The Patron’s Dilemma: Recklessness and Restraint Under Nuclear Umbrellas | 2023 | Events

The Patron’s Dilemma: Recklessness and Restraint Under Nuclear Umbrellas
headshot of Rupal Mehta
Rupal Mehta
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
March 22, 2023

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.

Dr. Rupal N. Mehta is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is currently a Faculty Fellow with the Nebraska Strategic Research Institute and recently served as an Adviser to the Director’s Strategic Resilience Initiative in the National Security and International Studies Office at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Previously, she was a Stanton Nuclear Security Postdoctoral Fellow in the Belfer Center's International Security Program and Project on Managing the Atom at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Her research interests lie in international security and conflict, with a specialization in nuclear proliferation/counterproliferation, extended deterrence, emerging technologies, and elite decision-making. Her first book, Delaying Doomsday: The Politics of Nuclear Reversal (Oxford University Press, 2020) explores the conditions under which nuclear aspirants stop their pursuit. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, International Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Strategic Studies, The Washington Quarterly and her commentary has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio (NPR), BBC News, War on the Rocks, International Studies Quarterly, and the Washington Post's Monkey Cage. She received a Ph.D. and M.A. in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego, and B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.