“For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill.  To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”[i]

Perception is Reality

All decisions made by the antagonist will be based on perception.  Deception can influence perception.  Truth can influence perception.  There is nothing morally wrong with deceiving an antagonist in order to prevent the loss of human life.

Deterrence is not a Passive Act

Deterrence rarely just happens.  There are very few, isolated events in history where an antagonist was deterred without the knowledge of the protagonist.  Deterrence works best if it is calculated precisely and then presented as a tailor-made position of choice for an antagonist to base his decision upon in order to alter his behavior to achieve a better peace.

Deterrence is a Bargain, but it’s not Cheap

World War II cost roughly 50 million humans their lives, and the financial cost was tremendous.  The United States alone invested nearly 300 billion dollars, which would translate into trillions of today’s dollars.  A multinational deterrence action against Hitler and the Japanese government in the mid 1930s, forcing them to forego their imperialistic ambitions, would have been expensive, but nothing compared to the costs of World War II.  In addition, one of the products of World War II was a powerful Soviet Union focused on world domination by any means.

The United States invested a vast fortune into its allies and its triad to successfully deter the Soviets during the Cold War.  The dollar cost and loss of life of an all-out war between the first world of the United States and the second world of the Soviets could have exponentially surpassed the expense of World War II.  Therefore the return on the investment justifies the expense of deterrence.

Deterrence is Predictable

Deterrence is the generation of the appropriate motivation required for specific antagonists to intellectually alter their expected behavior or intentions because of their certainty that something, more precious than the value of the objective of their original behavior, will be lost as a direct result of their failure to alter their behavior or intentions.  This formula can be used to predict the sufficiency of the deterrence efforts:

If PV(cA/xA) > OV(e/x) then Σ = a = D

If PV(cA/xA) < OV(e/x) then Σa ≠ D

One of the simplest concepts concerning deterrence is that it either works or it fails.  Failure in deterrence may be the political desire of the protagonist.  That issue goes beyond the scope of this equation.  However, this equation will work for predictive purposes even in that situation.  With the availability of this equation for predictive analysis, the excuse of not knowing is eliminated.  The only excuses available now are not caring, or not trying, or not wanting to avoid war.

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[i] Samuel B. Griffith, translated by, Sun Tzu The Art of War (Oxford University Press, 1963), 27

Chapter 7: Cost of Failed Deterrence
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