Dianne Pfundstein Chamberlain’s book, Cheap Threats: Why the United States Struggles to Coerce Weak States (Georgetown University Press, 2016) explores why weak states resist compellent threats issued by the world’s sole superpower. It argues that the United States struggles to coerce weak states because it has developed a war-fighting model that renders the use of force relatively cheap, and thus the threat to use force does not effectively signal a high level of motivation to target states. The book presents a new dataset on U.S. compellent threats in crises 1945-2007 and four cases in which the United States issued a compellent threat against a weak state.

Pfundstein Chamberlain is currently working on a manuscript about democracy and decision-making during the Second World War. The book draws on archival research she has conducted in the United Kingdom and France. She also writes a blog about security policy and theory, On Security (hyperlink to the blog address: blogs.cuit.columbia.edu/drp2109 ). Her work has appeared online with The National Interest (link: http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-skeptics/cheap-cruise-missiles-wont-bring-syria-the-table-16848).

Pfundstein Chamberlain was formerly an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a Postdoctoral Fellow in the International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School. She earned a PhD in Political Science from Columbia University in 2012 and a BA in Economics and Political Science from Williams College in 2006.


Cheap Threats: Why the United States Struggles to Coerce Weak States (Washington: Georgetown University Press, 2016).

Other Articles, Testimony and Reports

“Cheap Cruise Missiles Won’t Bring Syria to the Table,” The National Interest, 5 July 2016, <http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-skeptics/cheap-cruise-missiles-wont-bring-syria-the-table-16848.> (5 July 2016)