Lecturer, Department of International Politics
City, University of London



I am a Lecturer in the Department of International Politics at City, University of London. I was previously a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College. Beforehand I was a Stanton Nuclear Security Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Security Studies Program. In May 2014, I completed my doctorate in the Department of Politics at Princeton University. My research addresses issues in American foreign policy, alliance politics, nuclear strategy, and theories of war. I have so far published in International Security, Security Studies, Survival, International Affairs, and elsewhere. I have done work on East Asia but my primary regional focus is on Europe, with special emphasis on Central and Northeastern Europe.

Under contract at Cornell University Press, my book (tentatively titled 'Atomic Assurance: The Politics of Extended Deterrence') explores the alliance dynamics that ensue when states move towards nuclear weapons acquisition upon doubting the credibility of the nuclear security guarantees that they receive from their guarantors. It contains intensive case studies on West Germany, Japan, and South Korea that draw on deep archival work. This project has implications for current policy debates regarding nuclear proliferation and alliance management.

I have written commentary on contemporary security dynamics in Central and Northeastern Europe in The Monkey Cage (Washington Post), The National Interest, World Affairs , Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, and Small Wars Journal. On alliances and deterrence, more generally, I have written commentary in E-International Relations and in War is Boring. I also wrote a policy brief for the Institute for European Studies on Russian disinformation as well as a short piece on Russian theories and practices of deterrence for Athena and Ares. Most recently, I contributed to a Contemporary Security Policy forum on US alliances and nuclear weapons.

In my spare time, I dabble in film. My biggest passion is in music, however. For the video of a musical tribute to MIT's Security Studies Program I helped make, follow this link. I have two places that I consider home: Windsor-Detroit and Krakow, Poland.

Below you will find abstracts of my book project and published articles as well as information on my teaching.


Atomic Assurance: The Politics of Extended Deterrence (under contract at Cornell UP)

How do alliances curb potential and actual efforts by states to develop nuclear weapons, if at all? My book looks at what makes alliances so credible as to prevent nuclear proliferation, how alliances can breakdown and encourage nuclear proliferation, and whether guarantors like the United States can use their alliance ties to end the nuclear efforts of an ally. Simply put, I argue that military alliances are less useful for preventing allies from acquiring nuclear weapons than the conventional wisdom suggests; it is easier to prevent an ally from initiating a nuclear program than to stop an ally that has already started one; in-theater conventional forces are crucial in making American extended nuclear guarantees credible; the American coercion of allies who started, or were tempted to start, a nuclear weapons program has played less of a role in forestalling nuclear proliferation than assumed; and economic or technological reliance of a security-dependent ally on the United States, if utilized, works better to reverse or to halt any ally's nuclear bid than anything else. Drawing on my own archival research, I support my argument using intensive case studies on West Germany, Japan, and South Korea as well as a series of smaller cases on Great Britain, France, Norway, Australia, and Taiwan.

This book project is based on my dissertation. A draft of the introductory chapter of the book is available here. The dissertation chapter on South Korea is available here as well. My dissertation was embargoed but should be now available on Proquest. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to have a copy of it.


Tangled Up in Rose? Theories of Alliance Entrapment and the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, forthcoming in Contemporary Security Policy (2017).

Recent tensions between Russia and the United States have sparked debate over the value of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). One controversy surrounds the extent to which NATO raises the risk of war through entrapment - a concept that scholars invoke to describe how states might drag their allies into undesirable military conflicts. Yet scholars have advanced different, even conflicting arguments about how entrapment risks arise. I offer a typology that distinguishes between the mechanisms through which entrapment risks allegedly emerge on the basis of their institutional, systemic, reputational, and transnational ideological sources. I use the 2008 Russo-Georgian War to illustrate how the purported mechanisms of entrapment fare in elucidating that conflict. In analyzing why entrapment risks emerge, and thinking counterfactually about the 2008 war, I argue that scholars need to disentangle the various mechanisms that drive both alliance formation and war to make sure that entrapment risks do indeed exist.

From Ottawa to Riga: Three Tensions in Canadian Defence Policy, forthcoming in International Journal (2017).

In June 2016, Canada joined the United States, Great Britain, and Germany in becoming a Framework Nation that would lead a battalion-sized battlegroup in Latvia. Canada thus appears to be reprising the role it played during the Cold War as a leading participant in NATO deterrence and reassurance initiatives in Europe. Yet the three tensions that made Canada reduce its military commitments to allies over the course of the Cold War might resurface in the Baltic region. These three tensions relate to conventional specialisation amid alliance nuclearisation, low defence spending despite that specialisation, and the potential decoupling of Canadian security interests from those of its European partners. Canada might find itself lacking the willingness and ability to sustain the tasks attending the Latvia deployment if the threat environment intensifies.

The Belarus Factor in European Security, forthcoming in Parameters (2017).

