March 16, 2010

Where US Foreign Aid Goes

Via Chris Blattman, an eye-catching graph (data for 2004-2008).


December 08, 2007

Montinola on aid conditionality

Abstract: Many scholars argue that conditionality – the setting of policy goals in exchange for access to aid - does not work. None, however, investigates whether aid’s effect on policy is mediated byrecipient country characteristics. I argue that conditional aid’s efficacy depends on recipient countries’ level of democracy because the value of aid to governments depends on the degree to which it helps them maintain power, and recent work shows that the marginal impact of aid on political survival increases with level of democracy. I test this argument on data from 67 countries over the period from 1980 to 1999. I focus on aid’s impact on fiscal reform, one of the most commonly stipulated conditions in aid-for-policy arrangements. I show that aid promotes fiscal reform, but only in more democratic countries, and the positive impact of aid on reform increases with level of democracy. My work thus shows that conditionality is effective but only when applied on democratic governments.

Gabriella Montinola, “When Does Aid Conditionality Work?,” unpublished paper. Available here.

November 30, 2007

Putnam and Shapiro on whether treaties make citizens more likely to punish human rights violations

Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, some sixty multilateral treaties and conventions on various aspects of human rights have been enacted. Despite this proliferation of agreements, evidence of their impact on how governments treat their citizens is decidedly mixed (Hafner-Burton & Ron 2008). In countries where compliance with human rights laws is uniformly high, non-treaty factors are often credited (Von Stein 2005). In states that routinely violate the fundamental rights of their citizens, international human rights norms and treaties are criticized as ‘toothless’ and irrelevant. Indeed, several scholars have observed that the constraining effects of human rights treaties are often felt least where they are needed most: inside autocratic states controlled by governments with a history of brutality and repression against their own populations (Neumayer 2005; Hafner-
Burton & Tutsui 2007). …

In this paper we combine experimental and case study methods to explore how international law influence the politics behind the external enforcement of international human rights norms. We first use an online survey of U.S. voting-age citizens to test whether support for sanctioning Myanmar for its forced labor practices is affected by awareness that the Myanmar government’s conduct violates international law.

To verify that our experimental results offer explanatory insight into actual events, we use case methods to trace efforts inside the United States to mobilize support for punishing the Myanmar government for its numerous human rights violations. Three points jump out from this case study. First, the status of Myanmar’s actions under international law impacted governmental debates over sanctions and non-governmental initiatives to impose costs on U.S. and foreign firms doing business in the country. Second, American political leaders believe citizens take international law into account in a manner consistent with out experimental results. Third, politicians and NGO-activists responded to this belief.

Our study builds on recent experimental work. Tomz (2007) finds American voters and British policy makers “…far more likely to oppose policies that would violate international law than to oppose otherwise identical policies that would not trammel on existing legal rights” (emphasis in original).2 We explore the generalizeability of Tomz’ findings to the realm of human rights, and also whether the international law effect Tomz identifies extends to sanctioning other governments for failures to act within the constraints of international law.

Tonya Putnam and Jacob Shapiro, “Do Treaties Matter to Citizens Willingness to Punish Foreign Rights Abusers?,” unpublished paper. Available here.

November 08, 2007

Iqbal and Zorn on the Consequences of Assassination

The debate heats up …

Abstract: The assassination of a political leader is among the highest-profile acts of political violence, and conventional wisdom holds that such events often have substantial political, social, and economic effects on states. We investigate the extent to which the assassination of a head of state affects political stability, through an analysis of all assassinations of heads of state between 1952 and 1997. We examine the political consequences of assassination by assessing the levels of political unrest, instability, and civil war in states that experience the assassination of their head of state. Our findings support the existence of an interactive relationship among assassination, leadership succession, and political turmoil: in particular, we find that assassinations’ effects on political instability are greatest in systems in which the process of leadership succession is informal and unregulated.

Zaryab Iqbal and Christopher Zorn (forthcoming), “The Political Consequences of Assassination,” Journal of Conflict Resolution. Available here.

November 07, 2007

Jones and Olken on the political consequences of assassination

Abstract: Assassinations are a persistent feature of the political landscape. Using a new data set of assassination attempts on all world leaders from 1875 to 2004, we exploit inherent randomness in the success or failure of assassination attempts to identify assassination’s effects. We find that, on average, successful assassinations of autocrats produce sustained moves toward democracy. We also find that assassinations affect the intensity of small-scale conflicts. The results document a contemporary source of institutional change, inform theories of conflict, and show that small sources of randomness can have a pronounced effect on history.

