Does the United States Need a Nuclear Warfighting Doctrine and Strategy?
This chapter examines the different approaches to deterrence and assesses which is most appropriate as the basis of American nuclear doctrine and strategy. Strategic deterrence must envisage the possibility that nuclear weapons may be used–a nuclear deterrent is hollow without an implicit or explicit threat of waging nuclear war under some conditions. Mutually assured destruction is predicated upon a relatively simple line of reasoning: stability results when both sides possess strategic nuclear retaliatory forces and vulnerable homelands. The uncertainties involved in any nuclear escalation, and the risks entailed by any nuclear use are suggested as factors that would always deter Soviet nuclear use. Deploying any single element of a defensive package would provide the Soviet Union with incentives to channel its offensive efforts around that individual defensive system. A punitive deterrent, whether mutual assured destruction or "warfighting" oriented, gains its deterring effect by threatening to punish the opponent if it takes an extreme course of action.