Scholars Share Papers on Threat Assessment from the Early Nuclear Era

2018 Early Nuclear Era meeting

On August 28th and 29th, the Tobin Project’s National Security initiative held a meeting as part of our continuing work on Reassessing Threat Assessment from the early nuclear era. This research project seeks to build understanding of the practices and processes that yield accurate and reliable assessments of national security risks facing the United States. By examining assessment practices from a period of rapid technological change and geopolitical uncertainty, we hope to develop understanding that will help enable policymakers to identify and address the most pressing national security challenges we face today.

The meeting convened sixteen leading political scientists and historians to present and receive feedback on working papers prepared especially for this initiative. These papers included research on:

- India’s response to Chinese nuclear capability
- The impact of domestic politics on Israel’s efforts to assess nuclear threats
- The South African government’s motivations for developing nuclear weapons

Papers were developed from drafts presented at a Tobin Project workshop in October 2017. Since the workshop, scholars developed their ideas with the guidance of the initiative’s scholar-leaders, Jeremi Suri (Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs, University of Texas at Austin), Benjamin Valentino (Associate Professor of Government, Dartmouth), and Arne Westad (S.T. Lee Professor of U.S.-Asia Relations, Harvard Kennedy School). The recent meeting also featured a panel of policymakers and practitioners, who offered their insights into the implications of this research for contemporary policy and discussed how scholars can inform security issues over the long term. 

We are excited by the focus and rigor of the projects and the enthusiasm demonstrated by both scholars and policymakers. We plan to work with the contributors and scholar-leaders to finalize and submit the papers for publication, and we look forward to sharing this work with practitioners and the public in the hope that it will help shape future policy.

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National Security
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