The proclivity of military regimes and their leaders for more frequent involvement in international conflict than other autocracies has been shown in several studies. The question raised here is not whether they participate in more conflicts and disputes, but rather whether after the leaders of military regimes enter office they initiate these acts more quickly than the leaders of other types of autocracies. Drawing on three authoritarian regime typologies and examining the time to the initiation of any dispute and the initiation of violent disputes, our results show that in comparison to other authoritarian leaders a subset of military leaders is distinctly trigger-happy.
Questions regarding the economic consequences of US grand strategy have gained new salience. This article provides an empirical test of the relationship between US military expenditures and public debt and clarifies the real constraints the US faces issuing debt. Neither results from the statistical analysis nor the economic theory of sovereign debt support the retrenchment position regarding the impact of military spending on public debt (1973–2015). Tax cuts are the most significant determinant of debt not military spending, social benefits or interest payments. Evaluating new hypotheses about alternative mechanisms through which military spending may damage the economy remains a priority.
Existing arguments about the effect of terrain on intrastate and interstate violence are more varied than the data sources widely used to test such relationships. We introduce precise geo-referenced data on terrain ruggedness and land cover globally at the national, provincial, and 1x1 km grid-square levels. Accordingly, the data are readily applicable to a wide range of research designs, including cross-national, sub-national and single-country designs, as well as any study that uses geographic information system data. We demonstrate the utility of the data with replication of Miguel et al. (2004, Journal of Political Economy 112(4): 725–753) and produce new findings leveraging both the ruggedness and land cover data.
Two theoretical perspectives, dangerous dyads and the bargaining model of war, have dominated theoretical discourse and empirical analyses in the Peace Science Society community for the past 25 years. This article discusses what we have learned about war from these approaches to the study of interstate and intrastate conflict. More critically, the piece examines what perspectives have been absent from Peace Science research and how these missing gaps influence the quantitative study of war and the diversity of the Peace Science community.
Many of our theories of international politics rely on microfoundations. In this short note, I suggest that although there has been increasing interest in microfoundations in international relations (IR) over the past 20 years, the frequency with which the concept is invoked belies a surprising lack of specificity about what microfoundations are, or explicit arguments about why we should study them. I then offer an argument about the value of micro-level approaches to the study of conflict. My claim is not that all theories of IR need to be developed or tested at the micro-level in order to be satisfying, but rather, that many of our theories in IR already rest on lower-level mechanisms—they either leave these assumptions unarticulated or fail to test them directly. In these circumstances, theorizing and testing micro-level dynamics will be especially helpful. I illustrate my argument using the case of resolve, one of the central explanatory variables in the study of international security. I argue that the absence of microfoundations for resolve is one reason why IR scholars have had difficulties testing whether resolve has the effects we often claim, and sketch out a two-stage research design political scientists can use to study unobservable phenomena.
How do term limits affect international conflict behavior? We revisit this question using new quarter-year-level data on presidential political ambition in the US from 1816 to 2010. Multi-country research finds that the re-election motive decreases the likelihood of conflict initiation. We argue that there are good reasons to expect that the US is different. We find that politically ambitious US presidents are more likely to initiate international conflicts. Consistent with previous research, however, we find that political ambition appears to be unrelated to a president’s chances of becoming the target of a militarized dispute.
Recent studies indicate that partisan electoral interventions, a situation where a foreign power tries to determine the election results in another country, can have significant effects on the election results in the targeted country as well as other important influences. Nevertheless, research on this topic has been hindered by a lack of systematic data of electoral interventions. In this article, I introduce the Partisan Electoral Intervention by the Great Powers dataset (PEIG), which provides data on all such interventions by the US and the USSR/Russia between 1946 and 2000. After describing the dataset construction process, I note some interesting patterns in the data, a few of which stand in contrast to claims made about electoral interventions in the public sphere and give an example of PEIG’s utility. I then describe some applications of PEIG for research on electoral interventions in particular and for peace research in general.
Domestic political use of force is a strategy for political leaders to divert the public’s attention away from economic instability and rebuild political capital. But, diversionary incentives are not the only motivation; the targeted vulnerable minority’s capabilities are important. We analyze how the combination of diversionary incentive and out-group mobilization capabilities influences leaders’ decision-calculus. Embattled leaders make strategic decisions about both the target and the adequate severity of force to accomplish diversion without risking conflict escalation. We empirically test the resulting hypotheses using the Minorities at Risk dataset from 1998 to 2003 and find support for our expectations. Incentive alone does not determine domestic political use of force; the same incentive produces variance in the severity of force dependent on the targeted out-group’s mobilization capability. Governments match the severity of domestic force to political survival goals and the costs and risks of political use of force.
Diversionary war theory states that leaders may initiate an international conflict in order to invoke internal cohesion and distract the public from domestic issues. Recent developments in diversionary literature suggest the possibility that leaders can alternately divert against domestic targets, such as minority groups. Empirical support for domestic diversion, though, has been mixed. In this paper we seek to reconcile this by further examining the different dynamics at play between actors who are faced with diversionary incentives. We suggest that a major reason why we do not observe many cases of domestic diversion is strategic behavior by minority groups. Much like states do, minority groups that are potential targets of repression engage in strategic conflict avoidance when they observe diversionary incentives to be present. We test our theory through a multivariate probit model that uses the state–minority group dyad as the unit of analysis.
Why are some dictators more successful at demobilizing protest movements than others? Repression sometimes stamps out protest movements (Bahrain in 2011) but can also cause a backlash (Egypt and Tunisia in 2011), leading to regime change. This article argues that the effectiveness of repression in quelling protests varies depending upon the income sources of authoritarian regimes. Oil-rich autocracies are well equipped to contend with domestic and international criticism, and this gives them a greater capacity to quell protests through force. Because oil-poor dictators lack such ability to deal with criticism, repression is more likely to trigger a backlash of increased protests. The argument is supported by analysis of newly available data on mass protests from the Nonviolent and Violent Campaigns and Outcomes (NAVCO 2.0) dataset, which covers all countries (1945–2006). This article implies that publics respond strategically to repression, and tend to demobilize when the government is capable of continually employing repression with impunity.
Numerous studies have used monadic or dyadic data to show that democracies are more likely to win wars. Poast (2010; Political Analysis 18(4): 403–425) demonstrates that the use of dyadic data to model events that are really multilateral (or k-adic) can bias the statistical results. In this article, I discuss the potential consequences of that bias for previous studies on democracy and war outcomes. Then I replicate some of those studies using modified, k-adic versions of the original datasets. Finally, I conduct an original analysis using the updated dataset on wars by Reiter et al. (2014a; Journal of Conflict Resolution; doi: 10.1177/0022002714553107). Overall, I find several changes when using k-adic data. Most significantly, the relationship between democracy and war outcomes appears to be strongest for states that join the war effort after it has already started.
Intra-state violence in Syria, Myanmar, Sudan and other locales has generated an unprecedented level of refugee movement. Although extant scholarship has examined the origins of refugee flows and their implications for political violence, our understanding of why countries receive refugees is less understood. Typically, most explanations focus on the host state’s ability to absorb the economic and security costs that refugees generate. We argue that transnational factors associated with rivalry and alliances, particularly characterizing the relationship between the refugee-producing country and the potential host, impact the type of refugee groups we observe in a destination state. We posit that interstate rivalry and alliance arrangements influence the domestic cost calculus of a host state about receiving refugee groups originating from certain countries. A large-n analysis of refugees for the years 1951–2008 shows strong support for our predictions that a country is likely to receive refugees fleeing its rivals and is reluctant to accept refugees originating from its contiguous allies.
Civil war intervention literature identifies colonial history as influencing the likelihood of interventions. This literature, however, has yet to clarify the mechanisms through which colonial history influences interventions. We develop and test an argument linking the relations established by colonialism—economic, political, and social—with interventions. We find that colonial history influences interventions, but its effect matters less once we control for these three relations. Importantly, we find that this effect of colonial history is particularly small in dyads with stronger economic relations. Our paper gives further credence to liberal arguments emphasizing the role of economic factors in international security.
This paper investigates the role and the welfare rationale of secondary sanctions using a game theoretic framework and a case study of the US sanctions targeting Iran. Existing literature on secondary sanctions focuses either on the sender–third party or the sender–target relations, and fails to address the interdependency of the three players’ strategies. An integrated approach allows us to examine the conditions under which the secondary sanction succeeds in coercing the third party to participate in a sanction campaign against a target. I argue that it acts as a commitment device for the third parties that value target compliance but find it too costly to voluntarily participate in the sanctions when the target complies at a suboptimal level. Despite the coercive nature, secondary sanction can be welfare improving for them. The framework provides an explanation of the successful outcome of the recent US secondary sanctions targeting Iran.
