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Complex Deterrence

Strategy in the Global Age

Edited by: T. V. Paul, Patrick M. Morgan, and James J. Wirtz

As the costs of a preemptive foreign policy in Iraq have become clear, strategies such as containment and deterrence have been gaining currency among policy makers. This comprehensive book offers an agenda for the contemporary practice of deterrence—especially as it applies to nuclear weapons—in an increasingly heterogeneous global and political setting.

Moving beyond the precepts of traditional deterrence theory, this groundbreaking volume offers insights for the use of deterrence in the modern world, where policy makers may encounter irrational actors, failed states, religious zeal, ambiguous power relationships, and other situations where the traditional rules of statecraft do not apply. A distinguished group of contributors here examines issues such as deterrence among the Great Powers; the problems of regional and nonstate actors; and actors armed with chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Complex Deterrence will be a valuable resource for anyone facing the considerable challenge of fostering security and peace in the twenty-first century.

Author Information

T. V. Paul is James McGill Professor of International Relations at McGill University.

Patrick M. Morgan is professor of political science and the Tierney Chair in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of California, Irvine.

James J. Wirtz is acting dean at the School of International Graduate Studies and professor of national security studies at the Naval Postgraduate School.


“This book is a valuable antidote to some of the more glib and prematurely pessimistic statements that get circulated about ‘the end of deterrence as we know it.’ Quite comprehensive on the theories and modes of deterrence, it is valuable for drawing together both political scientists and policy makers.”

— George Quester, University of Maryland

“The use of deterrence to prevent war did not go away at the end of the Cold War; it just became more complex. This valuable book provides new insights from psychology, political science, and history to illuminate the difficulties of using deterrence against terrorists, new states with nuclear weapons, and great powers in an age of globalization.”

— Scott D. Sagan, Stanford University

“Deterrence and compellence are widely used strategies in the post-Cold War world, and this is the most sophisticated attempt by far to determine who embraces these strategies, in what circumstances and to what effect.The essays draw on traditional and recent developments in deterrence theory and are sensitive to empirical and psychological critiques.Policymakers and scholars alike have much to learn from this thoughtful volume.”

— Richard Ned Lebow, James O. Freedman Presidential Professor of Government, Dartmouth College

Audience: Professional and scholarly;