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Pirate skulls nailed to a beam as a deterrent (model)

Under deterrence means the seizure or the threat of measures with the aim of another person or group of persons of certain undesirable actions hold.

Deterrence as a punitive goal

In criminal law , the threatened sanctions (fine, imprisonment) are intended to (also) deter potential perpetrators from attacks on protected legal interests. According to the deterrent theory in criminal law philosophy, for the threat of punishment to be effective, the punishment must, at least sometimes, actually be imposed. See punitive purpose theories .

Deterrence in International Politics

Deterrence (also called deterrence theory ) in international politics generally describes patterns of action of states in the system of international relations (see: International relations ), which is based on the fact that a rationally acting potential aggressor through the prospect of superior counterpower or - in the context of nuclear deterrence - through the prospect of immense harm discourages aggression . Both collective security and equilibrium politics rely on the effect of deterrence.

Military deterrence

During the Second World War , the means of deterrence were used in cruel ways, in particular in the form of “ acts of retaliation ” and “shooting of hostages”. An example of this is the Yugoslav city of Pančevo: on April 22, 1941, 18 residents of the city, chosen at random by the SS, were executed in retaliation for an attempted attack on two SS men by Yugoslav partisans . To deter further attacks on the SS, the bodies were exhibited for three days. Another well-known retaliatory action took place after the assassination attempt on Reinhard Heydrich , which was directed against the residents of the villages of Lidice and Ležáky .

During the Second World War, chemical weapons were never used, especially on the German-Soviet front , even though both sides had the military capabilities. The ban on the use of poisonous, chemical and biological weapons was largely observed in the Second World War, at least in the European theater of war, although not all countries involved had acceded to the protocol. Another important aspect was mutual deterrence, especially after the experience with the devastating use of poison gas in the First World War. The German and the Soviet side renounced the use of chemical warfare agents without further negotiations or agreements, in order not to provoke a counter-attack of the same kind.

In the Cold War between NATO and the Warsaw Pact , deterring the enemy using conventional and weapons of mass destruction (see also: nuclear weapon ) was a central component of strategic planning on both sides. Two types of deterrence coexisted within the western side: deterrence through punishment and through denial of the prospect of success. It was a preliminary stage of the defense and was intended to prevent one side from getting into an emergency situation of having to defend itself by fighting.

A typical deterrent weapon is e.g. B. the nuclear submarine equipped with ICBMs ( SSBN ). His whereabouts on the high seas are mostly unknown to the enemy and even if the mother country is completely destroyed, a nuclear counterstrike can still lead to the enemy ( second strike capacity ). This strategy led significantly to the nuclear arms race between the two power blocs, which culminated in the ability to completely destroy the enemy in many cases.

In the context of mutual destructiveness and the resulting credibility dilemma, the search for options that could be used in a controlled manner was an essential characteristic of the policy of deterrence.

In all conflicts, deterring the enemy is an integral part of politics. This deterrent is intended to keep the opponent from attacking, but is sometimes interpreted as an aggressive gesture and it is precisely this deterrent that provokes an aggressive act on the part of the opponent. An example of this would be a deployment of troops on the border, which is supposed to thwart the opponent's plans for invasion, but which can be interpreted by the enemy as preparations for an invasion directed against him and thus provoke a preventive strike.

From 1957 to 1967, was Massive Retaliation (Engl. Massive retaliation ) an official NATO strategy.

The concept of the threat of retaliation is now called “conflict-preventive deterrence”.

Individual evidence

  1. Viktor Cathrein : Moral Philosophy. A scientific exposition of the moral, including the legal, order. 2 volumes, 5th, newly worked through edition. Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1911, Volume 2, pp. 668-677 ( Critique of Criminal Law Theories ), here: pp. 667 and 670.
  2. a b Peter Rudolf: deterrence. in: Dieter Nohlen, Rainer-Olaf Schultze: Lexicon of Political Science. Theories, methods, terms, 2nd edition 2004.
  3. The mirror. No. 46 dated November 15, 2010; P. 108: NATO - No longer being a world policeman. (Interview with Hans-Friedrich von Ploetz p. 110.)