Civil war outcome studies have used expected utility logic to identify factors that affect actors’ estimates of the probability of victory, the payoffs from victory vs defeat, and the accumulated costs of fighting until victory is achieved. Tests have used static measures of national attributes and war characteristics, measured prior to the war or at its end. We use UCDP Georeferenced Event Data from 73 civil conflicts in Africa to estimate how changes in government and rebel tactical choices on where and when to fight battles affect expected utility estimates and, therefore, civil war outcomes.
The democratic and territorial peace arguments explain interstate peace via distinct mechanisms. Yet they can be integrated. I theoretically derive both the unique domains in which each argument might operate and the ways in which the two arguments might reinforce one another. An analysis of the period 1816–2001 demonstrates support for a more integrative approach. Within contiguous dyads, border settlement significantly reduces conflict, even for non-democratic dyads. Democratic dyads, however, experience no such effect in the absence of border settlement. Nonetheless, the democratic peace functions strongly in non-contiguous dyads, and even the most peaceful, contiguous dyads require both democracy and border settlement. Such findings offer a foundation for further theoretical development that integrates the two arguments.
How does border settlement—that is, the management of salient territorial conflict—affect the prospects for negative peace? Using recently released data on dyadic interstate relationships during the period 1946–2001, we build on territorial peace research to argue, predict, and find three connections between border settlement and negative peace. More specifically, border settlement: (a) increases the likelihood that a dyad is at negative peace; (b) raises the likelihood that dyads transition from rivalry to negative peace relationships; and (c) consolidates negative peace—by impeding transitions toward rivalry relationships. We confirm each of these findings with a commonly used measure of border settlement, as well as an alternative indicator of unsettled borders: civil wars. These findings cumulatively support our argument, demonstrate the importance of studying relationships outside the rivalry context, and suggest that border settlement plays a critical role in the emergence and consolidation of negative peace.
We introduce a dataset that focuses on the delimitation of interstate borders under international law—the International Border Agreements Dataset (IBAD). This dataset contains information on the agents involved in (e.g. states, third-parties, and colonial powers), methods used during (e.g. negotiation, mediation, arbitration, adjudication, administrative decrees, post-war conferences, and plebiscites), and outcomes of (e.g. full and intermediate agreements) the border settlement process during the period 1816–2001. Our focus on international legal agreements and the process that produces them makes the IBAD valuable for those that study not only territorial conflict, but also international conflict, cooperation, law, and conflict management.
Extant research hypothesizes that anger over past intergroup conflict serves as a catalyst for future conflict. However, few studies have experimentally tested this hypothesis on a representative sample in a high-stakes, field setting. I use a behavioral economics experiment to measure how anger over past conflict influences intergroup relations. Subjects were sampled proportional to population and ethnicity in Acre, Israel, a mixed city of Jews and Palestinian Citizens of Israel that experienced ethnic riots in 2008. The experiment randomly assigned subjects to an anger treatment about the riots or a neutral condition. Subjects then allocated income between themselves and three partners: one from their ingroup, one from their outgroup, and one whose identity was unclear. I find that priming anger over the riots did not increase discrimination. Rather, it reduced altruism to all groups, and this result was strongest for "high aggression" types. Qualitative information suggests that blame for the riots falls on both ingroup and outgroup members.
Introducing a new cross-national dataset on the ethnicity of refugees, covering the years 1975–2009, this study analyzes refugee flight patterns. We argue that the asylum destination of refugees is not haphazard but determined by trans-border ethnic linkages. Building on migration theories, we elaborate a theoretical framework for the direction of refugee movements, which includes spatial, temporal and cultural pull factors. The statistical results suggest that refugees flee to nearby countries with ethnic kin populations and a history of accepting other co-ethnic refugees. Thus, sub-national refugee characteristics, such as ethnicity, are essential to understanding the flight direction of refugees.
Why does one terrorist group employ actions that win the hearts and minds of its constituency while another resorts to tactics that alienate their support? The paper investigates terrorist groups’ strategy of building reputation in their constituency/in-group population and non-constituency/out-group population. Studying all domestic terrorist groups between 1980 and 2011 with original data, we find that ethnic/religious groups and those with territorial control invest in positive reputation in their constituency as they can minimize the risks of returns. Radical groups and those with cross-border support, however, tend to build negative constituency reputation. While the former type of group has a small constituency, the latter ones can find resources across borders, which reduces their dependency on the constituency. Lastly, we find that terror groups seeking policy concessions avoid building a negative reputation in their non-constituency as this strategy enhances their chances of negotiating with the government.
Although states rarely use economic sanctions specifically to combat transnational terrorism, potential targets of sanctions often face terrorist campaigns within their territory. States may avoid using sanctions against states with terrorists for fear of weakening target states excessively, thereby indirectly strengthening terrorist groups. However, this argument has not been subjected to rigorous empirical testing. This study presents a theoretical and empirical examination that explores how the imposition of sanctions affects the dynamics of ongoing terrorist campaigns in the targeted state. We argue that comprehensive sanctions that are imposed on targets that are fighting transnational terrorists within their territory should make these groups more resistant to collapse. However, similar sanctions imposed against states that serve as "home bases" or sanctuaries to terrorists should shorten the lifespan of these groups. Our empirical analysis yields results largely supportive of these theoretical expectations.
Why does repression sometimes work to stop violent protest and sometimes heighten protest? We argue that the effect of repression on protest depends critically on a "memory of violence" within the state. Without this memory, the costs of continued protest in the face of increased repression are often too great for unrelenting mobilization, effectively suppressing the political violence. We focus on a global sample of repression and protest data at the weekly level from 1990 to 2009. In states with civil war histories, repression can mobilize a population previously primed for violent protest.
This article draws on new data and analyses to investigate whether the contractualist peace supersedes the democratic peace. A series of studies have shown that contractualist economy accounts for the democratic peace, but defenders of the democratic peace claim that these studies contain measurement errors, that democracy correlates with peace at least in interaction with contractualist economy, and that the causation is reversed from democracy to contractualist economy and peace. Results are consistent across all tests: there is no support for democracy as a cause of peace. The democratic peace is a statistical artifact explained by contractualist economy.
Scholarly interest in the topic of nonviolent resistance has recently increased as a result of the worldwide spread of nonviolent campaigns such as the Arab Spring. Yet causal factors that facilitate the emergence of nonviolent resistance campaigns remain underexplored. This paper comparatively analyzes the causal factors of nonviolent and violent resistance campaigns in the world for the period 1976–2006 by utilizing NAVCO 2 data. This paper argues that increasing levels of globalization lead to a preference for nonviolent campaigns over violent ones. The findings confirm that increasing levels of globalization are positively associated with the emergence of nonviolent campaigns, while negatively influencing the probability of violent campaigns. Integration into the world increases the popularity of peaceful alternatives to achieve political goals.
How malleable are the attitudes of people in a post-conflict society toward their former adversaries? I conduct a laboratory experiment in Azerbaijan, which fought a war against its neighbor Armenia in the 1990s, to investigate whether reconsideration of the roots of the conflict can influence interethnic attitudes. Subjects are assigned differing interpretations of the conflict and asked to think about or discuss their reactions. The results indicate that the most effective interventions work through, rather than against, existing beliefs. Discussion also plays a critical role in provoking the introspection that is necessary to challenge longstanding prejudices. The analysis provides insight into the social psychological processes of prejudice reduction and offers caveats to conventional policy interventions to encourage reconciliation.
Existing studies of piracy focus attention on the institutional determinants of maritime piracy, but neglect variation in governments’ reach over territory. We argue that the effect of state capacity on piracy is a function of states’ ability to extend authority over the country’s entire territory. We expect that government reach—a function of geographic factors such as the distance between a country’s capital and its coastline—mediates the effect of state capacity on piracy. Weak governments allow for the planning and implementation of attacks and reduce the risk of capture, but particularly so if sufficient distance separates pirates from political authority. An empirical analysis of country-year data on maritime piracy collected by the International Maritime Bureau for the 1995–2013 period shows that capital–coastline distance mediates the effect of institutional fragility on piracy as hypothesized. These results remain robust for alternative operationalizations of state capacity and reach. In addition, the models perform well in terms of predictive power, forecasting piracy quite accurately for 2013. The expectations and evidence presented in this paper help explain why states with intermediate levels of state capacity but low levels of reach—such as Indonesia, Tanzania or Venezuela—struggle with substantial incidence of piracy.
Does the imposition of taxation inevitably erode public support for war? Through a pair of survey experiments we show that whether a war tax decreases public support for military action critically depends on the design of the taxation instrument itself. Broad-based, regressive taxes decrease support for war; progressive taxes targeted on the wealthy do not. We also uncover the mechanisms through which Americans incorporate information about war taxation into their wartime policy preferences. Economic self-interest, alone, cannot explain the individual-level variation in reactions to war taxation. Rather, Americans assess war taxation both through the lens of economic self-interest and by using partisan heuristics. The negative effect of taxation on war support is both conditional on the design of the taxation instrument and variable across segments of the public.
