The Patron’s Dilemma: Recklessness and Restraint Under Nuclear Umbrellas

Wednesday, March 22, 2023 at 12:00pm to 1:30pm

E40-496, in-person limited to the MIT Community

SSP Wednesday Seminar with speaker Rupal Mehta, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The talk will be broadcast live on the MIT Security Studies Program Youtube channel

This book provides one of the first explorations of one of the great dilemmas in international politics. To date, American grand strategy has centered on a network of alliances to provide for security and stability through extended deterrence. For this strategy to be effective, commitments to extended deterrence by nuclear patrons must be perceived as credible, and yet – perversely – the more credible this commitment, the greater the possibility that allies will begin to behave more aggressively or dangerously. In seeking to manage this trade-off and escape "the Patron's Dilemma," we argue that the United States and other nuclear security guarantors can strategically mitigate this risk through the design of defensive alliance commitments, carefully limiting obligations in order to induce uncertainty, and thereby restraint, among allies.

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School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS)


security studies, SSP


Center for International Studies
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