The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
Little research has examined citizen support for decisions to acquire nuclear weapons. Under what conditions do citizens express support for the pursuit of nuclear weapons? How much, in particular, might the cultural affinity of a rival state exacerbate or dampen citizen support nuclear weapons and, ultimately, aggressive nuclear strategies? Addressing these questions, this project uses an original, nationally representative population-based survey experiment in Morocco of over 2000 citizens to explore attitudes toward the dual-use problem of nuclear technology. It tests whether a hypothetical threat from Iran, Israel, or another Arab state is more likely to raise public support for nuclear weapons and aggressive nuclear strategies. Although Iran has become more aggressive in recent years, this study’s results indicate that Arab citizens continue to perceive Israel as the largest threat and strongest motivator for potential nuclear weapons. Citizens are less likely to favor the bomb when faced with a hypothetical threat from an Arab state, however. These findings highlight how cultural considerations can affect threat perception and popular support for aggressive foreign policy.