Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Post-Cold War Deterrence and Missile Defense

Post-Cold War Deterrence and Missile Defense

Several prominent features of the post-cold war international system are emerging to cast a pall over the optimistic pronouncements of the early 1990s about a manageable New World Order. Two of these features have attracted significant public attention in recent months: the re-emergence of ethnic and religious conflicts, where such friction previously had been subordinated by the discipline of the cold war; and, the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction (WMD), including nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.

These two features of the emerging order are related in several important ways. For example, proliferation frequently flows from regional conflicts, as the acquisition of advanced military capabilities by a regional power compels its local adversaries to seek similar capabilities rather than remain at a disadvantage. It is no surprise that an area that could be called the “arc of instability”-swinging from North Africa to Northeast Asia-also is the area of most rapid arms proliferation.

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