Speakers: Mark S. Bell,  Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Minnesota Twin Cities; 

Julia Macdonald, Assistant Professor in International Relations, Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver

How dangerous are nuclear crises, and how should scholars and policymakers think about them? What dynamics govern how they unfold? The speakers argue that correctly interpreting nuclear crises—and how one thinks about the effects of nuclear weapons during these times—hinges on crisis participants' theories about processes of escalation to the nuclear level. How participants think about processes of escalation during nuclear crises is in turn determined by their perceptions of (1) the extent of incentives to strike pre-emptively, and (2) the extent to which escalation is controllable by participants. Variation across these two dimensions generate four models of nuclear crises that reduce analysts' abilities to draw generalizable conclusions from nuclear crises writ large and may explain why empirical findings on nuclear crises have been contradictory and inconclusive. The speakers provide evidence for their argument using the case of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

Co-sponsored by Project on Managing the Atom

For more information, email the International Security Program Assistant at susan_lynch@harvard.edu.