Presidential Influence on the Ratification of Nuclear Treaties

Hey everybody! My name’s Claire Bieber, I’m a firstie (senior) at the United States Air Force Academy and I can’t wait to meet and study with you all throughout this year! 

Since the United States successfully conducted the world’s first nuclear test explosion on July 16, 1945, in Alamogordo, New Mexico, there has been no point for humanity to turn back. Whether the intent is to use the weapons in an act of aggression or to obtain them for deterrence purposes, the acquisition of nuclear weapons has become a high priority for nations on the rise. Historically, the United States has played an overwhelming role in the implementation of international arms treaties and continues to be a frontrunner in the effort toward nuclear non-proliferation. Furthermore, the President of the United States, having the constitutional power to make treaties, is a major player when it comes to negotiating these treaties and thus, in preventing nuclear war. Many treaties negotiated by former Presidents of the United States have been successfully ratified; but there have also been a number of unfinished works – treaties that were not carried to completion.

In my study I plan to focus on three variables, from three different levels of analysis, and their relation to the President’s success in negotiating a nuclear arms limitation or non-proliferation treaty. It is important to note that there are two separate types of negotiations that must be completed before any treaty can be deemed a “success.” The first type of negotiation is that with the foreign party and coming to a consensus on the issue as well as a solution. The second half of the negotiation involves the President’s negotiation with his own legislature: the President must convince the Senate to ratify the newly-negotiated treaty. In my study I will use examples of “successfully-negotiated” treaties as well as “unfinished works” (IV).

            On the personal level, I will examine the President’s experience as the Commander-in-Chief (DV1). I expect to see more treaties ratified during the latter years of the President’s term as the President gains experience working through the red tape and bureaucracy of the executive. On the institutional level, I will examine the party affiliation of the House, Senate, and President at the time that each treaty-attempt occurred (DV2). My hypothesis is that when the President’s party also has a majority in the Senate, the treaty success rate will increase. I also expect that if that party holds a majority in the House of Representatives, even though they are not the ratifying authority, the success rate will increase even further. My final variable, through the international or systemic level of analysis, will examine the success of the President’s treaty negotiations in relation to the state of conflict on the world stage (DV3). I postulate that the President will have more success in his negotiations during periods of global crisis, and even more when specifically US national security is at risk. 

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2 Responses to Presidential Influence on the Ratification of Nuclear Treaties

  1. Ernesto Guerrero says:

    Yes yes. Quite fascinating. I look forward to learning about this salient issue.

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