Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science
Fellow, Balsillie School of International Affairs
University of Waterloo
Honorary Fellow, City, University of London

Research Gate


I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and Fellow in the Balsillie School of International Affairs at the University of Waterloo. I was previously a Lecturer in the Department of International Politics at City, University of London where I am still an Honorary Fellow. Beforehand I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College and 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.

Published by Cornell University Press, my book Atomic Assurance: The Alliance Politics of Nuclear Proliferation 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. See below for information on how to buy the book at a discounted rate.

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. I also contributed to a Contemporary Security Policy forum on US alliances and nuclear weapons and penned a piece on the Eurodeterrent and another on the American military presence in Europe for the EastWest Institute.

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 information on my books, monographs, and published articles as well as information on my teaching.


The Alliance Politics of Nuclear Proliferation (Cornell University Press)

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.

You may order the book from the Cornell University Press website. Be sure to use the promo code 09ANNOUNCE to save thirty percent in your purchase. If you are not in the United States, then see the bottom of this marketing flyer for the relevant promo code. You may also order it at Amazon.

This book is based on my dissertation. The dissertation chapter on South Korea is available here, but please note that the case study in the book differs considerably. My dissertation is now available on ProQuest. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to have a copy of it.

Policy Monographs

Conventional Deterrence and Landpower in Northeastern Europe, with Michael A. Hunzeker (George Mason University)

The Baltic region faces a challenging and uncertain future amid Russian provocation, subversion, and aggression. Though the United States, NATO, and its regional allies are already taking action, this monograph identifies how the U.S. Army can build upon existing measures to enhance defense and deterrence along NATO's northeastern flank. We assess Russian intentions and capabilities before describing the capabilities and threat perceptions of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. We focus our discussion on the most-likely and most-dangerous forms of aggression that Russia can take. We recommend a hedging strategy, which allows the United States and NATO to act as if Russia is a defensive actor while adopting less-provocative measures that complicate Russia's ability to launch a surprise attack in case it turns out to be truly revisionist. This report is based on military analysis and interviews conducted in the region.

You may access the monograph here.

We have drawn on our study to advocate for how the United States should permanently station its forces in Poland. For our essays on Fort Trump, see our initial Defense One piece and our follow-up in War on the Rocks.

A Question of Time: Enhancing Taiwan's Conventional Deterrence Posture, with Michael A. Hunzeker and George Mason University PhD students

The future of Taiwan, a flourishing liberal democracy and vibrant economy, is anything but secure. China, regarding it as a renegade province, has not renounced the use of military force to resolve the standoff. Taiwan must deter China's aggression, taking steps to convince Chinese leaders that the costs of waging war on Taiwan will outweigh any possible benefits. In this monograph, a team of researchers at George Mason University and the University of Waterloo examine a holistic strategy that Taiwan can use to enhance its conventional deterrence posture. Their conclusions are simple but radical: Taiwan must intensely prepare an asymmetric deterrence and challenge orthodoxies in its strategic thinking.

You may access the monograph here.

To disseminate some of the findings and conclusions of our monograph, members of our team wrote essays in The National Interest and in CIMSEC.


You may find copies of my articles at Research Gate.

How Emerging Technologies Might Affect Baltic Security, in The Return of Deterrence: Credibility and Capabilities in a New Era, eds. William G. Braun III, Stéfanie von Hlatky, and Kim Richard Nossal (Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, 2019). LINK.

Many international observers assert that humanity stands on the precipice of a Fourth Industrial Revolution. This looming period of great technological change will consist of advances made in robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and additive manufacturing (i.e., 3D printing). These technologies might affect not only business practices and the global economy, but also how militaries operate. For small countries, the Fourth Industrial Revolution may hold considerable promise. However, the experience of remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs) indicates that although some small and cheap platforms might spread and even deliver capabilities to non-state or weak actors, only an elite group of states will possess the technical and organizational wherewithal to develop and to adopt these new technologies most effectively. This essay examines the impact that these technologies might have on the Baltic security environment.

The INF Treaty: Pulling Out in Time, Strategic Studies Quarterly, vol. 13, no. 2 (2019): 48-67. LINK.

The Trump administration has suspended its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Critics of this decision argue that it is strategically unwise: it hands Russia a propaganda victory, widens existing divisions among its NATO allies, and risks an arms race in Europe. Such criticisms are overstated, however. What - if any - propaganda benefits the Kremlin may enjoy will be outweighed by the backlash to its own aggressive behavior. NATO members have so far supported the United States' decision. A global arms buildup is underway, but budgetary considerations and the nature of the military environment in Europe will inhibit any US-Russia arms race from spiraling. Rather than being an end unto itself, the very purpose of an arms control agreement like the INF Treaty was to ensure mutual vulnerability - a condition that will still hold between Russia and the United States. Nevertheless, withdrawing from the INF Treaty could improve the US security posture against Russia and China in a manner that improves deterrence.

