Publié le 03/11/2008


The concept of strategic surprise has rarely been defined precisely and generally conveys the idea of a badly or non-anticipated threat which unexpectedly hits a state, shaking its conceptions and its position towards security. Until the 1980s strategic surprise would take the form of a nuclear surprise attack. In the 1990s, the idea of a so-called "computer Pearl Harbor" was put forward, which would neutralize the complex systems supporting western societies. With the 9/11 attacks, the threat of a strategic surprise suddenly materialized. After delineating the legitimate scope of the notion of "strategic surprise", highlighting the variability of its effects and underlining the importance of the "target" and of its vulnerability, this paper aims exploring some possible trails and answers, which would attempt to reduce not only the probability of an attack but also its impact.