch from submarine) and if you don't find out what's up within that time, you must push your button also or you will lose nuclear war. Movies like Crimson Tide, Dr. Strangelove and War Games are only the tip of the iceberg.

Deterrence theory is a relic. If it is proven wrong, as many theories are, we will all be very sorry. In my opinion, it does far more harm than good, should an accident occur.

[edit on 4-2-2005 by smallpeeps]

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 04:44 PM
From Wikipedia:

During the Cold War the USSR invested in extensive protected civilian infrastructure such as large nuclear proof bunkers and non-perishable food stores. In the US, by comparison, little to no preparations were made for civilians at all, except for the occasional backyard fallout shelter built by private individuals. This was part of a deliberate strategy on the Americans' part that stressed the difference between first and second strike strategies. By leaving their population largely exposed, this gave the impression that the US had no intention of launching a first strike nuclear war, as their cities would clearly be obliterated in the retaliation.

The US also made a point during this period of targeting their missiles on Russian population centers rather than military targets. This was intended to reinforce the second strike pose. If the Soviets attacked first, then there would be no point in destroying empty missile silos that had already launched; the only thing left to hit would be cities. By contrast, if America had gone to great lengths to protect their citizens and targeted the enemy's silos, that might have led the Russians to believe the US was planning a first strike, where they would eliminate Soviet missiles while still in their silos and be able to survive a weakened counter attack in their reinforced bunkers. In this way, both sides were (theoretically) assured that the other would not strike first, and a war without a first strike will not occur.

This strategy had one major and very possibly critical flaw, soon realised by military analysts but highly underplayed by the US military: Conventional NATO forces in the European theatre of war were considered to be outnumbered by similar Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces, and while the western countries invested heavily in high-tech conventional weapons to counter this (partly perceived) imbalance, it was assumed that in case of a major Soviet attack (commonly perceived as the 'red tanks rolling towards the North Sea' scenario) that NATO, in the face of conventional defeat, would soon have no other choice but to resort to tactical nuclear weapons. Most analysts agreed that once the first nuclear exchange had occurred, escalation to global nuclear war would become almost inevitable.

Please note the final sentence. It is Deterrence Theory which has brought us to this point. We are held by the scruff of our collective necks by it.

[edit on 4-2-2005 by smallpeeps]

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 04:51 PM
decent logic but i must play devils advocate now. how then, do you explain the fact that the U.S. and Russia never used nuclear weapons on each other during the cold war?

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 04:54 PM
Smallpeeps, as usual from you a great deal of deep information...

I think deterrence worked between the U.S. and USSR and other traditional nuclear powers since they had a lot to lose and nothing to gain by a first strike. With countries like Iran and North Korea this may change. Iran is especially worrisome to me since I believe their religious ideology may see nuclear obliteration of Israel as their religious duty thereby not fearing a retaliation since that would just send them to Allah as martyrs.

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 06:30 PM

how then, do you explain the fact that the U.S. and Russia never used nuclear weapons on each other during the cold war?

Well, I have the same books on nuclear war as the library or the book store does and my opinions are definately those of an amateur. In my opinion, although we did come close to nuclear war during the sixties, in the end, we learned that human beings don't want to kill each other. I believe that many brave and good people on BOTH sides refrained from acting emotionally. Or perhaps it could be said that they DID act emotionally in not effecting large-scale human death. They loved their kids, as Sting says.

However, what we are dealing with here is the propensity of complex systems toward breakdown and accident. If an accidental launch happens, Deterrence screws us all in a big way.

Accidental launch is primarily understood as having four controlling factors: Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence. These form the C3I control structure. If any of these four factors fails, we are depending on the individual morality of the key-turners (those guys in the silos and on the subs) if we are to avoid nuclear war.

An analysis of accidental nuclear launch is not difficult. Let us imagine a nation that has such extraordinary electronic/command/mechanical control established that they have a failure of each system only once every 1000 years. That means that in a thousand year period, each of these systems can be expected to break down once. Further, one can see that at 250 years, the C3I elements together will have travelled 1000 years in total and a failure of one of them can be considered probable. As time moved past the 250-year date without an accident, the odds scale upward in this regard.

