The following comment by me sparked another discussion between blackirish and I:
The tougher a potential enemy think it will be to fight you, the less likely he will be interested in doing so. Of course, sound foreign policy is also important, but it has happened where failed foreign policy helped bring on the war it was trying to prevent.
The dominant factor in the post-World War II world has been the existence of nuclear weapons. No nation possessing nuclear weapons has fought against another nation also possessing nuclear weapons.
Interesting concept. What about India and Pakistan? I would also suggest that the US and USSR openly backed combatants who were fighting against each other. In my opinion, effective foreign policy far outweighs military might in deciding whether wars will be fought but I can accept that you consider military might more important.
I believe the wars between India and Pakistan all occurred before India joined the nuclear club, certainly none of them occurred after Pakistan joined the club.
The U.S. and U.S.S.R. faced off against each other through surrogates or, in the case of Vietnam and Korea, the U.S. fought surrogates of the U.S.S.R., but there was never a direct confrontation (war) between the two. The U.S. will never go to war with Russia over the Ukraine for the same reason. (Btw, I should give credit to Martin van Creveld for making the argument in his book The Age of Air Power.)
I can think of examples where diplomacy backed by a credible threat of force prevented a war, or could have, but I am having more trouble thinking of examples of diplomacy not backed by credible threats of force.
Ok... I don't really know for certain about Pakistan and India and the timeline so I will accept this contingent upon looking it up. I tend to agree with your last statement but don't think it necessarily applies to strength of conventional forces. I would also suggest that credible threats of force without intelligent foreign policy is very much a recipe for disaster.
I would also suggest that a nuclear armed Iran and a nuclear armed Israel will not necessarily work the same way. I can easily see one or the other attacking the other despite both being nuclear armed if it comes down to that so in that case, foreign policy would have to be more important than a credible threat of force.