Why do some ethnopolitical organizations use violence? Research on substate violence often uses the state level of analysis, or only analyzes groups that are already violent. Using a resource mobilization framework drawn from a broad literature, we test hypotheses with new data on hundreds of violent and non-violent ethnopolitical organizations in Eastern Europe and Russia. Our study finds interorganizational competition, state repression and strong group leadership associated with organizational violence. Lack of popularity and holding territory are also associated with violence. We do not find social service provision positively related to violence, which contrasts with research on the Middle East.
Does ethnic structure affect the occurrence of civil conflict and, if so, how? This study develops an agent-based model of endogenous grievances that builds on the new constructivist conceptualization of ethnicity and the theories of group inequality and crosscuttingness. Specifically, I simulate conflict as a function of spontaneous economic disparities between nominal "ethnic groups" with no predefined salient categories and related antagonism. Then I apply the model to reconsider the effect of (bidimensional) ethnic structure on conflict, which has been largely dismissed in recent scholarship. By varying the parameters of ethnic demography in artificial societies, I conduct a series of replicable experiments revealing that various structural settings yield systematically different patterns of conflict. While there is no "most hazardous" structure per se, both polarization and crosscuttingness appear to decrease the likelihood of violence but increase its potential deadliness, which indicates a more general tradeoff of conflict incidence and intensity.
While ethnically diverse countries are generally believed to be more violent than homogenous ones, previous research has been unable to establish a clear connection between ethnic diversity and violent repression. We argue that political authorities’ tendency to violently repress their citizens cannot be explained by the ethnic composition of society per se but by the power distribution between ethnic groups. In a global sample of countries for the period 1977–2010, we find statistical evidence that the level of violent repression increases with the share of the population excluded from state power on the basis of ethnic affiliation. We combine this with a case study of the Republic of Guinea and conclude that political authorities come to see excluded ethnic groups as threats and rely on violent repression to maintain their ethnic dominance.
What explains the social reintegration of ex-combatants from armed conflicts? Community-level programs to reintegrate ex-combatants into society are based on the theory that the participation of ex-combatants in their communities can promote reconciliation and minimize recidivism to illegal activities. We evaluate community and security-related opportunities for and constraints on social reintegration using a survey of ex-combatants from Colombia. We find that ex-combatants in more participatory communities tend to have an easier time with social reintegration and feel less of a need to organize among themselves. These findings suggest that to help ex-combatants, reintegration processes should also work to improve the social vibrancy of receptor communities.
The study of the "resource curse" has become a major research agenda with multiple outcomes of interest—regime type, regime stability, civil conflict and economic growth to name a few. However, the proliferation of different measurement choices has hamstrung the quest for knowledge accumulation. In this essay I present a new indicator for oil dependence—a concept I term rent leverage. It captures the share of individuals’ buying power that directly depends on fuel income and that nearly everywhere is controlled by political leaders. I use the new measure alongside fuel income per capita, to capture oil abundance, to explore the effects of oil wealth on political stability. Initial analysis of cross-national data from 1960 to 2009 suggests that rent leverage and fuel income strongly stabilize rulers of all types against regime change and that these effects are largely a function of cross-country differences. The stabilizing effects of oil income are significant but substantially smaller than rent leverage. The analysis further supports recent findings by Ross and Wright et al. that oil income and rent leverage both play stabilizing roles in autocracies, but that this effect is largely a cross-country one. Third, neither rent leverage nor oil income have any substantial or significant impact on civil war onset. Finally, contrary to both the weak state and coercion variants of resource curse theory, oil-producing countries appear to use less repression than others, and to have more durable regimes in part because of stronger states.
How substantial is democracy as a cause of transnational terrorist attacks? Can our identification of democratic political systems help us to anticipate the flow of transnational terrorism? We seek to address these questions by analyzing data on transnational terrorist incidents from 1968 to 2007. We rely on receiver operating curves as a diagnostic tool to assess forecasting ability of various models of terrorist activity. Our analyses yield four central conclusions. First, our model of transnational terrorism provides a fairly strong basis for forecasting attacks—at least at the (relatively broad) level of the country-year. Second, while the overall forecasting capacity of this model is fairly strong, democracy adds very little to our capacity to forecast terrorist attacks relative to a parsimonious model that includes only distance and the prior history of terrorism. Collectively, these two variables perform about as well as a much more broadly specified model in forecasting terrorist attacks out of sample. Third, the model is highly redundant in a predictive sense. That is, many if not most of the other variables appear to provide similar information in terms of identifying terrorist attacks. Finally, we suggest that scholars focus on the development of more fine-grained and time-variant predictive indicators in order to improve our ability to forecast transnational terrorism.
This study relates economic development to one of the well-observed predictors of domestic terrorism—minority discrimination—and revisits the relationship between terrorism and economic development. We argue that terrorism may be a rational choice when minorities’ exclusion from political power and relative deprivation from public goods increases and the unsettling forces in the initial phases of economic development provide aggrieved people with opportunities for mobilization. We find that economic development has a curvilinear relationship with terrorism. Highly developed countries are less likely to experience domestic terrorism than less-developed ones and the least developed countries have few targets. However, both rich and middle-income countries are vulnerable to domestic terrorism in the presence of minority discrimination.
What makes individuals likely to support state leaders with few constraints on executive authority? Leaders who reorganize power around their position seem inimical to most individuals’ welfare. Yet in many countries these leaders receive broad popular support when citizens feel some type of threat. This study argues that territorial threat leads individuals to support this type of state leadership. Mobilization of the military for defense of territory requires discretion by the state leader, leading individuals to interpret checks and balances as obstacles to security. The results using mixed effects logit analyses show a robust connection between territorial threat and individual-level expectations of the state leader. Individuals who live in states under territorial threat are more likely to prefer a state leader unconstrained by legislative process or other checks and balances. The analyses provided in this study have important implications for the study of popular support of democracy.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that high oil prices embolden oil-rich states to behave more aggressively. This article contends that arguments linking oil-exporter status to interstate conflict are implicitly price contingent, and tests this via a reanalysis of works by Colgan and Weeks. It finds a contingent effect of oil prices on interstate disputes, with high oil prices associated with significant increases in dispute behavior in petrostates, for which oil exports constitute more than 10% of GDP, while having a null effect in non-petrostates. Directed-dyadic tests indicate that this is due to petrostates initiating disputes, rather than becoming more attractive targets for conquest or coercion.
The main questions explored here are whether alliances lead to conflict between member states and non-member states and whether the capability of allies is a source of this effect. Building on the opportunity framework, this study argues that, with more confidence in military success due to support from allies, challenger states are more likely to be emboldened and to initiate disputes. The empirical analyses show that the capability of allies has an increasing effect on dispute initiation of member states against non-member states. This increasing effect becomes stronger as the level of common interests between the allies increases. The test results consistently suggest that alliances embolden member states to initiate disputes against non-member states, and also that alliances are more likely to aggravate, but not mute, dispute initiation against member states.
Research on the relationship between civil conflict and repression has led to one conclusion—the law-like finding that states respond to internal challengers with repression—and one puzzle with competing hypotheses—whether state repression escalates civil conflict or not. Studies of repression’s effect on conflict dynamics have been limited to case studies and subnational designs, which limits the external validity of the arguments. Studies of conflict’s effect on repression have treated conflict as a control variable without taking into account the inherent endogeneity between internal conflict and state repression. This article contributes by providing a general, cross-national study of repression’s effect on conflict, and vice versa, for external validity. Results of simultaneous equation models demonstrate that both directions of the relationship between state repression and conflict are positive and significant—suggesting a cyclical relationship—while single equation models with a lag structure establish that the effect of repression on conflict is greater than the reverse.
The decision by ethnic minority organizations (EMOs) to form militias is heavily influenced by the specific policies that governments adopt towards them. We theorize that, when a government makes an EMO illegal or subjects it to repression, those actions substantially increase the EMO s incentives to invest in creating an institutionalized capacity for violence. We test our theory via a quantitative analysis of militia formation using a sample population of 261 EMOs within transitioning and post-communist Eurasian countries from 1989 to 2006. Our results indicate that EMOs are far more likely to form militias if they have been repressed and/or made illegal by their governments.
The level of violence seen during transitions from authoritarian to democratic rule varies substantially. Recently, Tunisia experienced an almost bloodless transition, while in Libya the attempt to oust the Gadhafi regime ended in a civil war. This paper looks at the dynamics of democratic transitions, and attempts to explain why some become extremely violent while others progress peacefully. Specifically, the paper looks at the potential role of international governmental organizations (IGOs) for constraining or altering the behavior of non-democratic regimes, thereby influencing regime transitions. It argues that, by alleviating commitment problems between the outgoing regime and the new elites, and by imposing sanctions that reduce an incumbent regime’s ability to reap the benefits of office, IGOs increase the likelihood of seeing a peaceful transition to democracy. However, the paper also argues that non-democratic leaders should anticipate this, and therefore that regimes that are members of highly interventionist IGOs should be less likely to liberalize at all. The paper finds evidence in favor of the proposition that IGOs increase the likelihood of a peaceful regime transition, and that non-democratic regimes that are members of highly interventionist IGOs anticipate being constrained by these organizations, and therefore are more reluctant to liberalize in the first place.
