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Page 83 APPENDIX C Extended Nuclear Deterrence and Coalitions for Defending Against Regional Challengers Armed with Weapons of Mass Destruction Victor Utgoff, Institutefor Defense Analyses INTRODUCTION If the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) continues, and if effective political means for restraining regional states armed with such weapons are not established, it seems inevitable that a proliferator eventually will confront the United States with a military challenge to an important overseas interest. If the interest is truly vital, the problem posed will be primarily one of planning and implementing a political-military strategy that successfully protects the interest and minimizes the prospect of WMD use. If the interest is less than vital, the United States may be able to compromise. If it does, it will want to do so in a way that avoids encouraging further challenges. The United States will also want to avoid encouraging other states to seek their own WMD, either because they doubt that the United States would prove willing to protect them from future threats by WMD-armed states or because they judge that possession of WMD can win valuable concessions. This paper explores some of the political-military problems likely to be posed when challenges to vital U.S. interests are made by WMD-armed regional states. In considering only the case of challenges to vital interests, the paper sets aside the question of how the U.S. sense of what is vital might change when proliferation of WMD in some region raises the risks and costs of intervening there. To address these problems, the paper first reviews the potential for a challenge to a vital U.S. interest by a WMD-armed state. This is followed by a discussion of the general role played by U.S. nuclear weapons in deterring such challenges. Next, the paper identifies how the problem of nuclear deterrence of WMD-armed regional challengers differs from the one faced by the United States during the Cold War. By examining some of the political and military features of a confrontation with a WMD-armed regional challenger, the paper then highlights why it would be strongly in the U.S. interest to confront the challenger with the aid and involvement of an international coalition that explicitly supports a strategy of NOTE: The author is grateful to Barry Blechman, Robert Joseph, Karl Lowe, and Brad Roberts for their very helpful reviews of drafts of this paper. The author takes sole and personal responsibility for the opinions expressed, however.
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Page 84 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. POTENTIAL FOR CHALLENGES TO A VITAL U.S. REGIONAL INTEREST 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
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Page 85 offended, or judged that the concessions sought in the near term would lead sooner or later to further demands that would be unacceptable. Finally, aggressive proliferators seeking to capitalize quickly on their newfound military power will not expect the United States and its potential allies to readily reveal which of their interests might no longer be defended. They will expect to have to probe the allies' resolve and to engage in an occasional strong test of wills. Thus, acquisition of WMD by aggressive states can be expected to lead to a process of probes and challenges, with significant risks of a confrontation in which the United States is committed to defend the interest at stake, but the challenger does not appreciate this and will not or cannot back down. Taken together, these observations suggest that acquisition of WMD by aggressive regional proliferators will sometimes lead to intense tests of will with the status quo powers. Given the uncertain political-military dynamics of such confrontations, no one should be very confident that they will be resolved without conflict and without WMD actually being used. NUCLEAR DETERRENCE IN CONFRONTATIONS WITH REGIONAL PROLIFERATORS For the foreseeable future, nuclear deterrence will play an essential role in dissuading or moderating challenges to U.S. vital interests from aggressive WMD-armed regional states. The alternatives seem inadequate as substitutes. One alternative is to seek to deter WMD initiation solely by threatening great destruction with conventional forces or by expanding the aims of the war. Unfortunately, conventional retaliation may not impress a potential WMD user sufficiently. History provides many cases of states standing up to conventional bombardment for years. It is also possible that when the opponent escalates to the use of WMD, the United States and its allies would already be doing all they can to punish and defeat the opponent with conventional forces. Further, the United States and its allies have been scaling back their capabilities for raw conventional violence for many years. Some argue that precision-delivered conventional munitions can so rapidly and efficiently disable or destroy an opponent's high-value targets as to constitute an adequate deterrent to attack with WMD. Certainly precision-strike munitions are technically impressive and are very efficient destroyers of "Achilles' heel" vulnerabilities in an opponent's forces, industry, and infrastructure. Nonetheless, used in affordable numbers, they do not have the potential to impose the same kind of hardship on an opponent as nuclear retaliation would. Moreover, Operation Desert Storm highlighted the importance of minimizing such vulnerabilities, and potential opponents are working hard to do so. Certainly the opponent's leaders should be able to provide themselves with shelters that cannot be attacked effectively with precision conventional munitions.
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Page 86 In contrast, there is no history of states standing up to nuclear punishment. Moreover, nuclear retaliation is universally and deeply feared and thus has unmatched psychological power as a deterrent. Finally, the opponent's leaders cannot be confident of surviving a nuclear attack that is focused on destroying them. These arguments are not meant to suggest that nuclear retaliation should be the inevitable response if an opponent were to initiate WMD use and to do great damage. They do suggest that although conventional retaliation may be an adequate deterrent in some cases, its prospect has far less deterrent power than that of nuclear retaliation. Thus, it risks proving inadequate in cases where nuclear deterrence would be effective. The second alternative to deterrence through nuclear retaliation is to depend instead upon defenses against WMD attacks that can prevent intolerable levels of damage. Three complementary paths can be taken: prevent such weapons from being launched, interdict them as they travel toward their targets, and protect the targets against WMD that arrive in their vicinities. Each path can provide useful protection, but, even if all three are pursued vigorously, reliable and complete protection from WMD attacks will be a long time in coming, at best. To be more specific, preventing a proliferator from even launching attacks with WMD will likely remain very difficult. For example, a WMD capability consisting of dispersed and disguised mobile missile launchers, controlled from deep underground command posts, using redundant communications, seems likely to remain very difficult to neutralize, despite the best U.S. efforts. Building WMD forces that are survivable should be possible if a state works at it. Displays of U.S. military capabilities in operations such as Desert Storm periodically teach proliferators much about what they need to protect against. Many corporations are ready to sell to anyone the technical advice, materials, and services needed to ensure that particularly important military systems are very hard to find and destroy. Destruction of biological weapons before they can reach their targets would be particularly challenging. Because very small amounts of biological warfare (BW) agents could destroy concentrations of people across large areas, and because BW agents can be manufactured and stored in increasingly common and innocuous-appearing facilities with legitimate uses, locating them for preemptive attack can be virtually impossible. Further, the tiny amounts needed for devastating attacks can be delivered by means that are extremely difficult to detect and interdict. Destroying nuclear and chemical weapons and their necessarily larger delivery systems while they travel toward their targets is somewhat more promising. Defenses against ballistic missiles can be far more effective than the Patriot system was against Iraq's Scud missiles during Operation Desert Storm. More generally, the United States should be able to develop active defenses that
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Page 87 would be able to destroy most of the larger delivery vehicles sent against them, such as manned aircraft, cruise missiles, ships, trucks, and the like. 1 Still, building near-perfect active defenses against even the larger delivery systems is probably going to remain impractical. Thus, the United States and its allies will have to accept the possibility that at least a few such delivery systems would reach their targets. The degree to which targets can be protected by passive means from damage by weapons of mass destruction that arrive in their vicinities depends upon the type of weapon involved. Although very deeply buried underground bunkers with multiple hidden entrances can provide substantial protection against nuclear attacks, their high cost implies they cannot be provided for all of the population, forces, and valuable facilities that could be targets for nuclear attack. The prospects for protecting forces and populations from biological and chemical attacks that arrive in their vicinities are much better. Combinations of relatively inexpensive passive protection measures such as masks, shelters, suits, vaccines, antidotes, decontamination procedures, and warning sensors, etc., can provide very effective protection for populations and forces.2 Still, even if losses to chemical-biological attacks could be held to a small fraction of the target populations, hundreds of thousands of people could still be killed by a large-scale attack. In time, defenses against WMD may evolve that can limit damage to levels that, although very painful, would not be militarily or politically decisive. If so, it should become even easier to deter WMD attacks, since a proliferator should be less inclined to risk nuclear retaliation for WMD attacks that do not promise to be either militarily or politically decisive. However, for the foreseeable future, a proliferator can probably count on being able to do great damage with weapons of mass destruction. Thus, given the inherent limitations of currently foreseeable defenses against such weapons, and the incommensurate nature of conventional deterrence, at least against nuclear attacks, nuclear deterrence of WMD use seems essential. CHANGED ASPECTS OF NUCLEAR DETERRENCE Nuclear deterrence of an aggressive WMD-armed regional state differs greatly from the nuclear deterrence problem that occupied the attention of the United States during the Cold War. The differences suggest that, on balance, nuclear deterrence should pose risks of a far smaller magnitude to the United States than in the past, and, to that extent, should be more credible and effective. 1 Utgoff, Victor A. and Jonathan Wallis, Major Regional Contingencies Against States Armed with Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Weapons: Rising Above Deterrence, P3170, Institute for Defense Analyses, Alexandria, Va., forthcoming. 2 Lowe, Karl, Graham Pearson, and Victor Utgoff, Potential Values of a Simple BW Protective Mask, P-3077, Institute for Defense Analyses (U.S.) and Chemical & Biological Defence Establishment (U.K.), September 1995.
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Page 88 The differences also suggest that it will be difficult to be as well prepared, in both political and military terms, to implement a nuclear deterrence strategy as it has been in the past. First, so long as the United States maintains anywhere near its current military superiority, none of the more plausible WMD proliferators has a significant chance of defeating the United States in a strictly conventional conflict over a vital issue. This is markedly different from when NATO faced an apparently overwhelming conventional threat from the Warsaw Pact. During those years, NATO expected to be able to defend conventionally for only a few days. After that, its plans called for initiating nuclear warfare to demonstrate its will to destroy the Warsaw Pact rather than submit. Given the dangers posed by the size and reach of the Soviet Union's nuclear forces, the foreseen horror of nuclear war, and the questionable morality of initiating a type of war that might have destroyed the world, many wondered whether the United States would honor its promise to initiate nuclear warfare. Now the shoe would be on the other foot. If escalation of a regional war to mass destruction is to be threatened or done, it is the new proliferator that would have to do it. Any state that initiated mass destruction should expect that it would have made itself ''fair game" for U.S. nuclear retaliation. Further, the horror with which Americans view nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare seems likely to magnify the offense represented by any use the opponent made of such weapons. Moreover, in contrast to making first use of nuclear weapons, the morality of U.S. nuclear retaliation is likely to appear very clear. Second, although the balance between U.S. and Soviet nuclear forces was sometimes hotly debated during the Cold War, U.S. nuclear capabilities are, and will remain, vastly superior to the WMD capabilities of any new proliferator. This is much more than a matter of the far larger numbers of warheads available to the United States. U.S. capabilities to locate, identify, and track important targets, to reach targets wherever they are located, to overcome the opponent's active and passive defenses, to employ whatever nuclear yields seem needed, to deliver weapons to targets accurately, and to destroy these targets quickly are not going to be matched by any new proliferator for the foreseeable future. This remains true despite the dramatic reductions in the size and readiness of U.S. nuclear deterrent forces. Thus, if a new proliferator forces a conflict with the United States to the nuclear level, it will be at an even greater disadvantage than when fighting the United States at the conventional level. Third, though painful to contemplate, the United States can survive the kinds of WMD attacks that could be made by any new proliferator. Such states' abilities to deliver relatively heavy nuclear and chemical payloads over intercontinental ranges will be very limited for many years. Moreover, as noted above, relatively cheap civil defense measures can keep the potential destruction from biological attacks well below the levels at which the survival of the United States or of any other nation would be brought into question. More generally, the United States and its allies have the technical capability to create defenses
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Page 89 that can limit to low levels the fraction of the opponent's WMD forces that could expect to reach their targets. The reverse is not true. A small fraction of the U.S. nuclear weapons could totally destroy any new proliferator, and such states have little prospect of creating a significant defense against them. This is not to suggest that the United States would necessarily retaliate in such a fashion. Rather, such an asymmetry in capabilities to survive a conflict that got out of control should bolster the efficacy of U.S. nuclear deterrence. Fourth, the prospects now seem minimal that any challenger could offset the U.S. deterrence advantages by obtaining the backing of a great power. With the end of the Soviet Union, there are no longer any great powers that seek revolutionary change to the status quo. All enjoy major advantages under the current status quo and understand that war among them could leave them vastly worse off. This is not to say that there is no chance that Russia and China could become increasingly assertive within their regions. Rather, it seems most plausible that they will only pursue evolutionary change and will do so very carefully. These first four differences imply that the United States and its potential coalition partners will be on far stronger ground in any confrontation with a future WMD-armed challenger than the United States and its allies were in confronting the Soviet Union. In particular, (1) the coalition's superiority in conventional forces means it is most unlikely to have to bear the moral burden of nuclear first use, (2) the coalition will have vastly superior nuclear capabilities to bring to bear should the war escalate, and (3) the very existence of the challenger could be at stake whereas that of the coalition as a whole could not. These differences suggest that nuclear deterrence of WMD use by regional proliferators poses risks of a smaller magnitude than nuclear deterrence did in the past and, correspondingly, could be more credible and effective. Several other differences suggest that the risk of any nuclear use may be somewhat greater in the future and that being well prepared politically to implement a nuclear deterrent strategy will be more difficult than during the Cold War. First, U.S. public acceptance of the need to depend upon nuclear deterrence appears to be much weaker now than it was at the height of the Cold War. Then, nuclear deterrence was seen as the only practical answer to an enormous Soviet threat posed to European states with which the United States has much in common, and had defended at great cost in two world wars. Now the need for deterrence must be explained on the basis of less well-understood threats and interests. Moreover, the explanation must convince a public that has witnessed a decade or more of reductions in the numbers and readiness of the nuclear capabilities of the United States and the former Soviet Union and that hopes to escape totally any further dependence on the "delicate balance of terror." This difference implies a need to develop an improved public understanding within
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Page 90 the United States of the importance of nuclear deterrence in facing up to WMDarmed regional challengers. Second, although the cultural gap between the United States and the Soviet Union was substantial, the two superpowers gradually evolved generally similar understandings of the nature, risks, and modalities of nuclear deterrence. In contrast, the gaps between the cultures of the United States and prospective future challengers may be far greater and, at least initially, more troublesome. As examples, all the current potential challengers nurse deep grievances over what they see as a history of unjust treatment by greater powers. Further, relative to the United States, some seem far more fatalistic, some more sensitive to loss of face, and some less troubled by the prospect that large numbers of innocent people might be killed if WMD were used. In addition, although the elites of some of these countries show good familiarity with Western deterrence theory, their views of their situations as their WMD capabilities emerge may not evolve as we might expect. For all these reasons, the new proliferators may not assess realistically the risks of war with the United States, of their use of WMD, and of U.S. nuclear retaliation. This second difference suggests that there may be greater potential for the kind of misunderstandings that could lead to some relatively limited use of WMD. It is thus important to understand and influence the thinking of new and prospective proliferators as best we can. Finally, in the past, the United States has depended upon nuclear deterrence primarily for the protection of strong and long-standing alliances such as NATO or those between the United States and Japan, South Korea, and several others. These alliances allowed the United States and other members to develop a useful degree of consensus on the necessary role and modalities of nuclear deterrence. In particular, NATO developed and periodically reviewed policies and preparations that would allow a rational and coordinated response to any challenge requiring the threat or use of nuclear weapons. Through this involvement in joint nuclear deterrence preparations, the NATO allies shared the political burdens and risks of any first use of nuclear weapons that might be needed. Reflecting political sensitivities, and a less worrisome and immediate threat, coordinated nuclear policies have been less well developed for the United States' other alliances. Still, preparations for general defense contingencies by these other alliances led to the development of institutional arrangements that could allow consultations and joint planning and support for nuclear deterrent actions, if the need were to arise. Since the end of the Cold War, however, skepticism about the continuing need for alliances has increased. Now many critics emphasize the costs of alliances rather than their benefits. The primary cost seen is their potential to entangle the United States in overseas conflicts that, absent the confrontation with the Soviet Union, no longer seem to be of fundamental importance.
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Page 91 Further, arguments that alliances increase the prospects of conflict by polarizing relations between the "ins" and the "outs" now have greater weight. In addition, even when new regional WMD proliferators appear, potential partners in alliances and coalitions may find it more difficult to balance their concerns not to offend a new WMD-armed neighbor by uniting against it with their concerns that their security may be in jeopardy if they do not. Such decisions will also be influenced by their confidence that the prospective coalition can be relied on in the face of a tense challenge by an aggressive WMD-armed proliferator. These last observations imply that the United States may face a very substantial political problem in implementing a nuclear deterrence strategy against WMD-armed challengers in the future. Specifically, by the time the threat becomes clear, even while a coalition of defenders can still come together, it may be too late to develop the arrangements needed to engage the members appropriately in a nuclear deterrence strategy. IMPLEMENTING NUCLEAR DETERRENCE UNILATERALLY Thus, an obvious question is raised: If the United States had to implement a nuclear deterrence strategy to protect a vital overseas interest from some WMDarmed challenger, what would be the potential benefits and costs of doing so unilaterally? There appear to be several potential benefits of unilateral nuclear deterrence by the United States. The first is that the United States could be seen as having greater freedom to act as it saw fit. All else being equal, this apparent freedom could add to the credibility of any nuclear deterrent threats the United States might need to make. Second, there is no doubt that implementing nuclear deterrence unilaterally would be simpler than developing and coordinating the required policies, plans, and potential actions with others. Third, unilateral implementation would not pose so great a risk of premature disclosure to the public or potential opponents of planning that would surely have sensitive aspects. On the other hand, unilateral implementation of nuclear deterrence can have some substantial costs. For example, if the course of events were to lead the United States to make an explicit threat of nuclear retaliation that was openly disputed by other key coalition members, the credibility of U.S. nuclear deterrence could be reduced. Even greater potential costs become clear when one considers the prospects that deterrence might fail, leading to U.S. nuclear retaliation, and other painful consequences, for which the United States would be seen to bear primary responsibility. Let me expand on these possibilities. Although a challenger could make a very limited initial use of WMD aimed more at scaring the coalition off than doing great damage, very destructive initial use seems more plausible. Why risk nuclear retaliation to achieve less than a decisive blow against the intervention capabilities of the United States and its possible partners or against their will to brave further damage?
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Page 92 Any first use of WMD that leads to great damage will lead to intense public anger in the United States and in any other state that suffers it and will seem to justify at least comparably destructive nuclear retaliation. Thus, a failure of deterrence could quickly lead to horrendous damage for the United States and any regional supporters and to at least comparable damage for the initiator. Whether the participants would be able to terminate the violence after a first exchange of WMD strikes is anyone's guess. Should the use of WMD continue, there is no doubt that the United States would ultimately prevail. However quickly the war were to end, enormous damage would likely have been done both in military and political terms. To appreciate the magnitude, character, and immediate political effects of the damage, consider the following propositions. First, the damage likely done to U.S. or allied forces and populations, to the challenger's forces and population, and possibly to bystander states as well would be shocking in intensity, extent, speed of appearance, and the strange nature of its effects. Modern media and instant global communications would ensure that terrible images of this destruction, and of the U.S. role in it, would quickly reach the public everywhere. Second, every decision along the path that led to this eruption of high-intensity violence would be second-guessed by officials, the elite, and the public everywhere, starting from the most fundamental question: Why did the United States have to be involved in the region at all? Supposed opportunities to have avoided the tragic outcome would be identified and discussed at length. U.S. government leaders would likely be able to justify their actions with arguments that would be compelling in terms of their logic and facts. Nonetheless, given the United States' great power, wealth, and history as a generally benevolent world leader, many at home and abroad would fault it for not having found a way to avoid the tragedy, no matter what the initial provocation might have been. Questions about the decisions that led to the tragedy would be a heavy burden for the U.S. public in general but would fall especially heavily on the most senior U.S. leaders. Third, although history suggests that the United States would prove magnanimous in victory, its use of nuclear weapons and the horrific nature of the damage done could lead to deep and enduring enmity that would be focused on the United States. This enmity could come not just from the aggrieved population of the aggressor state but from other peoples who, for whatever reasons, were sympathetic to the defeated state. Finally, longer-term political reactions to its singular role in this disaster could have adverse consequences for the United States and thus for others. To the extent that this painful experience led the United States to retreat from its role as general underwriter of peace and stability overseas, states might conclude that they would need their own weapons of mass destruction. The breakdown in deterrence could also be seen as signaling the end of effective efforts to control the proliferation of WMD. At the same time, the global community of states might be spurred toward the creation of new institutional arrangements for collective security. Although
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Page 93 these arrangements might benefit the United States, they might instead be overly constraining and have other uncomfortable features. Thus it seems that the international political system might be fundamentally changed by such a breakdown in deterrence in ways that would be very difficult to predict and control. Clearly, such a breakdown in deterrence could have the most devastating and far-reaching consequences, not just for the United States, but also for the larger international order. Thus, to the extent that the United States implements a nuclear deterrence strategy against WMD-armed regional aggressors unilaterally, it will have to bear single-handedly the many heavy burdens of a failure of the strategy, with all its consequences. The alternative to implementing nuclear deterrence against a WMD-armed regional aggressor on a unilateral basis is to do so with the active involvement of a coalition. Some of the costs and benefits of such an approach should be fairly clear from the preceding observations. There are some additional values of employing a coalition, however, and spelling out the specific mechanisms by which coalitions help to avoid some of the potential problems identified above is useful. IMPLEMENTING NUCLEAR DETERRENCE THROUGH A COALITION Implementing nuclear deterrence through a coalition includes two things. First, it means drawing together a broad coalition to confront any aggression from a WMD-armed regional challenger, rather than acting alone or with the aid of only a few close allies. Second, it means taking strong steps to distribute across the coalition as a whole the responsibility for the potential final outcomes of such a confrontation. It cannot include surrendering final authority over the use of U.S. nuclear weapons. Sharing the responsibility for potential outcomes requires that coalition members have a say in the key decisions that shape the confrontation from beginning to end. They should also take important actions that openly indicate their support of the decisions made. To share the responsibility for potential outcomes as equitably as possible, the United States should seek the closest consultation with its coalition partners, plan potential nuclear deterrence policy and actions jointly, coordinate on all related declaratory statements that are made, and involve its partners in any nuclear retaliatory actions that may have to be taken. These and other measures for involving the coalition in the implementation of extended nuclear deterrence will be discussed at greater length below. All states with an interest in the outcome of the confrontation should have a chance to participate in the coalition and to influence its nuclear deterrence policies. As the consequences of a confrontation with a WMD-armed regional state could be very broad, so could the membership of the coalition. Clearly, if management of the coalition is not to become unwieldy, not every potential member can be involved in every possible decision. Thus, states with different
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Page 94 interests would have to be involved in different ways. Still, most, if not all, states should be involved in the fundamental decisions that establish responsibility for the final outcome. Use of a broadest-possible coalition has a variety of particularly useful benefits for confronting a WMD-armed challenger. First, a broad coalition could create the impression for the challenger that it is facing the entire world singlehandedly. This could strengthen deterrence of his aggression. In particular, although most members would not add militarily significant forces to the coalition, the apparent threat posed by the opponent's WMD would be spread across their numbers. Like a single outlaw facing a posse, the outlaw would know that it could not survive a gunfight, whereas the posse would know that nearly all its members would survive unscathed. Second, deterrence is also strengthened by reducing the challenger's ability to use its WMD to make attacks that might decisively disable the coalition. By contributing additional airbases, seaports, infrastructure, operating territory, and so on, a broader coalition can enable an intervention force to operate in a more dispersed manner, avoiding concentrations of forces and support activities whose loss to WMD attacks might cripple the intervention. Third, to the extent that a broad coalition representative of the world community can be employed, WMD attacks made against the coalition would tend to be seen as an insult to the world community. This psychological effect could strengthen the coalition's will to seek retribution. Anticipating this, a challenger could be more strongly deterred from initiating WMD attacks. Fourth, involvement of the broadest-possible coalition should help to avoid the potential for the confrontation to be interpreted as one culture, ideology, region, or economic group against another. To the extent that the coalition membership bridges such potential divides, it should be better able to understand its opponent's point of view. The collective knowledge of the coalition should allow the best possible chance to resolve the issue at hand without conflict, to identify and understand the opportunities for deterring successfully, and to retaliate for the challenger's WMD attacks in the most appropriate manner, should that become necessary. Fifth, nuclear retaliation might not be appropriate in every case where there was some very painful use of WMD against U.S. forces. For example, nuclear retaliation against some desperate opponent that had made a "last gasp" use of nuclear weapons might not make sense if that opponent would be defeated in about the same time and at about the same cost in any case. In such a circumstance, a broader coalition could provide more international political support for a U.S. leadership and for leaderships in the other nuclear-armed states that might want to resist strong domestic political pressures for nuclear retaliation. Involving the coalition explicitly in the implementation of the nuclear deterrence strategy that would help to protect it from the challenger's WMD strikes has additional benefits beyond its most important role of distributing the responsibility for potentially awful outcomes. First, by thus involving the
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Page 95 coalition, the United States and other nuclear-armed members of the coalition would be providing the strongest-possible assurances that the coalition members are really under the "nuclear umbrella." Second, implementing nuclear deterrence with the support of a coalition would underscore the necessary international role of U.S. nuclear forces and help avoid misimpressions that the United States intended these forces for anything more than the narrowest-possible deterrent role. Misimpressions of these kinds would work against the long-standing U.S. interest in minimizing and rolling back proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Finally, implementing deterrence through an international coalition could set some valuable precedents. The precedent set in providing deterrent cover for regional states could help to assure them that future needs for deterrence of WMD-backed threats would be met, thus reducing concerns that they need their own WMD-based deterrent forces. The international mechanisms employed, and the policies and actions taken, could become a model for responsible future implementations of extended nuclear deterrence. There are, of course, some potential drawbacks to implementing extended nuclear deterrence of challengers through a coalition. As mentioned in the previous section, the most serious is that a coalition might appear to allow the United States less freedom of action. In addition, implementation through a coalition would inevitably be more complex and would pose more risk of a compromise of sensitive information. On the other hand, the greater legitimacy of a coalition, the pain that its members might have suffered in a challenger's initial use of WMD, and their concerns about coexisting with a regional state that had both owned and used WMD should lead them to strongly support nuclear retaliation, making it more credible than if the United States had to act alone. Further, it may be possible, with some preplanning, to reduce the extra complexity of involving coalitions in the implementation of extended nuclear deterrence. In view of the uncertainties in how a coalition might come together, and the sensitivities involved in dealing with the nuclear deterrence question and in aiming deterrence at any state prematurely, this preplanning could only go so far. Still, some useful preplanning steps can be identified. This will be taken up below. All in all, the arguments presented in this and the previous section suggest that if the United States must confront a WMD-armed regional challenger, it would be far better off if it can implement the needed nuclear deterrence policy with the active support of the broadest-possible coalition. The obvious question is: Why would potential members of such a coalition be interested in becoming so explicitly involved with the coalition and U.S. nuclear deterrent strategy?
