Works in Progress


An Illusional Nuclear Taboo: Mechanisms of Public Support for Extreme Methods of War (Committee: Dr. Güneş Murat TezcurDr. Andrew Boutton, Dr. Konstantin Ash)

ABSTRACT: My dissertation centers on domestic opinion on the use of extreme methods of war with a focus on the support and non-support of publics and elites on nuclear weapons. Situated in international relations, comparative politics, and sociology, it offers an understanding of the conditions that lead to support for nuclear weapons, the factors that influence individuals’ willingness to describe to a normative taboo, and consequences of a hawkish domestic opinion for policymakers. Influential strands of scholarship argue that both political elites and the public have internalized anti-nuclear norms. The critics assert that the moral nuclear taboo is in fact a non-use tradition and that the norm’s robustness is weak among elites and the public. In two original survey experiments of the Jewish Israeli adult and US adult populations, this research identifies the factors influencing why some individuals are more willing to subscribe to a taboo than others. Additionally, through the creation of a new global dataset of leaders, it examines the conditions that explain leaders’ tendency for (non-) support. Overall, the study explores sociological group positioning theory and threat proximity to explain why some members of the public and elite may support nuclear weapons. The aim of the study is it to test the robustness of norms against extreme methods of warfare, to explore the causal factors influencing why some individuals are more willing to subscribe to taboo than others, and to provide policy implication for states’ nuclear doctrines and deterrence strategies. This research advances current understanding of why nuclear weapons disarmament, elimination, and non-proliferation is deeply challenging.

Revisiting National Security Hawks: The Evolution of Israeli Public Opinion on The Use of Force (Chapter of dissertation)

ABSTRACT: How do Israelis exhibit different positions on issues of national security? This paper identifies patterns in Israeli society and parameters of divisions within on the use of force through a longitudinal approach. Extant studies suggest that Israeli public opinion favors security over the rule of law, social aspects, and economic principles in elections. Yet, important societal divisions persist. As part of a larger book project, it compares and contrasts the literature on Israeli public opinion on issues of national security. Empirically, it provides a collection of data from polls and surveys 1984 – 2018 that include questions that test the hawkish tendencies of the public. The data is used to identity attitudinal patterns on the use of force. over the last few decades in public opinion. The preliminary findings suggest that half of the Israeli public tend to favor hawkish military options. This analysis of the evolution of Israeli public opinion about the usage of force opens avenues for further research areas and experimental studies on the factors that influence Israeli public opinion. The findings have broad policy implications for ongoing geopolitical tensions with Iran and Arab countries in the region. Israeli policymakers will be more likely to implement hawkish policies if the public supports them. Hence, informal allies and diplomats need to account for such tendencies

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

ABSTRACT: 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.


A Violated Norm: The Use of Chemical Weapons from Colonial Warfare to Civil Wars, with Dr. Güneş Murat Tezcür 

ABSTRACT: The taboo against chemical weapons (CW) has a long history going back to the late 19th century. The repeated CW attacks during the Syrian civil war have raised new questions about the robustness of this regulative norm. This paper takes a longer historical approach and investigates the justifications employed in CW attacks and international responses in reaction to these attacks. The analysis suggests that the norm against CW is conditional on the identity of victims. Attacks targeting certain groups are more readily justifiable and generate relatively ineffective and inconsistent reaction from the international community. Consequently, chemical attacks take place only against certain groups of people. Employing process tracing, this paper consults a variety of rich archival resources including primary language documents to explain this variation in international responses to these attacks. The historical cases analyzed include three late colonial wars during the interwar period, and three Middle Eastern civil wars.

The Efficiency of Conventional Military Strikes versus Cyber Weapons in Nuclear Counterproliferation (Under Review)

Under what conditions can the use of cyber weapons be effective in nuclear counterproliferation? With continued interest in nuclear proliferation expressed by Iran, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia, a discussion of the effectiveness of counterproliferation measurements remains relevant. Through the comparative case study of Operation Orchard 2007 and Stuxnet 2011, this work explores conventional and cyber weapons to prevent nuclear proliferation. The work finds that (1) cyber weapons are effective in the short-term if the attack remains clandestine, (2) conventional weapons are especially effective against countries in early stages and cyber weapons in advanced stages of nuclear development, and (3) cyber weapons appear to be only temporary solutions to halt nuclear proliferation, but not to avert future nuclear ambitions. In its conclusion, the work suggests implications to halt Iranian nuclear proliferation and discusses the silent consent of the international community to both measurements.