Forecasting models of state-led mass killing are limited in their use of structural indicators, despite a large body of research that emphasizes the importance of agency and security repertoires in conditioning political violence. I seek to overcome these limitations by developing a theoretical and statistical framework that highlights the advantages of using pro-government militias (PGMs) as a predictive indicator in forecasting models of state-led mass killing. I argue that PGMs can lower the potential costs associated with mass killing for a regime faced with an internal threat, and might hence "tip the balance" in its favor. In estimating a series of statistical models and their receiver–operator characteristic curves to evaluate this hypothesis globally for the years 1981–2007, focusing on 270 internal threat episodes, I find robust support for my expectations: including PGM indicators in state-led mass killing models significantly improves their predictive strength. Moreover, these results hold even when coefficient estimates produced by in-sample data are used to predict state-led mass killing in cross-validation and out-of-sample data for the years 2008–2013. This study hence provides an introductory demonstration of the potential advantages of including security repertoires, in addition to structural factors, in forecasting models.
What influences the duration of interstate militarized conflicts? I argue that duration is affected by when the militarization occurs in the overarching dispute. Further, I suggest that the type of dispute being fought over has a conditioning effect. I hypothesize that later-occurring militarizations will last longer, but only in disputes over territorial issues. I test my argument on a sample of militarized conflicts over territorial, maritime, and river disputes, using a dynamic methodological technique to account for states’ strategic calculations. I find empirical support for my theoretical claims, contributing to our understanding of the interplay between interstate disputes and militarization.
How do embattled leaders hope to secure their hold on power by initiating conflict abroad? The literature on diversionary war has emphasized two distinct mechanisms by which leaders stand to gain from conflict — the "rally around the flag" and "gambling for resurrection" theories. But despite a massive literature on the subject, these competing theories of diversionary incentives have never been subjected to comparative empirical evaluation. This article seeks to fill this gap. I argue that the rally and gambling theories predict diversionary conflicts to target different types of states. Diversionary conflicts driven by a rally logic will target traditional enemies and out-groups, including rivals, neighbors, and geopolitically incompatible states. Gambling for resurrection, on the other hand, pushes leaders to target powerful states in order to demonstrate competence to their constituents. Challenging the conventional wisdom, I find little evidence to support the rally mechanism. The results offer substantial support for the gambling for resurrection theory, indicating that diversionary conflict may be primarily driven by unpopular leaders attempting to prove their competence domestically.
How does wartime violence affect public attitudes toward the government in the long run? In this paper, we examine whether violence against civilians during the Korean War continues to influence people’s attitudes toward the South Korean government more than half a century later. We find that wartime violence has clear long-term attitudinal effects. Using a difference-in-differences analysis that compares the cohorts born before and after the war, the findings indicate that people who experienced violence in their childhood (0–5 years) are less supportive of the South Korean government, especially the administration and the military, compared with those born in the same areas during the 5 years after the war. We argue that the gap between pre- and post-war cohorts is generated by the long-lasting trauma of wartime violence and the social stigma imposed on violence victims after the war.
What determines the type of violence used by military actors in civil wars? Drawing on Kalyvas’s "information problem" and Boulding’s "loss of strength gradient", this paper proposes a simple model of how the violence becomes more indiscriminate as a function of distance from the actors’ power centers. The proposed mechanism is a growing inability of the actors to distinguish between collaborators of the adversary and innocent bystanders. Tested on the conflict event level for 11 cases of insurgency, the results indicate that a simple distance-decay mechanism can explain the occurrence of indiscriminate violence to a large extent.
This study investigates an observable implication of audience cost theory. Building upon rational expectations theories of voters’ choice and foreign policy substitutability theory, it posits that audience costs vary over the electoral calendar. It then assesses whether US presidents’ major responses in international crises reflect the variability in audience costs in an analysis of 66 international crises between 1937 and 2006. Using out-of-sample tests, this study finds that tying-hand commitment strategies were more frequent closer to presidential elections, as expected from audience cost theory. It also finds that the fluctuation of audience costs over the electoral calendar is non-linear.
Scholars have long recognized that imminent shifts in relative power may motivate declining states to initiate conflict. But what conditions exacerbate the risk posed by these anticipated power shifts? Building upon existing bargaining models of war, I show that larger initial power asymmetries increase the probability of preventive conflict. Theoretical extensions that account for certainty effects and variable costs of war, both of which are linked to initial dyadic power balances, drive this relationship. It follows that looming power transitions in which rising states approach and surpass parity, long considered war-prone scenarios, are not particularly problematic. Instead, the risk of conflict is greatest when preponderant powers confront conventionally weak but rising states. I test the theoretical predictions in the context of anticipated power shifts due to rivals pursuing nuclear weapons. Extensive empirical tests that relax assumptions employed in prior analyses of preventive conflict offer strong support for this contention. These results shed light on the underpinnings of many pressing contemporary interstate security issues.
Efforts to strengthen democratic institutions have become a nearly universal feature of peacebuilding efforts in states recovering from civil war, yet such institutions often become dominated by a single actor or party. Why are some post-conflict incumbents able to dominate politics in this way, while others face more robust electoral competition? This study finds that post-conflict electoral competition depends on the types of capabilities that combatants develop during civil war. Where rebels develop capabilities that can be converted from military to electoral use, incumbents face stronger electoral challenges, but the effects are conditioned by the number of actors involved.
Although territorial disputes are one of the most fraught issues among states, how public opinion on territorial disputes varies within states and what explains the variation are often overlooked. This paper argues that citizens who prioritize economic considerations are more likely to support compromises over such disputes, while those who prioritize a country’s reputation tend to reject any compromise. Further, the paper hypothesizes that such variation in individual preferences can be explained by proximity to disputed territories. Counterintuitively, residents closer to disputes are more likely to support a compromise than those who live further away, because they are more affected by economic considerations. Those far from the disputed territory can afford to focus on its political aspects, which leads to a more hawkish stance. By using an experimental approach within Japan, this paper examines the validity of the spatial argument, and tests the relative salience of economic and political aspects of territorial disputes. The findings, based on original survey data, show that distance from disputed territories shapes individual preferences, and under some conditions, people living further away from disputed territories are more hawkish.
Since Ted Gurr’s Why Men Rebel it has become conventional wisdom that (relative) deprivation creates grievances and that these grievances in turn lead to intergroup violence. Recently, studies have yielded evidence that the exclusion of ethnic groups is a substantial conflict risk. From a theoretical angle, the relationship is straightforward and is likely to unfold as a causal chain that runs from objective discrimination to (subjective) grievances and then to violence. We test this proposition with unique group-format data on 433 religious minorities in the developing world from 1990 to 2008. While religious discrimination indeed increases the likelihood of grievances, neither grievances nor discrimination are connected to violence. This finding is supported by a large number of robustness checks. Conceptually, discrimination and grievances can take very different shapes and opportunity plays a much bigger role than any grievance-based approach expects.
By the mid-century, two-thirds of the world population will reside in urban areas. The bulk of this urban growth will take place in developing countries. Whereas average living standards are usually higher in urban areas, economic growth does not result in prosperity for all. Inequality is a likely source of frustration that could increase the potential for political radicalization and unrest—especially if certain groups suffer from systematic social exclusion. Drawing on household surveys, the article provides new indicators of internal migration, poverty and inequality for 34 cities in Africa and Asia for the period 1986–2006. These data are linked with data on urban social disorder events. The results suggest that it is not the actual movement of rural people into the cities that creates social upheaval. Rather, overall poor and unequal educational opportunities as well as socioeconomic marginalization of rural–urban migrants are found to spur increased levels of urban violence.
Researchers in the conflict research community have become increasingly aware that we can no longer depend on state-aggregated data. Numerous factors at the substate level affect the nature of human interactions, so if we really want to understand conflict, we need to find more appropriate units of analysis. However, while many conflict researchers have realized this, actually taking the next step and performing data analysis on spatial data grids has remained a rather elusive goal for many because of the difficulty of learning the new techniques to perform such analyses. This paper introduces SpatialGridBuilder, a new, freely available, open-source system with the goal of empowering conflict researchers with no background in GIS methods to start their own spatial analyses. SpatialGridBuilder allows the researcher to: (a) create entirely new spatial datasets, based on the needs of their own research; (b) import their own spatial data; (c) easily add a range of important variables to the datasets, including commonly used conflict variables, plus new variables that have not been presented before; and (d) visualize graphical renderings of this data. Having done this, SpatialGridBuilder will then export the dataset for the researcher to analyse using conventional statistical methods. This article introduces the new program, and demonstrates how it can be used to set up such a statistical analysis. It also shows how different results can be achieved by building grids of different resolutions, thereby encouraging researchers to choose grid resolutions appropriate to their research questions and data. The article also introduces a novel means of determining infrastructure complexity, using Google maps.
