Deterrence is an immensely controversial subject. Fierce debates exist not only between those who think deterrence is a useful policy and those who think it too dangerous, but also amongst its supporters as to how best to bring theory and practice into harmony. In this chapter four areas of debate will be examined. Are deterrence and defence opposites or complements? Is the assumption of rationality a weakness or a strength of deterrence logic? Is deterrence ethically unsound? And does the pursuit of deterrence lead to arms racing? The purpose is to clarify positions and definitions rather than to argue for resolutions.


Nuclear Weapon Strategic Thinking Deterrence Theory Nuclear Deterrence Security Dilemma 
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Copyright information

© International Institute for Strategic Studies 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry Buzan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of International StudiesUniversity of WarwickUK

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