Author's note: I apologise for the Cohnian title. There was no intention whatsoever by me or SSQ to be funny or clever at anyone's expense. I proposed initially a bland title descriptive of the piece, unthinkingly approved the title suggested to me, and went on to misremember the title as 'Getting Out in Time' until the very date of publication. In fact, it was listed here as such.

Disinformation in International Politics, European Journal of International Security, vol. 4, no. 2 (2019): 227-248. LINK.

Concerns over disinformation have intensified in recent years. Policy-makers, pundits, and observers worry that countries like Russia are spreading false narratives and disseminating rumours in order to shape international opinion and, by extension, government policies to their liking. Despite the importance of this topic, mainstream theories in international relations offer contradictory guidance on how to think about disinformation. I argue that disinformation is ineffective in terms of changing the policies of a target as regards to its foreign policy alignments and armaments - that is, the balance of power. To be strategically effective, disinformation must somehow overcome three powerful obstacles: first, the fundamental uncertainty that international anarchy generates over any information broadcasted by adversaries; second, the pre-existing prejudices of foreign policy elites and ordinary citizens; and third, the countermeasures that are available even amid political polarisation. I examine the most likely case of there seemingly being a conscious and effective strategy that emphasises disinformation: the Russian campaign that has targeted the Baltic states, especially since the 2014 annexation of Crimea. The available evidence strongly suggests that the strategic effects of disinformation are exaggerated.

Discussed in an essay I wrote for Policy Options.

Alliances and Nuclear Proliferation in the Trump Era, The Washington Quarterly, vol. 41, no. 4 (2018): 85-101. LINK.

Donald Trump appears to have intensified the danger of U.S. allies wanting their own nuclear weapons, but such concerns are exaggerated. U.S. alliances are more resilient than commonly presumed with actual force deployments, which do not appear to be changing any time soon, mattering more than rhetoric to make security guarantees adequate for the foreseeable future.

Discussed in a blog piece I wrote for EastWest Institute's blog.

Nuclear Proliferation and Nonproliferation Among Soviet Allies, Journal of Global Security Studies, vol. 3, no. 2 (2018): 217-233. LINK.

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.

The Belarus Factor in European Security, Parameters, vol. 47, no. 4 (2017-2018): 75-84. LINK.

This article challenges strategists to reconsider long-held assumptions associated with the alliance between Belarus and Russia when planning military support for the Baltic states.

Discussed in a blog piece I wrote for West Point's Modern War Institute.

Nuclear Ambiguity, No-First-Use, and Crisis Stability in Asymmetric Crises, forthcoming in Nonproliferation Review, with Thomas L. Scherer. LINK.

The United States has long embraced calculated ambiguity over the conditions under which it might use nuclear weapons against adversaries, a trend that President Donald J. Trump has continued. This ambiguity could unsettle 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 identify three potential pathways whereby a more ambiguous posture can lead to increased danger: 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 use following US nuclear threats in the 1991 Gulf War. In analyzing the reasoning and evidence of these arguments, we argue that the alleged benefits of NFU may be overstated, at least for crisis stability in asymmetric crises, defined by one side's overwhelming conventional military superiority. Each of the three foregoing pathways is logically inconsistent and the empirical case is misinterpreted. Nuclear ambiguity might not be so dangerous as NFU advocates claim.

Tangled Up in Rose? Theories of Alliance Entrapment and the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, Contemporary Security Policy (2018). LINK

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.

Discussed in an op-ed written for the CSP blog.

From Ottawa to Riga: Three Tensions in Canadian Defence Policy, International Journal (2017), vol. 72, no. 4 (2017): 520-537. Winner of the 2017 Marvin Gelber Prize. LINK

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.

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). It also provoked commentary from Tongfi Kim in the pages of International Security.

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.

Discussed in a blog piece we wrote for the Washington Post's Monkey Cage.

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.


If you are interested in more advanced postgraduate studies, then please note that I would strongly prefer to mentor 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 syllabi that I have designed or co-designed for the undergraduate and postgraduate courses at the University of Waterloo and City, University of London.

UW PSCI 355 Russia and Its Neighbours - Syllabus

City IP1030 Introduction to Politics - Syllabus

City IP1032 Introduction to Political Thought - Syllabus

City IP2024 Security Studies: Conceptual Appraches - Syllabus

City IP3027 Theory and Practice of Conflict and Peace - Syllabus

City IPM101 Understanding Security in the 21st Century - Syllabus



Dr. Alexander Lanoszka
Department of Political Science
Hagey Hall, Room 349
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario
Canada N2L 3G1

Photo taken by Lars Blackmore.