The Value of Strategic Deterrence for National Security

by Derrick Krane

Deterrence is about striking fear in your enemy, causing them to doubt, hesitate, and change or stay their plans. It is the message that aggression will be answered with force, and the losses sustained will make a victory impossible, or too difficult and costly to justify.

Deterrence works on all levels from the individual as well as international level.  The ninth grader who starts lifting weights, working on their appearance and social skills, and making friends will less likely to be bullied. The nation with a strong military, a united populace, a strong economy, and loyal economic partners and allies will deter invasion of their sovereign territory, or actions against their national interests.

There are those on the far left who have no will to defend our nation. They advocate not only military reduction, but the most extreme of them want to eliminate the military.  Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world they say? They are apparently intent on national suicide by leaving our nation wide open to our enemies.  They hold beliefs which have no basis in reality. Have you ever heard these empty and absurd platitudes espoused by the liberals?

  1. It will be a great day when a school has all the money they need, and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a new bomber.
  2. What if they held a war and no one showed up?
  3. Love is the answer to defeating ISIS

Here are some of the realities and likely outcomes with these bits of bumper sticker wisdom:

  • The day that the USAF (United States Air Force) cannot afford to update or maintain its strategic bomber force will be a terrible day for our nation. Strategic bombers are aircraft capable of carrying a load of bombs or cruise missiles from one end of the Earth to the other without refueling. Strategic bombers can also be recalled once deployed, and they may take hours to reach their targets. In a spiraling out of control crisis, this can leave room for negotiation and de-escalation of hostilities, as a nation would not have to rely exclusively on ICBM’s (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles). ICBM’s cannot be recalled once they are launched. They can reach targets on the other side of the world in 40 minutes or less. There launch is irrevocable.
  • What would happen if an invading force was not met? The other side would take over the opposing nation’s territory and assets, and be emboldened to commit further acts of aggression.
  • ISIS and other radical Islamic extremists have stated their goal: a worldwide caliphate and imposition of sharia law. Infidels must convert, be killed, or pay a Jizya (a tax to live a precarious life). Do they sound like people that will respond to hugs?

The Concept of Deterrence

When Obama was in office:

This was the result of a President who did not project strength. Human beings are predatory. This is not an abstract academic theory, but rather an observation of human history. The weak are overtaken and dominated by the strong. If you are weak, you will be at the mercy of the strong.

This dynamic is played out on all levels, from individual to international. In correctional facilities, older, more physically powerful and socially connected inmates dominate the smaller, weaker inmates through force and threat of force.

The weaker inmates are intimidated, coerced, beaten, raped, robbed, killed or used as desired. In middle school, the timid, skinny kids, who are socially awkward or stand out in the crowd in some way will be subjected to power, control and domination games played by their more developed and confident peers.

Throughout history, larger, more powerful and more technologically advanced nations have dominated smaller, weaker less advanced civilizations. Weaker nations ally themselves with each other or stronger nations with common interests to gain power, economic strength, and resist acts of aggression. To ignore the reality and necessity of deterrence through the threat of force is beyond naive; it is ignoring the lessons of thousand years of history, and can have disastrous consequences.

The Value of Deterrence

The purpose of deterrence is to maintain as much peace and stability as possible in a very imperfect world.  Peace is best sought from a position of strength; otherwise negotiating can be reduced to begging for mercy.

The mutual threat of destruction or denial of victory can induce an enemy to consider alternatives to aggression and compromise. A strong military, and leaders with the fortitude to use it if necessary is a way to maintain peace without actually going to war.

The Limitations of Deterrence

Deterrence is one strategy for ensuring peace and national security among many. The underlying premise of deterrence is that the opposing party is rational, and interested in self-preservation.  This shortcoming of deterrence can be seen in the high rates of recidivism among habitual criminal offenders, who care little about being incarcerated.

Deterrence is also predicated on the credibility of the defender, and the defender’s will to fight. Under the Obama administration, as Dinesh D’Souza predicted, our enemies were emboldened, the United States military was weakened, and we were alienated from our allies. Deterrence is of limited value against those who fervently follow the belief that they will be martyrs, with a heavenly reward for giving their lives to kill the infidels. See more about religiously motivated terrorists and deterrence in the video below.


There will always be matters beyond our control, and others that are within our grasp. Ask yourself what you can do, and take action, whether you are a private citizen, legislator, or policy maker. Considerations for a strong America include:

  • Legislators and the military working toward the development of efficient new weapons systems and the maintenance and upgrading of in-place systems to use funding with the greatest efficiency. The F 35 has been a controversial aircraft, and it performance vs. cost has been the subject of great debate.
  • Do we need 800 bases across the world? How much could be saved through non-essential base closures or reduction, and keeping more US forces closer to home?
  • Ask your representative to support the continued development and deployment of an antiballistic missile system to defend the continental United States, Alaska, and Hawaii, as well as other Pacific possessions.
  • Our diplomats must reconnect with our allies, reassuring them of our loyalty and inspiring them to have confidence in us.
  • Think of what joy our enemies must take in the way we are divided. We must present a unified front despite our differences. Work to reduce the division between Americans, so we become united again, instead of so polarized along political and racial differences. See others as Americans first, judging by the quality of their character, not their race. Be willing to engage in discourse and discussion with people who have differing political opinions. Educate yourself on the issues, and make reasonable and sound arguments when answering the left. Also check yourself. There will be extremists on both sides of the political spectrum, who will also be the most vocal. If their behavior will be judged by others as the norm, then the entire political group will lose credibility.

America’s power contributes much to world peace. The “tolerant and peace-loving” (?) pacifist crowd is not operating in the real world. If a nation lays down its arms, it will be open to victimization. A weak military will encourage our enemies to act out aggression.

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