NATO and Tailored Deterrence: Surveying the Challenges
The U.S. Department of Defense has officially employed the phrase "tailored deterrence" since the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review. The other NATO Allies have also given the concept some attention, but it remains largely unexplored on both sides of the Atlantic. Important conceptual and practical questions have yet to be answered.
This paper offers a survey of the challenges. It examines general concepts of deterrence before turning to definitions of tailored deterrence, intrinsic problems in implementing the concept, and specific potential implications for NATO in maintaining and modernizing its deterrence posture. It reports key findings from three workshops on NATO and deterrence in 20072008.1 It concludes with a brief review of the grounds for holding that NATO can meet the challenges presented by new deterrence requirements.
Concepts of deterrence
The best way to approach definitions of "tailored deterrence" might be to consider some more general concepts of deterrence. Deterrence involves threats and associated efforts to prevent another state - or a nonstate actor - from taking action against one's interests.
There is a relationship between deterrence and compellence in that threats are involved. However, some commentators say that compellence concerns forcing someone to do something while deterrence means convincing someone not to do something. Thomas Schelling presented the contrast as follows:
Deterrence involves setting the stage - by announcement, by rigging the tripwire, by incurring the obligation - and waiting. The overt act is up to the opponent. The stagesetting can often be nonintrusive, nonhostile, nonprovocative. The act that is intrusive, hostile, or provocative is usually the one to be deterred; the deterrent threat only changes the consequences if the act in question - the one to be deterred - is then taken. Compellence, in contrast, usually involves initiating an action (or an irrevocable commitment to action) that can cease, or become harmless, only if the opponent responds. The overt act, the first step, is up to the side that makes the compellent threat. To deter, one digs in, or lays a minefield, and waits-in the interest of inaction. To compel, one gets up enough momentum (figuratively, but sometimes literally) to make the other act to avoid collision.2
It has become customary in the United States since the late 1950s to distinguish between two basic types of deterrence, and to describe them with the terms proposed by Glen Snyder in 1959.
The first is deterrence by threat of punishment. Snyder's Cold War analysis emphasized the U.S. threat of nuclear retaliation against the Soviet Union. In Snyder's words, "deterrence of a direct Soviet assault on the United States . . . is almost exclusively an airpower job," though "naval strategic capabilities . . . [are] destined, no doubt, to play an increasing role in the future."3 Retaliatory punishment could, however, take many forms - from an attack against the enemy's society, such as Snyder discussed, to economic sanctions or war crimes prosecution or regime change. The essential idea is to deter the adversary from taking unwanted action by threatening punitive retaliation.
The second type is deterrence by denial, which might also be called the threat of operational defeat. In Snyder's analytical framework in the late 1950s, deterrence by denial relied on conventional and theater nuclear forces capable of defeating Soviet aggression on the battlefield - and hence denying Moscow success in seizing territory. In his words, "a denial capability can play a significant role in deterring . . . Soviet aggressive moves around the periphery of its empire in Europe and Asia."4 This form of deterrence tells the adversary not to attack because he will be defeated in combat and/or will fail to inflict the damage he intends to cause. Capabilities that may send a "deterrence by denial" message include not only conventional combat forces but also means to counter attacks and mitigate their effects. These means encompass, but are not limited to, air and missile defenses, protective and decontamination equipment designed to operate against CBRN attacks,5 and consequence management assets.
The phrase "tailored deterrence" seems to have first entered the official lexicon of the U.S. Department of Defense with the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, which said that the United States must move away "From 'one size fits all' deterrence - to tailored deterrence for rogue powers, terrorist networks and nearpeer competitors." The 2006 QDR also referred to the need for "more tailorable capabilities to deter advanced military powers, regional WMD states, or nonstate terrorists."6 The 2006 QDR did not, however, offer a definition of tailored deterrence, nor did it analyze the various organizational and operational challenges it presents.
The basic idea of tailored deterrence is, to be sure, not new. As Keith Payne and other experts have pointed out, the "know the enemy" principle as the basis for strategies of deterrence and coercion dates back to Sun Tzu; and it has been prescribed by other authorities throughout history.7 Calling for an empirical focus on specific potential adversaries and contingencies seems novel to some observers only because of the apparent success of U.S. and NATO policies based on general assumptions about deterrence requirements during the Cold War. While there were some noteworthy efforts during the Cold War to tailor the U.S. and NATO deterrence posture to the Soviet threat, there were also efforts to come up with a sort of universal model of deterrence supposedly applicable to all adversaries in all circumstances. "Tailored deterrence" rejects the idea of "one size fits all" preparations. It calls for avoiding selfcentered mirrorimaging and the projection of one's own values and priorities onto others. If "tailored deterrence" is feasible, its proponents say, it will be founded on detailed knowledge of particular adversaries and their decisionmaking patterns and priorities, not on a priori assumptions about the functioning of deterrence derived from Cold War experiences.
