Preparing for the Unthinkable in East Asia

―Cross-National Public Opinion on the U.S. Nuclear Umbrella―

Stephen Herzog

(Yale University)

Date/Time May 23, 2019 6:00 PM
Location Room 549 5th floor, Akamon Sogo Kenkyuto Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo  [map]
Abstract As U.S.-North Korean tensions drive nuclear dangers to crisis levels, how robust is public support for the U.S. nuclear umbrella? Scholars and policy experts often forget that extended deterrence is an elite-driven phenomenon. Polls indicate many populations protected by the U.S. nuclear umbrella either oppose nuclear weapons or desire their own arsenals. In the age of "America first," polls also suggest that the U.S. public is skeptical of taking on risks to defend Washington's closest partners. Perception gaps among the U.S. and allied populations about the desirability of retaliatory actions could thus complicate government coordination in a nuclear crisis. To evaluate public support for the nuclear umbrella, my co-authors and I developed a crisis simulation survey experiment discussing hypothetical North Korean attacks on U.S. allies. Nationally representative samples (n=6,623) of the Japanese, South Korean, and U.S. populations participated in the exercise. I will discuss the survey results and relevant lessons for alliance politics and extended deterrence in Japan, East Asia, and beyond. Study co-authors (will not be present): David M. Allison, Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science, Yale University Jiyoung Ko, Assistant Professor of Politics, Bates College
Bio Stephen Herzog is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at Yale University. He holds fellowships with the Pacific Forum, Center for Strategic and International Studies, as well as the Yale Project on Japan's Politics and Diplomacy. His research focuses on nuclear arms control, proliferation, and deterrence. Previously, he worked for the U.S. Department of Energy, directing a global scientific engagement program supporting verification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty (CTBT). Stephen holds an M.A. and M.Phil. in Political Science from Yale, an M.A. in Security Studies from Georgetown University, and a B.A. in International Relations from Knox College. Next year, he will be a research fellow with the Project on Managing the Atom at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.