In this episode of Machiavelli in the Ivory Tower, hosts Sarah and Hanna speak with Rachel Whitlark, associate professor at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Their conversation focuses on Professor Whitlark’s 2021 book, All Options on the Table: Leaders, Preventive War, and Nuclear Proliferation, and what it reveals about the influence of leaders’ prior beliefs on their counterproliferation strategies once in office.
They begin with a discussion of the origins of this volume, where it fits within broader IR scholarship and the challenges and rewards of using archival material to understand leaders’ beliefs in retrospect. They then explore the relevance of Professor Whitlark’s central findings to other aspects of nuclear decision-making and contemporary nonproliferation challenges such as Iran’s evolving nuclear program.
At the end of their discussion, they reflect on the utility of scholarship to nuclear policymaking and ways to bridge the gap between the academic and practitioner communities. They conclude with some observations about less obvious but important ways scholars can shape policy, including by educating the next generation of decision-makers.
Watch all episodes in the Machiavelli in the Ivory Tower series
01:49 ch 1. All Options on the Table: Leaders and Counterproliferation
05:54 ch 2. The Leader centric model and the first image
10:32 ch 3. Challenges and rewards of archival research
17:45 ch 4. Continuity and change in leaders’ beliefs
22:57 ch 5. Alternative hypotheses
31:50 ch 6. Iran’s nuclear program
35:20 ch 7. Leaders’ beliefs in other areas of nuclear decision-making
39:48 ch 8. Bridging the gap between scholarship and policy
The episode is also available on Spotify:
Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-07-all-options-on-the-table-leaders/id1607559445?i=1000613158063
Google Podcasts: https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9hbmNob3IuZm0vcy83ZmUwOTM0OC9wb2RjYXN0L3Jzcw/episode/MjBiMzRjZTItMGY3Mi00MTI1LTk1NTktYTc2NjQwYTdhNzZm?sa=X&ved=0CAUQkfYCahcKEwjgivy7pPr-AhUAAAAAHQAAAAAQAQ
Amazon Music: https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/4d8be813-478b-45b0-ad94-dfc2d1ac04b8/episodes/48dc714e-dfdc-43ff-b453-2e26584288bb/machiavelli-in-the-ivory-tower-episode-07-all-options-on-the-table-leaders-preventive-war-and-nuclear-proliferation—a-conversation-with-rachel-whitlark