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.”
As U.S.-North Korean tensions drive nuclear dangers to crisis levels, how robust is public support for the U.S. nuclear umbrella? Experts often forget that extended deterrence is an elite-driven phenomenon. Polls indicate many populations protected by the umbrella either oppose nuclear weapons or desire their own arsenals. In the age of "America first," polls also suggest that the U.S. public is skeptical of taking on risks to defend Washington's closest partners. Perception gaps among the U.S. and allied populations about the desirability of retaliatory actions could complicate government coordination in a nuclear crisis.
To evaluate public support for the nuclear umbrella, Herzog—along with study co-authors David M. Allison of Yale University and Jiyoung Ko of Bates College—developed a crisis simulation survey experiment discussing hypothetical North Korean attacks on U.S. allies. Nationally representative samples (n=6,623) of the Japanese, South Korean, and U.S. populations participated in the exercise. At this seminar, Herzog will discuss the survey results and relevant lessons for alliance politics and extended deterrence.
This seminar is co-sponsored by the Korea Institute at Harvard University.