Nuclear Deterrence: What's all the fuss about?

Sunil
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Nuclear Deterrence: What's all the fuss about?

Postby Sunil » 29 Aug 2005 05:51

Hi,

In the last week I had time to refect upon ideas of deterrence and I wrote up a small essay that I'd like to share with your folks here. Most of the old timers on the forum will find this a little painful but I want to reach out to the newbies here and atleast nail a few key concepts down as best I can. I also realized that we don't really have a place on the site where all this is spelled out.

Old hands of the forum feel free to pitch in and correct me where you feel I am going wrong.

What is deterrence?


It is the ability to project into the mind of the enemy that an act of aggression is assured to produce an unacceptable retaliation. "Deterrence" can be psychologically benificial if it produces a sense of confidence that erodes the effectiveness of threats of aggression. Deterrence will not offer peace of mind to people who are prone to a national paranoia.

What "deterrence" is NOT -

1) It is not an "End To War". It is merely a bulwark against certain forms of aggression.

2) It is not a tool of perenial leverage in matters of national security.

3) It is not a "strategic life-jacket" that will save a government from drowning in a sea of political misjudgement.

Our Pakistani lurkers should take note of those last two points.

The key to deterrence is "credibility" - you have to seem capable of retaliation and you have to display a national willingness to do what is necessary in your deterrence paradigm.

Because the level of damage caused by a nuclear and conventional weapon is so different (for the most part) people usually create seperate deterrence schemes for conventional and nuclear aggression. The two (conventional and nuclear deterrence ideas) are not naturally interlinked and a very specific connection has to be made between them. This link is sometimes called a "redline".

What is stable deterrence?


When both sides of a dispute accept the others ability to cause unacceptable retaliation in the face of aggression - deterrence is said to be stable.

Note the following:

1) An essential prerequisite to "stable deterrence" is that each side must display a visible sense of rationality to the other. If the enemy's rationality cannot be determined - then the entire deterrence equation goes out the window. In nuclear terms - your thinking on nuclear issues must remain transparent at all times. Any misunderstandings must be resolved, communication must be maintained at all times. You must have the greatest possible understanding of your enemy's psychological makeup to understand what will be needed to deter him.

2) If either side is predisposed towards an escalation due to political pressures then the deterrence scheme is not stable. Its thus important for all segments of the national polity to understand and accept the needs of "stable deterrence" over petty political gain.

3) The language of deterrence has to be stable for any communication to succeed in stabilizing the deterrence regime. People can't go about inventing their own terms without clearly explaining what they mean. Using existing terms in improper ways only feeds the lack of communication.

4) In the language of deterrence - anything that moves away from "stable deterrence" is an escalation. A deterrence scheme, i.e. a collection of ideas about deterrence, which is not stable is said to be escalation prone.

What is breakdown of deterrence?


Deterrence is said to "breakdown" when one of the sides no longer retains the impression in its mind that an act of aggression is assured to produce unacceptable retaliation.

This may happen for the following reasons:

1) The enemy feels that the claim of unacceptable retaliation is no longer assured. The scheme is said to lack "credibility".

2) One side feels that the adversary is no longer deterred from an aggression.

This second reason is a very tricky one, it is easy for a nation to get sucked into an escalation believing that the other side is no longer deterred.

A sufficiently large escalation is capable of producing a breakdown of deterrence.

To be continued.

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Postby Ali » 29 Aug 2005 06:19

Deterrence is credible/working when you see Br jingos raving 'only' about “limited conflicts” and Bharti Neta producing vapourware after every parliament attack/temple attack/ some_other_random_attack in India.

Sorry didn't mean to come across as a troll but thats how it looks from the other side of the fence.

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Postby shiv » 29 Aug 2005 07:12

Very briefly - Ali may be right.

From the Indian side I only get a :rotfl: sensation when Pakis talk anout nuclear strikes on India. I find it a good game to pretend to take them seriously. This is a terrible thing to say but I don't think anyone is going to believe anything from Pakistan because they have been lying to themselves as well as to others. People will believe that a Paki nuke works when one actually lands somewhere in India.

But this is not the attitude thatthe Indian military takes, and this is not the attitude taken by the bureacracy in India I think.

I see no reason why Pakis should not feel the same way about India.

Those in the Paki government who want to ping India will closely monitor what the Indian government and defence forces say - because those guys are serious and do not make loose nuclear threats. What we say on here is all balls.

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Postby parsuram » 29 Aug 2005 07:24

Ali wrote:Deterrence is credible/working when you see Br jingos raving 'only' about “limited conflicts” and Bharti Neta producing vapourware after every parliament attack/temple attack/ some_other_random_attack in India.

