A continuous feedback process of determining if the deterrence process is maintaining its function is required.  As discussed throughout this manuscript, the deterrence formula is packed with variables that are subject to change.  The protagonist that does not plan for imminent changes in the variable could quickly fall out of congruence with the objective.

If PV(cA/xA) > OV(e/x) then Σ = a = D


Sufficient investments have to be made in order for the protagonist to be able to answer these questions correctly:

  1. Does Σ = a?

  2. Will Σ = a for the foreseeable future?


Some problems can be solved by a deliberate planning process. Answering these questions may reveal the necessity to conduct such planning:

  1. Are there possible changes that might result in PV(cA/xA) < OV(e/x)?

  2. If so, what changes in PV(cA/xA) would prevent the sign reversal for each of those changes?

  3. What would be the best solution for each of those changes?

Some problems can be solved by a crisis action planning process. Answering these questions may reveal the necessity to conduct such planning:

  1. Has there been a change that resulted in PV(cA/xA) < OV(e/x)?

  2. If so, what changes in PV(cA/xA) will restore PV(cA/xA) > OV(e/x)?

  3. If not, is there an imminent change that will result in PV(cA/xA) < OV(e/x)?

  4. If so, what changes in PV(cA/xA) will prevent the sign reversal?

  5. What is the best solution?


A great-thinking leader will modify the deterrence formula to achieve success.  That change should be the implementation the best-solution data found during the analyzing phase.  Often leaders get the credit for work done by their staffers.  I believe this is a good arrangement.  A decision had to be made.  The leader was the protagonist that made decisions based on whatever inputs were available at the time.  The decision maker should get the credit if things work successfully.  On the flip-side, he merits the blame if the decision was flawed.

The Monroe doctrine promised that the United States would stay neutral in European wars (PV) if the Europeans would not colonize or interfere with the nations of the Americas (e).

The Truman Doctrine promised the United States would support Greece and Turkey with economic and military air to prevent their falling into the Soviet’s second world.  It became the doctrine of containment of Soviet expansionism (e).  Of course, the US had a monopoly on nuclear weapons for a short time, which was a default (PV) in the equation.  However, things changed, and the Soviets obtained nuclear technology.         

The Eisenhower Doctrine evolved to a policy that the US would respond to military provocation (e) “at places and means of our own choosing.”  Since the United States couldn’t stop thousands of Soviet tanks from rolling into Western Europe, it could do something else, someplace else.  It was a clearly a nuclear threat against Soviet Russia’s homeland (PV).  As time went on, the Soviets let the US know that they had plenty of nuclear weapons of their own.  So the US policy evolved into convincing the Soviets that no matter how many nuclear weapons they could throw at the US (e), enough of the US nuclear triad of manned bombers, land-based missiles, and submarine-based missiles would survive so as to assure the Soviets of their destruction (PV).  Thus deterrence was successful.        

Many things happened during the Cold War, and this manuscript is not intended to capture all that data.  The Cold War does provide some examples about deterrence.  Deterrence goes beyond potential warfare and the Cold War.  The immediate purpose of deterrence is to prevent an antagonist from performing an unacceptable behavior, but the long-term purpose of deterrence is to prevent conflict escalating into war.


Chapter 5: Contextual Factors
Chapter 7: Cost of Failed Deterrence