Recent scholarship has demonstrated the majority of Americans are willing to support the use of nuclear weapons today in conditions similar to the strategic conditions of 1945, to end a war and avoid large scale American military casualties (Sagan and Valentino, 2017).
But does the public really understand the physical effects and political ramifications of nuclear weapons use?
Scott Sagan and Benjamin Valentino have launched an original survey experiment through YouGov measuring how “priming” subjects about the environmental effects of nuclear explosions, the gender and age of victims, the legality or illegality of nuclear attacks, and the gruesome nature of nuclear deaths influences U.S. public support for nuclear weapons use in realistic wartime scenarios. Through “priming” subjects to think about different effects of nuclear weapons before asking them to answer a series of questions, this survey allows Sagan and Valentino to achieve a more nuanced understanding of U.S. public support for or opposition to nuclear weapons use.
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Scott D. Sagan is the Caroline S.G. Munro Professor of Political Science, the Mimi and Peter Haas University Fellow in Undergraduate Education, and Senior Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation and the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University. He also serves as Chairman of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Committee on International Security Studies. Before joining the Stanford faculty, Sagan was a lecturer in the Department of Government at Harvard University and served as special assistant to the director of the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon. Sagan has also served as a consultant to the office of the Secretary of Defense and at the Sandia National Laboratory and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Sagan is the author of Moving Targets: Nuclear Strategy and National Security (Princeton University Press, 1989); The Limits of Safety: Organizations, Accidents, and Nuclear Weapons (Princeton University Press, 1993); and, with co-author Kenneth N. Waltz, The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: An Enduring Debate (W.W. Norton, 2012). He is the co-editor of Learning from a Disaster: Improving Nuclear Safety and Security after Fukushima (Stanford University Press, 2016) with Edward D. Blandford and co-editor of Insider Threats (Cornell University Press, 2017) with Matthew Bunn. Sagan was also the guest editor of a two-volume special issue of Daedalus: Ethics, Technology, and War (Fall 2016) and The Changing Rules of War (Winter 2017).
Recent publications include “On Reciprocity, Revenge, and Replication: A Rejoinder to Walzer, McMahan, and Keohane” with Benjamin A. Valentino in Ethics & International Affairs (Winter 2019); “Armed and Dangerous: When Dictators Get the Bomb” in Foreign Affairs (November/December 2018); “Not Just a War Theory: American Public Opinion on Ethics in Combat” with Benjamin A. Valentino in International Studies Quarterly (Fall 2018); The Korean Missile Crisis” in Foreign Affairs (November/December 2017); and “Revisiting Hiroshima in Iran: What Americans Really Think About Using Nuclear Weapons and Killing Noncombatants” with Benjamin A. Valentino in International Security (Summer 2017).
In 2018, Sagan received the Andrew Carnegie Fellowship from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. In 2017, he received the International Studies Association’s Susan Strange Award which recognizes the scholar whose “singular intellect, assertiveness, and insight most challenge conventional wisdom and intellectual and organizational complacency" in the international studies community. Sagan was also the recipient of the National Academy of Sciences William and Katherine Estes Award in 2015, for his work addressing the risks of nuclear weapons and the causes of nuclear proliferation. The award, which is granted triennially, recognizes “research in any field of cognitive or behavioral science that advances understanding of issues relating to the risk of nuclear war.” In 2013, Sagan received the International Studies Association's International Security Studies Section Distinguished Scholar Award. He has also won four teaching awards: Stanford’s 1998-99 Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching; Stanford's 1996 Hoagland Prize for Undergraduate Teaching; the International Studies Association’s 2008 Innovative Teaching Award; and the Monterey Institute for International Studies’ Nonproliferation Education Award in 2009.
The American Foreign and Military Policy research cluster is an initiative of the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at The Ohio State University. The cluster focuses on the study of US foreign relations, US defense policy, and international relations, diplomacy, and war as they affect US foreign policy and military affairs in contemporary and historical contexts. The cluster examines these elements of power from both American and foreign viewpoints in order to understand both the domestic drivers of policy and the impact of other nations on it. The cluster examines foreign and military affairs holistically, along with all elements of power – diplomatic, economic, military, informational, financial, intelligence, cultural, and legal – that have an impact on them.