Benjamin Jones and Benjamin Olken (2007), “Hit or Miss? The Effect of Assassinations on Institutions and War,” unpublished paper. Available here.

November 06, 2007

Blattmann and Annan on the Consequences of Child Soldiering

Abstract: Civil conflicts have afflicted a third of all nations and two thirds of Africa since 1991. In many cases, up to a third of male youth (including children) are drawn into armed groups, making soldiering one of the world’s most common occupations for the young. Little is known, however, about the impacts of military service on human capital and labor market outcomes due to an absence of data as well as sample selection: recruits are usually self-selected and screened, and may also selectively survive. We assess the impacts of participation in civil war using an original survey from Uganda, where a rebel group’s recruitment method provides arguably exogenous variation in conscription. Contrary to the prevailing view that participation in war leads to broad-based ‘traumatization’, we find that military service primarily hinders long-term economic performance because it is a poor substitute for civilian education and work experience. The most significant impact is upon a recruit’s skills and productivity: schooling falls by nearly a year, skilled employment halves, and earnings drop by a third. These impacts are highly robust to relaxation of the assumption of exogenous conscription. Effects are greatest for child soldiers, who lose the most education. There is no observed impact on social capital, and adverse impacts on mental health, while evident, are present in a relative minority.

Christopher Blattmann and Jeannie Annan (2007), “The Consequences of Child Soldiering” (unpublished paper). Available here.

November 03, 2007

Shapiro on the Internal Problems of Terrorist Organizations

Abstract: Terrorists organizations face a difficult task in a hostile operational setting. First, they must achieve the controlled application of violence in the service of political goals. Hitting the wrong targets, or conducting too many attacks, can be just as damaging to the group’s political cause as doing too little. Second, they must maintain this calibrated use of force in an environment where becoming known to government equals operational failure. The organizational challenge is that political and ideological leaders—the principals—have to delegate certain duties—planning attacks, soliciting funds, recruiting, and the like—to middlemen or low-level operatives, their agents. Such delegation poses no problem if all the agents are perfectly committed, see the world as their leaders do, and agree with them on how to best serve the cause. Under those conditions, the preferences of the principals and their agents will be aligned, and the agents will act exactly as the principals would like. However, where preferences diverge, the covert nature of terrorist groups necessarily implies that agents can take advantage of delegation to act as they prefer, not as their principals would like. Thus, terrorist groups and other covert organizations face two fundamental trade-offs. The first is between security and financial efficiency. Here selection pressures and recruiting dynamics drive divergent preferences over spending, creating inefficiencies in resource allocation from the leaders’ perspective. Strategies to mitigate these problems all entail security costs. The second tradeoff is between security and operational control. Here selection pressures, small group dynamics, and the information problems inherent in underground organization create preference divergence over strategy and tactics. Efforts to mitigate these problems through greater control entail security costs for groups as a whole. The enduring importance of these tradeoffs points to a series of strategic principles for counterterrorism policy and highlights the need for organizationally informed analysis of terrorist groups.

Jacob Shapiro (2007), “The Terrorist’s Challenge: Security, Efficiency, Control,” unpublished paper. Available here.

October 23, 2007

Haas on the Geriatric Peace

Abstract: In the coming decades, the most powerful states in the international system will face a challenge unlike any experienced in the history of great power politics: significant aging of their populations. Global aging will be a potent force for the continuation of U.S. economic and military dominance. Aging populations are likely to produce a slowdown in states’ economic growth at the same time that governments will face substantial pressure to pay for massive new expenditures for elderly care. This economic dilemma will create such an austere fiscal environment that the other great powers will lack the resources necessary to overtake the United States’ huge power lead. Moreover, although the U.S. population is growing older, it is doing so to a lesser extent and less quickly than all of the other major actors in the system. Consequently, the economic and fiscal costs created by social aging—as well as their derivative effects on military spending—will be significantly lower for the United States than for potential competitors. Nevertheless, the United States will experience substantial new costs created by its own aging population. As a result, it will most likely be unable to maintain the scope of its current international position and will be less able to realize key international objectives, including preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, funding nation building, and engaging in military humanitarian interventions.

Mark L. Haas (2007), “A Geriatric Peace? The Future of U.S. Power in a World of Aging Populations,” _International Security, 32: 112-147. Available here.

