The Significance of Deterrence in Modern Warfare
Discuss about the Military Deterrence and Compellence as Strategy.
In the present day scenario war becomes a common phenomenon and a tool of mass destruction in order to inject fear in the enemy mind as well as is considered to be an act of reducing the threat of further aggression. Therefore, the essay is going to find out the diverse perspective about deterrence and compellence as an effective military strategy which provides the military a more strategic stronghold against its enemies. The empirical evidences opined that war is not meant for serving the political purposes only nor has a rational motive (Jordan et al. 2016). However, the recent researches refute this theory and analyse war and its nature by different perspectives. In this regards, it is also imperative to understand military strategies like deterrence and compellence and its effectiveness in combating the modern warfare. Therefore, the essay will discuss the different ways of imposing deterrence and compellence strategies by the military and assess the relevance of these techniques in modern combats (Vinson, 2015).
It can be argued that after the atomic bombing on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 during the Second World War the magnitude of the notion ‘deterrence’ became more significant (Nevin, 2016). The new phase of modern warfare has been come into place where nuclear deterrence performed an important role as a tactical standpoint. In a brief, deterrence refers to the action to discourage the enemies from taking further military action (Snyder, 2015). This is belonged to the national security policy of a country where the army or national security agency is always looked over the movement of the enemies and taking necessary step to prevent any kind of military aggression by using the strategy of deterrence. In this context, it can be presumed that the notion of deterrence and defence connotes the same meaning. Nevertheless, in reality deterrence can be maintained during peacetime, on the contrary, defence shares the war time value. In fact, deterrence can be enjoyed prior to the aggressive move of the enemies. Therefore, there is no doubt to argue that deterrence is more rational and justified in order to curb down warlike situation by taking necessary steps before going for a war.
For an instance, besides using nuclear bomb during the Second World War, the post World War scenario heightened enmity and tensions between US and Soviet Union. The fear of using nuclear bomb led both the powers to keep away from direct confrontation. In fact, the intervention in Syria and the attack on Egypt by US military during the presidentship of George W. Bush Jr. Was an act of deterrence to stop the Middle East far before it caused a severe damage to US soil (Nevin, 2016). In addition to this, deterrence often refers to the non violent alternative of war. Deterrence can be beneficial for maintaining peace by reducing the chances of attack and finally able to skip further possibility of catastrophe (Snyder, 2015).
Deterrence can also be useful in suppressing protests and riots. This approach is very much put focus on the population and its relation with the military. For an example, it can be seen that during the peace keeping program in South Sudan after the country enjoyed its independence in 2011 the New Zealand army while played the role of peace keeping force of UN sometimes used the policy of deterrence as a tactical tool to suppress any kind of civil atrocities (Overseas Operations, 2018).
Deterrence as a Negative Aspect of Political Power
Despite all the major facets of deterrence many scholars have argued about the negative impacts of this strategy. It can be estimated that deterrence is a negative aspect of political power. Some scholars are advocated that deterrence does practice some forbidden act which can go against sovereignty or integrity of a country (Snyder, 2015). In response to that, the military deployment of America in Middle East perturbed the long drawn set of political stability in the region. In fact, military leaders do not have the power to control deterrence. Therefore, it is imperative to restrict the power of deterrence (Jordan et al., 2016).
According to the book named ‘Understanding modern warfare’ it can be derived that tactical decisions have a deep impact on the success of warfare strategy (Jordan et al., 2016). In fact, modern warfare is primarily based on an evolutionary process and should not be stick to any single idea. In this context, the gravity of compellence is being discussed. Compellence is just the opposite meaning of deterrence where the opponent has been forced to take action due to the dearth of adequate policies taken by the initial actor. In 1966, Thomas Schelling used the word ‘compellence’ in a military perspective (Lindsay & Gartzke, 2016). However, at that time deterrence was treated as a defensive and negative concept where as compellence in meaning became very popular and positive (Matheny, 2017).
Despite the efforts to make compellence as the key strategic formula for military aggression, it can be benignly asserted that compellence is just a part of an effective military strategy in order to restore peace and prosperity across the globe. In his article Matheny (2017) addressed a number of international disputes where offence was considered to be the best policy. In fact, he revealed that compellence is very effective to reduce the threat of attack by eliminating the root cause of threat. For an instance, in the post Second World War scenario with the fall of Germany and the defeat of Japan in Asia a power vacuum was created which subsequently filled up by the big powers US and Soviet Russia. Despite the power sharing after the fall of Soviet Union bipolarism became inevitable and US chose the path of compellence for the sake of national interest (Carter, 2015).
