Charles Krauthammer: The ‘Deterrence Works’ Fantasy





Charles Krauthammer is a nationally syndicated columnist. 

There are few foreign-policy positions more silly than the assertion without context that “deterrence works.” It is like saying air power works. Well, it worked for Kosovo; it didn’t work over North Vietnam.
 
It’s like saying city-bombing works. It worked in Japan 1945 (Tokyo through Nagasaki). It didn’t in the London blitz.
 
The idea that some military technique “works” is meaningless. It depends on the time, the circumstances, the nature of the adversaries. The longbow worked for Henry V. At El Alamein, however, Montgomery chose tanks.
 
Yet a significant school of American “realists” remains absolutist on deterrence and is increasingly annoyed with those troublesome Israelis who are sowing fear, rattling world markets, and risking regional war by threatening a preemptive strike to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Don’t they understand that their fears are grossly exaggerated? After all, didn’t deterrence work during 40 years of the Cold War?..


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