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What is Deterrence?


DETERRENCE is a feature-length documentary written, directed and produced by Dr Roman Gerodimos and co-created with faculty and students at Bournemouth University.

The film considers the past, present and future role of NATO in European security. It introduces the concept of deterrence to a general audience and probes its relevance in the 21st century.

DETERRENCE features interviews with 13 senior NATO officials, foreign correspondents, historians, defence consultants and experts from leading think tanks, filmed in the run up or during the 2019 NATO Leaders’ Meeting and the pre-summit NATO Engages conference in London. It also features interviews with 10 undergraduate students studying global current affairs, as well as extensive archival and secondary footage, original motion graphics and animation. DETERRENCE is narrated by British actor Sam Booth.


What is the format of Deterrence?

The film is divided into an 8-minute introduction/outline (Chapter 0: Cold Open) and seven episodes (or ‘chapters’):


Chapter 1: A Credible Threat introduces the concept of deterrence, shows examples of how deterrence is part of our everyday life, and explains how nuclear deterrence emerged out of the ashes of World War II. 

Chapter 2: M.A.D. covers the period of the Cold War (1945-1989) from the birth of NATO and nuclear deterrence after World War II through to the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It reviews NATO's mission and role during the Cold War, explains the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) and looks back at some of the heated moments of the Cold War, such as Able Archer 83. It examines how a whole security architecture for Europe was put in place in the late 1980s.

Chapter 3: Post Cold War looks at the evolution of NATO’s mission in a post-Cold War world, such as its enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe and military campaigns in the Balkans in the 1990s and the Middle East after 9/11. It considers possible root causes for the deterioration of relations between Russia and the West that was to follow in the 2000s and especially in the 2010s.



Chapter 4: The New Cold War zeroes in on Russia’s campaign of interference and disinformation across the West since the mid-2000s. It introduces the concept of hybrid warfare and examines the profile and motivations of Russian president Vladimir Putin. It also ​questions whether today's younger generations are aware of what NATO stands for.

Chapter 5: The London Summit takes us to the December 2019 NATO Leaders’ Meeting. It captures the personal tensions and political controversies that emerged during the summit and poses the key questions that are currently engaging Europe's decision-makers: the West's relations with Russia, budget contributions to NATO, cyber attacks and environmental security. It juxtaposes young people's questions, concerns and perceptions of security with those of the elites. The overarching issue emerging is the question of values and the extent to which NATO can retain its unity around a core set of values, such as security, freedom and democracy, as well as emerging values such as sustainability.

Chapter 6: Updating Deterrence asks whether deterrence is even relevant in an age of hybrid and cyber warfare and considers the future of nuclear weapons. It captures young people's concerns about terrorism - an issue that resurfaced during filming in November 2019. We also examine whether and how deterrence can be updated and applied in the context of the 21st century.

Finally, Chapter 7: NATO in the 21st Century, offers concluding reflections on NATO’s future role amidst increasing global instability and uncertainty, including the current coronavirus pandemic. We identify some of the key questions - the issue of unity, NATO's partnership with the European Union, the challenge of engaging a sceptical public amidst the noise of social media - that are likely to determine its future survival.


How can I watch Deterrence?

DETERRENCE has been scripted and edited so that a viewer can watch any one or more of the seven chapters in isolation (as stand-alone mini documentaries) or the whole film as one coherent 155-minute long narrative.


Is Deterrence just a documentary?

The documentary is the culmination of a year-long multi-step pedagogic and research project, which involved working with journalism, communication and politics students to understand the past, present and future of NATO, as well as identify the main security challenges facing Europe today. This process has given us unique insights into young people's perceptions of NATO and their concerns and priorities regarding security today, as well as elite perceptions of security challenges and NATO's priorities.

In addition to a research documentary, DETERRENCE is also a learning resource. We are currently developing lesson plans that will be shortly available on this site. These will feature the key questions/topics covered in each chapter, as well as discussion points and further reading.

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