Deterrence by Denial: Chapter 1

A year ago, we published Deterrence by Denial, a highly acclaimed collection of essays that, according to Professor Jeffrey W. Knopf, “provides a long overdue exploration of deterrence by denial, which has always received less attention than deterrence by punishment.” The book, which assembles what Sir Lawrence Freedman calls a “stellar collection of contributors,” is and will continue to be a critical resource for students and scholars alike. To celebrate the anniversary of its publication, we’re publishing excerpts from each chapter. This is an excerpt from Chapter 1: “Deterrence by Denial from the Cold War to the 21st Centuryby Professor Patrick Morgan.

After a period of modest neglect, deterrence has been reviving in importance and getting more attention. Initially it received serious study because of the emergence of the Cold War in hopes it would prevent another great war with cataclysmic results. As a result, eventually it was often cited as responsible for the survival of humanity. Missing from classic deterrence theory that developed was how deterrence would inevitably be shaped, in part, by the character of the international system and the domestic environments of the states involved. Instead, analysis gravitated toward depicting abstract environments and actors (e.g., states A and B, rational actors,) even as deterrence in fact also clearly reflected elements of the real environment: the intense Cold War, opponents’ harsh conceptions of each other with intense hostility, seemingly poised to seize an opportunity to attack. Treating deterrence abstractly evolved as a deliberate contribution, in part, to tone down the conflict and ease the tensions.

When the Cold War temporarily dissolved into a suddenly altered international environment close to the end of the twentieth century, deterrence became much more recessed and of less interest to academic and other security analysts. But it soon returned to considerable prominence. Studying deterrence did so as well, because deterrence in practice has needed significant adjustments to reshape or refine deterrence theory to fit the fluid emerging international system that by now is on the verge of a new era that is beginning to once again rearrange how deterrence will be employed. Renewed attention to deterrence by denial, displayed in this volume, is a serious development along these lines. As Alex Wilner and Andreas Wenger note in their introduction to the volume, ‘denial appears to be making a steady comeback.’ This book explores why and how.

Patrick Morgan

Deterrence by Denial: Theory and Practice edited by Alex Wilner and Andreas Wegner is available in hardcover. It is also available as in different ebook formats, which start at $19.99 to purchase and $9.99 to rent. Professors who wish to use this book along with others in the Rapid Communications in Conflict and Security Series for their classes should use the Cambria Book Cloud, which allows for the bundling of ebooks at only $9.99 per title for each student.