Following this idea, we can roughly sketch a world of ten nuclear nations existing simultaneously wherein there will be a failure due to a C3I accident every 25 years (250/10=25). This is all under the assumption that Pakistan, India, China, US, etc --ALL maintain such strict C3I standards that each component does not fail for one thousand years in ANY country.

While we dodged several bullets before the era of mass-proliferation, we will not dodge all the similar close-call bullets that will fly in the next twenty years. If accidental launch happens, which it surely will at some point, DT condemns millions of earth's citizens to unnecessary death.

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 06:43 PM
Nuclear deterrence is a risky business. I live it eight times a month in a a Launch Control Center. The threat of massive attack did keep the US and the USSR at bay for decades.

When there are more players, the game does change. However, let me assure you that a small scale nuclear attack would not cause the US to retaliate with its entire inventory. Give us Nuclear Warriors a little more credit. Only the country involved would be hit, and it would not take very many nukes to do in most countries.

Also, in regards to the safety of our weapons: accidental launch is impossible. Even with the knowledge I have, I could not even intentionally launch a weapon. The only way it would be possible is if I knew the correct code sequence and had the tacit assistance of at least one other control center. Otherwise, the others could simply inhibit my launch command, rendering it null.

In summary, even if another country accidentally nuked us, we would respond in kind against the aggressor, not massively against all countries.

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 06:53 PM
There is a caveat to my post above. Terrorists know that we cannot target them with an ICBM. They are non-state actors who move frequently. As bad as governments can be, ours is not yet to the point where it would nuke a city to kill a couple terrorists. Deterrence means nothing to them. If they obtained a nuke, we would have a very bad day. This is actually my greatest fear. I don't pull alerts in case we need to nuke the USSR, I go out there to make certain no terrorists can obtain any of the bombs under my control. That is where I get my job satisfaction. Since they exist, someone has to watch over them.

Each missileer receives the following poem on the occasion of their first strategic alert. We may joke about it to relieve stress, but not one of us wants to see them fly.

By Captain Robert A. Wyckoff

In vacant corners of our land, off rutted gravel trails, There is a watchful breed of men, who see that peace prevails, For them there are no waving flags, no blare of martial tune, there is no romance in their job, no glory at high noon.

In an oft' repeated ritual, they casually hang their locks, Where the wages of man's love and hate, are restrained in a small red box. In a world of flick'ring colored lights, and endless robot din, The missile crews will talk awhile, but soon will turn within.

To a flash of light or other worldly tone, conditioned acts respond, Behind each move, unspoken thoughts, of the bombs that lie beyond. They live with patient waiting, with tactics, minds infused, and the quiet murmur of the heart, that hopes it's never used.

They feel the living throb, of the mindless tool they run, They hear the constant whir, of a world that knows no sun, Here light is ever present, no moon's nocturnal sway, The clock's unnatural beat, belies not night nor day.

Behind a concrete door slammed shut, no starlight skies of night, No sun bleached clouds in azure sky, in which to dance in flight. But certain as the rising sun, these tacit warriors seldom see, They're ever grimly ready, for someone has to be.

Beneath it all they're common men, who eat and sleep and dream, But between them is a common bond, of knowledge they're a team. A group of men who love their land, who serve it long and well, Who stand their thankless vigil, on the brink of man-made hell.

In boredom fluxed with stress, encapsuled they reside, They do their job without complaint, of pleasures oft' denied, For duty, honor, country, and a matter of self-pride.

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 06:57 PM
Believe me Missileer if a nuke went off in New York or Los Angeles you'd have the President on the horn giving you the codes to launch missiles at North Korea and Iran within minutes.

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 07:04 PM

With countries like Iran and North Korea this may change.

DJ, thanks and I agree with you entirely. Frankly, I think Kim Il Sung might just be practicing the Nixon/Kissenger "Madman Theory" hyperlinked above. I am amazed this 2003 revelation was not important news to most Americans. Our administrative people played theoretical button-games with our very family's lives. Astonishing.

Notice from the Wikipedia link above how the US encourages its own people to live in the cities as it simultaneously predicts that (A) land war in Europe will result in use of tactical nukes and that (B) this will cause global nuclear war.

