Book Project

My book project examines how state foreign policy changes in the aftermath of nuclear acquisition. In doing so, I make three primary contributions. First, I offer a novel typology of six conceptually distinct dyadic foreign policy behaviors that nuclear weapons can facilitate (i.e., reduce the expected cost of engaging in). Specifically, I distinguish between aggression, expansion, independence, bolstering, steadfastness, and compromise. Second, I offer a theory for why different states use nuclear acquisition to engage in greater levels of different combinations of these behaviors. While nuclear weapons may facilitate each of these behaviors, not all states use nuclear weapons to facilitate all of these behaviors after nuclear acquisition. The theory explains why different combinations of behaviors are attractive to different states, and makes predictions for how a state's foreign policies will change after nuclear acquisition. Third, I test this theory against alternative theoretical explanations using case studies of three states: the United States, the United Kingdom, and South Africa. Each case study is based on multi-archival research, and in the case of South Africa, large numbers of interviews conducted with military and political elites from the apartheid regime. In each case, I look for discontinuities in foreign policy behavior that occur at the point of nuclear acquisition, and then look for documentary evidence that nuclear acquisition caused the changes observed.

An article from my book project, "Beyond Emboldenment: How Acquiring Nuclear Weapons Can Change Foreign Policy," was published in International Security in 2015. A second article, "Nuclear Opportunism: A Theory of How States Use Nuclear Weapons in International Politics," was published in the Journal of Strategic Studies and won the 2019 Amos Perlmutter prize for the best article in the Journal of Strategic Studies by a junior faculty member.