Brent Scowcroft Center Senior Adviser Harlan Ullman writes for UPI on why the era of mutual assured destruction is over:
For much of the Cold War, the major strategic and security paradigm between east and west was largely (and misleadingly) defined as an era of mutual assured destruction or MAD. MAD meant both sides could assure the near total destruction and defeat of the other in a nuclear or thermonuclear war. Today, despite the presence weapons of mass destruction, the era of MAD is over. But a new strategic mindset is now needed.
The demise of the Soviet Union is one reason. As important is the erosion of the Westphalian system of state-centric politics. Through a combination of the diffusion of all forms of power and globalization, individuals and small groups increasingly have the ability to impose tectonic change on society. And because of global interdependence, disruption as opposed to large-scale destruction of society has become a major danger and threat to global security. Unfortunately, these phenomena, while apparent, have not yet become explicit in our strategic thinking or mindset.
This new disruptive era was brought into focus when the first of the two Twin Towers in New York collapsed on that tragic September morning in 2001. Despite the physical destruction of the towers and the deaths of nearly two thousand people, the disruption that would follow presaged this new era. From his lair in Afghanistan,Osama bin Laden probably had no inkling of what he had wrought.