October 19, 2007

The Demise of Liberal Internationalism

Charles Kupchan and Peter Trubowitz have an article in the new International Security declaring that liberal internationalism is dead.

The prevailing wisdom is that the Bush administration’s assertive unilateralism, its aversion to international institutions, and its zealous efforts to spread democracy in the Middle East represent a temporary departure from the United States’ traditional foreign policy. … Indeed, influential think tanks and foreign policy groups are already churning out action plans for reviving liberal internationalism. …We challenge this view and contend instead that the Bush administration’s brand of international engagement, far from being an aberration, represents a turning point in the historical trajectory of U.S. foreign policy. It is a symptom, as much as a cause, of the unraveling of the liberal internationalist compact that guided the United States for much of the second half of the twentieth century. The polarization of the United States has dealt a severe blow to the bipartisan compact between power and cooperation. Instead of adhering to the vital center, the country’s elected officials, along with the public, are backing away from the liberal internationalist compact, supporting either U.S. power or international cooperation, but rarely both. … Prominent voices from across the political spectrum have called for the restoration of a robust bipartisan center that can put U.S. grand strategy back on track. … These exhortations are in vain. The halcyon era of liberal internationalism is over; the bipartisan compact between power and partnership has been effectively dismantled.

I have complicated feelings about liberal internationalism (short version: I think it’s way better than the neo_con/Bolton_and_Krauthammer_realist amalgam that we’ve seen dominating US foreign policy over the last few years, but it has an awfully convenient tendency to assume that the economic and political interests of the US and the rest of the world are magically as one), but I think that Kupchan and Trubowitz seriously overstate their case. They throw in some arguments about unipolarity, but their main case is rooted in an argument about domestic political polarization in the US. According to them, it used to be that liberal internationalism created a synthesis between military power and international institutions - now Republicans are all about the exercise of power, Democrats about reliance on institutions, and there’s no common ground between them.

This may well turn out to be true of Republicans if (gods forbid) Giuliani gets the nomination or is able to shape the foreign policy debate from afar. It’s also possible that the crazies will get locked up in the asylum again, as Snyder et al. argue in a paper I linked to a couple of months ago.

But Kupchan and Trubowitz’s claims certainly aren’t true of the Democrats. All three of the candidates who have a hope of getting the nomination are liberal internationalists of one kind or another (and obviously willing to posture on their toughness, willingness to use force in pursuit of American interests etc). Furthermore, what survey evidence there is suggests that a large majority of Democratic voters do support the use of force - as long as it is to support the UN in upholding international law. You can’t get much more liberal internationalist than that. In the end, Kupchan and Trubowitz seem to me to be giving another version of the polarization-is-screwing-up-American-politics story - without recognizing that polarization has worked in very different ways on the left and right (specifically, as Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson have pointed out, the right has gone a lot further away from the center than the left has). While they’re likely right that liberal internationalism faces tougher challenges than it used to, they’re wrong about what the challenges are.

[Crossposted from Crooked Timber

October 18, 2007

Kahl on Civilian Casualties in Iraq

The belief that U.S. forces regularly violate the norm of noncombatant immunity—the notion that civilians should not be targeted or disproportionately harmed during war—has been widely held since the outset of the Iraq conflict. … As conditions in Iraq have moved from bad to worse, the well-documented abuse of Iraqi detainees by U.S. troops at Abu Ghraib and the failure of U.S. authorities to live up to their international legal obligations to provide basic security during the formal occupation period have contributed to the widespread sentiment that the United States has discarded the Geneva Conventions altogether, including their prohibitions against targeting civilians. … Based on field research and an extensive review of primary and secondary materials, I contend that the U.S. military has done a better job of respecting noncombatant immunity in Iraq than is commonly thought. Moreover, compliance has improved over time as the military has adjusted its behavior in response to real and perceived violations of the norm. This behavior is best explained by the internalization of noncombatant immunity within the U.S. military’s organizational culture, especially since the Vietnam War. Contemporary U.S. military culture is characterized by what I call the “annihilation restraint paradox”: a commitment to the use of overwhelming but lawful force. The restraint portion explains relatively high levels of U.S. compliance with noncombatant immunity in Iraq, while the tension between annihilation and restraint helps account for instances of noncompliance and the overall level of Iraqi civilian casualties resulting from U.S. operations—which, although low by historical standards, have still probably been higher than was militarily necessary, desirable, or inevitable.

