In the nuclear era, the concept of deterrence by threat or retaliation is the foundation of the security policies of the superpowers. Yet there are many unevaluated claims about how, when, why, and whether deterrence works. Under what conditions do deterrent threats succeed or fail in international crises? This important book addresses this central practical question about deterrence. Experts from a range of fields review evidence bearing on threats and responses to threats in situations of conflict that are similar in some important respects to competition between superpowers. They analyze qualitative and quantitative studies of international military crises, game theoretical models, and studies of insurgencies, revolutions, oligopolistic competition, and interpersonal conflict in an informative review of the kinds of empirical evidence and theoretical analysis. The editors conclude that deterrence theory is not uniformly valid or invalid, and suggest a number of factors political leaders should consider, along with those emphasized by classical deterrence theory, in evaluating policy alternatives.
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