Dominating the Superpower: A Bounded Rationality Approach to Nuclear Proliferation and Inhibition in the U.S. / North Korea Dyad - Sercan CANBOLAT ve Stephen Benedict DYSON


Sercan CANBOLAT* and Stephen Benedict DYSON**

Why was the United States, despite its overwhelming superiority in power, unable to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons? Why did North Korea persist in its nuclear pursuit in the face of U.S. opposition? In this article, we represent nuclear proliferation and counter-proliferation as situations of subjective strategic interaction between states. We measure preferences over strategies and outcomes using operational codes of the leaders of each country, derived via linguistic analysis. Our results indicate that neither the U.S. nor North Korea accurately understood the other side’s preference ordering, and that their operational codes interacted in such a way as to produce an outcome favorable to North Korea – the weaker party - and unfavorable to the U.S. – the stronger. The wider contribution is to show that (mis)perceptions of the goals and resolve of the opponent play a crucial role in the success or failure of strong states to compel weak states and vice versa.
Keywords:  perceptions, political beliefs, nuclear proliferation, foreign policy analysis, leaders

*Postdoctoral Research Associate, Global Affairs, University of Connecticut, Connecticut
**Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Connecticut, Connecticut