It is evident that compellence has a great influence on domestic as well as foreign policy of a particular country. However, it dilemma in compellence policy will hamper the national security. This was just the case in India. According to Carter (2015) the Indian military had lack of understanding about effective retaliation. Therefore, after the attack on Indian Parliament in 2001 inadequate compellence strategy led to the next attack within 7 years. The Indian military force surely initiated a retaliation process by unleashing Operation Parakram. Nevertheless, it failed to provide any sign of relief for the Indians. The then Foreign Minister and former President of India Mr. Pranab Mukhrjee also supported that futile move by Indian military.
Effective compellence can be performed with the help of government policy and the far reaching consequences of installing compellence strategy. On the contrary of Indian context, Pakistan was succeeded to increase the mobilization of terrorist groups in the Indo-Pak boarder deliberately (Carter, 2015). The measures taken by Pakistan were a sheer reflection of deterrence against India. In fact, the compellence strategy of USA in response to terrorist activities of Al-Qaida was not enough to eradicate terrorism. Rather, it was the same mistake done by the US government that they had followed in Vietnam during the Cold War (Matheny, 2017).
The Effectiveness of Compellence as a Military Strategy
In this context, a relevant question must be addressed about the core relationship between compellence and deterrence. In addition to this, it is also important to figure out the degree of coexistence between the contradictory methods. For an example, the Korean War can be labelled as a conglomeration of both deterrence and compellence. In case of the Korean War, South Korea was in an advantageous position and had a 30 times stronger military budget in compare to North Korea (Tarar, 2016). Due to its military strength South Korea was able to stop any kind of North Korean aggression. Meanwhile, inference of US and Soviet Union escalated the political situation and provoked the North Korean administration to take an aggressive attitude (Kim & Cohen, 2017). In this context, deterrence was the major foreign policy that the South Korean government was followed in the pre-war phase. However, in course of time with the transformation in situation the policy of deterrence was also get affected. It was further intensified when North Korea launched a war against South Korea. As an act of retaliation the South Korean army had been deployed in the boarders of North Korea and South Korea and the South Korean government shifted their policy from deterrence to compellence in order to prevent any kind of enemy intrusion in South Korean land (Nevin, 2016). From this international event it can be understandable about the coexistence of deterrence and compellence in a foreign policy. It can be argued that deterrence should always be a primary policy for any military to avert any kind of direct confrontation. Compellence is considered to be the contingency plan if the deterrence policy is failed. Despite the idea of deterrence and compellence share the opposite meaning but it is possible to follow both the strategy at the same time.
From the above discussion, it can be derived that compellence and deterrence are part and parcel of the military strategy. Compellence ushers direct action where as deterrence is seemed to be the tool of restraining it. A strong correlation between compellence and deterrence always determines the military victory. Therefore, it can be concluded that compellence and deterrence are always perform in parallel to check the balance of military power. In response to that, the military forces also adapt the skill of compellence and deterrence and utilize it as per requirement.
Carter, D. B. (2015). The compellence dilemma: International disputes with violent groups. International Studies Quarterly, 59(3), 461-476
Jordan, D., Kiras, J., Lonsdale, D., Speller, I., Tuck, C., & Walton, C. (2016). Understanding Modern Warfare (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Kim, S. C., & Cohen, M. D. (Eds.). (2017). North Korea and nuclear weapons: entering the new era of deterrence. Georgetown University Press.
Lindsay, J. R., & Gartzke, E. (2016). Cross-Domain Deterrence as a Practical Problem and a Theoretical Concept. Cross-Domain Deterrence: Strategy in an Era of Complexity, Gartzke E and Lindsay JR (eds.), La Jolla, CA: Manuscript.
Matheny, M. R. (2017). Employing Military Force in the 21st Century. Parameters, 47(2).
Nevin, J. A. (2016). The momentum of warmaking. Behavior Analysis and Social Action, 6(2), 46-50.
Overseas Operations. (2018). nzdf.mil.nz. Retrieved 12 April 2018, from https://www.nzdf.mil.nz/operations/
Snyder, G. H. (2015). Deterrence and defense. Princeton University Press.
Tarar, A. (2016). A Strategic Logic of the Military Fait Accompli. International Studies Quarterly, 60(4), 742-752
Vinson, M. (2015). An Israeli Approach to Deterring Terrorism: Managing Persistent Conflict through a Violent Dialogue of Military Operations. Prism: a Journal of the Center for Complex Operations, 5(3), 60.
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