Deterring America

Rogue States and the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction

Deterring America

Faced with America's military superiority, many countries are turning to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) as a means to deter United States intervention. However, the events of September 11 awakened America to a degree of vulnerability it had never experienced before, making it increasingly unwilling to tolerate such weapons in the hands of unstable and unpredictable regimes. Through theoretical, historical, and prescriptive lenses, this book explores the modern security dilemma created by the twin fears of American encroachment and vulnerability which form a vicious cycle of insecurity that challenges traditional notions of deterrence. Using Iraq and North Korea as case studies, Smith argues that the United States may need to re-evaluate its foreign policy strategies against WMD proliferation, giving renewed attention to defensive measures, negotiated disarmament, interdiction, and perhaps preemption.


"Many experts believed that the Cold War's end would create a more peaceful world, where the sole superpower would prevent acts of international aggression or punish wrongdoers. The rapid U.S. response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was taken as a sign of things to come. However, violent extremists and rogue states now operate in brazen defiance of international laws and norms. Why deterrence and other time-tested influence strategies have failed to prevent terrorism and the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction is the subject Derek Smith tackles with impressive theoretical depth and empirical sweep. As the title suggests, Deterring America explains how new adversaries, which are aptly called suicide states, have been able to outplay the United States in a contest of wills and deterrence strategies. Students and scholars will find the book an excellent orientation to the new security environment, while security analysts and policymakers would do well to pay close attention to its thoughtful insights and recommendations." Peter R. Lavoy, Naval Postgraduate School

"Deterrence emerged in an era of a relative stability between a handful of nuclear powers. Derek Smith's Deterring America adeptly reevaluates the utility of the concept in light of Iran and North Korea's continued interest in acquiring the bomb, the unraveling of A.Q. Khan's nuclear network, and the very real threat of a nuclear terrorist attack on the American homeland." Graham Allison, Harvard University, author of Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe (2004)

"This is an important and major reassessment of deterrence in the age of WMDs. Smith's analysis of the challenges posed by rogue states to America's deterrence and counter-proliferation strategies is excellent, as is his teasing out of a more nuanced strategy for America. Of particular interest is his analysis of Iraq and North Korea, and the lessons they portend for the United States and other 'states of concern'." Yuen Foong Khong, University of Oxford

"The book is a well-written itnroduction to deterrence theory and some of the contemporary issues that confront it. Smith is measured in his argumetns and conclusions, and his recommendations for developing a global regime to prohibit and interdict WMD transfer are worth exploring." - Andrew H. Kydd, University of Wisconsin

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