Friday, January 20, 2006

Force de Frappe

President Jacques Chirac has dropped a political bombshell by threatening to retaliate with nuclear strikes against any state found to be responsible for a large-scale terrorist attack on France.
Wow! At first glance, that's kind of scary. But is it, really? During the Cold War the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) kept the powers in a nerve-wracking, but steady, balance. Do we want to return to that? Or do we want to live in fear that a terrorist attack could happen at any time? Can we hold a nation responsible for terrorist actions? We have been doing just that. But you can't always be sure that the nation is responsible. Of course, Chirac stated that the number of warheads on each missile has been reduced, so these are intended for smaller, tactical nuclear strikes. Is this a good thing?

The most interesting part of the article is this:
In the biggest shift in French nuclear doctrine for 40 years, M. Chirac revealed that the force de frappe - the French nuclear deterrent - had already been reconfigured to allow it to destroy the "power centres" of any state which sponsored a terrorist assault.
The French nuclear deterrent is apparently named after a blender setting . . . .


  1. I do not consider M. Chirac's threat to be credible. There are too many forces against the use of nuclear weapons in such circumstances. I suspect he is posturing.

    At most, I expect, his plan might contribute slightly to the further dispersion of terrorist forces across the globe. Along with the tendency toward greater dispersion comes greater difficulty in establishing clear links between terrorists and their state sponsors. I doubt any country will allow itself to be another Afghanistan.

    On a side note, I recently heard an expert on terrorism refer to this tendency toward greater dispersion as proof that the war on terror is working. His reasoning was that the terrorists are having a harder time coordinating attacks globally.

    While that may be true in the short term, we must understand that an unvanquished enemy will almost certainly continue to adapt. And one of the standard ways a combatant force will exercise their need to adapt is through alternating between concentration and dispersal. Once they have effectively reorganized as a dispersed force--once they reach maximum diffusion--they will be sure to improve their ability to coordinate, if it has truly been as badly hurt as that expert suggested.

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  3. Heh. France.

    Also, off-topic, you should check out the new post on my blog about secondhand smoke. Especially for those of you who live in Lincoln or other cities where legislation has been passed to ban smoking from bars and restaraunts.