This article introduces an original dataset of post-Cold War complex humanitarian emergencies. The dataset identifies recent instances of war, atrocity crimes, one-sided violence and communal conflict with the most disruptive consequences for civilians. In doing so, it complements a growing body of research and data on civilians’ experiences in war and other forms of violent conflict. While much recent research examines the causes of intentional violence against civilians, this data is likely to be especially useful for investigating questions that require comparison between conflicts on the basis of their human consequences, whether intended or not. Notably, this includes research into the politics of humanitarian action. The article lays out the motivation behind the project, discusses the criteria for identifying complex emergencies and the data-collection process, provides a brief overview of the data and offers some ideas for possible applications. As an example of how the data might be employed, it uses them to demonstrate the importance of humanitarian needs over US political interests in the allocation of US disaster assistance during conflict situations.
While questions about the diplomatic effectiveness of hawkish or dovish policies are crucially important, little research has been conducted on the domestic political risks and benefits associated with a chosen policy. This paper provides evidence to suggest why elites avoid the use of inducements and focus on more hawkish policies. Specifically this article focuses on the public opinion risks associated with offering an inducement that does not result in a change in behaviour of a target state. Using an experiment embedded within a wider survey instrument, we assess public ex post evaluations of government behaviour towards a nascent nuclear power that is believed to threaten British national security. The study examines not only the rewards associated with successful policies and the costs of failure, but also whether those costs are particularly heavy when it is dovish policies that fail. The results indicate that the public does have a particular aversion for unsuccessful engagement policies. Successful policies are generally more popular than unsuccessful policies, but a hawkish failure wins more public sympathy than a failed inducement. These results provide an important explanation as to why inducements tend to be avoided on the international stage: the risks of failure are too severe.
Theories of alliance formation and war suggest that alliances influence the probability that a potential challenger will initiate a militarized interstate dispute. This is because alliances are expected to influence their members’ likelihood of intervening in a potential war. More specifically, defense pacts are expected to increase the likelihood of members joining the target of a war and offense pacts are expected to increase the likelihood of members joining the initiator of a war. However, there is no empirical evidence that demonstrates that these different alliance treaty obligations have these effects on states’ war intervention decisions. Therefore, in an analysis of all states’ war intervention behavior in 95 wars, I provide the first estimates of these different effects of alliance agreements. After controlling for a number of measured and unmeasured factors, I find that alliances have the hypothesized effects on states’ war intervention decisions. These findings provide a more comprehensive account of the effects of alliances on war intervention and offer additional support for arguments linking alliances to the onset of militarized interstate disputes.
Terrorists are supposed to be influenced by opportunities for news coverage, but does this mean that groups initiate foreign attacks in response to the absence of press freedom in their country or inattention to that state by foreign media organizations? Using Asal and Rethmeyer’s BAAD1 data on terrorist organizations, we find that increasing levels of attention by the international press reduce the odds of groups launching cross-border attacks. The propensity of groups to launch foreign attacks appears unrelated to press freedom. These results suggest that the protections that states provide for the press motivate foreign terrorism less than the way the media determines newsworthiness.
Building on economic norms theory, I argue that the causes of international conflict may be contextual rather than constant over time. I explore the temporal patterns in the predictors of conflict in data on European conflict between 1870 and 2001, using an endogenous Markov chain Monte Carlo Poisson change-point model. I find that the period can be divided into two time periods, different in terms of the direction of the effect of the main conflict predictors. While democracy has a positive effect on conflict in the period between 1870 and 1938, it has a negative effect from 1938 to 2001. Likewise, trade initially has no impact on conflict, but later exerts a pacifying effect. Post-estimation analyses suggest that such patterns are best explained by the externalization of contractual norms, which is consistent with economic norms theory.
How do the qualities of United Nations peacekeeping operations (PKOs) influence the duration of peace after civil wars? Recent work shows that UN peacekeeping extends the duration of peace. However, this work has only been able to assess whether the presence or absence of UN missions affects post-conflict peace processes. Such analyses offer little in the way of policy prescriptions for planning and structuring PKOs to effectively pursue their goals. By employing fine-grained data on the personnel composition of PKOs, and generating expectations from rationalist bargaining models of civil war, we argue that the number and type of personnel deployed to a PKO influence the UN’s ability guarantee peace by addressing the information and commitment problems that so often lead to the collapse of post-conflict peace. We analyze how the composition of missions influences the duration of peace, finding that, as the number of UN military troops deployed increases, the chance of civil war recurring decreases. However, other personnel types do not have the same effect. We conclude that the effectiveness of post-conflict peacekeeping lies in the ability of PKOs to alleviate commitment problems through the deployment of military troops that are able to defend the peace.
This paper considers how coups d’état influence the duration of civil wars. While previous work on civil war duration has ignored coups, grouped them alongside civil wars or considered them as a special type of conflict, this article recognizes coups as dramatic events that can quickly change the course of a conflict. Coups that take place during a civil war can shock an otherwise intractable bargaining situation, shortening the war’s duration. This shock influences both information and credibility concerns. Coups condense government preferences into a single, unified viewpoint and allow governments to efficiently translate preferences into action. They likewise combine the military with the government, effectively eliminating the military as a potential spoiler, which helps ease the commitment problem. These expectations are tested by examining the impact of successful coups on civil war duration, 1950–2009. Results suggest that coups indeed serve as peace-inducing shocks, primarily by working through the credibility mechanism.
In this study, I evaluate the effect of identity-based political inequalities on the probability of nonviolent and violent resistance in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). During the Arab Spring, many states with higher levels of ethnic and religious political inequalities experienced lengthy resistance movements and violence, while states with lower levels of political inequalities largely experienced less volatility. I find support for my expectations using data spanning 1960–2011. Not only do results suggest that in MENA states with higher levels of identity-based political inequalities experience more conflict, but results from a global analysis suggest that this relationship is particularly robust within MENA. Sub-Saharan Africa is also conflict prone; however, the onset of nonviolent and violent movements is lower than MENA.
Bargaining models argue that wars usually terminate when the information gap closes enough to create a bargaining range. Although this convergence is assumed to be straightforward, factors that identify the information regarding the likely military outcome to the belligerents have not been identified. One of Clausewitz’s main ideas was that states can win wars by attacking the enemy’s centers of gravity, which I argue provide an important way through which information convergence is achieved. I examine the importance of three centers of gravity—capturing the enemy’s capital, destroying the enemy’s military forces, and eliminating enemy allies from the war—on war outcomes through a quantitative analysis of wars from 1816 to 2007.
This study tests three categories of motivations for domestic right-wing terrorism in the USA: economic grievances, particularly those produced by economic restructuring; societal changes that challenge notions of white male privilege; and political and public policy elements that stoke resentments. Executing a series of negative binomial regression estimations on state-level data in the USA for the period 1970–2011, I find that measures of societal factors—specifically increase in abortion rates and growing female participation in the labor force—and political indicators such as Democratic Party control of the White House, precipitate right-wing terrorist attacks. Factors associated with economic hardships—such as poverty, the decline of manufacturing employment and the "Farm Crisis"—as well as growth of the non-white population, control of state government by the Democratic Party and growth of average Federal Income Tax rates—are not found to be significant predictors of right-wing terrorism.
Why do some civil wars end sooner than others? Extant theory focuses on how exogenous factors, such as resources or third parties, exacerbate the commitment problem faced by belligerents. In explaining the duration of civil war, we focus on factors endogenous to the disputing parties. We advance a theory suggesting that the tenure of a state’s leader influences war duration. Specifically, we argue that longer-tenured leaders tend to fight longer civil wars. This is because long-tenured leaders have a more predictable policy reputation. Based on this predictable reputation, opposition groups have decided to fight the leader rather than bargain peacefully. Therefore, they will be unlikely to believe any policy concessions the leader might offer. This commitment problem looms larger for leaders who do not have domestic institutions that can credibly commit the leader to policy changes. We find robust statistical support for our conjecture. The findings have important implications for leader-centric studies of conflict, as well as for our understanding of bargaining during war.
Conventional wisdom has long held that conducting counterinsurgency wars overseas is an invitation for foreign policy difficulty, if not outright disaster for democracies. However, current research lacks systematic evidence to support such a claim, fostering uncertainty regarding the connection between regime type and the outcomes of such conflicts and leaving open the question if such a link even exists. I address these issues by linking the level of casualties suffered by an occupying force to its leadership’s decision to withdraw from the territory. Using a dataset of wars of occupation from 1800 to 2005, I find that, while democracies are no more likely to lose than their autocratic counterparts, they consistently abandon these conflicts at significantly lower levels of casualties.