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Page 96 INCENTIVES TO JOIN THE COALITION AND SUPPORT ITS NUCLEAR DETERRENCE STRATEGY We assumed at the outset that the United States sees the regional interest at stake as vital and has greatly superior conventional forces. Thus, the challenger will be confronted and, at a minimum, forced to surrender any gains it might have made while the United States was activating an effective conventional defense. The United States might also be using its conventional forces to neutralize the challenger's WMD to the extent possible. In short, the challenger will find itself facing defeat of its initiative, and perhaps worse, and will have to consider whether to back down or to make use of WMD capabilities that may be eroding away. This situation seems likely to be very dangerous for all involved. The arguments for staying on the sidelines of this dangerous contest, if possible, seem clear. Any state that supports the U.S. intervention would thus give value to WMD strikes aimed at halting, impeding, or avenging that support. Further, regional states offer sensitive targets, such as capital cities, that would be easier to hit than U.S. targets. In addition, regional supporters would seem likely targets for any continuing use of WMD motivated by any U.S. retaliation for the challenger's initial WMD attacks. Finally, supporters would have to live with their increased sense of responsibility for the final outcome, and washing one's hands of a difficult problem is always a temptation. It may not be possible to remain on the sidelines, however. Even if some regional state were to proclaim itself neutral, the challenger might still find it advantageous to hold that state hostage with the threat of WMD strikes in order to put pressure on the United States and its partners to settle on more acceptable terms. In addition, the effects of a war involving the use of WMD could spill over regional borders in a variety of forms. These might include contamination of land and water supplies, spread of contagious diseases, overwhelming flows of refugees, disruption of sources of goods, destruction of common cultural sites, such as religious shrines, and intense new resentments felt by the combatants toward those who did not take sides. On the other hand, the arguments that might favor a state's participation in a U.S.-led coalition, and its involvement in implementation of the coalition's nuclear deterrent policy are more numerous, and seem strong. Perhaps the most important argument is that participation should provide the best opportunity to influence how the confrontation is played out, from its initial stages to its end. Although states with interests in the region might be expected to view the aggressor's challenge in generally similar ways, the stakes at risk would be far larger for some states than for others and are likely to be weighed differently. Participation is needed if a state is to follow coalition planning, make its views known in a timely manner, and win the influence that comes from contributing to the defense effort and sharing the risks. In particular, for many regional states, the primary reason for participation would likely be to moderate the actions of members that do not appear to have as much to lose.
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Page 97 A second reason to participate would be to gain the explicit protection of extended nuclear deterrence from the United States and other nuclear-armed coalition members. To the extent that the United States needs the political and military support of a coalition, it would likely need to offer to retaliate on behalf of members struck by the challenger's WMD and in the event that WMD were actually used and caused major destruction, would likely have to honor its offer. Third, supporting the coalition would give a prospective member a claim on defenses available to other members. The more capable coalition members, particularly the United States, would be expected to share their missile and air defenses, and useful assistance could be provided to protect populations from chemical and biological attack. The possibility of sharing such protection could easily be both a powerful attraction, and a domestic political prerequisite, to coalition membership by regional states. Fourth, the United States could be expected to win any dispute over a vital interest. Joining and supporting a U.S.-led coalition might be rewarded, both during a crisis and when the political settlement ending the dispute was struck. Fifth, as discussed earlier, some potential coalition members should see that a united front would be a stronger deterrent against the challenger. Finally, some prospective members should find this kind of cooperative deterrence arrangement a wise precedent to set for the long run and see supporting it as more valuable for that reason. The actual implementation of U.S. nuclear deterrence with the involvement of a supporting coalition could lend a reassuring reality to the joint pledge recently made by all the declared nuclear powers to come to the aid of any state threatened or attacked with nuclear weapons.3 The net effect of these and other considerations on the likely size and cohesion of a coalition for facing a WMD-armed regional aggressor is hard to assess. It seems probable that the United States could expect a significant number of states to join such a coalition. Almost any challenge one can realistically imagine seems likely to appear as a vital threat to at least a few regional allies, and Western allies that have been closest to the United States historically can also be expected to see truly vital threats to the United States as vital threats to them as well. The additional attractions of joining a coalition suggest that it would have more members than just the United States' closest allies plus those who are directly and immediately threatened. As argued above, these attractions include coverage under the U.S. nuclear umbrella as well as other forms of protection, influence over how a war gets fought, a greater share in the potential benefits of the political settlement, and a role in setting a useful precedent for how regional nuclear deterrence should be implemented in the future. In addition, there are the uncertain prospects of being able to remain on the sidelines without getting hurt. 3 U.N. Security Council Resolution 984, April 11, 1995.
Page 98 ADVANCE PREPARATIONS FOR COALITION INVOLVEMENT IN NUCLEAR DETERRENCE However promising the underlying potential for creating a broad and effective coalition, and arranging for its appropriate involvement in implementing nuclear deterrence, the United States cannot count on having much time to do so after the need arises. Thus, it is important to identify the kinds of arrangements that could be needed and to make whatever advance preparations are reasonable. Advance preparations can help a future coalition implement a joint nuclear deterrence strategy quickly and smoothly. The increased prospects of a smooth and timely response to an aggression backed by the threat of WMD can help to deter such aggression. Advance preparations can also signal to prospective proliferators that the coercive power they might hope to gain from WMD will be substantially neutralized from the outset. Clearly, such preparations can only go so far, given current political sensitivities and the uncertainties concerning how a WMD-backed regional challenge might arise. The reasons to take some initial steps seem very good, however. The general goals of any advance preparation would include (1) leading the international community toward a better understanding of the problems posed to the world order by continued proliferation of WMD, (2) further increasing international appreciation of the degree and character of the U.S. commitments both to opposing proliferation and to countering it wherever necessary, (3) clarifying for the international community the role that U.S. nuclear weapons can be expected to play in deterring threats, use, and even acquisition of WMD, and (4) making more explicit the roles that states involved in a region would be expected to play in supporting nuclear deterrence should a WMD-backed challenge emerge there. There are at least four constraints that must be respected in making such advance preparations. First, national sovereignty over whether and how U.S. forces are used cannot be compromised. This is also true of our partners' forces and territory. Preparations need to be understood as a matter of developing reciprocal understandings of what the United States and its partners should expect of each other, subject to further evaluation and confirming decisions by the highest political authorities when specific challenges requiring nuclear deterrence emerge. Second, the specificity of any preparations for extending nuclear deterrent cover over a coalition should keep pace with the specificity of the potential WMD-backed challenge. Thus, unless a state has both developed a capability to make WMD attacks and behaved irresponsibly, it should not be treated as the specific object of such preparations. Indeed, states suspected of harboring WMD ambitions and evil intentions should have the educational benefit of participating in general discussions of how the potential of the contraband weapons they might seek would be suppressed.
