In a little thread we've been batting back and forth, i330's Josh Treviño remarks that I ascribe too much rationality to the Iraqi polity when it comes to their stance on the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). Maybe. My point was not so much that a stated and believable posture of massive countervalue retaliation against Iraq, in the event of that country's use of WMDs against the US or its allies, would necessarily deter such an attack, simply that only such a posture can have a deterrent effect. In any case, were such an attack to take place, the US would be extremely foolish not to respond massively. Imagine the effect backing down in this situation would have on the next potential aggressor. If Iraq launched, say, a chemical weapons attack on Allied forces and was not then punished ruthlessly, what possible future deterrent capability would the US then have? Past a certain point, deterrence ceases to be about mere capability; believability is king. The USSR believed us when we said we would cause Armageddon if they attacked us. I went to school three miles away from an airbase that almost certainly had many megatons targeted on it. Possibly the only reason I am alive today is that the Soviet Union knew if they killed me, a whole lot of Russians were going to be vaporised pretty soon after. The worst thing the US could do is allow its bluff to be called.
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