Keith Payne has argued that for tailored deterrence to work, it is essential
to "get inside" the decisionmaking process of the challenger, and to ascertain as far as possible the basis for its decision making with regard to a specific context and flashpoint. In principle, this should facilitate formulation of a more effective deterrence policy because it will provide a better basis for anticipating a challenger's behavior. Correspondingly, this framework establishes a tool for identifying and characterizing the various factors (some likely unique, others subject to generalization) that may be critical to the functioning of deterrence and coercive threats in a specific case, and subsequently tailoring U.S. deterrence policies to that specific challenger and context.8
Payne's call for "tailoring U.S. deterrence policies to that specific challenger and context" is the essential metaphor. In 2001 Payne proposed a framework for "tailoring U.S. deterrence policies" to particular challengers.9 In 2007 Elaine Bunn adapted and extended the framework proposed by Payne and suggested a checklist of questions for "the calculus of tailored deterrence."10 As she pointed out, the concept of "tailored deterrence" encompasses three key facets of tailoring: (a) specific actors in particular situations, (b) capabilities, and (c) communications.
The key idea in tailored deterrence, as the word "tailored" implies, is that the United States and its allies ought to cut the cloth to fit the requirements of the case. If the objective were to deter someone from doing something - for instance, to convince an adversary not to attack a NATO ally - the Allies would need to know, among other things, his strategies, his motivations, and his decisionmaking system, as well as what he values. The Allies would also need to know how to communicate with him. Just as a tailor wants to make a suit fit, theAllies would want to make sure that all the elements of their deterrent posture - above all, their capabilities and declared policy - fit the requirements of the situation.
Moreover, just as a tailor may have several clients - some tall and some short, some fat and some thin - NATO may have to deal with several types of adversaries in the coming years: terrorist groups, regional powers armed with weapons of mass destruction, and even advanced military powers. The Alliance must therefore know how to define its policies and capabilities to meet multiple requirements.
In conjunction with the universalization tendency mentioned earlier, during the Cold War many people got in the habit of thinking of deterrence as based above all on nuclear forces and on posing a threat of nuclear retaliation so dreadful that it would surely terrify and deter the Soviet leadership.
The tailored deterrence approach differs from the outlook predominant in NATO during the Cold War because it is not focused on nuclear capabilities, but considers the full spectrum of capabilities that may contribute to deterrence, including conventional forces; robust consequence management capabilities; passive and active defenses, including air and missile defenses; capabilities to reliably attribute responsibility for anonymous attacks; and - for some observers - nonmilitary instruments such as the threat of economic and diplomatic sanctions or prosecution for war crimes. The extent to which these nonmilitary or "soft" instruments can contribute to deterrence, notably when they involve cooperation with private sector partners, is a contested point among experts. Allied experts also differ about the relevance of "conventional deterrence." Some note that NATO has been employing conventional forces since the early 1990s to deal with conflicts in which deterrence failed. It is nonetheless generally agreed that tailored deterrence must draw upon both "deterrence by denial" and "deterrence by threat of punishment" capabilities and analytical frameworks.
While uncertainties will always remain, and success in deterrence can never be guaranteed, the tailored deterrence approach prescribes reducing ignorance about the adversary's priorities and decisionmaking to the greatest possible extent. As Elaine Bunn has observed, the threat of economic or diplomatic sanctions or war crimes prosecution may affect the choices of some decisionmakers.11 Tailored deterrence involves a holistic approach to the means that may sway an adversary's choices, with due attention to a full spectrum of capabilities. In Payne's words,
In some cases, nonmilitary approaches to deterrence may deter best, in others, nonnuclear force options may be adequate and advantageous, in still other cases, nuclear threat options may be necessary to deter. Each type of capability is likely to have a role in deterring attacks; to reject any as unnecessary for deterrence is to presume knowledge about how foreign leaders will think and how deterrence will function across place and time that is wholly unsupportable.12
It bears repeating that no guarantee can be offered for the success of any deterrence posture, even one based on superior nuclear forces. As Payne has pointed out,
Some future foes may indeed be deterred by very modest U.S. nuclear capabilities, or by none at all. Others, highly motivated and cost/risk tolerant, may be deterrable only by severe nuclear threats involving robust capabilities. And, in some cases, policies of deterrence simply may not be applicable at any level of nuclear capability.13
Knowledge of the priorities and decisionmaking behaviour of specific adversaries may nonetheless improve the chances of successfully deterring aggression.
