Continued from page 2

“Every day that missiles aren’t flying across the strait I believe are [days] that deterrence is effective.”

21st Century deterrence

Strategic national security specialist Keith B. Payne warns in a new book that U.S. strategic deterrence theory and policy is stuck in the Cold War and needs to be revamped to deter 21st century threats. He also argues that the U.S. strategic nuclear weapons arsenal must be sustained because of the risk that nuclear deterrence will fail.

The book, “The Great American Gamble,” presents in detail how U.S. theorists and policy-makers beginning in the 1960s agreed to leave the country vulnerable to a massive Soviet nuclear attacks because it was viewed as good for “stability.” Mr. Payne is currently president of the National Institute for Public Policy, a private think tank.

However, threats today from radical and rogue states like Iran and North Korea argue for new deterrence theories and policies that include strategic defenses - like missile defenses - as well as air defenses and civil defenses of the population.

The reason: Threats of massive retaliation are not likely to deter states and especially terrorists groups, especially those seeking and threatening to use weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Payne, until 2003 the deputy assistant defense secretary for forces and policy, writes that U.S. nuclear weapons must be sustained because of the risk of “deterrence failure.”

The al Qaeda suicide bombings with hijacked airliners in the Sept. 11 attacks highlighted the military’s outdated air defense deterrent policies that grew out of “this Cold War definition of ‘stable’ deterrence,” he wrote.

The resulting policy “left a legacy most apparent at the time of the 9/11 attacks,” Mr. Payne stated. “The norm of U.S. societal vulnerability had become so well-established that the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) could call on but a few immediately ready interceptors,” he said.

“Apparently, not all of those few interceptors were armed,” he said. “There is little wonder that, according to The 9/11 Commission Report, the absence of U.S. air defense capabilities at the time, ‘…led some NORAD commanders to worry that NORAD was not postured to protect the United States.’ That was an understatement. The lack of significant U.S. air defense capabilities was the cumulative effect of U.S. government policy choices for almost four decades prior to the 9/11 attacks.”

Bill Gertz covers national security affairs. He can be reached at 202/636-3274, or at