I am an Assistant Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and a Centre Affiliate at LSE's United States Centre. I am also an Editorial Fellow in the Nuclear Security Section of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. I hold a Ph.D. and M.A. from the Department of Political Science at Stanford University as well as B.A.s in Political Science and Literary Arts from Brown University.
My research examines issues of international security, focusing particularly on nuclear weapons and alliance politics. My book project argues that credible nuclear guarantees can create fears of reliance on nuclear allies, leading to support within client states for stronger and more independent military capabilities. My broader research agenda also explores the dynamics of crisis politics, cyber security, public opinion, security challenges on the Korean Peninsula, and international conflict.
I am an Editorial Fellow at Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. You can find regular articles from me here or by following me on Twitter. My writing focuses on issues of nuclear politics and international security. My policy writing has previously appeared in Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, Washington Post, Arms Control Wonk, The National Interest, The Washington Quarterly, War on the Rocks, and other outlets.
Download a copy of my C.V. here.
My current book project explores how credible nuclear security guarantees can backfire. Existing literature posits that the main challenge for nuclear security guarantees lies in making the promise of protection sufficiently credible. If allies do not believe their guarantor will actually come to their aid, they may seek alternate means of protection, including by investing in nuclear infrastructure. Credible security guarantees, on the other hand, are thought to reassure allies. In contrast to this approach, I argue that credible nuclear guarantees can backfire. These guarantees can cause clients to fear that their guarantors will drag them into a precipitous nuclear conflict. Fears of nuclear escalation by their guarantor can drive clients to distance themselves from their alliance or seek stronger independent nuclear capabilities. Using survey experiments and case studies of U.S. alliances in East Asia and Europe, this project explores the risks of credible U.S. nuclear security guarantees.
This work builds on an article published in the Journal of Conflict Resolution. In this article, I examine the effectiveness of demonstrations of resolve meant to reassure allies, using two waves of survey experiments fielded in South Korea. The evidence shows that overly credible demonstrations of resolve can threaten allies. In particular, highly credible U.S. nuclear security guarantees increase South Koreans' support for nuclear proliferation. Mediation analysis reveals respondents want to avoid becoming embroiled in a U.S.-driven conflict with North Korea and see proliferation as a way to shift nuclear responsibility on the Korean Peninsula away from the United States. This finding upends the conventional understanding of nuclear security guarantees, which views these guarantees as substitutes for nuclear proliferation.
Stanford University, Teaching Assistant
Dr. Lauren Sukin
LSE IR Department
London, UK, WC2A 2AE
Pronunciation: Lor-ren Soo-kin