The tailored deterrence approach differs from the Cold War outlook because it considers multiple distinct adversaries instead of focusing on a single main adversary, the Soviet Union. It shifts attention away from abstract models of what NATO governments would find deterring - such as the threat of nuclear war - to an analysis of what specific adversaries might find credible and deterring in particular contexts. As noted above, the tailored deterrence approach calls for studying, among other things, the behavior, strategies, decisionmaking, and interests of each specific opponent - above all, the interests as the opponent defines them. The United States and its allies may then determine what particular adversaries value most highly, and therefore what might be held at risk in pursuit of deterrence, warprevention, and crisis management.
In short, tailored deterrence calls for understanding the specific adversary, assembling an array of pertinent threats and incentives, and communicating messages that may, it is hoped, convince him not to attempt an act of aggression or coercion. In other words, the "tailored deterrence" concept may offer a pathway to investigating what the United States and its NATO allies can do to improve their deterrence postures and adjust them to the requirements of specific contingencies involving particular adversaries.
Intrinsic obstacles to success in implementing the "tailored deterrence" concept
What are the intrinsic obstacles to success in implementing the concept of tailored deterrence?
The first problem is that "tailored deterrence" may not be feasible because of the great challenge of correctly understanding the specific adversary. Most state adversaries are not simple unitary actors but collections of agencies and power centers. As a workshop participant pointed out, the outcome of their future interactions in a specific crisis "may be a mystery, not a secret."
Moreover, some workshop participants argued that "true believers" convinced of their ideology and historical destiny are not subject to deterrence, however elaborate and seemingly astute the deterrence postures designed to fit them. Napoleon, Hitler, and Ahmadinejad were cited as examples. However, other participants disagreed, and held that everyone must fear something - for instance, operational defeat or setbacks for their cause.
Some workshop participants found the concept of tailored deterrence meritorious and gave examples of success. Some participants said that perhaps the clearest successes for "tailored deterrence" were the U.S. and coalition warnings to lowerlevel commanders in the Iraqi military - sometimes called "triggerpullers" - that they would be held personally responsible for any use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). These warnings were highly specific and "tailored" to the situation; and they appear to have influenced the decisionmaking of individual Iraqi commanders in 1991.
Workshop participants disagreed about assessing cultural issues in deterrence. Some participants argued that a nation's strategic culture does not determine its choices but influences its approach to security challenges. Knowledge of an adversary's strategic culture may therefore enable one to define a deterrence posture with a greater likelihood of success. For example, one participant said, Iran seems not to care about threats of punishment and to be indifferent to offers of rewards. If this is indeed a fundamental finding about Iran's strategic culture, he argued, it implies that the only deterrence strategy that might work against Tehran would be deterrence by denial. That is, Iran would be most effectively deterred by threats of defeat in military operations. This could be seen as an argument for missile defenses to protect NATO forces, territory, and population centers.
Some workshop participants nonetheless expressed caution about "strategic culture" approaches and noted that some questions about this analytical approach have yet to be fully answered - for instance, the problems of formulating and testing hypotheses with precision, making reliable forecasts, accounting for changes in strategic culture, and distinguishing strategic culture from other causative factors, such as perceived national interests and resource constraints. Moreover, some participants questioned the extent to which strategic culture is a policy determinant in cases in which power is highly concentrated in a single person, such as Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Kim Jong Il in North Korea. Other participants replied that, while "the psychosis of a single person" at the top may indeed be relevant in decisionmaking, that person must nonetheless act within a framework of cultural tendencies built up throughout the history of a society.
Another problem in deterrence is communication. Some messages are sent by actions and capability acquisition and wellpublicized exercises, while others are expressed in words. As far as messages formulated in words are concerned, how can governments know that their deterrence warnings have been heard by the right recipients and interpreted as intended? How can they tailor their messages to maximize prospects for successful communication? What channels in addition to public declarations of policy might be employed? Given the fact that there may be competing agencies and power centers in a particular government, how can one formulate a message that will not be subject to distortion, misunderstanding, and differences in interpretation?
