Cambridge, MA – Former Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter will join the Harvard Kennedy School as the Belfer Professor of Technology and Global Affairs and Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. As Secretary of Defense, Carter, a physicist, became known for pushing the Pentagon to “think outside its five-sided box” in order to transform the way the military fought adversaries and strengthened alliances, managed its budget and talent, developed its technology, and more. He will now lead the Belfer Center’s programs and will focus his scholarship on the role of innovation and technology in addressing challenges at home and around the world.
Why is it that some threats are believed credible by states during crises, while others are not? How do target states interpret coercive signals intended to establish threat credibility during these periods?
In this seminar, the speaker argues that variation in leadership beliefs within target states is key to understanding how threatening signals are interpreted during international crises. A target state's prior crisis interactions with an adversary provides crucial information to its leaders both about that adversary's political objectives and the costs it is willing to expend to achieve its goals. Taken collectively, this information enables target state leaders to form beliefs about the extent of that adversary's foreign policy interests. Once these beliefs about an adversary have formed, they are not only cognitively "sticky," but they can also become institutionalized in the target state security apparatus by feeding into processes of threat prioritization and impacting the allocation of key resources. When future crises arise, the target state leader's prior beliefs act as important lenses, filtering information and determining how signals are interpreted, with important implications for assessments of threat credibility. The speaker presents new evidence from the Iraq Wars of 1991 and 2003 to support this theory.
Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.