Sorry didn't mean to come across as a troll but thats how it looks from the other side of the fence.


The other side of the fence - in this case, your side of the fence - is a lunatic asylum. Matters little what it looks like from there. Pretty soon, the rest of the world will have secure fences to cordon off crazed pakis like yourself carrying bombs on their midriff. Then, views of the lunatics inside the paki asylum will matter not at all.
Last edited by parsuram on 29 Aug 2005 07:29, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Nuclear Deterrence: What's all the fuss about?

Postby Alok_N » 29 Aug 2005 08:28

Sunil,

This is an interesting thread ... its worth pursuing even though I am somewhat agreeing with the initial response here ...

However, the following is the crux of the matter:

Sunil wrote:1) An essential prerequisite to "stable deterrence" is that each side must display a visible sense of rationality to the other. If the enemy's rationality cannot be determined - then the entire deterrence equation goes out the window.


precisely ... this thread needs to be deeply interlinked with the Pakislamism thread in order to remain on the mass shell ...

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Postby Calvin » 29 Aug 2005 08:36

In all seriousness, there is not much confusion about the rationality in I'bad, yet.

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Postby parsuram » 29 Aug 2005 08:54

Calvin wrote:In all seriousness, there is not much confusion about the rationality in I'bad, yet.


Kargil

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Postby Balwan » 29 Aug 2005 08:58

Ali wrote:Deterrence is credible/working when you see Br jingos raving 'only' about “limited conflicts” and Bharti Neta producing vapourware after every parliament attack/temple attack/ some_other_random_attack in India.

Sorry didn't mean to come across as a troll but thats how it looks from the other side of the fence.

Ali
You are right on money.
They are not just Bharti Neta, but "Bharat Mata key Sapoot" I much rather have Kapoots than to have Sapoots like the ones we have now.
All Bharti Netas can do is blow hot air, nothing else they are too busy in scams and making their "saat pushto ka janam sidhar diya". We have sleeping beauty and "HER" son busy raking moolah in Banglore, Stupid(laloo) yadav running Indian Railway to ground...endless and worthless argument to continue.

Across the fence they can't hide their glee at the pitiful leadership vaccum we have here. One thing that bothers me the most, We all know there are sleeper cells of ISI in India, they didn't activate them during the height of Kargil, or Parliament Attack. I for one believe they have much deeper plans to activate them. After reading the thread, "Possible Indian Milatary Scenario" I believe it will not be as hunky dory as we want to believe. Just in case there is a next full blown war these sleeper cells will be activated and wreak havoc on Indian Supply Lines.

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Postby shiv » 29 Aug 2005 09:17

Now Now Balwan - you are having a rant that makes the Paki happy. Have you Hindus no shame? No sense of honor?

Only wimmens speak in this manner.

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Postby Balwan » 29 Aug 2005 09:23

shiv wrote:Now Now Balwan - you are having a rant that makes the Paki happy. Have you Hindus no shame? No sense of honor?

Only wimmens speak in this manner.

Shiv
You know where I am coming from. Its not a rant. You know my business. As a Hindu, I have no shame I am a shameless, Honorless f*ck. I will compromise to live so I can fight another day. H&D are buried 6' under ground with beard and salwar kameez. What kinda of a man will wear slawar kameez. I guess the only ones who want to get in touch with their feminine side. All the power to them

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Postby TSJones » 29 Aug 2005 09:28

There is a rationality question when someone tests cruise missiles and then brags about various nuke applications that happened several weeks ago in Packeeland. Chest thunping on forums is one thing but when governments do it for public consumption it is quite another. There are reasons for concern even if everyone and their dog chooses to ignore it as a non event. At all times rationality must be given a test check and to see if everybody is on the same page otherwise things can be misconstrued.

If not, then it leads to certain things like launch on suspicion of nuke attack, etc. when no first use has been historically declared.

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Postby Vamsee » 29 Aug 2005 09:38

Hi,

The deterrence paradigm in the Indian Subcontinent is different from what existed between US/USSR.
1) In the subcontinent there is no MAD. There is only ADTSP. (to paklurks: even if half of India is gone, still we would be second most populous nation)
2) US/USSR were never concerned about other powers surviving and causing harm to them in the aftermath of nuclear exchange because pretty much the entire world would be gone. Here India needs to retain strong deterrence even after a nuclear exchange.
3) Non state actors had no role to play in the US/USSR game. But here in the sub continent they are the “wild card” that may change the game.

I hope other guru log would chip in and post the other factors that are exclusive to Indian Subcontinent.

