Department of Security Studies and Criminology

Dr Michael Cohen

Senior Lecturer

M.A., Ph.D. (University of British Columbia), B. Ec. Hons (University of Sydney)

Research interests

  • Interstate Conflict
  • Asia-Pacific Security
  • Nuclear Weapons Proliferation
  • Deterrence and Coercion
  • Leaders
  • Foreign Policy Decision-Making


Michael Cohen's research addresses the causes of interstate conflict and war with an empirical focus on the Asia Pacific. His book (currently under review) addresses when and how nuclear proliferation causes and resolves interstate conflicts and wars. His research has been published or is forthcoming in  International Security, Foreign Policy Analysis, International Relations of the Asia Pacific, The Non-Proliferation Review and Strategic Studies Quarterly. Current research projects examine leaders and international conflict, nuclear proliferation and international conflict, extended deterrence, reputation and conflict on the Korean peninsula, strategic surprise and foreign policy-decision making and reputation and international conflict.

He was Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Center for War Studies at the University of Southern Denmark from 2012 to 2015, and in 2014 was a visiting scholar at the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. He attended the Institute for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research at Syracuse in 2009, the Public Policy and Nuclear Threat Program at San Diego in 2011 and the SWAMOS Workshop on Analysis of Military Operations and Strategy at Cornell in 2015, and regularly attends the American Political Science Association and International Studies Association Annual Meetings.


  • PICT 110: Contemporary Security Challenges
  • PICT 905: Weapons of Mass Destruction: Proliferation and Control

Available student projects

Michael would be interested in supervising a diverse range of projects, many (but not all) of which relate to his research interests: Interstate Conflict; Asia-Pacific Security; Nuclear Weapons Proliferation; Deterrence and Coercion; Leaders; Foreign Policy Decision-Making



  • Nuclear North Korea: Deterrence and International Conflict (co-edited with Sung Chull Kim) forthcoming, Georgetown University Press

Journal Articles

  • "How Nuclear Proliferation Causes Conflict: Proliferation Pessimism Revisited" forthcoming in The Non-Proliferation Review
  • "Live and Learn: Availability Biases and Beliefs about Military Power," forthcoming in Foreign Policy Analysis
  • "Beyond Emboldenment? Nuclear Proliferation and Foreign Policy," forthcoming in International Security
  • "Doubts Down Under: American Extended Deterrence, Australia, and the 1999 East Timor Crisis, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific (with Andrew O'Neil) Vol. 15 No. 1 (Spring 2015) 27-52
  • "Fear and Learning in Tehran: What Recent Psychological Research Reveals about Nuclear Crises" Strategic Studies Quarterly Vol. 9 No. 1 (Spring 2015) 119-138
  • "How Nuclear South Asia is Like Cold War Europe: The Stability-Instability Paradox Revisited," The Non-Proliferation Review, Vol. 20 No. 3 November 2013
  • "North Korea, Nuclear Weapons and No Good Options? A Controlled Path to Peace," Asian Journal of Peacebuilding, Vol. 1 No. 2 2013 1-17
  • "Do Small Arsenals Deter?" in International Security 32 (3) 2008  208-210

Book Chapters

  • -"Mission Impossible? Influencing Iranian and Libyan Sponsorship of Terrorism," in Alex Wilner and Andreas Wenger (eds), Deterring Terrorism: Theory and Practice (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2012) pp. 252-272.
  • "India and the NPT: Power, Legitimacy and Legality," in Wade L. Huntley and Karthika Sasikumar (eds.) Nuclear Cooperation with India: New Challenges, New Opportunities, pp. 90-95. Vancouver: Simons Centre, 2006.

Other Publications

  • "Australia's possible strategy shift on Syria is a nod to Russia's influence," The Conversation, October 1 2015 (with Adam Lockyer)
  • "Atomangreb. Baltikum ikke truet af Rusland," Politiken, April 17 2015
  • "The ties that bind us to China and the US," Australian Financial Review,September 4 2013 (with Andrew O'Neil)
  • "Obama's Syria Strategy?" Global Policy Journal, August 3 2012
  • "Response to Brooks, Ikenberry and Wohlforth, 'Don't Come Home, America: The case Against Retrenchment," H-Diplo, August 12 2013
  • "Obama's Syria strategy is to weaken Iran," Berlingske, July 27 2013, p.27 (in Danish)
  • "What Happens when Iran Gets the Bomb?" Global Policy Journal, May 8 2012
  • "Don't Issue Iran a Red Line Yet," Global Policy Journal, September 12 2012

Grants and Awards

  • Seoul National University Grant 2015, for hosting edited book manuscript workshop on June 12-13 2015 (with Sung Chull Kim, Institute for Peace and Unification Studies, Seoul National University) ($32,000)
  • Nordic International Studies Association Research Grant 2013, for workshop WMD Nuclear Challenges (with Cindy Vestergaard, Danish Institute for International Studies) ($10,000)
  • University of Southern Denmark and Griffith University 2012 collaboration award (with Andrew O'Neil, Griffith University) ($9550)
  • "Mission Impossible? Influencing Iranian and Libyan Sponsorship of Terrorism" nominated by a faculty member of ISSS as highly competitive for the ISSS Best Graduate Student Paper award, 2010.
  • Moody Grant, Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation, 2010 ($2,050)
  • Thurlow Scholarship in Peace and Disarmament, University of British Columbia, 2006 and 2010 ($10,000)


Michael Cohen


Phone: +61 (0)2 9850 8820
Office location: 
Building Y3A Room 234
Macquarie University NSW 2109