Credibility and Deterrence

  • John D. Orme


The greatest turning point in the history of international affairs was probably not 1945, as is customarily thought today, but rather 1914. August 1945 saw the power of the atom unleashed for the first time, but it still remained to be established whether the weapons that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki could be produced in quantity and the other components of the ‘nuclear revolution’ still lay ahead, most notably the quantum increase of destructive power brought by the hydrogen bomb and the development of the seemingly invincible intercontinental missile as a means of delivery.1


Nuclear Weapon International Affair Military Force Potential Challenger American Foreign Policy 
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  1. 1.
    See Michael Mandelbaum, The Nuclear Revolution: International Politics before and after Hiroshima (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981) pp. 1–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Robert Jervis, The Illogic of American Nuclear Strategy (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1984) pp. 13, 31;Google Scholar
  3. A. F. K. Organski and Jacek Kugler, The War Ledger (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980) pp. 176–7.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    Robert E. Osgood and Robert W. Tucker, Force, Order, and Justice (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1967) pp. 66–7, 88, 126, 148.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    See Thomas Schelling, Arms and Influence (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1966) pp. 55–9;Google Scholar
  6. and James Payne, The American Threat: National Security and Foreign Policy (College Station, Texas: Lytton, 1981) chapter 1 and passim. Jonathan Mercer has made clear to me the importance of the challenger’s ‘attribution’ of the cause of a failure of deterrence.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Robert Jervis, ‘Deterrence Theory Revisited’, World Politics XXXI (January 1979) pp. 315–20; and Stephen Maxwell, ‘Rationality and Deterrence’, Adelphi Paper No. 50 (London: Institute for Strategic Studies) p. 19; Osgood and Tucker, Force, Order, and Justice, pp. 148–9.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Robert Jervis, ‘Deterrence and Perception’, in Steven Miller (ed.), Strategy and Nuclear Deterrence (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984) pp. 66–7.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    An important addition to the literature which addresses many of the same issues as this book arrived too late to permit the present author to study it carefully. It is Robert Jervis and Jack Synder (eds), Dominoes and Bandwagons: Strategic Beliefs and Great Power Competition in the Eurasian Rimland (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Alexander George and Richard Smoke, Deterrence in American Foreign Policy (New York: Columbia University Press, 1974) pp. 522–30, 534–47.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    Paul Huth, Extended Deterrence and the Prevention of War (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988) pp. 24–4, 72–83.Google Scholar
  12. 16.
    See footnote 6 for references on the concept of balance of interests. This procedure is the simple and sensible method employed by Geir Lundestad, The American Non-Policy in Eastern Europe 1943–47 (Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 1978) pp. 435–65.Google Scholar
  13. 18.
    In defence of this broader conception of the problem, no less an authority than George Kennan can be cited. He viewed the primary threat posed by the Soviet Union as ‘political, not military’ and recommended a policy of ‘containment’ to meet it, later explaining that this did not imply a military response in all or even most cases. George Kennan, Memoirs 1925–1950 (New York: Bantam, 1969) pp. 334–5, 380–5, 384–5.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Orme 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • John D. Orme
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Science and International AffairsHarvard UniversityUSA

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