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Postby Hitesh » 29 Aug 2005 09:44

One question:

Is a fission based warhead less of a deterrance than a thermonuclear device?

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Postby Singha » 29 Aug 2005 09:53

it doesnt matter fission or fusion if you can reliably land a 500KT device with 100m CEP @ 8000km from a survival land TEL or submarine.
I believe fusion is more effective bang-for-buck in terms of efficiency for the quantity of precious fissile material used however thats why people use it.
fusion also permits truly big yield devices like 1MT hard-target anti-silo warheads within a reasonable MIRV size ?

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Postby Johann » 29 Aug 2005 10:25

It is more likely that the stronger, more confidant power will seek mutual transparency of doctrine and capabilities.

The more vulnerable state will actually seek foster ambiguity about its nuclear tripwires, its precise capabilities, etc. They realise that uncertainty in the minds of others may the most powerful form of deterrence they can summon.

Soviets in the 1950s, NATO as the Soviets gained nuclear parity, Israel and the PRC throughout, India before 1998, etc.

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Postby kgoan » 29 Aug 2005 14:02

Sunil:

There's irrational rationality as a form of deterrence as well. It was perfected by the US.

The scenario is the game of chicken played with cars. Two guys in two cars face each other off. Then they drive towards each other for a head-on collison. The guy who blinks first and swerves loses.

Now the scenario above requires all the usual bull about "nerves of steel", blah blah. So the US filleted out the whole thing and came up with a fascinating scenario guaranteed to "win".

They get into their car. They head towards each other. Then in full view of the other guy, one of them goes "irrational". He pulls out the breaks, rips out the steering wheel and welds the doors shut. While heading straight for the adversary.

Who blinks?

Now most folks who read that, and are old enough, immediately think of Peter Sellers and the sublime Dr Strangelove.

It isn't. Because the response is not automated. The guy makes a deliberate decision to pull out the steering wheel and rip out the breaks and weld the doors. So there's no swerving for him, no stopping for him and he can't get out.

Note the cleverness. The guy who decides to go "irrational" is in full control. The opponent has only one either/or choice. Swerve and lose. Or do the same and die together.

The US strategy worked with the Soviets because the Soviets were terrified of the Americans doing precisely that. See, commie propaganda told them that communism was an "historical" necessity. There was nothing they had to do. The Revolution and world socialism was inevitable.

And the capitalists were bound to be losers. So they might really pull the whole house down. And the Soviets wer not interested in destroying what they wanted to loot. So their idea was to simply wait for the "historical inevitability" and "manage" the capitalists long slide into the famous "dustbin of history".

The Paks are pulling a similar trick. They try as hard as possible to appear irrational. They're all looking of 72 virgins - so they really might launch. Brave martial types don't fear death etc, etc.

And it seems to work. Note that not even the US is gonna risk anything. Pak survival requires that they keep appearing "irrational". Hence, most probably, the whole cruise missile stuff and assorted balderdash.

They have to. Note that GeneralKaramat himsef said that the US has to treat PakLand "properly" and not like a possible target. i.e. They *know* they're a possible target. Their survival depends an them appearing as mad as possible.

BTW, FWIW: I reckon the Paks aren't worried about a first nuke strike from us - they're terrified of the US doing them in a "bolt-from-the-blue" line.

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Postby shiv » 29 Aug 2005 14:58

That is a great analysis kgoan.

I believe Indian nukes are not a threat to Pakistan because I think the Pakistani establishment expect rationality from India and will not do anything to invite nuclear retaliation.

In the meantime they will threaten nuclear strikes against India because that serves many ends. First they believe that the threat of a first strike will keep India rational. To them keeping India rational is the same as scaring India. That is translated into "effective protection of Pakistan from a belligerent India" - and it means that the Pakistanis have a successful deterrent against India.

Pakistani deterrence lasts only as long as they do not strike India with a nuke, but only threaten strikes against India. India will make no such threats in return, and that too is translated as "Indian fear" for consumption by the Paki public. This macho-giri serves the additional purpose of showing how the Pakistani ruling military is the only force that can keep India at bay and why the military is so vital to Pakistan.

As it has been for the last 30 or more years - it is not the Indian military or Indian nukes that actually threaten Pakistan. It is India's size, proximity, "impure" cultural stench and the unpredictable disorderliness of its democracy - which if applied in Pakistan would destroy all that the establishment has built up over the years.

I believe that Islamist extremism was a "last stand" to unite Islam against a kafir India. We are seeing the last stand play out. Unrelated to this thread - I personally believe that this is the best time to go on the offensive to associate Pakistan and Islam so that everything negative that is seen about Pakistan can be applied to Islam as well. Pakis cannot deny that they are Islamic and they know that they are getting bad press. This is the time to make hay.