Skeptics about tailored deterrence have pointed out that even the successful communication of a message "tailored" to a specific rational recipient and intended to have a deterrent effect may not have the desired result. For example, in 1967 Israel warned the King of Jordan that in going to war he would lose Jerusalem and the West Bank. King Hussein received and understood the message, but he evidently regarded these penalties of action as less grave than the risks of inaction for his regime and his life.
Efforts to communicate deterrent messages may have complex and unexpected consequences. The message may be received by multiple parties in addition to the intended recipient, including other adversaries and domestic publics in NATO nations. The message may therefore provoke unanticipated and counterproductive reactions. Some adversaries might try to exploit the message to send countervailing messages - that is, warnings of possible responses - to public opinion in NATO nations; and this might in some circumstances make it more difficult for NATO governments to uphold their deterrence policies. Moreover, if the Alliance's threats are not acceptable to public opinion in NATO countries, they will lack credibility; and the effectiveness of the deterrence threat will be correspondingly diminished.
Some observers have cited the case of Russian reactions to U.S. missile defense plans as an example of the "multiple recipient problem." Moscow's strong opposition to the proposed deployment of U.S. missile defense system elements in Poland and the Czech Republic may constitute an example of an unexpected and unhelpful reaction by one power (Russia) to an action directed against another (Iran). Indeed, Russia has succeeded in convincing some observers in NATO nations and elsewhere that the projected missile defense deployment might lead to an "arms race." The Bucharest Summit Declaration confirms that the Allies have nonetheless agreed to support moving forward with this effort.14
Another aspect of the "multiple recipient problem" is that an adversary's government may be far from monolithic. As suggested above, it may consist of competing power centers that communicate poorly with each other. The April 2001 U.S.Chinese EP3 incident may, for example, have demonstrated that China's government lacked the institutional unity required for effective crisis management. If its communications systems were disabled, such a government would have even greater difficulty in reaching decisions and controlling its forces, with potentially adverse implications for deterrence.
Some workshop participants underscored the importance of strategic communication and information operations, and argued that such operations should not be seen as a support function but as a fundamental element of the overall mission. A participant quoted David Kilcullen, the author of Countering the Terrorist Mentality and other works, in this regard: "We typically design physical operations first, then craft supporting information operations to explain our actions. This is the reverse of alQaida's approach. For all our professionalism, compared to the enemy's, our public information is an afterthought. In military terms, for alQaida the 'main effort' is information; for us, information is a 'supporting effort.'"15
A final problem that deserves more attention is determining capabilities requirements. Since deterrence requirements will depend on specific adversaries in particular contingencies, the United States and its NATO Allies may need "portfolios" or "suites" of capabilities adaptable to a wide array of potential adversaries and contingencies. Political and financial constraints will bound the procurement of new capabilities, however. As a result, comprehensive sets of capabilities will not be available in practice, even for the United States. The Alliance's deterrence posture will therefore depend mainly on forces in being that might be augmented by adaptable prototypes. If the scientific and industrial infrastructures of the United States and other NATO nations could be made more responsive than they are today, a workshop participant said, their capacity to transform virtual system concepts into operational assets to augment forces in being might reinforce deterrence.
The tendency to rely more on nonnuclear capabilities for deterrence is significant in light of the U.S. and NATO tendency during the Cold War to depend heavily on nuclear forces for deterrence. While nuclear forces have historically backed up deterrence by threats of punishment, nonnuclear capabilities are likely to be more useful for deterrence by denial - that is, deterrence by credibly degrading the enemy's prospects of conducting a successful attack. According to one participant, the historical record is "not encouraging" with regard to the effective use of nonnuclear capabilities for deterrence by threat of punishment. This may change, some participants argued, with new types of nonnuclear capabilities, including nonkinetic cyber warfare assets and novel conventional means, such as the proposed Prompt Global Strike system.
A participant drew a contrast between the positive impression of NATO's conventional force transformation efforts conveyed by the Bucharest Summit Declaration and the more critical assessment offered by General Klaus Naumann, the former Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, and other retired general officers in a recent report.16 The essence of the "Naumann report" is that, while the nonnuclear capabilities of the United States and its allies are significant, they are not optimal for meeting future deterrence and operational requirements. Greater conventional force development investments within NATO and the European Union are therefore required.
