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Knowledge Base

America and Strategies for the Future with George P. Shultz


Why is it important to communicate the consequences of violating threats?

Clear communication is an important part of deterrence. To ensure that our adversaries understand the consequences, we must communicate what we will and will not accept and how violators will be punished. Ultimately, our adversaries may back down if the consequences raise the cost of war for them.

Why should we avoid making empty threats?

The consequences of making empty threats can be dire because they teach our enemies that they can get away with violence and aggression. They also lower our credibility and cause our allies to lose trust in us which takes years to cultivate. Thus, in order to maintain credibility and trust, we must always mean what we say.

Does the spread of nuclear weapons make the world safer or more dangerous? 

The spread of nuclear weapons does not make the world safer. For instance, the United States and Soviet Union had nuclear weapons, but that did not deter them from engaging in regional conflicts. Likewise, Pakistan and India also have nuclear weapons but still engaged in an armed conflict. Since renewed non-proliferation efforts are critical for the safety of the human race, a firm commitment from major world powers is required for widespread de-nuclearization to occur.

Terms You May Have Heard:

Carbon Tax – A carbon tax is a tax imposed on releases of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is emitted largely through the combustion of fossil fuels used in electricity production, industrial, commercial, residential heating, and transportation. There are many ways to measure and collect a carbon tax. The tax might be imposed at a variety of stages in the production and distribution of energy. There is an argument for imposing it at the point most visible to the population at large, which would be the point of consumption such as gasoline stations and electricity bills. An administratively more efficient way of imposing the tax, however, would be to collect it at the level of production, which would reduce greatly the number of collection points.

Climate Change – Climate change refers to the changes in average weather conditions that persist over multiple decades or longer. Climate change encompasses bother increases and decreases in temperatures, along with shifts in precipitation, changing risk of certain types of severe weather events, and changes to other features of the climate system. 

Nuclear Proliferation  Nuclear proliferation is the spread of nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons technology, or materials to countries that do not already possess them.