JMT

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Postby Vamsee » 29 Aug 2005 15:04

Hi Kgoan,

Beautiful analogy. But in our scenario we do not have two cars facing each other. Instead we have a Maruti car facing RTC Bus.
If, after looking at the Maruti driver rip his breaks and steering wheel, the Bus driver coolly presses the accelerator, then what would the guy in Maruti do? :twisted:
Now to his horror, the maruti driver can not even swerve!

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Postby Hitesh » 29 Aug 2005 18:53

The deterrence against Pakistan is not somethign that we need to worry about. It is the detterence against China that I am most concerned about.
They have such a head start against us and have true ICBMs. We have not reached that point even with Agni III that has not been test fired yet.

They have counterforce capability against us while we do not.

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Postby Arun_S » 29 Aug 2005 20:32

Singha wrote:it doesnt matter fission or fusion if you can reliably land a 500KT device with 100m CEP @ 8000km from a survival land TEL or submarine.
I believe fusion is more effective bang-for-buck in terms of efficiency for the quantity of precious fissile material used however thats why people use it. Fusion also permits truly big yield devices like 1MT hard-target anti-silo warheads within a reasonable MIRV size ?


IMHO the key importance of TN weapon is "Yield to Weight Ratio". This allows a weaponsized missile to be small/manageable/realibale in dropping the right kind of yield over desired area over the right range.

In my view fissile missile efficiency, cost savings and MT yield are important but secondary technical factors.

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Postby AJay » 29 Aug 2005 20:40

Johann wrote:The more vulnerable state will actually seek foster ambiguity about its nuclear tripwires, its precise capabilities, etc. They realise that uncertainty in the minds of others may the most powerful form of deterrence they can summon.


Exact quote from AQ Khan in 1998 - "Secrecy is the weapon of the weak". Make what you will of that. There are several possibile interpretations, one being that the Pakistani rulers of that time were rational. Now that the author of Kargil is the ruler - he is clearly a non-state actor due to the coup - the rationality of Pakistani ruling Junta is a question mark.

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Postby Sunil » 29 Aug 2005 21:18

Hi,

Quick replies.

Ali,

Boss, in Pakistan the govt. tells you - all terrorist activity is carried out by RAW and then they tell you that India will not attack Pakistan because of nuclear deterrence. How do you know which story to believe? Is India not attacking you because as your Musharraf tells you - these groups are RAW sponsorred terrorists? or Is India not attacking you because Pakistan has nukes? If it is the former - then Pakistan's nukes are useless - if it is the latter than Pakistan is a terrorist state. Which would you rather believe?

Matt,
I think I will slowly bring it all to nuclear deterrence. I am just going through some more general stuff before I start bringing things down to the nuclear only level.

Kgoan,

Yes, I was coming to the irrationality point. Give me a day or so, I have something written up on that, I will polish it up and put it here.

Alok_N,

As Calvin points out (and Kgoan also) there is no doubt so far about the rationality of the Pakistani side - their public posturing non-withstanding. The Pakistanis given their testosterone driven brains are keen on having "nuclear standoffs" to enhance the waning popularity of their military. This imo is perfectly rational, as long as they don't lose it at their end - and contrary to anything they may choose to believe - there are ways they can lose it at their end. I will expand on this in my post on the nature of escalations.

Vamsee,

Good start. I will pitch in over the next day or so.

Hitesh,

It is more bang (yield at target) for the buck(spent on Pu).
Last edited by Sunil on 30 Aug 2005 03:19, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby TSJones » 29 Aug 2005 21:24


They get into their car. They head towards each other. Then in full view of the other guy, one of them goes "irrational". He pulls out the breaks, rips out the steering wheel and welds the doors shut. While heading straight for the adversary.
Who blinks?

Now most folks who read that, and are old enough, immediately think of Peter Sellers and the sublime Dr Strangelove.

It isn't. Because the response is not automated. The guy makes a deliberate decision to pull out the steering wheel and rip out the breaks and weld the doors. So there's no swerving for him, no stopping for him and he can't get out.

Note the cleverness. The guy who decides to go "irrational" is in full control. The opponent has only one either/or choice. Swerve and lose. Or do the same and die together.


Now when has the US ever done this? We have always blinked first. I believe the US is congenitally incapable of striking first. We are slow to anger and the first to forgive.

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Postby Johann » 29 Aug 2005 21:46

TSJ

It is true that the USG never intended to carry out a nuclear 'bolt from the blue', an unprovoked nuclear attack, however much people like Curtis LeMay or MacArthur liked the idea.

