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."
In this research project, Professor Pauly will study nuclear brinkmanship. Despite the specter of catastrophic nuclear war, nuclear-armed states still compete by making “threats that leaves something to chance” — they manipulate the risk of disaster to demonstrate their resolve. Brinkmanship is a widely accepted idea but one that is poorly understood by scholars and policymakers. Many leaders have intuited the coercive value of appearing like risktakers, often implementing the idea in an unsophisticated manner. Scholars have also provided policymakers with little help to carry out risk manipulation strategies or to recognize when adversaries are employing them. They can hardly tell the difference between useful risk and unnecessary risk. The Stanton Foundation’s generous grant will support research and writing time, travel, and research assistants for Professor Pauly as he clarifies the disparate sources of autonomous, internal, and external risk in nuclear crises.
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