Martin Claar

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Radasanu, Andrea M., 1973-

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


Political science; International relations; Philosophy; Armed Forces--Study and teaching


This dissertation investigates the logic for unconventional weapon non-use during wars in the 20th Century. International relations scholarship has offered two primary explanatory factors for the non-use of radiological, biological and chemical weapons: either it is a result of power concerns and utility or due to adherence to taboo norms. However, these logics are insufficient in explaining oscillations in policy, near misses and instances of actual use. Thus, I argue that normative concerns based on the rules of war as associated with Just War theory impact the decisions concerning unconventional weapons. Consideration of the discriminatory and proportionality norms associated with Just War theory best reflect why states with opportunity and motive would abstain from use, while instances of supreme emergency would explain a state's use policies or narrow misses. To test this explanation, a series of case studies will examined involving the only state to ever use both chemical and nuclear weapons---the United States. Using primary decision-making documents, supplemented with secondary historical sources, the motivation for U.S. policies should be apparent. Afterward, considerations of applicability to other cases or new weapons technology will be considered.


Advisors: Andrea Radasanu.||Committee members: Scot Schraufnagel; S. Adam Seagrave; Ches Thurber.||Includes bibliographical references.


170 pages




Northern Illinois University

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