I will be presenting a paper at the annual Peace Science Society meeting this weekend. The paper it is based on is from my dissertation. Here’s the abstract:
Why are some arms treaties broken while others remain stable over the long term? This paper argues that the changing credibility of launching preventive war is an important determinant of arms treaty stability. If preventive war is never an option, states can reach settlements that both prefer to costly arms construction. However, if preventive war is incredible today but will be credible in the future, a commitment problem results: the state considering investment must build the arms or it will not receive concessions later on. Thus, arms treaties fail under these conditions. The paper then applies the theoretical findings to the Soviet Union’s decision to build nuclear weapons in 1949 and Iran’s ongoing nuclear program today. In both instances, war exhaustion made preventive war incredible for the United States, but lingering concerns about future preventive war caused both states to pursue proliferation.
The presentation itself will cover the baseline bargaining-over-bombs model and use the war exhaustion extension to explain Soviet proliferation. If you can’t make the actual presentation (Friday, 10 am, Sequoya 3), check out a copy of the paper, look over the slides, or watch a video version of the presentation below. Comments are welcome!