Friday, February 07, 2003[posted by jaed at 12:06 PM]
BOOM! ... ooops.
A series of posts at the Cardinal Collective on the limits of containment. The policy of deterrence toward Iraq depends on Saddam Hussein acting in certain ways. What if he does something else? Deterrence relies on the certainty of retaliation in case of attack. What if we can't retaliate, either because we can't fix responsibility or because it would cost us more to retaliate than not to? Deterrence fails.
Something not mentioned in this series, but which I'll bring up anyway, is that retaliation would be a sufficiently hideous act that for that reason alone I doubt it's credible. It was iffy enough with MAD, and with MAD there were some additional factors: a launch might prevent further attacks in progress by destroying launch centers, by the end it was highly automated and proceduralized such that there wouldn't have been that much time to consider consequences; and if you've just been attacked by the full might of the Soviet nuclear arsenal circa 1975, there's a certain "nothing left to lose" quality about the exercise.
None of which applies to the case where New York is gone. Would we turn Iraq into glass, just to retaliate? Kill 20 million people? With weeks to think about it and debate it? Be serious.
(Not to mention that it might not be just one bomb. Suppose New York is gone and we've been warned that there are bombs hidden in San Francisco, DC, LA, and Chicago that will go off unless we're very, very good to Saddam.)
(via Instapundit, the Blogger Who Never Sleeps.)