chapter  Chapter 2
27 Pages

Conventional Deterrence and Conventional Retaliation in Europe

WithSamuel P. Huntington

The conventional wisdom is, in short, that stronger conventional forces are needed to enhance conventional deterrence and thus compensate for the declining effectiveness of nuclear deterrence. The difficulties of relying on deterrence by defensive means have long been emphasized in the strategic field. Conventional deterrence requires not just an increase in conventional forces; it also requires a reconstitution of conventional strategy. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) strategy is changing fundamentally from a multi-pronged flexible response to a single-prong conventional defense. A strategy with an offensive component would better capitalize on the current capabilities of NATO forces in Europe than does a purely defensive strategy. Nuclear deterrence of a conventional attack is most credible–and, indeed, may only be credible–when the national existence of the deterring state is at risk. Nuclear deterrence could be restored in central Europe if an independent, invulnerable, modest-sized German nuclear force were brought into being.