May 10, 2005

Deterrence and the Bush Doctrine Are Not Antithetical

Pat Buchanan entirely misses the boat by putting the Bush Doctrine and Deterrence as opposites. They are not. Deterrence is a doctrine of defense. It creates stasis where all sides on the playing field are slowed or even totally paralyzed for fear of some other side lighting off a nuclear weapon in response. The Bush Doctrine creates motion. It is a sword given in aid to ripe local movements (the color revolutions of the CIS) for freedom and democracy and in very rare circumstances (Iraq) it is akin to a pearl cultivator inserting a grain of sand in order to provoke the creation of a pearl. In either case it is a tool of geopolitical offense.

There is no particular reason why sword and shield cannot be used in combination. In fact, there is every reason in the world for them to be used in that fashion. Buchanan's taunt that we're using our deterrence shield is just stupid as tone, not as observation. Of course we're going to deter other powers. We never gave that up. But we're also going to create (Iraq) or recognize (Nigeria, PRC) regional responsible powers who will reign in their local loony toons neighbors. That's not going to go away and hasn't gone away.

N. Korea, if it actually lights off a nuclear explosion, could significantly impact the willingness of people to invest in the PRC. N. Korea maybe could get a missile to San Francisco but they certainly can reach Beijing which means that the economic blackmail that N. Korea must engage in to survive is more likely to be pointed towards the PRC than the US. The US can and is creating a missile defense system that makes such blackmail less effective. The PRC does not have the money to fund that same sort of research.

The negative effect on future PRC investment has likely led to frank and clear advice that bluster and threats at any level are OK but actual nuclear detonations are a very different matter. I would not be surprised if a nuclear detonation would lead to a sealed border between the PRC and N. Korea, a result that would cause regime collapse in a matter of under a year.

Posted by TMLutas at May 10, 2005 10:24 AM