Australian Left Review

Article Title

The Decline of Deterrence


Robert Aldridge


The deterrent theory is not only obsolete, it has been abandoned by the United States. Deterrence is the threat of severe retaliation against the cities and manufacturing areas of a country that initiates a nuclear attack. Missiles do not have to be extremely accurate nor do the warheads require much explosive power to accomplish that mission. This balance of terror has been credited with preventing first-use of nuclear weapons for three decades and it reached its point of highest credibility when the first strategic arms limitation agreement (SALT I) was signed in 1972. Since then it has deteriorated rapidly.