The Stopping Power of Norms


Charli Carpenter & Alexander Montgomery

Date and Time

February 21, 2019 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM


Open to the public.

No RSVP required


William J. Perry Conference Room
Encina Hall, Second Floor, Central, C231
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305

Abstract: Sagan and Valentino's path-breaking survey of public opinion American attitudes towards the laws of war found Americans are relatively insensitive to international norms and taboos against the use of nuclear weapons and the targeting of civilian populations. We replicated a key question on this study – where respondents were asked if they would support saturation bombing an Iranian city to end a war. We also introduced some variations into the experiment to disaggregate any potential influence of international norms and laws from the effect of historical analogies and interest-based frames embedded in the original experiment. Overall, our quantitative and qualitative findings are more optimistic about Americans' sensitivity to the civilian immunity norm. Nonetheless, our findings suggest much depends on whether legal/ethical considerations, rather than tactical ones alone, are part of any national conversation about war policy.    

Charli's Bio: Charli Carpenter is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Her teaching and research interests include the laws of war, protection of civilians, humanitarian disarmament, global advocacy networks, and the role of popular culture in global affairs. She has a particular interest in the gap between intentions and outcomes among advocates of human security. She has published three books and numerous journal articles, has served as a consultant for the United Nations, and contributed to Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs. In addition to teaching and research, Dr. Carpenter spends her time raising future members of the American electorate, snowboarding, and rambling about international politics and popular culture at Duck of Minerva.  


Alexander's Bio: Alexander H. Montgomery is associate professor of Political Science at Reed College. He has a B.A. in Physics from the University of Chicago, an M.A. in Energy and Resources from UC-Berkeley, and an M.A. in Sociology and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University. He has been a fellow at the Belfer Center, CISAC, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Woodrow Wilson Center. He has published articles on nuclear proliferation and on the effects of social networks of international organizations on interstate conflict, and is the co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Political Networks (2017).


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