Questions for Class Discussion on 20 Sep.


The year is 2009 and North Korea is experiencing wide-spread famine and disorder, despite having tested a new missile in 2008 that is capable of delivering a nuclear warhead as far as Alaska. South Korean and Chinese officials believe that the collapse of the North Korean state is imminent, and fear a sudden surge of refugees into China and SK. SK and China mobilize their militaries on their borders with NK. NK responds by threatening “pre-emptive” nuclear strikes unless the forces are removed.

-         Would China or South Korea be deterred/compelled into removing their forces? 

-         Could the US safely issue a deterrent threat against NK on the SK’s behalf?


It is 2007, and a major terrorist attack in Mumbai, India kills 600 people and wounds 1,000 more. A UN-assisted investigation finds that traces of the bomb material came from Pakistan. India demands that Pakistan turn over top intelligence officials for interrogation by India, and mobilizes its forces on the disputed Kashmiri border. Pakistan replies by threatening to reply with “all means available” should India use force.

-         Would India be deterred from attacking Pakistan?


It is 2007, and the civil war in Iraq has worsened. The Kurdish region of Iraq declares that it is seceding from the rest of Iraq. Turkey announces that it will deploy troops within Iraq to prevent cross-border support for Kurdish separatists in Turkey. Iran and Syria announces that if Turkey intervenes, they will jointly deploy forces there as well.

-         is Turkey likely to deterred?

The US responds by threatening to Iran and Syria with “most extreme consequences” should the US intervene.

-         would Syria or Iran be deterred?

Iran and Syria respond to the US statement warning that “US intervention would produce an controllable surge of violence in the region”:

-         would the US be deterred?


It is October 2006. Iran calls off all further talks with the UNSC members on its nuclear fuel enrichment program. If any sanctions are imposed, Iran threatens to blockade the Persian Gulf.

-         Will the UNSC members be deterred from imposing sanctions?

The US responds by threatening to use “any and all means available to it” unless Iran resumes negotiations

-         would Iran be compelled to return to talks?


Is deterrence as a doctrine or strategy of coercion insufficient today. Is pre-emption or preventive war necessary to avoid scenarios like those above from transpiring?