Some workshop participants argued that, in addition to deterrence by denial and deterrence by threat of punishment, NATO governments should give greater attention to what one called "reward deterrence." The general principle of inducing restraint by highlighting the positive consequences of inaction has long been part of deterrence, one participant noted. In this sense, the deterring power has been offering the "deterree" a reward - that is, in return for restraint, no punishment and no defeat in the field. Setting up a relationship of rewards that could be withdrawn as a form of leverage would go beyond refraining from punishment and military counteraction. The United States has, for example, offered oil supplies and other rewards to Pyongyang in an attempt to deter the North Koreans from violating their nonproliferation commitments. Elements of Russian energy policy may also constitute a form of "tailored reward deterrence," a workshop participant observed. If Moscow could use Gazprom and other suppliers to promote a situation of dependence on the part of key NATO European countries, the Russian government might be able to deter them from opposing Russian aspirations by subtly threatening to withdraw the "reward" of reliable energy supplies.17
One of the skeptics about tailored deterrence at a workshop hypothesized that "precisely tailored" capabilities may be unnecessary for deterrence. Some adversaries should be deterred, he argued, by "the totality" of NATO's political, military, and economic assets. From this perspective, "the generalized power of the Alliance" should in itself be the major source of deterrence.
Specific problems for NATO in maintaining and modernizing its deterrence posture
The discussion above does not exhaust the general problems with implementing tailored deterrence, but it is also pertinent to consider the specific problems for NATO in maintaining and modernizing its deterrence posture. These problems are not only raised by tailored deterrence, but by any kind of deterrence posture. All deterrence postures involve defining declaratory and action policies, and acquiring and exercising capabilities.
If it is difficult for national governments - including the United States - acting alone to succeed in obtaining the deterrence effects they seek, how much greater are the problems of doing this in a 26nation Alliance?18 Some participants in the 20072008 workshops said that it would be "extremely difficult" for the North Atlantic Council to define and manage a strategy of tailored deterrence because of the differing interests and viewpoints of the 26 Allies. One participant called this the challenge of organizing "collective actor deterrence." It is hard, he said, to get the component nations of a collective actor to agree on the seriousness of a threat and the proper response, and then to send a coherent message and act in a coordinated fashion.
The first challenge for the NATO Allies in pursuing "tailored deterrence" would indeed be to reach a firm consensus on who their adversaries are, what actions the Allies are trying to deter, and what penalties they are prepared to impose. It was noted, for example, that the United States has declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization, whereas the European Union has not. At present, some participants observed, the Alliance is divided in its definition of security challenges, with - for example - threat assessments in Baltic Europe sharply at variance with those in southern Europe.
The concept of tailored deterrence calls for specificity in identifying potential threats. However, in the postSoviet period the NATO Allies have justified their deterrence posture - particularly its nuclear elements - as a general insurance policy against various unspecified threats. While the Allies have been willing to express concern about abstract threat categories - terrorists and WMD proliferants - they have been reluctant to name specific countries as potential threats, at least in public documents. No tailoring to specific potential adversaries will be possible in NATO declaratory policy as long as this reticence persists. As a result, a workshop participant concluded, "constructive ambiguity" may gain greater support than tailored deterrence. Ambiguity may be preferred because, a participant observed, "it avoids the problem of sending messages that might be misunderstood by multiple recipients and/or irritate one's own populations." One participant said that the public is not wellinformed partly because of the dynamics of getting 26 Allies to agree on a public statement. The operative maxim, he said, is "stay clear of too clear a message." The result is ambiguous "lowest common denominator" wording, as in the vague and flexible principles of the Alliance's 1999 Strategic Concept.
Vagueness in declaratory policy need not, however, be an insurmountable obstacle to tailored deterrence. As some participants pointed out, there may be no need to name names for an adversary to understand that he is the object of a particular deterrent policy. This may be especially true in a complex, longstanding relationship between two parties that find it in their interests to cooperate in a number of ways but still retain an element of mutual distrust - as with the relationships between China and the United States, and between Russia and the United States.
Aside from obstacles to tailored deterrence in formulating declaratory policy, some conference participants noted, the NATO Allies would also have to surmount internal sensitivities about acquiring and improving their capabilities. For example, some Allies may be reluctant to obtain and employ counterinsurgency and other "deterrence by denial" capabilities suitable for combat operations that would enhance the Alliance's overall deterrence posture. To a considerable extent, capability acquisition and doctrinal development in NATO have been tailored to fit political requirements internal to the Alliance rather than to deter and counter external threats. Moreover, the Alliance's procurement processes have historically been ponderous. As a participant said, "Don't look to NATO to do fast acquisition." A participant ventured the judgement that - in the absence of external threats that would compel cooperation - coalitions of the willing within the Alliance might be more effective at developing tailored deterrence strategies than NATO as a whole.
