Conventional Deterrence

This calculator allows you to assess whether the cost of deterrence is worth it, given assumptions about the cost and probability of war.

The values that you see already in each input box are based on an analysis of American conventional deterrence in Europe.

All default values for each assumption are explained here.

Change the values as you see fit for this scenario, or analyze a completely different scenario.

Once you've filled in the assumptions and hit "Calculate," a table will populate with the total cost of a war, the total cost of deterrence or lack thereof, the number of wars expected to happen, the expected number of lives lost, and the difference in present value of deterrence versus using deterrence funds on an alternative investment.


Total Cost of Combat Operations: $ billion over the entire war (How much will combat operations cost if deterrence fails)
Lost Economic Welfare: billion
Lives lost in a war: MinimumMaximum
Monetary Value of a Life: $ million
Length of Hypothetical War: years (WWII lasted 4 years for the United States)
Cost to Deter: $ billion per year (The cost to forward deploy troops or maintain a nuclear arsenal)
Annual Chance of War W/O Deterrence: %
Annual Chance of War W/ Deterrence: %
Alternative Investment Return (infrastructure, education, research): %
Defense-Specific Inflation Rate:
# of iterations you'd like to run: (If you are unfamiliar with Monte Carlo simulations, leave this at 10000)
How long of a time period do you want to analyze?: years (The number of years you want your scenario to last)