State Department's DeSutter favors menacing adversary's center of gravity
Assistant Secretary Paula DeSutter.
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Bio: Assistant Secretary Paula DeSutter
A senior State Department arms control official says the most effective way of stopping rogue states from using nuclear, biological and chemical weapons is to develop very specific strategies tailored to blocking their ability to develop them.
In remarks at the 36th annual IFPA-Fletcher Conference in Washington December 14, Paula DeSutter, assistant secretary of state for verification and compliance, said she advocates developing denial strategies that are a combination of active and passive defenses and counterforce attacks to diminish an enemy's offensive capabilities.
DeSutter said the strategies alone, however, are not enough to assure deterrence, and "must be supplemented by a rigorous effort to identify and put in jeopardy those elements that could most effectively affect the opponent's cost-benefit calculation."
DeSutter said the capabilities should be targeted for destruction to increase the likelihood that the cost to an adversary will be unacceptably high, and ultimately will make it impossible for the adversary to continue hostilities.
Following is the text of DeSutter's remarks, as prepared for delivery:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Bureau of Verification and Compliance
Assistant Secretary Paula DeSutter
Remarks at Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis-Fletcher Conference on National Security and Policy
THINKING ABOUT REGIONAL DETERRENCE
I was fortunate to be detailed to work for two years at the National Defense University's [NDU] Center for Counterproliferation Research under the guidance of Ambassador, and now U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Robert Joseph.
He asked me to take a look at adapting deterrence concepts to deterrence of rogue-state use of weapons of mass destruction and applying the adapted concepts to Iran, North Korea, and Iraq. I completed my efforts on Iran, which resulted in the small book "Denial and Jeopardy: Deterring Iranian Use of NBC Weapons," and the research and analysis on North Korea, which resulted in a small NDU paper. The logic I will present here today is presented in the Denial and Jeopardy book.
The questions I sought to answer were:
-- Are existing U.S. deterrence approaches and forces adequate to deter NBC weapons use by regional states?
-- If current approaches and forces are inadequate, why are they?
-- What makes certain regional states hard to deter?
-- Can U.S. deterrence approaches and forces be strengthened, and if so, how?
After identifying the consequences of "getting it wrong," I note that deterrence strategies must be based on more than an assumption or assertion that states will be adequately deterred by U.S. conventional superiority or the direct or implied threat of nuclear retaliation.
Rather, my research and analysis lead me to conclude that in-depth strategic profiles were needed to enable tailored deterrence strategies to affect the opponent's cost/benefit analysis.
Unquestioned conventional wisdom notwithstanding, regional states may not be deterred by the threat of retaliation.
I strongly advocate denial strategies -- that is, a combination of active and passive defenses and counterforce attacks -- to diminish an enemy's offensive capabilities.
Given, however, that a determined foe would certainly employ mobility and concealment to hide questions to diminish the effectiveness of counterforce attacks and try to evade active and passive defenses.
If the opponent may rationally conclude that their ability to circumvent our active and passive defenses and counterforce capabilities might enable them to attain their war aims at an acceptable cost, the risk of deterrence failure is high.
Thus, denial strategies must be supplemented by a rigorous effort to identify and put in jeopardy those elements that could most effectively affect the opponent's cost/benefit calculation.
I believe that these elements are best considered as Clausewitzian "centers of gravity." As Clausewitz advises, "the ultimate substance of enemy strength must be traced back to the fewest possible sources, and ideally to one alone." The center or centers of gravity identify "the hub of all power and movement, on which everything depends -- the point against which all our energies should be directed."
The centers of gravity should be the targets the destruction of which increases the probability that the cost to the enemy of initiated war will be unacceptable and ultimately makes it impossible for the opponent to continue execution of war.
Putting the center or centers of gravity in jeopardy, combined with denial strategies, clearly communicated, would maximize our probability of successful deterrence.
If we do not do this, and attack a target that is not a center of gravity, we may succeed only in what I would call anti-deterrence. We could inadvertently increase the likelihood of attack, the nature of the attack, and the challenge of successful war termination.