The Strategist

The Dilemma of a Threshold

01 Aug, 2018    ·   5498

Vice Adm (Retd) Vijay Shankar considers the logic of Pakistan's full-spectrum deterrence policy

Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Distinguished Fellow

The nuclear planner is acutely involved in analysis of when and under what political conditions opposing leadership (military or otherwise) may resort to the employment of nuclear weapons. For nations with a policy of no first use (NFU), the answer is 'in response to the first-use (FU) of a nuclear weapon under conditions as stipulated in the doctrine.' However, between nuclear-armed states, the one with a first use (FU) policy is faced with a more complex set of issues which will invariably rack up the question: 'are political ends served with first-use of nuclear weapons knowing that an escalatory response may well be massive and place value targets in its cross hairs?'

Does first-strike come paired with the ability to offset a nuclear response? Indeed there is the theoretical possibility that the first strike may altogether neutralise the opposition