Back to the Future in the Study of Deterrence

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Recent scholarship on deterrence takes a highly abstract and rationalistic form that calls itself "perfect deterrence theory." Proponents of this approach claim that it represents an improvement on the classical writings that appeared in the 1950s and 1960s. Discrepancies between the two schools, however, reflect longstanding debates over the dynamics of deterrence. On the whole, classical theorists offer a more coherent and persuasive set of analytical concepts than do the champions of perfect deterrence theory, and provide a more useful guide to policy-making.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2013

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  • The St Antony's International Review (STAIR) is the only peer-reviewed journal of international affairs at the University of Oxford. Set up by graduate students of St Antony's College in 2005, the Review has carved out a distinctive niche as a cross-disciplinary outlet for research on the most pressing contemporary global issues, providing a forum in which emerging scholars can publish their work alongside established academics and policymakers. Past contributors include Robert O. Keohane, James N. Rosenau, and Alfred Stepan.
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