On the other hand Massive Retaliation in the 1950s warned of first use if the Soviets invaded NATO. That was later ammended in the 1960s to 'Flexible Response' which meant that while an invasion would not trigger an instant strategic nuclear attack, it could not be ruled out if things looked bad and the Soviets did not reconsider. Incidentally the UK and France *loathed* flexible response. We saw it coming, the inevitable excuse for the US to abandon Europe as American cities came in range of Soviet nukes. That is why we continued to spend huge amounts of money on our independent deterrents - to ensure that the US could not be too flexible about a Warsaw Pact invasion. The Germans, Italians and others supported us to the hilt in this.

Nixon and Reagan both used the 'madman' strategy to convince the Soviets that they had to make concessions if they did not want one superpower nuclear crisis after another.

Reagan only backed off in 1984 after pressure from Thatcher and intelligence such as from the defector Gordievsky suggested that the Soviets, always paranoid and now under pressure from so many quarters now expected a first strike to come out of nowhere. That level of fear on the Soviets was counter-productive - the Soviets had to believe that nuclear war was not the only option. Which adversary will consider surrender or an end to hostilities if they know you take no prisoners and make no terms? Reagan did step back in some ways, Gorbachev came to power and made an opening, Thatcher and Reagan seized it and the rest was history.

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Postby Sunil » 29 Aug 2005 21:55

Continued from previous post:

Would a rational man do something that would cause deterrence to breakdown?


Well.. that depends on how you define the word "rational".

For the purposes of a deterrence discussion - "rational" can be defined in a circular fashion as someone who accepts the "rationale of deterence" and adjusts his aspirations and desires accordingly. Tricky right.. you betcha!

So who is "irrational"? - well lets see -

1) Someone with psychological problems about the status quo. Esp. someone with no notion of an "unacceptable retaliation" i.e. someone with nothing to lose.

2) Someone who is illinformed and unversed with the logic of deterrence and is unable to communicate their intentions properly. The gentle idiot who by political chance made it to the top of the nations polity and is completely clueless about the manner in which deterrence discussions are conducted. A congenital idiot whose lack of a brain defies the ability of modern neurology to explain. (I sometimes think that a number of Pakistanis I speak to fall into this category).

3) Someone pretending to be "irrational" (as kgoan and shiv are suggesting).

So what does an "irrational" person do?


An "irrational" person tries to move the situation away from stable deterrence - i.e. creates escalations.

Escalations can be described by the amount of time they take to manifest:

1) Sudden: Leaving no time for de-escalatory mechanisms to kick in and stablize the situation. This leads very rapidly to breakdown of deterrence so most deterrence schemes work extra hard to make this kind of escalation impossible. Eg. schemes that do not mate warheads with weapons, or schemes that put mobile launchers out of range of targets etc...

2) Moderate: Leaving time for some of the de-escalatory mechanisms to work and then making up the lack of sufficient de-escalation with a number of last minute comunications and backdoor deals. (this is a favorite of our Pakistani friends).

3) Slow/long term: Escalating at a near glacial place - reducing and removing all appearances of an escalation. This is usually done in the hope that the enemy does not notice what the other party is doing. (Our neighbors to the east tend to think they do this...)

How does one distinguish between an enemy that is "irrational" and "pretending to be irrational"?


That is actually quite hard to do - since the political theatrics abound and like any Hollywood/Bollywood movie - people tend to assuage the lack of a real script with overacting.

A crude way to distinguish between these two groups of people is to see what kind of escalations they create. People "pretending to be irrational" usually create escalations of type 2, 3 - this leaves enough time for escalation control mechanisms to kick in and save the situation from bleeding out of control. Truly "irrational" people, i.e. idiots or psychos tend to produce escalations of type 1.

What would cause a person to "pretend to be irrational"?


That is usually a function of political pressures within the system that the enemy chooses to govern.

Usually people "pretend to be irrational" because there is internal political dynamics what will cause the current dispensation to lose power to another internal challenger. By successfully riding out the escalation and surviving in power - the current administration of the enemy can marginalize its political opponents. This feeds the idea that "deterrence" is a magic wand that can be waved to grant eternal political life.

If any government is forced to pretend to be irrational in order to preserve its current potentates - then it is most likely facing a very severe internal crisis of credibility. In all cases people who have taken to this approach have been driven from power.

Our Pakistani neighbors are prone to this kind of thinking as their political systems are weak.

How does one ride out an escalation?


That relies on having something called an escalation control. An escalation control is something that can instantly maximize the political cost of escalation to the adversary.

Anyone who thinks they have an escalation control then thinks they can escalate at will. They will do something very provocative and then hold out their "nuclear superiority" as a counter to the adversary's attempts to respond. After much political theatre about "eyeball-to-eyeball","seeing who blinks first" yada yada yada... staged with media support - the door to de-escalation will be carefully opened with the help of the escalation control and then a de-escalation will follow.

The ability to have an escalation control however is dependent on the ability to understand the politics of the other side. You have to understand what will maximize the political cost to the enemy - if you misjudge that then you will suffer very severe consequences.

Again our Pakistani friends routinely misjudge the effectiveness of their escalation control. Ofcourse it just so happens that so far the Pakistan Army has been able to redistribute the political costs of its errors on others but it remains to be seen how long it can do this.

to be continued.
Last edited by Sunil on 29 Aug 2005 22:07, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby TSJones » 29 Aug 2005 22:00


That level of fear on the Soviets was counter-productive - the Soviets had to believe that nuclear war was not the only option. Which adversary will consider surrender or an end to hostilities if they know you take no prisoners and make no terms? Reagan did step back in some ways, Gorbachev came to power and made an opening, Thatcher and Reagan seized it and the rest was history.


Thanks Johann, we're always on the look out to give our adversaries leeway.

Actually, I think we hurt them worst with our Wendy's hamburgers and Taco Bell commercials. And don't forget Dr. Strangelove was shown in the US at the height of the Cold War.

So far the Chinese, proliferation factors aside, have been very rational except for Taiwan which doesn't affect India at all.

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Postby Calvin » 29 Aug 2005 22:20

TSJ: And so have the North Koreans, and so was Mr. Hussein.

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Postby SandeepA » 29 Aug 2005 22:24

TSJones wrote: I believe the US is congenitally incapable of striking first. We are slow to anger and the first to forgive.


This is a joke or what?
The only country to ever 'strike' has been the US! They did it twice to a nation that was already on the mat and ready to surrender!

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Postby Calvin » 29 Aug 2005 22:26

SandeepA: Don't be silly. Japan was not "ready to surrender". Hell, they were not "ready to surrender" after one nuke.

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Postby Umrao » 29 Aug 2005 22:48

So far the Chinese, proliferation factors aside, have been very rational except for Taiwan which doesn't affect India at all.


That conclusively proves one mans rationality is dependent on his nationality (perspective).

From Jones of the world perspective PRC is perfectly rational to proliferate Nukes to TSP and NoKO while professing NPT to India.

I now understand the rationality of TSP being armed to teeth.

Now iwth Taco bell it now rings a bell when they say 'Run for the Border' or think out of the Bun.[/code]

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Postby SandeepA » 29 Aug 2005 22:53

By mid-1945 the Japanese were on the mat and had sent surrender feelers to USSR at Potsdam. Meanwhile the US was wary of a land-invasion of Japanese mainland after the huge toll at Okinawa. Also in keeping with their paranoia of the Soviets did not want a Japanese settlement that would leave room for the Soviets. Since they had the bomb they wanted to tilt the scales decisively to their side.
Nothing in this shows any 'congenital weakness' that TSJ aludes to.
The line between rationality and irrationality is defined by the eventual winner.

Some reading (picked from a simple google search)..

Potsdam and the final decision

The 'irresistible cocktail'

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Postby Vaylan » 29 Aug 2005 23:00

Vamsee wrote

Beautiful analogy. But in our scenario we do not have two cars facing each other. Instead we have a Maruti car facing RTC Bus.
If, after looking at the Maruti driver rip his breaks and steering wheel, the Bus driver coolly presses the accelerator, then what would the guy in Maruti do?
Now to his horror, the maruti driver can not even swerve!


Now let's make the analogy even more realistic..assume that the bus is full of people and so is the Maruti car. This will still not change the behavior of the Maruti driver one bit. He won't hesitate for a second to gamble with their lives.He will still throw out the brakes, weld the doors shut, etc

However, when the bus lumbers down on the puny car and the idiot driver begins to see the light, he will kick out his window and clamber out of the doomed Maruti like the coward he is. Understandably, it will be too late for the people of the Maruti. The bus will sustain some dents and scratches. But the Maruti would be lucky to get sold for scrap. And all the Unkils and Chinkils of the world cannot revive this Humpty Dumpty ever again....

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Postby TSJones » 29 Aug 2005 23:51

Umrao:

From Jones of the world perspective PRC is perfectly rational to proliferate Nukes to TSP and NoKO while professing NPT to India.


Never said that or even implied it. Really, how do you find time to make this stuff up?

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Postby TSJones » 29 Aug 2005 23:54


However, when the bus lumbers down on the puny car and the idiot driver begins to see the light, he will kick out his window and clamber out of the doomed Maruti like the coward he is. Understandably, it will be too late for the people of the Maruti. The bus will sustain some dents and scratches. But the Maruti would be lucky to get sold for scrap. And all the Unkils and Chinkils of the world cannot revive this Humpty Dumpty ever again....


Actually from the brouhaha a couple of weeks ago, I would say the bus driver never even notices the Maruti or sees it as a big non event despite the passengers shouting at him there is danger coming....

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Postby Kumar » 30 Aug 2005 00:03

Rationality or irrationality can be said to reside in an individual entity, but its 'show' doesn't necessarily reside in an individual entity, but may be a function of relationship between two entities.

Chin-Pak-ji may 'show' rational behavior regarding US's interests, but it may 'show' irrational regarding India.

Bullies, (e.g. Bolton, who was described as 'suck-up kick-down person'), can be quite rational while dealing with superiors, while irrational with whom they consider inferior. Wife beaters who otherwise behave appropriately with others also come to mind.

A 'rational' China for uncle can be a raving lunatic for India.

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Postby TSJones » 30 Aug 2005 00:05


By mid-1945 the Japanese were on the mat and had sent surrender feelers to USSR at Potsdam. Meanwhile the US was wary of a land-invasion of Japanese mainland after the huge toll at Okinawa. Also in keeping with their paranoia of the Soviets did not want a Japanese settlement that would leave room for the Soviets. Since they had the bomb they wanted to tilt the scales decisively to their side.
Nothing in this shows any 'congenital weakness' that TSJ aludes to.
The line between rationality and irrationality is defined by the eventual winner.


Actually, the US was under no moral obligation to allow Japan to negotiate a surrender. We told them to surender, no negotiations, and we would treat them as nice as the circumstances permitted. They didn't like that idea. Sadly, after much care and forethought we nuked them. It hurt us to have to do that and besides we weren't sure it was going to work or not. And by the way, we killed a number of US POWs in those nuke attacks. We all lost.

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Postby Umrao » 30 Aug 2005 00:08

TSJones wrote:Umrao:

From Jones of the world perspective PRC is perfectly rational to proliferate Nukes to TSP and NoKO while professing NPT to India.


Never said that or even implied it. Really, how do you find time to make this stuff up?



Fractional rationality is like being half virgin.

Let us see
The operative part of the sentence is

1) 'So far the Chinese, proliferation factors aside,'Proliferation is either good or Bad or even ugly and cannot be brushed aside to determine rationality.



2) 'Have been very rational'Since the proliferation of PRC has not yet affected unkil it is seen as rational.
Once the JDAM is confirmed it may swing to irrational.

3) 'Except for Taiwan'
Why this exception? How does it not affect India?

If aggression against Taiwan goes unchecked, it is like accepting Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, which unkil didn’t.

Rationality like Deterrence is in the eye of the beholder.


(Remember how sanctions against individual scientists were slapped even when there was not even an iota of proof that the scientists were proliferating technology.....)

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Postby SandeepA » 30 Aug 2005 00:19

TSJones wrote: Sadly, after much care and forethought we nuked them. It hurt us to have to do that and besides we weren't sure it was going to work or not. And by the way, we killed a number of US POWs in those nuke attacks. We all lost.


How many countries would do a first strike without much care and forethought?
To be able to get away with this is exactly what 'rationality' is about. Its like that Calvin n Hobbes strip. The PR can justify anything.

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Postby parsuram » 30 Aug 2005 00:33

Lessons from the cold war (aka soviet fold-up-and-die):

1. Do NOT get into a numbers game: ie, we restrict ourselves to this, you restrict yourselves to that, etc. This is a pile of horse dung. Keep all options open, none on the table.

2. Negotiate no reductions. This is an oxymoron.

3. do NOT be predictable; develop & practice some judicious paradigms of unpredictability (preferrably based on chaos theory, where a set of defined unpleasent attractors can be populated by policy decisions, alone or in combination, randomly).

3. ALWAYS project rationality, while practicing the opposite as circumstaces permit.

4. Pay for irrational unpredictable policies with OPM(other peoples's money)

5. When in a confrontation, first option should always be to give in and agree; then do what ever you please.

6. Tie adversories in knots monitoring your compliance to "agreements".

7. Invest in the cost of providing adversories with unexpected windfalls at judiciously timed occasions.

8. Do NOT overreach, keeping your goals well within your reach, letting adversories play a losing "keep away" game.

9. Keep use of force at a minimum,(bot use on occasion)while altering its prioritization (first, middle, or last).

10. ALWAYS keep changing, as in a moving target.

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Postby Sunil » 30 Aug 2005 03:06

continued from previous post.

