Nuclear Weapons Norm

I examine the norms contestation as it relates to nuclear weapons. The non-use of nuclear weapons since 1945 has sparked a fruitful scholarly debate: Can the persistence of the nonuse of nuclear weapons be understood with reference to a normative “taboo” subject to a constructivist logic of appropriateness, or does it rather constitute a prudent tradition based on a logic of consequences as rationalist scholars would have it? Building on this first generation of research, a second wave examined attitudes toward nuclear use among the general public rather than elite decision-makers and used large-N experimental surveys rather than in-depth interviews and archival research to examine public attitudes in order to grasp the validity of the nuclear “taboo.” With my work I join this new wave of scholars and situate my research in the nuclear taboo debate among its pioneers as well as more recent contributors. My research directly engages with the ongoing debates in the norms literature and take stock of the progress that has been made in the study of the impact of individual level analysis but also presents the relevance of re-envisioning nuclear norms research to a broader audience. I leverage a diverse range of research methods including experimental methods, surveys, quantitative large-N statistical analysis, case studies, and process tracing.

  • Horschig, Doreen. “Israeli Public Opinion Makes a US-Iran Nuclear Deal Urgent.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. May 14, 2021.
  • “Israeli Public Opinion on the Use of Nuclear Weapons: Lessons from Terror Management Theory” Revise and Resubmit at Journal of Global Security Studies
  • “The Effect of Knowledge on Public Attitudes Towards Nuclear Weapons” Survey Funding Approved

Chemical Weapons Norm

Building on my work on nuclear norms, I also research and write about the conditionality of social norms of chemical weapons (CW) and explore the durability of the taboo. The findings suggest that the anti-CW norm has never had universal status and always remained conditional on a hierarchy of victims. Civilian populations at the margin of the international order remain vulnerable to attacks with little recourse by the global community. I am currently building on this qualitative research by accumulating a dataset on all CW attacks to explore the norm in a more systematic way.

  • Horschig, Doreen and Güneş Murat Tezcür. 2021. “A Conditional Norm: Chemical Warfare from Colonialism to Contemporary Civil Wars.” Third World Quarterly 42(2): 366-384. DOI: 10.1080/01436597.2020.1834840
  • Horschig, Doreen and Güneş Murat Tezcür. “Chemical Weapons and the Hierarchy of Victims.” War on the Rocks. February 26, 2021.
  • “Introducing CWAD- The Chemical Weapons Attacks Dataset” Data Collection, ISA 2022

Nuclear Counterproliferation

Lastly, I have written on the general applicability of cyber-weapons and their usefulness in nuclear counterproliferation. In another ongoing project I build on this and study third party reactions to counterproliferation attacks. I am researching the seemingly reluctant response by the international community to counterproliferation cases (C=40). Employing process tracing in a most-similar exploratory case design, I consult a variety of rich archival resources including official documents to study the international responses to counterproliferation. This can advance an understanding of international behavior in response to selected military actions and provides a framework of strategic reasoning for preventive counterproliferation strikes.

  • Horschig, Doreen. 2020. “Cyber Weapons in Nuclear Counterproliferation.” Defense and Security Analysis 36(3): 352-371.
  • Horschig, Doreen. “Israel could strike first as tensions with Iran flare.” The Conversation. June 20, 2019.
  • “Turning a Blind Eye: The International Audience and Nuclear Counterproliferation” Empirical Analysis, MIT Brownbag April 2022

In conducting my research, I am firmly committed to making it accessible to policymakers. I am a strong proponent of bridging the gap between scholars and practitioners. My research directly informs policymakers, activists, and scholars of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. For example, I published the results of my dissertation research in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and Inkstick Media and made my research on the CW norm available in War on the Rocks. Other public commentaries have appeared in The Conversation, Duck of Minerva, Breaking Defense and National Interest. Hence, my research does not only contribute to theoretical debates among scholars but brings forward policy implications that are directly applicable in the nuclear policy.

For a list of all publications, see CV.

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