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Reid Pauly

Dean's Assistant Professor of Nuclear Security and Policy


Reid Pauly writes and teaches on coercion and nuclear weapons proliferation, nuclear strategy and wargaming, and interstate secrecy and deniability. Prior to joining the Brown faculty, Reid was a Stanton postdoctoral fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University, a predoctoral fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and a Summer Associate at the RAND Corporation. Reid earned a PhD in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Security Studies Program. He has a BA from Cornell University. His wife, Natalie, is a Brown alum.


Reid Pauly studies coercion, nuclear weapons proliferation, nuclear strategy, interstate secrecy and deniability, and wargaming. 

His book project examines the “assurance dilemma” at the heart of coercion—when and why targets of coercion believe that they will not be punished after they comply with demands. 

He also studies why states sometimes cover up the transgressions of adversaries. This work applies especially to the nuclear nonproliferation regime, where the deniable nature of dual-use technologies actually aids enforcers. Violators are more likely to come into compliance if they can deny that they were ever out of compliance. 

He is also working to bring wargaming methods to the study of international relations. Wargames can introduce human interaction to the social scientific study of crisis decision-making—all of the human fallibility, miscommunication, emotions, hubris, pride, and reputations that color decision-making in group settings. 


Peer-Reviewed Articles:

“Decision-making Under Pressure: The Mechanisms and Psychology of Nuclear Brinkmanship” International Security, forthcoming 2023. With Rose McDermott.

“Wargaming for International Relations Research,” European Journal of International Relations, Vol. 28, No. 1 (2022): 83-109. With Erik Lin-Greenberg and Jacquelyn Schneider. Reviewed in H-Diplo.

“Deniability in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime: The Upside of the Dual-Use Dilemma,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 66, Iss. 1 (2022).

“Caught Red-Handed: How States Wield Proof to Coerce Wrongdoers,” International Security, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Fall 2021). With Cullen G. Nutt.

“Would U.S. Leaders Push the Button? Wargames and the Sources of Nuclear Restraint,” International Security, Vol. 43, No. 2 (Fall 2018): 151-192.

“Bedeviled by a Paradox: Nitze, Bundy, and an Incipient Nuclear Norm,” The Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 22, Iss. 3-4 (2015): 441-455.

Policy Writing: 

“What to Do When Predicting Pandemics,” Foreign Policy, September 11, 2020. 

“Why Invading Iran Would Be a Military Disaster,” The National Interest, January 12, 2020. With Daniel Khalessi. 

“This is Why Trump’s Strategy for Iran Will Fail,” The National Interest, December 21, 2017. With Mahsa Rouhi and Sahar Nowrouzzadeh. 

“The Tangled Fates of Pittsburgh and Paris,” War on the Rocks, June 12, 2017. 


Foundations of Security, Undergraduate Lecture, Spring 2023

The Politics of Nuclear Weapons, Undergraduate Lecture, Spring 2022, Spring 2023

Nuclear Proliferation and International Security, Graduate Seminar, Spring 2021

Coercion: Deterrence and Compellence, Undergraduate Seminar, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

News|Recent News

International Security

The Psychology of Nuclear Brinkmanship

February 2, 2023

Reid Pauly and Rose McDermott recently co-authored a paper published in the January issue of International Security titled, "The Psychology of Nuclear Brinkmanship."


Reid Pauly Wins Nuclear Security Grant

December 8, 2021

Reid Pauly recently won a Nuclear Security Grant from the Stanton Foundation, which focuses on international nuclear security issues. The grant will support Pauly's forthcoming research, "Threats That Leave Something to Chance."  


Reid Pauly profile image

Caught Red-Handed: How States Wield Proof to Coerce Wrongdoers

October 28, 2021

Reid Pauly and Cullen G. Nutt (U.S. Naval Academy) recently co-authored an article published in International Security 46, 2 (Fall 2021). Together they delve into four case studies of nuclear proliferation in Taiwan, Libya, South Africa, and North Korea. 


International Strategy Forum Fellowship Class of 2020

July 1, 2021

Reid Pauly was recently invited to join the inaugural Schmidt Futures International Strategy Fellowship Class of 2020, which aims to elevate and connect rising leaders in global affairs and to equip them to tackle the most pressing challenges of the next few decades. 


2020 Year-End Reflections: Helping People Now and Helping People More in a Global Pandemic

June 21, 2021

Reid Pauly is mentioned in "2020 Year-End Reflections: Helping People Now and Helping People More in a Global Pandemic" as being among the 27 fellows from diverse fields that made up Schmidt Futures ISF-North America 2020 cohort - a team working on various humanitarian efforts surrounding COVID-19, climate change, racial injustice, rising economic inequality, and threats to democracy. 


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