|Directed by||Rod Lurie|
|Produced by||Marc Frydman|
|Screenplay by||Rod Lurie|
|Music by||Larry Groupé|
|Edited by||Alan Roberts|
|Distributed by||Paramount Classics|
Deterrence is a 1999 French/American dramatic film written and directed by Rod Lurie, depicting fictional events about nuclear brinkmanship. It marks the feature directorial debut of Lurie, who was previously a film critic for the New York Daily News , Premiere Magazine , Entertainment Weekly and Movieline, among others. Kevin Pollak, Timothy Hutton, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Sean Astin star.
In 2008, President Walter Emerson, formerly an appointed U.S. Vice President and elevated by the death of the previous U.S. president, is crossing the U.S. on a campaign tour when a blizzard traps him in a remote Colorado diner with members of his staff plus a group of ordinary citizens.
Suddenly, word arrives that Uday Hussein, the leader of Iraq, has invaded Kuwait. Using a television cameraman who is following his campaign, Emerson notifies the world that unless Hussein orders an immediate retreat and personally surrenders, he will bomb Baghdad with a nuclear weapon.
Hussein, through his United Nations envoy, refuses to back down and cuts off telephone negotiations, claiming Emerson is a non-elected leader and also a Jew. He threatens to fire Iraq's black-market nuclear missiles at several global locations including Emerson's own, near NORAD in Colorado, if his country comes under attack.
It is learned that Iraq purchased these weapons from France. Despite being a U.S. ally, the French President appears to be cavalier in confirming this with Emerson and his entourage. The sites of the missile launchers include Libya and North Korea.
Emerson is counseled by his Chief of Staff, Marshall Thompson, a former university classmate, and by his National Security Adviser, Gayle Redford. Once his ultimatum is made and the countdown to his deadline begins, the President and his staff are confronted with the opinions of the diner's customers, including its angry owner and cook, Harvey, and a young bigot named Ralph.
Emerson is not only adamant in his beliefs, he seems every bit as willing as Hussein to trigger a nuclear war. He orders a B-2 bomber to cross Iraq's borders despite the threats of the Iraqi ambassador that this would constitute an act of war. In retaliation, the Iraqis aim 23 nuclear ICBMs against various countries, including Australia, Japan, France and other targets.
Emerson argues with advisers while appearing totally confident in his own actions. Suddenly, Harvey brandishes a gun and shoots the USAF major carrying the briefcase that contains the launch codes. Emerson's bodyguards then kill the cook in self-defense.
To the horror of all, Emerson carries out his threat. He authorizes the dropping of a 100 megaton bomb on Baghdad, resulting in the complete destruction of that city.
Iraq's retaliation begins. A bomb lands in Greece, but it does not detonate. Neither does a device that lands in Japan. A majority of the other missiles have been intercepted.
A short time later, Emerson addresses the world on TV. He explains that in order to prevent Iraq from attaining nuclear weapons, the U.S. sold it nuclear weapons through the French, while ensuring that they would never be able to function properly.
Already reeling from the shocks of the past few minutes, the President's aides are further astounded when he announces his immediate withdrawal from the election campaign. He did what he felt it necessary to do, but believes that someone else should be the one to carry on.
Film critic Stephen Holden gave the film a mixed review, writing, "The threat of nuclear war may have receded in the last two decades, but it certainly hasn't disappeared. That's why a movie like Deterrence, Rod Lurie's clunky political thriller about nuclear brinksmanship in the near future, probably serves some useful purpose, despite its ham-fisted preachiness and mediocre acting...With its blunt admonitory tone and single-set location (reminiscent of 12 Angry Men ), it often has the feel of a high school civics lesson packaged as melodrama. Its editorial pretensions are underscored by an opening black-and-white montage of actual presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt through Bill Clinton lambasting war."
Critic Roger Ebert, on the other hand, liked the film, writing, "And yet the film works. It really does. I got caught up in the global chess game, in the bluffing and the dares, the dangerous strategy of using nuclear blackmail against a fanatic who might call the bluff. With one set and low-rent props (is that an ordinary laptop inside the nuclear briefcase "football?"), 'Deterrence' manufactures real suspense and considers real issues...Kevin Pollak makes a curiously convincing third-string president—a man not elected to the office, but determined to fill it. He is a Jew, which complicates his Middle East negotiations and produces a priceless theological discussion with the waitress (Clotilde Courau). He is advised by his chief of staff (Timothy Hutton) and his national security adviser (Sheryl Lee Ralph), who are appalled by his nuclear brinkmanship and who are both completely convincing in their roles. The screenplay gives them dialogue of substance; the situation may be contrived, but we're absorbed in the urgent debate that it inspires."
Produced for a budget of $800,000, the film managed to only make $145,071 at the box office, making Deterrence a box office flop. The film only grossed $23,318 in its opening weekend.
Mutually assured destruction (MAD) is a doctrine of military strategy and national security policy in which a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by two or more opposing sides would cause the complete annihilation of both the attacker and the defender. It is based on the theory of deterrence, which holds that the threat of using strong weapons against the enemy prevents the enemy's use of those same weapons. The strategy is a form of Nash equilibrium in which, once armed, neither side has any incentive to initiate a conflict or to disarm.