This article examines how the civilian constituencies of rebel groups affect their use of violence against civilians. While past research has acknowledged the importance of rebel constituencies, they are primarily seen as only having an indirect effect on rebel behavior. In this study, I conceptualize rebel constituencies as central political opportunity structures for rebel groups providing incentives and imposing restraints on their use of strategic violence and the violent behavior of individual rebel fighters. In particular, I hypothesize that a constituency overlap between rebels and the government of a state acts as a restraint making large-scale violence against civilians less likely. In contrast, high levels of constituency fractionalization and polarization induce strategic violence and predatory behavior, increasing the chances of large-scale civilian victimization. I conduct a statistical analysis of rebel one-sided violence in sub-Saharan Africa using newly collected data on rebel constituencies to test these hypotheses. The results only provide limited empirical support for the hypothesized relationship between constituency overlap and rebel violence against civilians. There is clear empirical evidence, however, that heavily fractionalized and polarized rebel constituencies are associated with higher levels of violence against civilians.
Many accounts of civil war violence assume that a conflict’s master cleavage also explains the local occurrence of violence. Some scholars, however, have argued that violence is often the result of local cleavages and feuds, many of which may be unrelated to the conflict’s master cleavage. How is local violence related to the conflict’s master cleavage? Using a computational model, this paper studies an alliance mechanism proposed by Kalyvas (2006, The Logic of Violence in Civil War, Cambridge University Press), where macro-actors support local ones that fight on their behalf. While these alliances create a principal–agent problem, the model shows that they can raise the overall severity of the conflict and serve the interests of the macro-actor. However, the model also shows that these mechanisms work only under limited conditions. Alliances can increase the level of violence perpetrated in the interest of the macro-actor, but only if (a) the latter supports agents that have in the past fought along the master cleavage and if (b) this happens in rural areas. This emphasizes again the importance of the rural dimension in the study of civil war.
This article examines the drivers of terrorist campaigns waged specifically for the sake of ethnic identity groups. Terrorism scholarship has generally overlooked the ethnic dimension that some terrorist campaigns have in favor of building or testing theories applicable to all terrorist violence, regardless of ideological orientation. The research that does address ethnic terrorism attributes it either to a broad and vague notion of nationalism or to factors that might be idiosyncratic of a small number of cases. This study tests the causes of ethnic terrorism found to be of most theoretical salience: political and economic grievances with the host state and competition between the ethnic community’s elites for control over the group. It uses data at the ethnic group level of analysis, rather than the more common country level. In doing so, model results should offer improved explanations for the outcome of ethnic terrorism, linking group features, rather than country characteristics or subnational factors aggregated to the country level, directly to group terrorism. The results show that political grievances and elite competition increase the likelihood of ethnic terrorism, while economic grievances are not generally associated with this form of violence.
Recent price spikes in the international commodity markets have been blamed for numerous riots, protests and other forms of civil unrest. While these effects are widespread, they are not universal. In this article we investigate the relationship between food prices and social unrest. More specifically, we are concerned with the factors that make civil conflict more or less likely when food prices are elevated. We borrow from the extant literature on civil conflict as well as agriculture economics in order to analyze this phenomenon and help explain the variation among different countries. By merging these two research programs, we hope to make a contribution to each. We utilize a domestic-level measure of food prices rather than the world market price in order to more accurately represent national-level economic conditions. Our results show a positive and significant relationship between food prices and outbreak of social unrest and conflict across a wide range of coutries. Thus, we recommend the inclusion of a food price variable into any future studies of civil conflict. More importantly, we have helped to identify the potential factors that might insulate countries from food-oriented conflict. Given the events of the past year, this issue is paramount for scholars and world leaders alike.
Third parties intervene in ongoing civil wars frequently and at times with nefarious intentions. In this paper, we consider the possibility that lootable natural resources motivate third parties to intervene in wars on the side of the opposition. Such resources offer a host of benefits to the intervener, including resource extraction and greater likelihood of rebel success. When rebels have access to lootable resources, we hypothesize that third parties will be more likely to intervene on the side of the rebels and simultaneously less likely to intervene on behalf of the government. Rare-events logit and split population (mixture-cure) survival models, in conjunction with close attention to the mechanisms found in individual cases, offer support for the theoretical argument. This paper advances our understanding of the motivations for intervention into civil war by highlighting the largely neglected role of economic factors in motivating opposition-biased interventions. It further adds insights into the role of natural resources in civil wars by shifting emphasis away from domestic combatants towards the motives of outside states.
This paper brings together studies of civil war consequences and literature on military spending, introducing a novel mechanism for how civil wars adversely affect neighbors—through neighbors’ increased military spending. Military expenditures are important because they often inhibit development. Civil wars affect proximate states’ defense spending because the potential spillover threatens neighbors. Tests on developing countries from 1950 to 2006 suggest that bordering civil wars are associated with military spending levels, independently of arms races or civil war interventions. Analyses use measures of neighboring civil war that take into consideration whether or not the civil war zone reaches the shared border.
Previous studies of internal armed conflict outcomes have found evidence that rebel-biased military intervention increases the likelihood of rebel victory, but little indication that pro-government interventions improve the odds of government victory. Our argument, grounded in a theory of the utility and limitations of military force in civil wars, anticipates that armed intervention increases the probability of victory for the supported side only when that belligerent’s primary challenge is a lack of conventional war-fighting capacity. Empirical analyses of internal armed conflicts from 1945 to 2010 support these expectations. Direct interventions in support of opposition movements have substantively large, robust effects on conflict outcomes. In contrast, government-biased interventions are only effective in increasing the odds of an outcome favorable to the government when the fighting capacity of rebel forces matches or exceeds that of the state.
Why do combatants engaged in civil conflict sign peace agreements when they do? Does a commitment by the United Nations (UN) to send a peacekeeping mission increase the probability that combatants will sign an agreement? With regards to the relationship between peace agreements and UN peacekeeping missions, previous studies of civil war have taken one of two positions: (a) a peace agreement between combatants causes an increase in the probability that the UN will send a peacekeeping mission to the conflict; or (b) the UN’s decision to send a peacekeeping mission to a conflict causes an increase in the probability that combatants will sign a peace agreement. I contend that the UN’s decision to send peacekeepers to a conflict and the combatant’s decision to sign a peace agreement occur simultaneously. To overcome the simultaneity, I exploit exogenous variation in the UN’s willingness to send peacekeepers to conflicts in the mid-1990s, based on the experience of the UNOSOM II mission in Somalia, to identity the causal effects that UN peacekeeping has on the likelihood of combatants signing peace agreements. Not accounting for endogeneity, the data suggest that the UN’s willingness to send peacekeepers increases the probability of a peace agreement. A recursive bivariate probit model using Black Hawk Down as an instrumental variable, however, indicates that the UN’s willingness to send peacekeepers to a conflict does not increase the probability that combatants will sign an agreement. This finding suggests that combatants sign agreements for reasons related internally to the conflict, not pressure from the international community.
Child soldiers remain a stark reminder of the suffering caused by civil wars. This paper explores the long-term calculations that rebel leaders employ when deciding whether or not to use child soldiers. A norm against the use of child soldiers has been strongly stated by the international community. Given their need to attract international support to achieve their goal of state recognition, we argue that separatist rebellions are unlikely to use child soldiers because they are constrained by these norms. We test our expectation on a newly collected dataset of child soldier use from 1998 to 2008. Our analyses find considerable support that separatists are more likely to follow accepted norms and refrain from using underage troops. Consistent with previous work, we also find that child soldier use increases as the duration of the war increases, when there is a vulnerable supply of internally displaced people, as youth unemployment increases, and when rebel groups rely on illicit funds.
We revisit the old and well-established theory of free-riding in military alliances. Existing empirical evidence infers free-riding from the larger military expenditures per gross domestic product (GDP) of countries of larger GDP. Yet, larger countries have broader military and geostrategic interests that result in larger defense burdens, thus creating an identification problem for existing tests of free-riding behavior. We therefore develop alternative predictions that ignore differences in the level of military spending and instead relate to growth in spending over time. The safety level of smaller members of an alliance is affected, simultaneously, by changes to military spending of the largest alliance member as well as by spending changes of the main enemy. Using the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as test case, we estimate country-specific response functions of the smaller alliance members to growth in US military spending on the one hand and to growth of Soviet spending (if in excess of US growth) on the other, covering the period 1956–1988. Results from our quasi-spatial approach corroborate one part of the theory in that we find the vast majority of the smaller NATO allies to be free-riders. However, our empirical evidence flatly contradicts the other part of the free-riding theory: the extent of free-riding is not a function of country size. Smaller allies free-ride, but the relatively larger of the smaller allies do not free-ride any less than the relatively even smaller alliance partners.