An aside: I have been reading recently about Memes and the theories surrounding them. I am started to see that some ideas just need to be taken out, kicked around and exposed for what they are. People need to band together and discuss the TRULY stupid ideas so that there can be no mistake about them.

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 07:13 PM
The only way we would hit both NK and Iran is if we could somehow prove they were responsible. Unless they are stupid enough to do it with an ICBM, it will be very difficult to prove until the bomb residue is analyzed in the lab to determine its origin. Even then, it could have been stolen. What if it was a US nuke. How do you prove who set it off? We are not in the business of randomly lashing out when attacked.

This problem is what makes the old Cold War deterrence a thing of the past. We can be attacked, and be totally at a loss to identify our attackers. The US can't just nuke everyone if a nuke goes off in the US.

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 07:18 PM
MadMissileer: Am I to understand that you are a missle operator, like in the movies I mentioned? If so, I commend you on your calm attitude. It's what we need from fine fellows like you. :^)

Are you so sure about accidental launch, though? What about other countries like India (nuclear submarines) and Pakistan? Do you trust them not to have a command failure every 1000 years? How about Communications?

Wouldn't both of those players be eliminated if exchange were to occur between them? If both were eliminated, would the NATO command structure hold during the stress of such an event? I say no. Wikipedia quoted above agrees with me. Tactical nuclear war (which is what you are suggesting) becomes global nuclear war.

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 07:18 PM

This definition you have found is written under Cold War plans. Land war versus the USSR is no longer a threat. The current Russian government is under no illusion as to its ability to wage and win a war with NATO.

The real issue in Europe is the FACT that it will be majority Muslim due to immigration in the next quarter century. Sooner for some countries like France. The West is using birth control to commit suicide, and the Muslims will inherit our countries. They will have population parity with us in our lifetimes. We used to outnumber them 10 to 1.

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 07:18 PM

[edit on 2/4/05 by MadMissileer]

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 07:34 PM

Yes, I am currently a 13S3C, ICBM Combat Crew Commander. As to being calm, 24 hour alerts give you a lot of time to think. An LCC is a surreal place to be. I often marvel at the path that has led me from a farm to my current job.

I admit that I know little about the nuclear procedures in other countries. In the US, a command failure is not enough to cause a launch. Every general could die and the bombs would all stay put. It takes a postive, intentional action to launch or detonate a nuke, and all US weapons must be enabled before they will detonate. I don't have the ability to make that happen. A communications failure would make it less likely that we would launch, not more likely. Without working comm, we would never get the order to launch. I think you must be saying that we could have a malfunction that could cause us to think a launch has been ordered. I can't tell you why this is not possible, but it can't happen. If there was an order to launch, I would have no dount as to its authenticity.

If Pakistan and India exchanged nukes, they would indeed be reduced to ashes. However, there is no reason to think that the US would be affected. Our C3I would not be damaged by NUDETs in other countries. It would stressful for India and Pakistan, not for NATO. Tactical nuclear war is a small nuke being dropped on a battlefield. An exchange between Pakistan and India would be strategic warfare. The target determines whether an attack is tactical or strategic, not the number of nukes used.

Here is my question. Why would the other nuclear powers feel the need to act in a war between India and Pakistan only? It would be over after the nuclear exchange. There would be no incentive to get involved. There is no need to retaliate against a dead enemy that hasn't struck you.

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 07:37 PM
You do realize that "nuclear deterrence" revolved around Mutually Assured Destruction (M.A.D.), right?

As such:
Nuclear Deterrence worked and was not a "fraud".

Civilain fallout shelters, be they private or public, were to no avail. "Nuclear deterrence" was a doctrine of numbers dealing with the number of nuclear warheads and delivery systems, hence the cliche' of Nuclear Arms Race. Both Russia and the United States eventually understood what many politicians and policymakers did not in the 50's and 60's (Cuban Missile Crisis was the 'eye-opener'). It was not till the mid-70's that military and civilain policymakers and politicians, on both sides, realized that there was no saving populations, etc. That 'if' a nuclear exchange took place, that the devastation caused would be enough to quite literally put Man back into the Stone Ages; that the devastation would be so complete that no matter the amount of shleters built by both sides, that there would literally not be enough populance left to even govern. There would be no NATO, no WARSAW PACT, nothing. Why? Cause in short order (time), the nuclear fallout would cover the whole planet. there would be no replacing Russia or the US. Quite literally, there would be nothing resembling any type government: hence the Stone Ages. There would be nothing but those trying to survive, and few at that.