Nuclear blackmail is a form of nuclear strategy in which an aggressor uses the threat of use of nuclear weapons to force an adversary to perform some action or make some concessions. It is a type of extortion that is related to brinkmanship.
Iraq actively researched and later employed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) from 1962 to 1991, when it destroyed its chemical weapons stockpile and halted its biological and nuclear weapon programs as required by the United Nations Security Council. The fifth President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, was internationally condemned for his use of chemical weapons during the 1980s campaign against Iranian and Kurdish civilians during and after the Iran–Iraq War. In the 1980s, Saddam pursued an extensive biological weapons program and a nuclear weapons program, though no nuclear bomb was built. After the Persian Gulf War (1990–1991), the United Nations located and destroyed large quantities of Iraqi chemical weapons and related equipment and materials; Iraq ceased its chemical, biological and nuclear programs.
The 1998 bombing of Iraq was a major four-day bombing campaign on Iraqi targets from 16 to 19 December 1998, by the United States and the United Kingdom. The contemporaneous justification for the strikes was Iraq's failure to comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions and its interference with United Nations Special Commission inspectors who were looking for weapons of mass destruction.
Brinksmanship, or Brinkmanship, is the practice of trying to achieve an advantageous outcome by pushing dangerous events to the brink of active conflict. The tactic occurs in international politics, foreign policy, labor relations, and in contemporary military strategy by involving the threat of nuclear weapons, and high-stakes litigation. The maneuver of pushing a situation with the opponent to the brink succeeds by forcing the opponent to back down and make concessions. That might be achieved through diplomatic maneuvers by creating the impression that one is willing to use extreme methods rather than concede.
Clotilde Marie Pascale Courau is a French actress. She is married to Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia, a member of the House of Savoy and the grandson of Umberto II, the last king of Italy.
Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Assessment of the British Government, also known as the September Dossier, was a document published by the British government on 24 September 2002 on the same day of a recall of Parliament to discuss the contents of the document. The paper was part of an ongoing investigation by the government into weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, which ultimately led to the invasion of Iraq six months later. It contained a number of allegations according to which Iraq also possessed WMD, including chemical weapons and biological weapons. The dossier even alleged that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons programme. Without exception, all of the allegations included within the September Dossier have been since proven to be false, as shown by the Iraq Survey Group.
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A policy of deliberate ambiguity is the practice by a government of being intentionally ambiguous on certain aspects of its foreign policy. It may be useful if the country has contrary foreign and domestic policy goals or if it wants to take advantage of risk aversion to abet a deterrence strategy. Such a policy can be very risky as it may cause misinterpretation of the intentions of a state, leading to actions that contradict that state's wishes.
Deterrence theory is based upon the concept which can be defined as the use of threats by one party to convince another party to refrain from initiating some course of action. The doctrine gained increased prominence as a military strategy during the Cold War with regard to the use of nuclear weapons and is related to but distinct from the concept of mutual assured destruction, which models the preventative nature of full-scale nuclear attack that would devastate both parties in a nuclear war. Deterrence is a strategy intended to dissuade an adversary from taking an action that has not yet started by means of threat of reprisal, or to prevent it from doing something that another state desires. The strategy is based on the psychological concept of the same name.
The nuclear football is a briefcase, the contents of which are to be used by the President of the United States to authorize a nuclear attack while away from fixed command centers, such as the White House Situation Room or the Presidential Emergency Operations Center. It functions as a mobile hub in the strategic defense system of the United States. It is held by an aide-de-camp.
Rod Lurie is an Israeli-American director, screenwriter, and former film critic.
Flexible response was a defense strategy implemented by John F. Kennedy in 1961 to address the Kennedy administration's skepticism of Dwight Eisenhower's New Look and its policy of massive retaliation. Flexible response calls for mutual deterrence at strategic, tactical, and conventional levels, giving the United States the capability to respond to aggression across the spectrum of war, not limited only to nuclear arms.
Robert G. Joseph is a senior scholar at the National Institute for Public Policy and professor at Missouri State University. He was the United States Special Envoy for Nuclear Nonproliferation, with ambassadorial rank. Prior to this post, Joseph was the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, a position he held until January 24, 2007. Joseph is known for being instrumental in creating the Proliferation Security Initiative and as the architect of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. He was also the US chief negotiator to Libya in 2003 who convinced the Libyans to give up their WMD programs. He also recently authored a book describing his experience in negotiating with Libya entitled "Countering WMD."
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Endgame: The Blueprint for Victory in the War on Terror is a book by Lt.General Thomas McInerney, US Air Force, and Major General Paul E. Vallely, US Army, with forward remarks by CIA Director James Woolsey. It describes a super secret weapon system that is intended to neutralize nuclear weapons.
A nuclear briefcase is a specially outfitted briefcase used to authorize the use of nuclear weapons and is usually kept nearby the leader of a nuclear weapons state at all times.
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