What have past operations done for the Alliance's deterrence credibility? Some workshop participants said that the widely publicized disagreements among the Allies about targeting specific bridges and other sites during Operation Allied Force in the 1999 Kosovo conflict may not have set a positive precedent or sent an effective deterrence signal for the future. In the current demanding operations in Afghanistan specific Allies have established various "caveats" on the usability of their forces. Some workshop participants said that the Alliance might be hampered in articulating a clear deterrent message by the publicly acknowledged caveats in current operations, as in Afghanistan. More broadly, a workshop participant noted, NATO is shaping its reputation in the combat and struggle to establish security in Afghanistan. If the Alliance failed to meet its objectives in Afghanistan, he noted, that could undermine its capacity for deterrence - at least in relation to some types of threats - and this could damage its ability to extend assurances to security partners. Conversely, effective stabilization and counterinsurgency operations could contribute to successful deterrence in the future.
Another participant pursued the "actions speak louder than words" theme by noting that nuclear proliferants probably derive impressions about acceptable boundaries from the treatment received by their counterparts. The participant noted that in 1994 the U.S. "red line" for North Korea was the production of fissile materials. After North Korea crossed this "red line," new "red lines" emerged concerning the production and testing of nuclear weapons. After the North Korean nuclear explosive test in October 2006, the new "red line" became the transfer of nuclear weapons. Other participants, however, noted that proliferants might draw incorrect conclusions from such a sequence of events, because responses to particular cases may differ.
Maintaining cohesion and staying power in a crisis constitute another issue. Some workshop participants drew attention to the possible reluctance of some Allies (a) to follow through with implementing NATO's threats in a crisis and (b) to persevere in a strategy if it did not produce prompt results. Given the vagaries of the domestic political processes in each Allied nation, one participant asked, to what extent could the Alliance muster the political will to establish "red lines" that would not be washed away as if they were painted with water colors? The Alliance's deterrence posture would be illserved if the Allies were seen as divided in a crisis, with some unwilling to accept costs and casualties.
Another challenge for NATO is that, since the early 1990s, the Allies have sought not only to be prepared to deter aggression or coercion against the Alliance but also to intervene in peace enforcement and peacekeeping operations beyond their territory. As a result, some workshop participants suggested, NATO might be welladvised to devote attention to Timothy Crawford's concept of "pivotal deterrence."19 Pivotal deterrence differs from "direct" (or "central") deterrence and "extended" deterrence in that its focus is not on deterring attack against oneself or one's allies but on deterring two third parties from engaging in conflict with each other. In theory, a major power's ability to align with either of the third parties might be exploited to deter them from fighting each other. The concept is relevant to NATO in that the Allies have tried unsuccessfully, notably in the Balkans, to deter local antagonists from engaging in combat and have been obliged to use force in order to separate belligerents and promote conflict resolution.20 The question is the extent to which the "tailored deterrence" concept could be applied in such cases.
The major challenges with the "tailored deterrence" approach, one participant noted, include not only gathering and analyzing intelligence about specific adversaries but also getting NATO governments to use the intelligence. Because the available facts may be consistent with different models of the adversary's motivations and decisionmaking, a government should ideally maintain "multiple models of what is possibly the case" and be open to modifying them, if necessary, on the basis of new information. This would be difficult to do on a national basis, and all the more so in an Alliance of 26 nations. Debate and negotiations in the Alliance about modifying its deterrence posture in light of new intelligence assessments could lead to counterproductive controversy, "posturing" about the right posture, and a loss of cohesion at a time when the Allies may well need political will to take risks and make sacrifices.
The significant political constraints on defining tailored deterrence policies in a 26member Alliance may be compounded by the public's low level of awareness of security issues. Most participants in the workshops agreed that nuclear capabilities are still an essential element in the Alliance's deterrence posture, but several said that the public's limited knowledge of NATO's deterrence requirements could affect the prospects for sustaining the capabilities maintained in the Alliance's nuclear riskand responsibilitysharing arrangements in Europe.