How does one know what is suitable as an escalation control?


To know this one first has to understand the notion that there is something called an "escalation ladder". An escalation ladder is series of events that lead away from the stable deterrence. Usually whoever knows the ladder sufficiently well - can provoke an escalation provided they are confident that they can ensure that the enemy follows a determined path on a given ladder. All they have to do is jump to some point in the ladder where the enemy's political costs rise rapidly and that causes the enemy to concede that it has lost the staring match. Once this is done, the entire thing returns to the stable deterrence zone and life goes on as usual.

WHAT!!! your acting like this is all a game!.. what about things like MAD and First Use v/s No First Use, what about this arms race that is taking money away from development?


Well ... international politics is a game at some level - perhaps a very scary one.

Done properly this kind of behavior - can be used to vent the escalatory tendencies building up inside a dispute. For example say the enemy is experiencing political problems from a community that wants a shooting war with India. Only the enemy leader knows there can't be a shooting war - so he stages an elaborate drama where he threatens that nuclear weapons will be used to subdue India and that convinces the people who want war that the ruler has done a fantastic job and he should be allowed to continue in power.

However the key is that both sides understand each other perfectly and no one side have an excessive interest in prolonging instability. You can't do this kind of thing with a gang of supine idiots as adversaries.

As regards MAD:

There are many ideas of what constitutes a ladder of escalation. In the case of the US and the USSR nuclear standoff. There was a line of thinking that called on actual nuclear warfighting - i.e. fighting a real war with nuclear weapons. This kind of thinking was prevalent in both the West and the East because both places had recently fought WWII and hence the idea of war was viewed as a natural way of articulating national sentiments. You know.. kind of like the stone age - when you saw a nice cavegirl - your duty as a caveman was to walk up to her and hit her on the head with a club and drag her back to your cave.. that was considered dating back then.

One of the results of this kind of talk was that an arms race took hold. The US and USSR began to have to come up with a way of achieving escalation dominance in an environment where nuclear warfighting could be used to move away from stable deterrence. They had to come up with a way of ensuring neither side even considered the use of nuclear weapons in a combat situation. The result was that they began to stockpile a huge number of nuclear weapons and this led to a situation where each side came to have nuclear weapons that were far in excess of the number needed to completely destroy all of each others population centers, national command centers, food production areas and energy resources. In short to completely eradicate each other. This came to be called Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). This is not the state of affairs where India is concerned. Neither Pakistan nor China have enough fissile material to indulge in a MAD based deterrence ladder vis-a-vis India. Any Pakistanis or Chinese that talk about this are blithering idiots.

The MAD doctrine made a significant impact on the national economy of both the US and the USSR. It immeasurably strengthened the economic reach of military industrial enterprises. Given the capital intensive nature of this work, both countries soon found themselves drawn into a war for control over global resources in energy (the Middle East, Central Asia, Iran) and narcotics (Afghanistan, Laos-Cambodia, South/Central America). The MAD doctrine also inspired huge expenditures on things like missile defence. In short if you pick MAD as the escalation ladder to try to clamber around in you are going to expend an enormous amount of national capital resources on things that sit inside a giant hole in the ground.

Regarding No First Use and First Use:

These are really just words - phrases that are used to herald the manner in which a nation will enter the ladder of escalation. People with a first use declaration usually enter the ladder screaming "we will nuke you...!!!!!" at their enemies and people with NFU usually enter the ladder saying... "oh yeah.. make my day!".

Nations with FU tend to invest in technologies that can be used quickly. They try to keep the "powder dry" and that costs quite a bit of money. Nations with NFU usually have something which they put considerable emphasis on technologically - it is something that is called "guarenteed second strike". It is also quite expensive and involves setting up systems that are sure to survive the first strike and then launch a punitive retaliation. In most cases - the systems themselves are completely indistinguishable - you cannot distinguish between a first strike weapon and a second strike weapon on the basis of specs alone - the systems look alike. How they are deployed and/or how they are described in the literature however differs.

For all practical purposes - you can ignore this distinction - unless you get a kick out of pretending that these are somehow different. For India for example - Yes we have NFU.. but that doesn't mean that we are going to sit around waiting to be nuked. It does not mean that we are going to avoid using a weapon if our national survival is at stake. It simply means that we aren't going to jump into an escalation ladder shouting..."we are going to use a nuke!!!". We leave that kind of posturing to the aggression junkies next door. I shudder to imaging the the fear of God that they will experience the day India moves to a first use posture.

to be continued


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