Many discussions of NATO's northeastern flank gloss over Belarus and assume that Minsk will simply kowtow to Moscow if armed hostilities breakout in the region. Yet such assumptions are mistaken: Belarus has pursued an independent foreign policy, even going as far as criticizing some Russian actions towards other former Soviet republics. Defense cooperation between the two countries has also been more limited than commonly presumed. As such, Belarus can impose costs on Russia if the latter decides to undertake offensive operations against Poland and the Baltic states. NATO defense planners should take Belarus more seriously since friction between it and Russia could present it with tactical and strategic opportunities.

Nuclear Ambiguity, No First Use, and Crisis Stability, forthcoming in Nonproliferation Review (2017), with Thomas L. Scherer.

The Trump administration appears willing to embrace greater ambiguity than the Obama administration as to the conditions under which it might use nuclear weapons against adversaries. This ambiguity could worry some observers, especially those who believe that the United States should declare a no first use (NFU) policy such that it would not be the first state to introduce nuclear weapons in either a crisis or an armed conflict. NFU advocates highlight three mechanisms by which a more ambiguous posture is dangerous with respect to crisis stability: downward spiral, accidental war, and use-it-or-lose-it. For evidence, they invoke Saddam Hussein's risk-acceptant decision to pre-delegate chemical weapons following US nuclear threats in the First Gulf War. In analyzing the reasoning and evidence of these arguments, we argue that the alleged benefits of NFU may be overstated, at least with respect to crisis stability. The three foregoing mechanisms are logically inconsistent and the empirical case is misinterpreted. Greater nuclear ambiguity might not be as dangerous as some NFU advocates claim.

Nuclear Proliferation and Nonproliferation Among Soviet Allies, forthcoming in Journal of Global Security Studies.

Of the thirty or so countries that attempted nuclear weapons acquisition, over half had some sort of alignment with the United States. Only three were aligned with the Soviet Union: Romania, China, and North Korea. What explains the pattern of nuclear proliferation and nonproliferation among Soviet allies? I draw on deterrence theory to argue that the quality of Soviet security guarantees varied across recipients in Eastern Europe and East Asia. I show that this variation can account for differences in levels of nuclear interest shown by Soviet allies. Thus, the same logic that some scholars invoke to explain nuclear proliferation and nonproliferation among US allies can also shed light on patterns of proliferation and nonproliferation among Soviet allies. My study challenges existing accounts that the United States and Soviet Union colluded to manage proliferation risks as well as arguments that democratic states have unique advantages in making credible security guarantees.


Confronting the Anti-Access/Area Denial and Precision Strike Challenge in the Baltic Region, The RUSI Journal, vol. 161, no. 5 (2016): 12-18, with Michael A. Hunzeker. LINK

The Baltic States are once again worried that their security is under threat. The United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have responded with air patrols, joint exercises, and battalion-sized ground force deployments. As important as these efforts have been, they do not fully address Russia's anti-access/area denial (A2AD) and precision strike capabilities, both of which undermine NATO's stratagem for deterring aggression in the first place. This article assesses the current military imbalance and describes two conflict scenarios in order to show how A2AD and precision weapons threaten extended deterrence. It concludes with a discussion of the policy implications.

Discussed in Eesti Paevaleht, Eurasia Review, and a blog piece we wrote for West Point's Modern War Institute.

To Arm or To Ally?: The Patron's Dilemma and the Strategic Logic of Arms Transfers and Alliances, International Security, vol. 41, no. 2 (2016): 90-139, with Keren Yarhi-Milo and Zack Cooper. LINK

How do great powers decide whether to provide arms to or form alliances with client states? This patron's dilemma revolves around a decision about how to best provide security to clients without becoming entrapped in unwanted conflicts. Strong commitments worsen the risk of entrapment, whereas weak commitments intensify fears of abandonment. This traditional alliance dilemma can be addressed through the provision of arms and alliances. Great power patrons primarily make such decisions on the basis of two factors: first, the extent to which the patron believes it and its client have common security interests; and second, whether the patron believes that its client has sufficient military capabilities to deter its main adversary without the patron's assistance. Patrons assess the degree of shared threat and the local balances of capabilities in determining whether to support their clients with arms, alliances, or both. As demonstrated in the U.S. provision of security goods to Taiwan and Israel during the Cold War, this strategic logic explains how great powers manage the patron's dilemma.

Discussed in an op-ed we wrote for the Monkey Cage (Washington Post).

Land Power and American Credibility, Parameters, vol. 45, no. 4 (2015-2016): 17-26, with Michael A. Hunzeker. Winner of the 2015 Elihu Root Prize. PDF

The US Army is under pressure. If trends persist, it will soon shrink to its smallest size in nearly 70 years. While there are sound arguments for the current drawdown, reasonable policies can still yield unintended consequences. In particular, we argue American land power helps make America's conventional and nuclear security guarantees credible. Since these guarantees stabilize alliances, deter aggression, and curb nuclear proliferation, land power's relative decline could have serious implications for the broader security situation of the United States.

