Deterrence (Political Science)

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  • A military strategy in which one actor (A) tries to prevent an action by another actor (B) by threatening punishment or retaliation if B initiates the action that A seeks to avoid. Deterrence is aimed at preserving the status quo. The use of deterrence became more intricate with the invention of atomic and nuclear weapons and the onset of the Cold War. After World War II, deterrence became the defining feature of military strategy in the United States. From 1946 through 1995, the United States had engaged in 395 uses of physical force to influence other nations through either direct military coercion or indirect political posturing.

    For deterrence to be effective, a nation must meet three criteria. First, the deterring actor (A) must be capable of ...

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