Defence policy layers

Defence policy (in the sense of providing security to your own nation against blockade/bombing/invasion, not in the sense of quasi-imperialistic meddling) can be separated into layers.

Here's an example:

  1. Foreign policy to create a safer world (by sanctioning aggressions, for example)
  2. Abstaining from starting or needlessly joining a war
  3. Forming or joining collective security treaties (defensive alliances)
  4. Deter aggressors
  5. Be able to defeat aggressors if deterrence fails
  6. Limit damage incurred in case of war

(Any blogger with a bit of visual design skill would now use one of those onion layer graphics to illustrate the concept.)

I'm fine with layers 1...5 and think that they were somewhat neglected.

#1 Hypocrisy kept us from sanctioning aggressions and microaggressions committed by friendly countries

#2 We needlessly joined the Afghanistan War, and needlessly send troops into many other countries that are irrelevant to our security.

#3 We are in NATO, but fail to emphasise the defensive nature of NATO (see Kosovo Air War 1999 and the frequent tolerated loudmouthing by NATO general secretaries)

#4 This works for NATO almost without effort, as there's no aggressor capable of taking even only on a fourth of our conventional forces without using nuclear warheads.

#5 See #4

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So, what's my issue with #6?

I think #6 is cost-inefficient. It's extremely unlikely that #1...#4 fail to keep us in peace. Resources spent on #6 are better-spent on #1 (sanctioning aggressors at some economic cost to yourself) and #4 (deterring war in the first place, instead of trying to make it less horrible).

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This blog post was triggered by news about political efforts for a missile defence in Central and Eastern Europe. That would be an extremely expensive endeavour, and by now we know that Russia has a) largely depleted its missile stocks and b) is too dumb to cause much damage with missiles.

Moreover, an aggressor would be tempted to launch many missiles with a strategic surprise, which means that such a defence system would be surprised and thus likely fail to live up to expectations.

To establish a very large area defence against cruise missiles (supersonic or stealthy) AND (quasi-)ballistic PGMs (different from cruise missiles by carrying the oxidiser for the propulsion rather than breathing air) AND hypersonic missiles (high & very fast-flying, typically air-breathing) and to stay ahead of threat munitions with all three defences would be extremely expensive. To just buy some American missiles and radars would not live up to expectations.

We need such strategic missile defences neither to deter nor to defeat. This is overreach, overspending, primitive and poorly thought-out feeding of arms industry big business.

It's yet again a primitive low effort thinking reaction, just as the primitive EUR 100 billion boost with which politicians who were too incompetent to do their job want to calm their security policy conscience in Germany.





  1. I totally agree - especially since a big surprise or non surprise missile attack against military & civil infrastructure should be answered by something similar - devastating attack capabilities would be cheaper than inefficient defense capabilities, possibly up to nuclear riposte. What I don't understand is why Poutine can get away with his attacks on civilian infrastructure.

  2. Defense can't always end at the border. Shaping the security environment necessitates some expeditionary capability that occasionally gets used and often misused.

    What do you make of the current US troop deployments? Is there a chance of a NATO-Russia war?

    1. Either it was long-planned, then it doesn't mean much, or it's a move to show that the U.S. is not useless as ally in contrast to Russia, which left Armenia in the rain when Azerbaijan attacked again.