Conflict and Cooperation in the Nuclear Age

September 23rd and 24th, 2016

Yale University, New Haven, CT

The introduction of nuclear weapons in 1945 has produced such a profound transformation in world politics that observers often refer to the past seventy years as the nuclear or atomic age. The consequences of this revolution are manifold: war among the great powers seems unthinkable; bargaining among nuclear states—and those to which they extend nuclear umbrellas—happens under the shadow of possible nuclear escalation; suspected attempts by relatively weak states to acquire a nuclear deterrent may result in preventive war.

The impact of nuclear weapons has led to much scholarship. Yet many debates remain open. There is a lively controversy on the possibility of the current U.S.-China power transition resulting in armed conflict despite both countries’ nuclear status. There is no consensus on the advantages of nuclear possession—or superiority—for achieving coercive success in crisis settings. Finally, there is little agreement on the causes of nuclear proliferation.

This workshop presents cutting edge research that will add theoretical depth and empirical breadth to our understanding of the causes of conflict and cooperation in the nuclear age, divided into three themes: 1. the causes of nuclear proliferation; 2. the dynamics of escalation and diplomatic exchange in interstate crises; 3. the stability of the nuclear age.

This conference is coordinated by faculty organizers Alexandre Debs and Nuno P. Monteiro and student liaison Nicholas Anderson of Yale University.