NEW NUCLEAR DETERRENCE STRATEGY: THE KNOWN UNKNOWN OR THE UNKNOWN UNKNOWN?

NEW NUCLEAR DETERRENCE STRATEGY: THE KNOWN UNKNOWN OR THE UNKNOWN UNKNOWN?

When asked about a new nuclear deterrence strategy for the USA and NATO, retired General Hans Lothar Domroese said:

„Nuclear strategy is already in people’s minds, but they shouldn’t and don’t want to think and talk about it out loud.

China could catch up with the US in the next 5 years and then pose a very nasty threat with Russia, possibly Iran and North Korea.

And then there’s Trump 2.0…

And hardly / no arms control treaties „

Well, what was that saying of former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfel about the known knows, unknown knowns and the unknown unknowns?

Domroese said it was „in people’s minds”, they just don’t talk about it“. Apparently the times are over when the USA and NATO still proudly and confidently had something like MAD or Flexible Response and a catchy term for it, which themselves had a deterrent effect due to their clarity, certainty and definability. However, I am not sure to what extent the discussions, which seem to have been kept under wraps, are also an expression of the „structural pacifism“ of a non-nuclear weapon power Germany in another sense, which General Vads criticized. The USA has to think strategically about global nuclear wars, while Germany’s imagination and say is limited at best to the much-vaunted „nuclear sharing“ on a regional level (perhaps even nuclear Iran).

Rormer US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once spoke about the known knowns, the unknown knowns, the known unknowns and the unknown unkonwns. At the moment, we don’t know what is actually „in people’s minds“ with regard to nuclear deterrence. But we can guess or at least imagine 3 possibilities. Either they do not yet have a new nuclear strategy and prefer to conceal it, which is understandable because that would be extremely dangerous and almost an invitation, or they do have one and do not want to publicize it in order to hide it from the enemy, perhaps also to avoid worrying the population, as the 3rd Nuclear Age is much more complex and unstable (cf. writings of the CSBA „Rethinking Armaggedon – The Third Nuclear Age“ and the late Peter Pry on the nuclear triad China-Russia-North Korea or CRINK or Micheal O Hannon’s „Integrated Deterrence“-see his programmatic book „Great Power Wars at Small Stakes“) and thus also to deter by a certain unpredictability (which could also be misinterpreted and at best interpreted as strategic ambiguity). and even if NATO had a strategy, it would not be valid in the event of Trump’s reelection, as the commander in chief Trump and his „whims of the day“ would then become the real strategy. Perhaps this could at best be interpreted as a grandiose revitalization of Kissinger’s „Madman theory“, but no one would feel comfortable with that.

At best, that would be the known unknown or even the unknown unknown. Perhaps we should watch Stanley Kubrick’s „Dr. Strangelove – When I Learned to Love the Bomb“ again. Interestingly, North Korea is now clearer with its new nuclear strategy, which is emphatically offensive, and it remains to be seen whether China and Russia will follow suit in this direction, and warmongers like Karaganov are also calling for a new nuclear strategy and such a discussion is also underway.

At the same time as the MSC, the Steadfast Defender seems to be back in February, right after Quadriga. Yesterday I watched the Bundestag debate. The SPD claimed that the 2% target had been reached in 2024for the first time, even 2.1%, which is perceived differently in the USA – see the Newsweek article. What is true now? And will that impress Trump if it is not firmly fixed as a defense budget? Business people love benchmarking.

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