Deterrence worked because its final result, for which both sides willingly admit, was the factoid of M.A.D., and that in such an applied doctrine, there was NO winner, for there would not be enough of anyone and anything left to even be able to declare a winner or loser. Nuclear deterrence=M.A.D.

M.A.D. then progressed to the Nuclear Arms Talks which then lead to Nuclear Proliferation Treaty's.

As for 'accidents,' thats all apart of the inherent game.


[edit on 4-2-2005 by Seekerof]

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 07:39 PM
If Pakistan and India exchanged nukes the U.S. would do nothing.

If a bomb went off in a U.S. city I think the U.S. would launch a retaliatory strike against the most likely aggressors (i.e. NK and Iran) and ask questions later.

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 07:47 PM

that no matter the amount of shleters built by both sides, that there would literally not be enough populance left to even govern.

Well that's totally wrong. Nuclear war is very survivable. I refer you to the article, You Will Survive Doomsday for edification.

Seeker, have you ever had a hard drive fail on you? The nuclear problem is like that: interconnected and destined for failure at some point. If you look at the manufacturers' numbers on hard drives you'll see absurd estimates on the order of fifty and eighty years for some drives. Any IT guy will tell you that to expect a drive to last for more than five years is wishful thinking and is definately tempting fate.

I don't think I quite understand your point. Failure of a system to fail is not indicative of it's reliability tomorrow. Deterrence is the whole reason these nations are running toward the bomb. What are you saying, exactly?

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 07:55 PM
No fraud, but a stabilizing influence! Notice how the Paki's and Indians seem to talk to each other a little more since thier mutual acquisition of nukes?
Possession of thermonuclear weapons seems to have a maturing effect on governments, as if the realization of the power they can unleash provokes a fear of unstable situations, and thus moderates thier rhetoric and behavior.
Just an opinion, but I think we're alive because of them; and that Stalin and Truman would have started duking it out without thier existance.

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 08:00 PM
No. maybe you need to re-read

Excuse me?
My father had a fallout shelter.
I grew up during this time.
I studied the policies of this era.
Please don't insult my intelligence by mentioning that my "harddrive has failed."
I am completely aware of what I am saying, no matter how many links for the internet you wish to provide.
Ask the Russian and the then US governments if all out Nuclear War and Exchange was survivable?
Officially, they would proclaim hell yes. But unofficially, they would concede otherwise. And guess what, I said the samething in my above post (survivability). But I also concluded that those who would survive would be minimal, at best. You have forgotten that there are governmental and investigative groups that have alleged that there was enough nukes just between the US and Russia, alone, to devastate this world over 10 to 100-fold. Don't link me to some information that asserts that a nuclear exhange of this magnitude was "survivable." Because as true as it may be, the unclarified and wild card here is the amount that would indeed survive. The truth of that matter is that survivability was an unknown factor, despite an analyst asserting otherwise.

Nuclear Deterrence worked in the form of M.A.D., and I don't care how many nations are attracted by the inherent power trip they would get from obtaining nukes, M.A.D. is still applying today. Every nation that has nukes has not used them. You can call it "rationality" but the truth is that they know that if they ever used them, that the repercussions would be so severe it amounts to nothing but deterrence upon further acquiring and deterrence.

M.A.D. rules the day and always will. And if M.A.D. rules the day, guess what? Nuclear deterrence has obtained its goal: no launch, no nuclear exchange, etc.


[edit on 4-2-2005 by Seekerof]

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 08:03 PM

Originally posted by smallpeeps
Well that's totally wrong. Nuclear war is very survivable. I refer you to the article, You Will Survive Doomsday for edification.

Haha. Tell me you are being sarcastic. Nuclear war is survivable? Very funny dude.

You are being funny right? I mean no one in their right mind would make such and absurd statement. Right?


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