Page 99 Third, advance preparations for implementing extended nuclear deterrence for coalitions should cut methodically across cultural, regional, economic, and political lines. The threat posed to the world order by WMD is a problem for the international community, not just the United States. Any necessary use of extended nuclear deterrence to suppress that threat should not be confused with other issues that divide the international community. Finally, as with the specific decisions involved in actually implementing an extended nuclear deterrence policy against a WMD-backed regional challenge, not every state can be involved in every aspect of the advance preparations needed. At the same time, a way should be found to involve every interested state in discussions of the fundamental issues raised by WMD-backed aggression. The following paragraphs will concentrate on two classes of states with particularly strong interests in the outcomes of confrontations with aggressive WMD-armed states, the declared nuclear powers and prospective coalition members. Taking these general goals and constraints into account, there appear to be at least six categories of preparations where some useful progress might be made. The first is to develop an improved understanding among potential coalition members of the fundamental problems posed if a WMD-armed state were to challenge the status quo. The common techniques of having international working groups analyze and debate the issues, and play formal games designed to pose the questions sharply with hypothetical scenarios, can provide useful insights. Although government officials could participate discreetly, nongovernment organizations should be capable of performing much of this work. In fact, some of these kinds of activities are already under way.4What is needed is more effort. The second category of advance preparations involves modifying the approach the United States and its partners would use for conventional interventions to make it less vulnerable to disruption or defeat when attacked with WMD. Perfect protection against WMD attack will necessarily remain impossible. Nonetheless, a combination of counterforce capabilities, less-than perfect active and passive defenses, dispersal, mobility, and operations from safe locations can make decisive disruption of an intervention very unlikely, even with WMD attacks far greater than those any new proliferator is likely to be capable of for many years. Such measures can also hold potential WMD casualties among military forces to levels more typical of conventional war and reduce the damage potential to civilians by a factor of 10 to 100 or more.5These various measures could make deterrence of WMD attack easier, since a 4 The series of ''Day After" games run by Rand are a useful start in this direction. As of early 1996, teams from a variety of other nations had already taken part. See: Marc Dean Millot, Roger Molander, and Peter Wilson "The Day After. . . " Study: Nuclear Proliferation in the Post-Cold War World, Rand, Santa Monica, Calif., 1993. 5 See footnote 1, above.
Page 100 proliferator should be less inclined to risk nuclear retaliation for WMD attacks that cannot stop a military intervention against him. Discussions of at least some of these measures would be useful. Consultations on the need for more capable antitactical ballistic missiles have taken place with various allies for years, but more needs to be done. Efforts to develop capabilities to destroy opposing WMD and their delivery systems even before they can be used are far more sensitive, and the potential for substantial discussion of this topic seems limited. The remaining measures, particularly passive defenses against chemical and biological attacks and dispersal of forces to protect against nuclear attack, do not appear to have gotten nearly as much attention as their potential value warrants. Alternative ways to implement such measures should be explored and assessed. These steps need to be taken cooperatively by the governments of the United States and potential coalition partners. The third category of advance preparations is development of an understanding of the broad outlines of policies for extending nuclear deterrence to coalitions. Confrontations with a hypothetical WMD-armed challenger could be gamed to explore the character of joint policies for extending nuclear deterrence most effectively to states threatened by the challenger in different ways. It seems likely that such games and supporting analyses would also make clear the nature of the institutional arrangements needed. Games and analyses could also consider the conditions under which the coalition might want to signal its retaliatory capabilities and intentions, and the kinds of statements that could be appropriate in different circumstances. They should certainly highlight the importance of having the coalition members present a united front in any declarations regarding nuclear retaliation. A fourth category of advance preparations might explore different philosophies and conditions that could guide nuclear retaliation. A useful question to consider would be how to assess the relative importance of (1) the simple fact of WMD use by an opponent, (2) the magnitude of the destruction caused, and (3) the projected course and outcome of the conflict with and without nuclear retaliation. Examining this question would surely show that there are situations where nuclear retaliation for WMD use would not be needed. In this case, it would be important to understand how to brake the political momentum for retaliation. Fifth, it is very important for potential coalition partners to understand alternative ways in which they might support any nuclear retaliatory strikes that could prove necessary. Clearly, nuclear-armed coalition members must coordinate any nuclear strikes they might think to make and, ideally, should seem to bear generally comparable responsibilities for the nuclear retaliatory actions of the coalition as a whole. Nonnuclear members could support such strikes by actions ranging from statements of support; allowing attacks to overfly, be launched from, or recovered onto their territories; having their aircraft fly supporting missions to suppress any opposing defenses; participating as crew members on attacking aircraft; and so on. In the event that the strategy