This paper investigates the role of state capacity for political violence. Most previous studies have suffered from inadequacies of country-level data, questionable validity of indicators or theoretical shortcomings. This paper aims at overcoming some of these challenges. We focus on one specific aspect of state capacity: the role of governmental manpower. We argue that its subnational effect on political violence follows a non-linear, inverted-U shape. We investigate this hypothesis in the context of southern Sudan, covering the period from 2006 to 2010. We use unique data on the geographical distribution of public personnel across 75 southern Sudanese counties. The data are matched with geocoded data on violent events as well as various socio-economic indicators. Our fixed-effects estimations indicate that particularly low or high levels of state capacity are associated with low levels of violence. Counties with intermediate numbers of state personnel experience the highest numbers of violent events.
Recent research on economic sanctions has produced significant advances in our theoretical and empirical understanding of the causes and effects of these phenomena. Our theoretical understanding, which has been guided by empirical findings, has reached the point where existing datasets are no longer adequate to test important hypotheses. This article presents a recently updated version of the Threat and Imposition of Economic Sanctions dataset. This version of the data extends the temporal domain, corrects errors, updates cases that were ongoing as of the last release, and includes a few additional variables. We describe the dataset, paying special attention to the key differences in the new version, and we present descriptive statistics for some of the key variables, highlighting differences across versions. Since the major change in the dataset was to more than double the time period covered, we also present some simple statistics showing trends in sanctions use over time.
Civil wars reflect, in part, internal contestation over the provision of resources. A government’s ability to "buy off" rebellion by providing social welfare payments is one mechanism to help ensure social stability. In times of economic distress, however, the government becomes increasingly constrained in its ability to provide social welfare and, absent some form of financial relief, will be subject to increasing pressure from potential rebel groups. Migrant remittances can serve as a smoothing mechanism that provides for social welfare needs outside the formal mechanisms of the state, and therefore acts to reduce the incentive for rebellion. We develop a model of migrant remittances as a vehicle that provides domestic stability in times of economic constraints. We test hypotheses from this model on World Bank remittance data to 152 countries from 1980 to 2005. Our results suggest that a significant increase in migrant remittances during crises can lower the risk of civil war.
Reducing coup risk is imperative and expensive for postconflict leaders. A theoretical framework is therefore needed to explain the subset of leaders who spend on development following civil war. The low-windfall coup-proofing hypothesis proposed here suggests that only postconflict leaders who lack natural resources and offer no strategic importance to donors choose to reduce coup risk by using nonstrategic aid for development. A nested research design with data on postconflict coups (1970–2009) and a case study based on fieldwork are used to test the hypothesis. The hypothesis is supported across robustness checks, indicating that development from aid reduces coup risk for postconflict leaders with low windfall.
While many recommend electoral democracy as a way to avoid or resolve civil conflict, the empirical record of electoral democracy as an alternative to civil conflict is decidedly mixed. We apply recent work from new organizational economics on the nature of elite pacts to add to both sides of the debate. On the one hand, we argue that we should be more pessimistic about the ability of existing electoral institutions to help rather than hurt the prospects for a stable peace. We argue that the new organizational economics reveals a design dilemma—a forced trade-off between the credible commitment to an elite pact in the short term and the adaptability of an elite pact in the long term—that plagues the most commonly considered alternatives. On the other hand, we tentatively argue for optimism if institutional designers work with criteria that explicitly take the dilemma into account. We propose novel design criteria that would allow a polity to address the design dilemma.
This article examines how states manage foreign policy crises that are triggered by non-state actors. This research argues that crises triggered by non-state actors are particularly prone to informational and commitment problems, as well as audience costs. As a consequence, a state experiencing a non-state-triggered crisis will be more likely to adopt violent crisis management techniques and less likely to seek a negotiated solution. This assertion is tested using data from the International Crisis Behavior project. The findings suggest that these crises are indeed more prone to violent crisis management techniques when compared with crises triggered by other states. The implications of these findings for both our understanding of crisis decision-making and the study of non-state actors in international relations are discussed.
The decisive defeat of an enemy in conventional war—conquest—frequently brings about peace on the victor’s terms; in some cases, however, conquest does not end the violence, but instead marks a transition to guerrilla war. What determines whether conquest results in war termination? While traditional theories of insurgency would predict that peace depends on appealing to the hearts and minds of the defeated population, I argue that conquerors in conventional wars cannot expect to win over the defeated population, and hence that avoiding post-conquest resistance requires quick and often brutal responses to initial opposition to deter potential challengers. I test this argument both statistically and through two sets of short paired case studies.
To examine the political factors that influence the use of legal mechanisms to resolve territorial disputes, we model the decision to pursue arbitration and adjudication as part of a bargaining process in the shadow of war. We find that arbitration and adjudication can help prevent bargaining breakdown, but states only pursue and comply with such measures when the expected ruling reflects the balance of power between them. To test the theory, we examine compliance with arbitral and adjudicated rulings on territorial claims. In line with our expectations, states are less likely to comply when the stronger disputant is asked to make greater concessions. We conclude that power politics constrains the conditions under which legal mechanisms can be used to successfully manage contentious claims over territory.
This article examines whether rogue states are more aggressive in challenging other states’ claims to territory in comparison with non-rogue states. Rogue states are defined as those which systematically violate accepted international human rights norms of gender and ethnic nondiscrimination and protection from state repression. Hypotheses suggest that states that regularly violate international human rights norms are more likely to challenge other states’ territorial claims and that dyads with rogue states are more likely to experience territorial claims. Empirical analyses of data from two datasets on territorial claims provide support to the theory. Territorial claims are more likely in politically relevant dyads as the potential challenger’s rogue state score increases. Territorial claims are also more likely to emerge as the minimum rogue state score in a dyad increases. The substantive effect of rogue status is sizable, increasing the chances for a territorial claim by as much as 500%.
Borders are perhaps the most significant institutions in international relations. A massive literature demonstrates that border disputes fundamentally affect the character of relations between disputants, often escalating to violent and persistent conflict. However, the literature has barely begun to explore and identify the exact mechanisms that produce disputes and whereby these disputes escalate. Recent research demonstrates that how borders are drawn affects the probability of subsequent conflict and suggests that borders will be peaceful when they effectively and efficiently coordinate the actors on either side, thereby creating stable and predictable patterns of interactions. This research, however, ignores the obvious temporal component implied by theory. We develop the temporal component of an institutional theory of borders, starting from the argument that whether new international borders become more stable over time depends upon whether actors on both sides learn to coordinate on new jurisdictional international borders. We build on this idea to argue that the effect of time is significantly influenced by the manner in which the new border is drawn. We find that new borders that follow previous administrative frontiers become stable institutions much faster than than those drawn otherwise. In other words, stable and peaceful coordination on new borders occurs much faster when those new borders follow previous administrative frontiers.
We examine whether features highlighted as important for mediation in existing research allow us to predict when we will see mediation and likely success out-of-sample. We assess to what extent information about the characteristics of the conflicting dyads and conflict history can be evaluated ex ante and improve our ability to predict when conflicts will see mediation as well as when peaceful solutions are more likely to follow from mediation. We justify that the information used to generate predictions through the model can be assessed ex ante, using the ongoing conflict in Syria as an example. Our results suggest that a two-stage model of mediation and success seems to do relatively well overall in predicting when mediation is likely to occur, but notably less well in predicting the outcome of mediation. This may reflect how ex ante observable structural characteristics are likely to influence willingness to mediate, while the outcome of mediation to a large extent will be influenced by unobservable characteristics or private information and how these are influenced by mediation. We discuss the usefulness of out-of-sample evaluation in studying conflict management and suggest future directions for improving our ability to forecast mediation.
Why do leaders draw attention to some cooperative security negotiations but shroud others in secrecy? Previous scholarship focuses on leaders’ efforts to gain better terms of agreement either by playing their cards close to the vest at the bargaining table or by leveraging/avoiding aroused public opinion at home. Yet, in many cases, it is neither dyadic nor domestic political pressures that motivate leaders’ decisions to publicly acknowledge or conceal the occurrence of talks. This article suggests, instead, that third-party states often constitute the primary targets of official secrecy and that a state’s international power position shapes its decision to conceal or acknowledge military cooperation by affecting the size and attentiveness of international audiences, the types of assets it brings to the relationship and the benefits it seeks from cooperation. I test five hypotheses about leaders’ use of secrecy and acknowledgment through a statistical analysis of an original dataset on US overseas military basing negotiations. This analysis produces strong support for my argument.
