Colgate Profs Pen Iran Commentaries 

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Colgate political scientists are weighing in on the ethical questions related to the U.S. military strike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s missile response, and how escalation doesn’t always result in deterrence.

“In theory, escalation can demonstrate resolve. According to deterrence theorists, by escalating a crisis, the United States can show its willingness to commit resources to protect American interests and deter adversaries from future actions. Iran’s response illustrates that such attempts are rarely successful,” writes Assistant Professor of Political Science Danielle Lupton today in the Monkey Cage, a Washington Post blog. “We still don’t know much about the logic behind Iran’s specific choice of response, or how the United States might respond in turn. But even without this information, we can identify four reasons why deterrence by escalation is difficult to achieve — and why it’s especially tough in the case of the United States and Iran.”

Lupton and Associate Professor of Political Science Valerie Morkevičius also published an examination of the ethical questions related to the U.S. strike on Soleimani.

“There is no doubt that Soleimani was not only responsible for past crimes, but was actively plotting additional attacks against the United States and its allies. But that alone is not enough to ethically justify his killing,” Morkevičius and Lupton wrote in Political Violence @ a Glance, a blog focused on analysis related to political violence.

Morkevičius is the author of Realist Ethics: Just War Traditions as Power Politics, published by Cambridge University Press in 2018. Lupton, who was a recent guest on Colgate’s 13 podcast, is author of the forthcoming Reputation for Resolve: How Leaders Signal Determination in International Politics, published by Cornell University Press.