Page 101 actually had to be implemented, coalition partners' actions of these kinds would demonstrate support for the extended nuclear deterrent strategy. Developing potential coalition partners' understanding of how such supporting actions might be done would seem to be the business of the governments of potential coalition members, particularly military leaders and personnel with the special training required. Although U.S. nuclear "programs of cooperation" under which NATO allies' aircraft armed with U.S. nuclear weapons would have flown strikes against Warsaw Pact targets suggest themselves as a possibility, such arrangements would seem very difficult to replicate for a temporary coalition formed in a crisis. Moreover, there seem to be plenty of other ways in which coalition members would be able to make their support of any required nuclear retaliation clear. Finally, as uncomfortable as this topic may be, it would be useful to think through how the United States and its partners could provide humanitarian aid to victims of any breakdown in deterrence of WMD use. In the context of the large nuclear war that was so feared during the Cold War, it seems to have been assumed that the nations involved would have little capacity to assist others. In the type of WMD use that might occur as the result of a challenge by a regional proliferator, the defending coalition would have considerable capability to assist the defeated challenger, even after meeting the needs of its own survivors of nuclear-biological-chemical attacks. Moreover, as the prospective "winner" of a confrontation with a WMD-armed challenger, the coalition would inherit this responsibility. Indeed, one of the reasons a challenger might see for surrendering after an initial exchange of WMD attacks is to get humanitarian assistance that it would desperately need. The need to provide aid to a surrendered opponent should be a factor in coalition decisions on the magnitude and character of any required nuclear retaliation. Looking back over these six categories of advance preparations, it seems likely that an aggressive and widely visible effort to pursue them all could create great concerns for the public and governments of potential coalition members. Fortunately, such a comprehensive effort is not needed under current conditions. As noted above, preparations for implementing extended nuclear deterrence should keep pace with the evolution of the WMD capabilities of potential regional challengers, and none of the current rogues seem prepared to challenge their neighbors with WMD, with the possible exception of North Korea, whose neighbors are all great powers or have long-standing alliances with the United States. What would be useful in the near term would be to engage representatives of some of the key regional states in quiet discussions of the overall problem of how to arrange for extended nuclear deterrent cover for international coalitions. These discussions would emphasize particular categories of preparations requiring the greatest lead time. In addition to further development of antitactical ballistic missile capabilities and associated deployment plans, the development of strategies for intervening conventionally against a WMD-armed
Page 102 challenger at minimum risk would seem to be a particularly useful area to emphasize. Substantial reductions in risk can be achieved by changing operational plans so as to allow coalition forces to enter the theater, get adequate logistics support, and perform their missions without offering highly concentrated military targets. Perhaps the most important advance preparation would be to lead potential coalition partners to an understanding of the overall problem of WMD-backed challenges and of why and how partners must be prepared to support extended nuclear deterrence policies. To the extent that this understanding can be established beforehand, the deterrence policies and actions needed are more likely to be accepted without extended and divisive political debate. This understanding need not be elaborated in detail and translated into specific plans, preparations, and exercises in the near term. Given a shared understanding of the fundamental requirements of a joint nuclear deterrence strategy, it should be possible to make detailed preparations quickly in the event that a challenge from a WMD-armed renegade begins to emerge. CONCLUSIONS The main conclusion of this paper is that, in any future confrontation with a WMD-armed regional challenger, the United States and potential coalition partners will have strong incentives to involve each other in implementing jointly an extended nuclear deterrent strategy to deter the challenger from initiating the use of WMD. Given sensitivities about the subject of nuclear deterrence, about aligning prematurely against any regional state, and about explicitly pointing nuclear deterrence at specific states, and given the uncertainties about which states would become involved, specific arrangements for how extended nuclear deterrence might be implemented jointly cannot be well defined in advance. Still, there are good reasons to make some advance preparations. The best are (1) that there may not be enough time to sort out the fundamental questions raised by a joint extended nuclear deterrence strategy, if they are only addressed once a confrontation with a WMD-armed challenger has already emerged, and (2) that preparations in advance may help to deter such a confrontation and undermine the value of obtaining WMD in the first place. A second conclusion is that the most important advance preparation is the development among potential coalition partners of general understanding of the problem that would be posed by a WMD-backed challenge to a vital interest and of the expectations that the coalition partners should have of each other regarding extended nuclear deterrent policies. Such understandings could help the required arrangements to come together quickly when needed, even if the details could not be pinned down in advance. The most important aspect of such understandings is that the United States and its coalition partners must be seen to share the responsibility for the outcome of any such confrontation. This would be particularly important if deterrence were to fail.
Page 103 The arrangements under which this responsibility is shared cannot compromise the United States' sovereign right, or the right of any other nuclear state, to determine whether and how its nuclear weapons might be used. At the same time, effective sharing of the responsibility for the outcome of any confrontation risking use of WMD requires the United States to take its partners' interests and political needs seriously in implementing extended nuclear deterrence. The United States has faced the challenge of balancing these two considerations for decades, as part of the extended nuclear deterrence strategy for NATO. There, although the United States has the final say over any use of its weapons, allied groups provide political and military inputs for planning in peacetime and, time permitting, consult on possible nuclear weapons use in wartime. This is not meant to suggest that the United States should attempt to form standing alliances to contain the aggression of regional states that seek WMD. As argued above, the political support for creating new alliances does not exist. Still, it is important that preparations for what might be called "collective deterrence" of WMD-backed regional challenges keep pace with the development of such threats. Such preparations can help let prospective regional proliferators know that WMD would be of little use in underwriting aggression, but that obtaining it could polarize the international community against them.
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