Russian Hybrid Warfare and Extended Deterrence in Central-Eastern Europe, International Affairs, vol. 92, no. 1 (2016): 175-195. PDF

Since early 2014 how Russia has used force against Ukraine has prompted some observers to remark that it is engaging in 'hybrid warfare'. This form of military statecraft has made some Eastern European countries fear that Russia would use subversion rather than pursue a conventional military engagement against them. Despite this concern about Russian hybrid war, existing descriptions of this form of war suffer from conceptual weaknesses. I conceive hybrid warfare as a marriage of conventional deterrence and insurgent tactics. That is, the belligerent uses insurgent tactics against its target while using its conventional military power to deter a strong military response. I then outline why some Eastern European countries are susceptible to Russian hybrid warfare, allowing me to postulate inductively the conditions under which hybrid warfare might be used in general. My analysis yields two policy implications. First, military solutions are not wholly appropriate against hybrid warfare since it exploits latent ethnic grievances and weak civil societies. Second, only under narrow circumstances would belligerents resort to hybrid warfare. Belligerents need to be revisionist and militarily stronger than their targets, but they also need to have ethnic or linguistic ties with the target society to leverage in waging hybrid warfare.

Discussed in Defence Matters, Small Wars Journal, Eurasia Review, Bloomberg View, Forsat, and a short piece I wrote on Russian theories and practices of deterrence for Athena and Ares,.

Rage of Honor: Entente Indignation and the Lost Chance for Peace in the First World War, Security Studies, vol. 24, no. 4 (2015): 662-695, with Michael A. Hunzeker. PDF

Why the First World War ended in 1918 and not earlier remains a major puzzle. We propose a new theory that emphasizes how honor prolongs wars beyond what rationalist theories can explain. It argues that when honor is insulted, an affronted actor will strive to punish the offender. Absent an apology, the pursuit of a satisfactory punishment leads the affronted belligerent to ignore unfavorable battlefield information, hold logically irreconcilable beliefs, process information in emotional terms, and obsess over status. We predict that wars of prevention and territorial occupation are most likely to elicit honor considerations. We test our argument against an obscure episode in the war where Germany, and the United States, made peace overtures in December 1916. We demonstrate that honor concerns made Entente decision-makers see German aggression as an affront to their honor that only the destruction of Germany's political regime could redress.

Do Allies Really Free Ride? Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, vol. 57, no. 3 (2015): 133-152. Winner of the 2014 Palliser Prize. LINK

American scholars, pundits, and politicians often remark that American allies do not do enough to advance their own security interests, preferring instead to free ride on the United States. In this essay, I question the logic of such claims. I then proceed to show evidence of European allies balancing against adversaries and not free riding on their American patron during the Cold War and in the present. I find that concerns of allies free riding are overblown.

Beyond Consent and Coercion: Using Republican Political Theory to Understand International Hierarchies, International Theory, vol. 5, no. 3 (2013): 382-413. LINK

In categorizing international hierarchies, theorists often emphasize some balance between levels of consent and coercion. I show that emphasis on these terms is conceptually problematic. Borrowing insights from republican political theory, I argue that we can better distinguish hierarchies on the basis of whether they feature domination. Under domination the subordinate's freedom of choice is contingent upon the predilections of the superordinate state, which can assert its supremacy whenever and possibly however it may please. Moreover, subordinate states cannot unilaterally and peacefully withdraw from the hierarchy. By contrast, in hierarchies of non-domination the superordinate state enjoys the `powers of attorney' with which it might be permitted to practice coercion in order to advance an agreed-upon goal. The contract underpinning this type of hierarchy also allows for the unilateral and peaceful termination by the subordinate, either through withdrawal or expiry. I demonstrate the applicability of this conceptual framework by examining Soviet and American relations with Central-Eastern and Western Europe, respectively, during the Cold War.


I am the director of the MA programme in Diplomacy and Foreign Policy at City, University of London. Please feel free to contact me for more information about this programme. If you are interested in more advanced postgraduate studies, then please note that I would strongly prefer to mentor PhD students who wish to specialise in alliance politics, defence cooperation, and the political effects of various military technologies. Students wanting to write on Europe are especially welcome so long as their focus is on defence and/or foreign policy. I expect dissertations to examine theoretical and/or empirical puzzles, usually involving real-world variation.

If you wish to obtain a letter of reference or recommendation from me, then you must consult my policy first.

Below are the outlines (i.e. syllabi) that I have designed or co-designed for the undergraduate and postgraduate courses that I am teaching at City, University of London.

IP1030 Introduction to Politics - Outline/Syllabus

IP1032 Introduction to Political Thought - Outline/Syllabus

IP2024 Security Studies: Conceptual Appraches - Outline/Syllabus

IP3027 Theory and Practice of Conflict and Peace - Outline/Syllabus

IPM101 Understanding Security in the 21st Century - Outline/Syllabus



Dr. Alexander Lanoszka
Department of International Politics
School of Arts and Social Sciences
City, University of London
Northampton Square
London EC1V 0HB
United Kingdom

Photo taken by Lars Blackmore.