Brandon C. Prins
Professor of Political Science, University of Tennessee; Global Security Fellow, Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy; and Associate Editor, Foreign Policy Analysis
Department of Political Science
1011A McClung Tower
Knoxville, TN 37996
Areas of Expertise & Civic InvolvementsPrins’ research focuses on the causes and consequences of political violence within and between nation-states. Much of his work has examined how domestic political institutions influence leader decisions to use military force, particularly in the United States. Currently Prins has three research projects that he is working on. One addresses the geo-spatial conditions associated with modern maritime piracy. The second explores the issue of territory and how it conditions conflict escalation. The third project explores the principal drivers of domestic terrorism in democratic states. Prins teaches courses on U.S. national security policy, political violence, and nuclear non-proliferation. He has worked with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Nuclear Security Administration to educate a new generation of students and policymakers in the issues of arms control nuclear safeguards, and nonproliferation.
"Terror on the Seas: Assessing the Threat of Modern Day Piracy" (with Ursula Daxecker and Amanda Sanford). SAIS Review (Summer/Fall 2013).
Documents the threat of modern maritime piracy. State fragility and economic dislocation both associate strongly with piracy in a country’s waters. While it is true that increased naval strength in the Gulf of Aden appears to have had some impact in reduction piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia, it is likely that counter-piracy efforts need to focus more attention on institution-building and poverty reduction on land to fully eradicate this security threat.
"U.S Leadership in a Post 9/11 World: Comparing World Views and Foreign Policy Decisions of George W. Bush and Barak Obama," (with Allan Wilford), Howard H. Baker Center, Jr. Center for Public Policy, Policy Brief 1:14, 2014.
Compares and contrasts the world-views and foreign policy actions of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, examining specific policies of the two administrations to identify any substantive differences. The areas examined include overall military spending, foreign aid allocations, international commitments, and voting alignments in the United Nations General Assembly. The concluding section evaluates what the future may hold for President Obama as he progresses more fully into his second term.
"Political Stability and the Incidence of Piracy" (with Ursula Daxecker). Journal of Conflict Resolution 57, no. 6 (2013): 940-965.
Uses data on all countries with coastlines from 1995–2007 to show that state weakness and reductions in fisheries production values affect piracy. Permissive institutional environments and the lack of employment in states’ fishing sectors both help to drive the increase in piracy. These findings suggest that international efforts in combating piracy should center on improving the institutional environments and labor opportunities that tend to drive maritime piracy.
"The Use of U.S. Military Force" (with Mark Souva), in The Handbook of American Foreign Policy, edited by Steven Hook and Christopher Jones (Routledge, 2011), 319-332.
Maps a general model of conflict process onto U.S. uses of force to explore whether the forces that press leaders to militarize contentious issues in general are the same ones that press U.S. presidents to militarily intervene abroad. Despite historical and more recent claims of American exceptionalism, U.S. conflict behavior closely follows the theoretical expectations derived in general models of inter-state armed conflict.
"Interventions and Uses of Force Short of War" in The International Studies Encyclopedia, Volume VII, edited by Robert A. Denemark (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 4646-4669.
Explores the idea that leaders take their countries down the path towards war when increasingly coercive foreign policy actions meet rival leaders who fear exploitation and see accommodative policy responses as signaling political and military weakness. Since militarization of a contentious issue only reinforces enemy images and heightens insecurities, the international community must be proactive in overseeing efforts to resolve such salient disputes.
"Institutional Instability and the Credibility of Audience Costs: Examining the Impact of Political Participation on Interstate Crisis Bargaining" Journal of Peace Research 40, no. 1 (2003): 67-84.
Discusses how, if the ability of opposition groups to challenge government policies enables state leaders to communicate credibly their intentions and thus avoid conflict, increased attention needs to be given to the permanence of such structural features of the domestic political environment. What may facilitate efficient signaling is not only competitive political participation, but also the enduring nature of such participation. Contiguity, military balance, and years at peace also appear to influence dispute reciprocation.
Media ContributionsPrins has made several appearances on local TV stations covering salient security topics, such as Ukraine, North Korea, and Chechnya, and has been interviewed by local journalists on matters of U.S. foreign policy.
Brandon C. Prins quoted on political violence in John Shearer, "UT Professors Hold Out Hope for Future of U.S. Foreign Policy, 15 Years after Sept. 11 Attacks" Knoxville News Sentinel, September 11, 2016.
Talks and Briefings
"Maritime Piracy in Sub-Saharan Africa," Briefing before the Department of Defense, Strategic Multilayer Assessment Program, June 12, 2014.
"Politics and National Security: Foreign Policy as a 2012 Election Issue," Howard Baker Center for Public Policy, September 11, 2012.
"Politics and National Security: Arms Control and Nuclear Security as 2012 Election Issue," Oak Ridge National Laboratory, December 12, 2011.
"Challenges to the NPT," International Nuclear Materials Management Central Chapter Annual Meeting, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, October 24, 2011.
"Assessing Security Threats," Oak Ridge National Laboratory, May 12, 2011.
"Controlling the Bomb: New Challenges for the Nonproliferation Regime," Friends of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, February 16, 2011.
"Controlling the Bomb: New Challenges for the Nonproliferation Regime," Oak Ridge National Laboratory, December 14, 2010.
"The Pendulum of Congressional Power: Partisan Opposition to Presidential Foreign Policy," UTK Pre-Game Showcase, November 27, 2010.
"Crafting Grand Strategy after 9/11: What Can We Learn from the Early Cold War?," Oak Ridge National Laboratory, October 6, 2010.
"Political Communication in a world of Strategic Interaction," 31st Annual Research Symposium, College of Communication and Information, University of Tennessee, February 27, 2009.
"Policy Availability and Foreign Policy," New Hampshire Institute of Politics, March 15-16, 2013.