Many workshop participants agreed on the importance of maintaining and modernizing these capabilities, which constitute an essential element of Alliance solidarity and political cohesion. However, several workshop participants concluded, these capabilities can only be sustained and modernized if key Allies show leadership and make the case for their continued relevance. Several participants highlighted the following questions as critical for future Alliance policy: How can the Alliance maintain and improve its nuclear riskand responsibilitysharing arrangements? What new forms of sharing in the nuclear domain would be substantive and advantageous?
Some participants raised the question of satisfying competing imperatives: showing political commitment to nuclear disarmament and maintaining nuclear deterrence capabilities. As one participant put it, "Can we square modernization with disarmament?" More broadly, the issue might be formulated as follows: how can the Alliance reconcile (a) the need to pursue visible and substantive measures in the domain of arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament and (b) the requirement to maintain and modernize its arrangements for extended deterrence? One participant said that the solution might be to stress that nuclear deterrence is an interim security stewardship responsibility, pending the organization of measures that would permit nuclear disarmament. Another participant said that it would be "very, very difficult for any government in Germany" to pursue such nuclear modernization without a concurrent effort to enhance the NPT regime and pursue nuclear disarmament.
Why NATO can rise to the challenge
To say something is difficult is not the same as saying that it is impossible. There are grounds to hold that NATO can rise to the challenge of tailored deterrence.
Each of the points just made can be seen in another light. The NATO Allies found plenty to disagree about in their threat assessments even when their main adversary was the Soviet Union. Even after they agreed on the Harmel Report in 1967, they quarreled and distrusted each other about détente, Ostpolitik, and arms control through the 1970s and 1980s. They nonetheless managed to maintain enough cohesion to keep the Alliance together and outlast the Soviet bloc.
The preference for ambiguity over specificity goes back to the very beginning of the Alliance as well. When the Allies were drawing up the first Strategic Concept for the Defense of the North Atlantic Area in 1949, the government of Denmark proposed deleting the specific reference to "the atomic bomb," and the Allies agreed on a vague compromise formula whereby the Alliance would "insure the ability to carry out strategic bombing promptly by all means possible with all types of weapons, without exception."21
The sensitivities about developing and deploying certain types of capabilities - and caveats in operations - have been present throughout the history of the Alliance as well. Norway and Denmark have, for example, from the beginning of the Alliance maintained a policy of not hosting nuclear weapons or foreign military forces on a standing basis on their soil. Caveats in operations have been visible since the Alliance first began noflyzone and embargo enforcement operations in 1992 in the Balkans, and the only reason little was heard about operational caveats during the Cold War was that - fortunately - the EastWest standoff never became a shooting war in Europe.
As for cohesion and staying power in crises, the Alliance was tested over and over again during the Cold War - the Berlin crises, the Suez crisis, the Cuban missile crisis, the INF missile crisis, and so on - and it was tested by the Balkan crises through the 1990s. The Allies can muster the political will to withstand future tests if they choose to do so, and it will clearly be in their longterm interests to stick together.
As for the low level of public awareness and informed support, Allied governments have always had to deal with this constraint in pursuing the political "art of the possible" - as with the need to reconcile the competing imperatives of force modernization and arms control. It is worth recalling that the Allies have been dealing with arms control initiatives and regimes since the 1950s. Long before the 1967 Harmel Report, the Allies had made clear their support for a "dual track" approach of affirming an interest in positive political relations and negotiated solutions as well as a determination to defend Allied security interests. The epitome of pursuing both tracks at once was, of course, the 1979 dualtrack decision on intermediaterange missiles. The Allies have so far managed to reach a series of constructive agreements and to maintain the Alliance's defense posture, and they can do so in the future if they rally political will and determination, and marshal the necessary resources.
The workshops confirmed the relevance of the questions raised by the "tailored deterrence" concept, and the complexity and difficulty of answering these questions.
There may not always be a role for deterrence - that is, some adversaries may not be deterrable. However, if deterrence is to be effective, it will have to be tailored to some extent. Moreover, there are not many alternatives to rethinking deterrence. The Alliance is likely to face multiple adversaries in the coming years, and each will be unique in some ways.
The challenge for the Allies is to critically examine their thinking about what deters and how to prevent aggression and coercion. The alternative could be the use of force, if Alliance security interests are to be protected. Successful deterrence and warprevention are obviously preferable to having to deal with the consequences of a failure of deterrence.
David S. Yost is Professor, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. The views expressed are the author's alone and do not represent those of the Department of the Navy or any U.S. government agency. Special thanks are owed to Jerome Conley, Joseph Pilat, and Colin Stockman for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.
