|CONCLUSION AND PROMISING AREAS OF RESEARCH
Two concluding observations are in order. The first grows out of the record of deterrence and compellence during the Cold War and its aftermath. These conflicts suggest that the political and psychological dynamics governing cost estimates and relative willingness to bear the costs of military action remain the critical consideration for leaders contemplating the use of threat-based strategies and their probability of success or failure. Much important research can be done in this connection, especially in conflicts that pit highly developed industrial powers, with a low tolerance for loss of life, against weaker, less developed, more traditional countries where honor remains important and death in combat or by suicide missions is more acceptable.
The second concerns the general efficacy of deterrence as a strategy. Its many drawbacks do not mean that it should be discarded. Rather, scholars and statesmen must recognize the limits and inherent unpredictability of deterrence and make greater use of other strategies of conflict prevention and management.
There are many important theory and policy questions that need careful empirical research. Foremost among these is the role of nuclear weapons in conflict management. The contrasting views about the role nuclear weapons played in the resolution of the Cold War have been noted. Are these lessons transferable to other cases? Do other cases help us reflect back on the Cold War and discriminate more effectively among its competing sets of lessons? What about the lessons drawn by policymakers in other nuclear powers (i.e., France, China, Israel, India, and Pakistan) about nuclear weapons and the Cold War, and nuclear weapons and the conflict in which they are involved? How similar and different is such “learning”, and on what grounds have these lessons been formed? Finally, there is the question of proliferation. Why do nations begin, halt, or see through to completion their weapons development programs? Under which conditions might those who have weapons use them? On proliferation, unlike some of the other questions, there has already been some impressive research (Solingen, 2007; Hymans, 2006).
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