Deterrence and counterproliferation in an age of weapons of mass destruction
Faced with America's conventional military superiority, many countries are turning to weapons of mass destruction as a means to deter U.S. intervention in their affairs. At the same time, 11 September 2001 awakened the United States to a degree of vulnerability it had never experienced before, making it increasingly unwilling to tolerate such weapons in the hands of unstable and unpredictable regimes, particularly those with connections to terrorist organizations. These twin fears of American encroachment and American vulnerability create a modern security dilemma, forming a vicious cycle of insecurity that challenge straditional notions of deterrence. It is unquestionable that the United States possesses the strategic capabilities to retaliate with devastating effect to any attack, but regional asymmetries of interest may tip the scales of brinksmanship in favor of potential adversaries, thereby dissuading American involvement in responding to global security threats. While this might be a welcome change to some, the United States is developing Counter proliferation options to prevent, protect against, or destroy threatening weapons reserving the right to use preemptive force in order to retain freedom of action abroad and protect the homeland. This is a worthwhile objective, but deterrence will never be guaranteed by American strength, and unprovoked wars of disarmament will inevitably spark yet further proliferation and hatred toward the United States. Ultimately, the only reliable road to peace lies in nurturing and broadening friendly relations with nations that share the goal of destroying the threat posed by catastrophic weapons of mass murder and terror.