Legal reforms matter for economic growth and democratic consolidation. As part of the "second-generation reforms", international financial institutions have sought to build the rule of law by funding a vast array of legal and judicial reform projects throughout the developing world. Yet aside from scattered anecdotal evidence, the general effects of international assistance on legal reform and the rule of law remain poorly understood. This article addresses this gap by developing a theoretical framework that explores the strategic interaction among international financial institutions, national governments and non-governmental actors. Using original data on World Bank legal and judicial reform projects, we show that World Bank assistance can in fact encourage some types of incumbent governments to promote reforms that increase judicial independence.
In an era where state borders are relatively fixed and interstate wars are uncommon, it seems wise to begin to look beyond full-scale war when examining the relationship between military force and state-building. We thus examine the impact that a low-scale form of armed force, foreign military intervention, has on state-building in post-colonial countries. Using selectorate theory within an actor-centric framework, we hypothesize that certain democratic interveners tend to have a positive impact on post-colonial state-building efforts, while non-democratic and intergovernmental organization interveners have little if any impact. We test our theory using interrupted time series methodology in panel corrected standard error estimates of 80 countries from 1972 to 2002. While our empirical results are somewhat mixed, they demonstrate that different sets of interveners do have different state-building impacts.
During civil conflicts the distribution of power heavily influences belligerents’ war strategies, potentially including civilian targeting. Despite the potential relevance to wartime victimization, the relationship between insurgent capabilities and civilian victimization has received limited attention. A complicating factor in assessing this relationship is that power produces countervailing incentives and opportunities for violence. While greater military capabilities present more opportunities for death and destruction, incentives for anti-civilian violence should decline as the range of war strategies available to the group expands. This intuition suggests a tension between the opportunities and incentives to kill that past studies have failed to explicitly address. I help resolve this tension by examining the manner in which the origins of rebel resources condition the relationship between military capabilities and civilian victimization. Where groups rely on local support, violence declines as group capabilities increase. By contrast, when rebels rely on alternative sources of support, greater capabilities produce greater levels of violence. I test these relationships quantitatively using recently constructed data on insurgent resources and one-sided violence against civilians in conflicts occurring between 1989 and 2009.
Focusing on Muslim populations in five Muslim-majority countries and four Western European countries, we examine the correlates of popular support for terrorist violence. In both samples, support for terrorism is stronger among those who see democracy as a Western political system which is not suitable for Muslim societies. Perceived Western economic dominance is related to more support for terrorism among Muslims in Western Europe. In the Muslim countries, blaming the West for negative international relations is associated with greater support for terrorism. The associations found are remarkably similar across the Western European countries but vary considerably across the Muslim countries, preventing generalized interpretations. Nevertheless, our findings indicate that perceptions about world politics represent an important factor of pro-terrorist views among Muslims. Therefore, we suggest that improvement of the relationships between the West and the Muslim world can reduce support for terrorism.
Thus far, researchers working on ethnicity and resources as determinants of civil conflict have operated largely independently of each other. While there is plenty of evidence that natural resources may spur armed conflict, empirical evidence for the nexus between ethnic fractionalization and conflict remains inconclusive. Some authors conclude that ethnically fractionalized societies are actually spared from intrastate violence. Others find either a positive relationship or none at all between ethnic fragmentation and internal conflict. In this context, this paper serves two purposes: first, it shows that salience-based fractionalization indices are associated with a higher risk of ethnic conflict onset; second, it finds evidence that oil further increases the conflict potential within fractionalized countries. The combination of oil and a shared identity seems to help overcome the collective action problems associated with rebellion, by providing recruitment pools, strong motives and the necessary financial means for insurgency. Employing logit models for pooled time-series cross-sectional data, our quantitative analysis shows that various ethnic fractionalization indicators are robustly linked to a substantially increased risk of ethnic armed conflict onset in a subset of oil-abundant countries.
Scholars have not found a consistent connection between state-sponsored mass killing and forced migration. I argue that disaggregating mass killing into its various forms can illuminate these mixed findings. As genocide targets specific groups, the effect of this killing should not have a large effect on creating forced migrants amongst the rest of the population. Conversely, politicides aim to eradicate individuals whom the government sees as a threat. As the focus of politicide cuts across groups, this type of mass killing should affect a larger proportion of the population and lead to greater numbers of displaced persons.
Instability and conflict within African countries are on the rise. What are the best means for third parties to promote short-term crisis management and long-term conflict resolution in these situations? Often, these two tasks are at odds with one another, and certain approaches to intervention may be more or less effective. This study grapples with these issues by focusing on one particularly difficult set of cases—violent crises that are rooted in ethnic divisions and are part of protracted conflicts in Africa during the post-Cold War era—and one approach to intervention—mediation. We also view mediation as a multidimensional strategic process, and we test a series of hypotheses linking specific mediation styles to various crisis outcomes. The data and analyses reported in this study grew out of a new project named Mediating Intrastate Crises that is focused on uncovering the dynamics of successful mediation efforts during crisis situations at the intrastate level, which are important but understudied phenomena. Our findings indicate that mediators are highly effective at managing crises in the short term, particularly when they adopt a more intrusive approach. However, they have insignificant effects on long-term conflict resolution, showing little ability to stem the tide of recurrent violence.
Could trade sanctions improve environmental cooperation by reducing countries’ incentives to free ride? While carbon tariffs are a widely debated environmental policy, their ability to facilitate climate cooperation remains unclear. We examine game-theoretic models of environmental cooperation with and without trade sanctions. While trade sanctions prevent free riders from obtaining unfair competitive advantages, we show that they can also impede environmental cooperation. Most importantly, since trade sanctions reduce the cost of unilateral policy, they prevent environmentally inclined countries from credibly threatening to suspend cooperation if other countries defect. We use these findings to illuminate outcomes in normatively important cases such as ozone depletion and overfishing, and discuss how they cast a shadow of doubt on the use of carbon tariffs to enforce climate cooperation.
Textual Analysis by Augmented Replacement Instructions (TABARI) provides an automated method for coding large amounts of text. Using TABARI to code lead sentences of news stories, the KEDS/Penn State Event Data project has produced event data for several regions. The wide range of events and actors, TABARI’s ability to filter duplicate events and the number of events coded allow users to analyze patterns in conflict and cooperation between state and nonstate actors over time. We evaluate whether coding full stories provides more detailed information on the actors referenced in the lead sentences. Additional actor information would allow researchers interested in the interactions between violent nonstate actors to test hypotheses regarding group cohesiveness and splintering, spoiling behavior, commitment problems between factions and many other issues critical to management of an insurgency. We downloaded Reuters news stories relevant to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and used TABARI to code the lead sentences. We then analyzed the full text of the coded stories to determine the level of actor detail available. Our findings highlight the dynamic relationship among nonstate and state actors during the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and we find that, contrary to expectations, hand coding full news stories does not lead to significant improvements in the accuracy or depth of actor information compared with machine coding by TABARI using lead sentences. These findings should bolster the confidence of researchers using TABARI coded data, with the caveat that TABARI’s ability to distinguish between actors is dependent upon the detail available in the actor dictionaries.
How do factors that influence mediation offers affect belligerent behavior? The circumstances that attract potential mediators are not the same as those that make mediation desirable to belligerents. Third parties offer mediation when the conflict is intense, generation of an agreement is likely and they have ties to the conflict. However, mediation is less acceptable to belligerents in these circumstances. This dynamic creates a dilemma; the characteristics that make third parties more forthcoming with mediation offers simultaneously make disputants more likely to reject mediation proposals. A better understanding of this strategic process can help scholars and policy-makers better determine how to supply mediation where it is needed most.
The UN Security Council (UNSC) confronts at least three challenges in translating its actions during armed conflict into more durable peace after conflict. First, heavy-handed interventions such as military deployments and sanctions can impede the ability of the disputants to identify and reach a self-sustaining settlement when there is insufficient follow-through. Second, coordination problems can arise in handing off peacemaking activities from actors in the Secretariat to the UNSC when post-conflict security guarantees and continuous engagement are needed. Third, explicit attempts by the UNSC to produce peace and stability make it susceptible to the problem of cheap talk when it proclaims its concerns. After characterizing these problems in theory and generating observable implications, the paper uses original data on UNSC resolutions to test the hypotheses. The results indicate that the UN can succeed as a short-term peacemaker, particularly when it relies on diplomatic engagement and sanctions. However, when there is not adequate follow-through in the form of peacekeeping, the UN struggles to improve the long-term prospects of peace in part because it tends to promote stop-gap ceasefire resolutions. With peacekeeping, active UN involvement during conflict can promote long-term stability. Half measures such as condemnations have little effect on the stability of peace.
This paper presents new data on personnel commitments to United Nations peacekeeping operations from 1990 to 2011. For every operation during this period, data on the number of deployed troops, police and military observers are coded at the monthly level. Additionally, the number of each personnel type contributed by every UN member state is recorded. These data offer opportunities for testing theories of peacekeeping and conflict processes and present research avenues for which data have hitherto not existed. Herein, I introduce the data and coding processes, present trends, illustrate prospects for research that could benefit from these data and provide an empirical application.