1 The first workshop, entitled "NATO and Tailored Deterrence: Understanding and Communication in Deterrence," was convened in Brussels on 1617 October 2007. The second workshop, entitled "Tailored Deterrence in the Transatlantic Alliance: Nuclear, Conventional and NonMilitary Strategies," took place at Wilton Park, Steyning, England, on 1619 March 2008. The third workshop, entitled "NATO and 21st Century Deterrence: New Concepts, Capabilities, and Challenges for Deterrence," was held at the NATO Defense College in Rome on 2930 April 2008. The first workshop was cosponsored by the NATO Nuclear Policy Directorate and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency's Advanced Systems and Concepts Office (DTRA/ASCO). The second was cosponsored by Wilton Park and the NATO Nuclear Policy Directorate. The third was cosponsored by the NATO Nuclear Policy Directorate, the NATO Defense College, and DTRA/ASCO. In accordance with the Chatham House rule, no views expressed at these workshops are attributed to specific individuals in this paper.
2 Thomas C. Schelling, Arms and Influence (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1966), pp. 7172; emphasis in original.
3 Glenn H. Snyder, Deterrence by Denial and Punishment, Research Monograph no. 1 (Princeton, N.J.: Center of International Studies, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, January 1959), p. 3.
5 NATO's Multinational Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Defence Battalion achieved its initial operational capability in December 2003.
6 Quadrennial Defense Review Report (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Defense, 6 February 2006), pp. vi, 4.
7 Keith B. Payne, The Fallacies of Cold War Deterrence and a New Direction (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2001), pp. 101102.
8 Ibid., p. 103.
10 M. Elaine Bunn, "Can Deterrence Be Tailored?" Strategic Forum, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University, no. 225, January 2007, p. 3.
11 Ibid., p. 6.
12 Keith Payne, Testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, 18 July 2007, p. 3; emphasis in original.
13 Payne, The Fallacies of Cold War Deterrence and a New Direction, p. 191.
14 "Ballistic missile proliferation poses an increasing threat to Allies' forces, territory and populations. Missile defence forms part of a broader response to counter this threat. We therefore recognise the substantial contribution to the protection of Allies from longrange ballistic missiles to be provided by the planned deployment of Europeanbased United States missile defence assets. We are exploring ways to link this capability with current NATO missile defence efforts as a way to ensure that it would be an integral part of any future NATOwide missile defence architecture." North Atlantic Council, Bucharest Summit Declaration, 3 April 2008, par. 37.
15 David J. Kilcullen, "New Paradigms for 21st Century Conflict," eJournal USA, Vol. 12 (May 2007): pp. 4046, available at http://usinfo.state.gov/journals/itps/0507/ijpe/kilcullen.htm.
16 General Klaus Naumann, General John Shalikashvili, Field Marshal The Lord Inge, Admiral Jacques Lanxade, and General Henk van den Breemen, Towards a Grand Strategy in an Uncertain World: Renewing Transatlantic Partnership (Lunteren, The Netherlands: Noaber Foundation, 2007).
17 The possibility that the "tailored deterrence" concept could be turned against NATO Allies in some circumstances - for instance, by adversaries attempting to deter Allies from intervening in regional conflicts - received little attention in the workshops.
18 The number of NATO Allies may be expected to continue to increase. At the April 2008 Bucharest Summit the Allies announced that they had decided to invite Albania and Croatia to begin accession talks, to extend such an invitation to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as soon as this country and Greece reach "a mutually acceptable resolution to the name issue," and to invite Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro "to begin an Intensified Dialogue on the full range of political, military, financial, and security issues relating to their aspirations to membership, without prejudice to any eventual Alliance decision." Moreover, the NATO heads of state and government declared, "We agreed today that these countries [Georgia and Ukraine] will become members of NATO." North Atlantic Council, Bucharest Summit Declaration, 3 April 2008, par. 2, 1925.
19 Timothy W. Crawford, Pivotal Deterrence: Thirdparty Statecraft and the Pursuit of Peace (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2003).
20 Timothy W. Crawford, "Pivotal Deterrence and the Kosovo War: Why the Holbrooke Agreement Failed," Political Science Quarterly, 116 (Winter 20012002): 499523.
21 Minutes of the Defence Committee, 2nd meeting, 1 December 1949, item 8, quoted in Gregory Pedlow, "The Evolution of NATO Strategy, 19491969," in Gregory W. Pedlow, ed., NATO Strategy Documents 19491969 (Brussels: NATO Information Service, 1997), p. xiii.