Advanced Search

Bombs unbuilt : power, ideas and institutions in international politics

Research and Teaching Output of the MIT Community

Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisor George W. Rathjens. en_US Walsh, James Joseph, 1959- en_US
dc.contributor.other Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science. en_US 2009-01-30T18:37:22Z 2009-01-30T18:37:22Z 2001 en_US 2001 en_US
dc.identifier.uri en_US
dc.description Thesis (Ph.D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Political Science, 2001. en_US
dc.description Includes bibliographical references. en_US
dc.description.abstract Nuclear weapons are the most powerful weapons in human history, but contrary to virtually every prediction by scholars, relatively few states have acquired them. Why are there so few nuclear weapons states? What factors lead governments to reject and even renounce the ultimate weapon? What do the disconfirmed predictions of widespread proliferation tell us about contemporary theories of international relations? To answer these questions, this study tests 15 hypotheses based on core categories in international politics: power, resources, ideas, and institutions. The hypotheses on power suggest that a state's nuclear decisions are a function of its external threats and its place in the international system. They claim that the slow pace of proliferation can be explained by several factors: a lack of threat, bipolarity, security guarantees, and superpower pressure. The resource hypotheses emphasize material capability, i.e., whether a state has the money, scientific talent, or access to foreign technology required to develop nuclear weapons. Hypotheses on the role of ideas often focus on the beliefs held by decision makers. This study tests the influence of anti-nuclear norms on proliferation decision making. Institutional explanations highlight either domestic institutional arrangements (whether a state is democratic, whether it is liberalizing economically, its organizational politics) or international institutions like the nonproliferation regime. Many of the tests employ a data set consisting of 132 nuclear decisions and outcomes. en_US
dc.description.abstract (cont.) The data set is based on archival and interview material that documents nuclear decision making in two countries: Australia and Egypt. The test results suggest that the dominant explanations for nuclear decision making -- explanations based on power, resources, and norms -- fail to account for outcomes. By contrast, institutional explanations, especially those involving organizational politics and regimes, generate robust results. The findings have direct implications for broader theories of international relations, and in particular, for variants of Realism, where a number of scholars have used proliferation decisions as an explicit test of their theory. Overall, the findings point to the enduring and decisive importance of politics and institutions, even in circumstances where fundamental questions of security and national survival are at stake. en_US
dc.description.statementofresponsibility by James Joseph Walsh. en_US
dc.format.extent 270 leaves en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher Massachusetts Institute of Technology en_US
dc.rights M.I.T. theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission. See provided URL for inquiries about permission. en_US
dc.rights.uri en_US
dc.rights.uri en_US
dc.subject Political Science. en_US
dc.title Bombs unbuilt : power, ideas and institutions in international politics en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US Ph.D. en_US
dc.contributor.department Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science. en_US
dc.identifier.oclc 50305557 en_US

Files in this item

Name Size Format Description
50305557-MIT.pdf 27.06Mb PDF Full printable version

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record