Network Connections and the Emergence of the Hub-and-Spokes Alliance System in East Asia

Yasuhiro Izumikawa, Chuo University

Why did the so-called hub-and-spokes alliance system emerge in East Asia after World War II instead of a multilateral alliance? Realists and constructivists offer various explanations, pointing to such factors as the United States' preference for bilateral alliances, the absence of a collective identity, and historical memories of Japanese imperialism. None of these explanations is satisfactory, however. Indeed, the historical record reveals that the United States sought a multilateral alliance in East Asia until the early 1960s. A theoretical model based on a social exchange network approach explains how a specific form of network can develop among potential allies. In East Asia, three U.S. allies—Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan—contributed to the emergence and shape of the hub-and-spokes system, which came into being as an unintended consequence of their interactions. The preferences and behavior of these allies proved at least as consequential as those of the United States in shaping this system. The implications of this finding could be significant for alliance politics in contemporary East Asia.


Death Dust: The Little-Known Story of U.S. and Soviet Pursuit of Radiological Weapons

Samuel Meyer, Sarah Bidgood, and William C. Potter, all at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Since September 11, 2001, most expert commentary on radiological weapons has focused on nonstate actors, to the neglect of state-level programs. In fact, numerous countries in the past have expressed interest in radiological weapons; a number have actively pursued them; and three tested them on multiple occasions before ultimately deciding not to deploy the weapons. Why is so little known about these false starts, especially outside the United States? Are such weapons more difficult to manufacture than depicted by science-fiction authors and military pundits? Are radiological weapons a thing of the past, or do they remain an attractive option for some countries? A comparative analysis of the previously underexplored cases of radiological weapons programs in the United States and the Soviet Union illuminates the drivers and limitations of weapons innovation in one specific nuclear sector. An examination of the rise and demise of radiological weapons programs in both countries also points to circumstances in the future that might prompt renewed interest on the part of some states in radiological weapons and proposes steps that might be undertaken to reduce the possibility of their production, deployment, and use.


Putin, Putinism, and the Domestic Determinants of Russian Foreign Policy

Michael McFaul, Stanford University

Why did Russia's relations with the West shift from cooperation a few decades ago to a new era of confrontation today? Some explanations focus narrowly on changes in the balance of power in the international system, or trace historic parallels and cultural continuities in Russian international behavior. For a complete understanding of Russian foreign policy today, individuals, ideas, and institutions—President Vladimir Putin, Putinism, and autocracy—must be added to the analysis. An examination of three cases of recent Russian intervention (in Ukraine in 2014, Syria in 2015, and the United States in 2016) illuminates the causal influence of these domestic determinants in the making of Russian foreign policy.


The Stopping Power of Norms: Saturation Bombing, Civilian Immunity, and U.S. Attitudes toward the Laws of War

Charli Carpenter, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Alexander H. Montgomery, Reed College

In “Hiroshima in Iran: What Americans Really Think about Using Nuclear Weapons and Killing Noncombatants,” a pathbreaking survey of attitudes toward the laws of war published in the summer 2017 issue of International Security, Scott Sagan and Benjamin Valentino found that Americans are relatively insensitive to the targeting of civilian populations and to international norms and taboos against the use of nuclear weapons. We replicated a key question of this study, where respondents were asked if they would support saturation bombing an Iranian city to end a war. We also introduced some variations into the experiment to directly measure any potential influence of international norms and laws. Overall, our quantitative and qualitative findings are more optimistic than those of Sagan and Valentino's study: Americans do strongly believe it is wrong to target civilians. And in a real-life scenario such as this, a majority would likely oppose such a bombing. These findings suggest, however, that much depends on how survey questions are structured in measuring those preferences and whether legal or ethical considerations are part of any national conversation about war policy.

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