Thérèse Delpech

Nuclear Deterrence in the 21st Century Lessons from the Cold War for a New Era of Strategic Piracy Publication date : September 26, 2013

The late Thérèse Delpech was a philosopher, a graduate of the Ecole Normale, a director of strategic affairs for the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and a research fellow (weapons and international relations) at the Centre for International Studies and Research (CERI). She often advised the French government. She was the author of L’Ensauvagement (Grasset, 2005, Fémina Prize), L’Appel de l’ombre (Grasset, 2010), La Politique du chaos (Seuil, 2002), among other works. She died in 2012, and this book is her last work.

As long as nuclear arms exist, the best strategy to confront their challenge is deterrence. The goal of this book is to examine what can be retained of the old ‘deterrence theory’ in an entirely new context.
With the end of the Cold War, instead of diminishing, the danger that someone somewhere will use nuclear weapons has increased, with the multiplication of players, the increasing sophistication of available nuclear weapons and the shift in the balance between such weapons and conventional arms. As Barak Obama has recognised, the danger of an all-out nuclear war may have disappeared, but the threat of a nuclear attack has grown.
Concerning the different concepts of deterrence and the lessons learned during the Cold War crises, the author shows the usefulness — but also the ambiguity — of a strategic doctrine that legitimises the very weapons whose use it is trying prevent. She examines the threat posed to international security by the smaller powers (North Korea, Iran, Syria), before going on to denounce China, which has not ceased to increase its nuclear arsenal but does not share the culture of deterrence.

• A fascinating reflection, with no holds barred, on the latest risks to global security.
• A polemical essay, marked by controversial positions (such as the author’s support of the US intervention in Iraq).
• This book was commissioned by the Rand Corporation, a US think tank that deals with strategic issues.