Todd Sechser was a predoctoral fellow at CISAC in 2003-2004. He is an assistant professor at the University of Virginia and received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford in 2007. His dissertation focused on the conditions under which verbal threats of military force can compel states to alter their behavior. In particular, he asked why democratic states are generally successful at using military threats to maintain the status quo (through deterrence) but unsuccessful at using them to change it. He investigates the targets of compellence to determine how they receive, interpret, and evaluate threats in order to find out what types of threats are credible and which are not. Mr. Sechser will spend the 2004-2005 academic year completing this project as a predoctoral fellow at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
Sechser is also the author of two additional working papers. The first manuscript, forthcoming in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, investigates whether soldiers or civilians are more aggressive about recommending military action in crises. After analyzing available data, it finds that while military officers tend to be conservative in civilian-controlled governments such as the United States, they are much more aggressive in states where civilian control is weak. The second manuscript addresses the application of organization theory to the debate about the consequences of nuclear proliferation. It argues that, contrary to conventional wisdom, viewing states through an organizational lens generates optimistic predictions about the stabilizing effects of nuclear weapons, even in underdeveloped regions.
Before coming to Stanford in the fall of 2000, Sechser worked for the Non-Proliferation Project of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He has also worked at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute.