Works in Progress

Dissertation: An Illusional Nuclear Taboo: Outgroup Positioning and Threat Proximity to Demonstrate Support for Extreme Methods of War (Committee: Dr. Güneş Murat TezcurDr. Andrew Boutton, Dr. Konstantin Ash)

A Violated Taboo: The US Responses to Chemical Warfarewith Dr. Güneş Murat Tezcür 

  • Under what conditions does the US take action against using chemical weapons (CW)? The international norm against CW has a long history going back to the early 20th century and is enshrined in a near universal convention in 1997. Yet, CW attacks continue to take place in Syria since the outbreak of the civil war in 2011. While the scholarship offers valuable and critical insights about the rise of CW taboo, the dynamics characterizing the US responses when this taboo is violated remain to be explained. In reaction to CW attacks by the Syrian regime, President Obama decided for a diplomatic approach after setting a red line; President Donald Trump opted for limited military strikes. Developing a comparative case study of chemical weapons attacks on Ghouta, Khan Shaykhun, Douma, and Halabja and during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, Japanese-Chinese disputes in 1930s, and other conflicts, this paper aims to explain different US foreign policy responses. Employing process-tracing based on archival research and in-depth interviews with policy-makers, the paper argues that the target of the CW attacks is a key explanatory variable. The nature and scope of he response depends on whether the initiator of the attack and targets are perceived as civilized or uncivilized.

Introducing Pro-Nuclear Leaders: A New Global Data Set of Leaders’ Positions on Nuclear Weapons

  • What domestic and international factor affect a leader’s attitude towards nuclear weapons? Scholars have theorized about leaders’ decisions on nuclear proliferation since the first atomic bomb was developed. However, literature to date has focused primarily on this decision-making process by investigating the internal political dynamics of countries that pursued the route of nuclear proliferation. This paper overcomes this limitation by introducing a new cross-national dataset-the Pro-Nuclear Leaders dataset-on all leaders’ positions on nuclear weapons annually between 1992 and 2015 – after the Cold War. The newly gathered data can be utilized to explain and text variables that explain nuclear-positions.