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All Options on the Table: Leaders, Preventive War, and Nuclear Proliferation, Rachel Elizabeth Whitlark

Reviewed by Lauren Sukin
 

In at least two dozen dyads, states facing an adversary undergoing nuclear proliferation have considered military intervention to slow or reverse their opponent’s nuclear progress. Although such interventions are fraught with dangers, their consideration should not, by the traditional logic, be surprising. Indeed, proliferation attempts ought to be paradigmatic cases inviting preventive conflict. Successful proliferation, after all, can fundamentally shift the balance of power (at least regionally) such that states that would be disadvantaged by these shifts should go to great lengths to prevent them.

And yet there are very few instances in which military interventions against proliferating states actually occur. In All Options on the Table, Rachel Whitlark offers a novel explanation for when and why states consider the use of force against proliferating adversaries. This explanation centers on the role of individual leaders. By doing so, Whitlark thoughtfully builds upon two burgeoning literatures exploring (1) the behavioral explanations for international political phenomena and (2) the domestic sources of foreign policy. As Whitlark points out, it is already a well-established maxim elsewhere in the international relations literature that the specific characteristics of leaders influence the likelihood of conflict initiation and escalation. Wh

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