Beyond the Rubicon: Command and Control in Regional Nuclear Powers
Command and control systems are the operational means by which a state conducts the management, deployment, and potential release of nuclear weapons. Command and control systems fundamentally underpin important dimensions of nuclear strategy and operations, such as deterrence and strategic stability. Despite these broader implications, however, detailed analysis on nuclear command and control remains scarce in the post-Cold War era.
This book project addresses the literature’s shortcomings by making two contributions to the study of command and control in regional nuclear powers. First, the project presents a new conceptual framework of command and control arrangements that emphasizes the procedures employed to transition from peacetime to crisis arsenal management practices. Second, the project provides a theory that specifies how three variables interact to explain command and control outcomes in regional nuclear powers, including the presence of a proximate and conventionally superior adversary, the severity of domestic threats to the political regime, and the level of military organizational autonomy.
Evidence from India, Pakistan, apartheid-era South Africa, and the United Kingdom provide the empirical foundations of the analysis, including archival documents and original interview data with political and military elites. These contributions inform academic research on nuclear strategy and operations and yield policy implications for engaging with emerging nuclear proliferators.
Research in Progress
Nuclear command and control
(1) "Command and Control in Regional Nuclear Powers"
This paper provides a new conceptual framework for classifying nuclear command and control systems and explains variation in regional nuclear power command and control arrangements using original interview data with political and military elites from India and Pakistan. Manuscript in preparation.
(2) "The Fulcrum of Fragility: Command and Control in Regional Nuclear Powers," in Scott D. Sagan and Vipin Narang, eds., The Fragile Balance of Terror: Deterrence in the New Nuclear Age (with Peter D. Feaver)
This chapter identifies major international and domestic pressures facing regional nuclear powers when developing command and control systems and illustrates how different command and control systems affect strategic stability, especially during crises. Chapter currently under review.
Nuclear platform diversification
(1) "Nuclear Platform Diversification: A New Dataset, 1945-2018" (with Kyungwon Suh)
This paper provides a new quantitative dataset that measures the operational delivery systems that nuclear states deploy and provides an empirical application that illustrates the importance of nuclear capabilities in making extended deterrence guarantees more credible. Manuscript in preparation.
(2) "Civil-Military Stability and Nuclear Platform Diversification"
This paper evaluates the effects of unstable civil-military relations on the diversification of a state's nuclear delivery systems. Manuscript in preparation.
Challenges in nuclear policymaking
(1) Atomic Backfires: When Nuclear Policies Fail (with Stephen Herzog and Ariel F. W. Petrovics)
This edited volume examines some of the most common foreign policy tools for addressing nuclear dangers - such as economic sanctions, kinetic counterproliferation, and arms control - to highlight a range of underappreciated costs and consequences inherent to nuclear policymaking. The volume offers theoretical and policy-relevant analysis to identify the opportunities and constraints that face decisionmakers when fashioning foreign policy in the nuclear realm.
(2) "Squeezing the Balloon: Nuclear Responses to Regime Change Threats," in Giles David Arceneaux, Stephen Herzog, and Ariel F. W. Petrovics, eds., Atomic Backfires: When Nuclear Policies Fail
This chapter evaluates the unintended consequences of foreign-imposed regime change on the operational nuclear behavior of emerging proliferators. The chapter shows how U.S.-backed regime change efforts in countries such as Iraq and Libya encourage emerging proliferators to develop operational nuclear doctrines that threaten U.S. national security.