Colin Kahl (2007), “In the Crossfire or the Crosshairs? Norms, Civilian Casualties, and U.S. Conduct in Iraq,” International Security 32:7-46. Available here .

Jerome Slater on why Haaretz carries more criticism of Israel than the _NYT_

In 2000 the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations for a two-state settlement ended in failure, and the Palestinian uprising (or intifada) broke out. Then, in early 2001 Ariel Sharon was elected prime minister of Israel. In 2006 three events dealt further setbacks to the “peace process”: the Israeli election of Ehud Olmert, the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, and the Lebanon war. Then, the 2007 civil conºict in Gaza between Hamas and Fatah ended with a Hamas victory. As a consequence of these events, the prospect for a two-state solution, necessitating negotiations to create a genuinely viable Palestinian state in Gaza and nearly all of the West Bank, is more elusive than ever. The underlying assumption of this article is that the present situation is disastrous not only for Israel and the Palestinians but also for U.S. national interests. There is a wealth of information and critical commentary, much of it by Israelis, on the terrible consequences of Israel’s policies and behavior toward the Palestinians—and not just for the Palestinians but also for Israeli security, society, civil culture, and even the future of Israeli democracy. …

This article argues that a major explanation for this widespread but erroneous U.S. consensus is the largely uninformed and uncritical mainstream and even elite media coverage in the United States of Israeli policies, a consequence of which is that alarm bells that should be sounded loudly and clearly are muted. In contrast, the debate in Israel is much more far-ranging, and includes a substantial body of dissenting opinion—especially among the elites— arguing that Israel bears a considerable share of the responsibility for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although this is still a minority view, candid criticisms of Israeli policy appear regularly in the Israeli press and news magazines, as well as in public statements by leading scholars, writers, retired military officers, intelligence officials, and even some politicians. To illustrate the striking differences between the U.S. and Israeli public discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian conºict, this article focuses on the two most influential daily newspapers in the United States and Israel: the New York Times and Haaretz.

Jerome Slater (2007), “Muting the Alarm over the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The New York Times versus Haaretz, 2000–06,” International Security 32:84-120. Available here.

October 16, 2007

Bartley on Transnational Private Regulation

Abstract: Why have systems of “transnational private regulation” recently emerged to certify corporate social and environmental performance? Different conceptions of institutional emergence underlie different answers to this question. Many scholars argue that firms create certification systems to solve problems in the market—a view rooted in a conception of institutions as solutions to collective action problems. The author develops a different account by viewing institutions as the outcome of political contestation and by analyzing conflict and institutional entrepreneurship among a wide array of actors. Using a comparative case study design, the analysis shows how these arguments explain the formation of social and environmental certification associations. Both theoretical approaches are needed, but strong versions of the market-based approach overlook an important set of dynamics that the author calls the “political construction of market institutions.” The analysis shows how both problem solving in markets and political contention generate new institutional forms.

Tim Bartley (2007), “Institutional Emergence in an Era of Globalization: The Rise of Transnational Private Regulation of Labor and Environmental Conditions,” American Journal of Sociology 193:297-351. Available here.

Kurazaki on private communication and crisis diplomacy

Abstract: This paper explores when and why private communication works in crisis diplomacy. Conventional audience-cost models suggest that state leaders must go public to reveal information in interstate crises because leaders cannot enhance their credibility by tying their hands if domestic audiences cannot observe their private signals. I present a crisis bargaining game where both the sender and the receiver of signals have a domestic audience. The equilibrium analysis demonstrates that a private threat, albeit of limited credibility, can be equally compelling as a fully credible public threat. Secrecy works in crisis diplomacy despite its informational inefficacy because secrecy insulates leaders from domestic political consequences when they capitulate to a challenge to avoid risking unwarranted war. The logic of efficient secrecy may shed light on the unaccounted history of private diplomacy in international crises. The Alaska Boundary Dispute illustrates this logic.

Shuhei Kurazaki (2007), “Efficient Secrecy: Public Versus Private Threats in Crisis Diplomacy,” American Political Science Review 101: 543-558. Available here.

October 04, 2007

Weller on Trade Preferences, Constituents and Parties

Abstract: Scholars have argued that constituent interests and political parties affect voting on trade policy legislation in the U.S. Congress. The existing empirical research on trade policy voting, however, has not utilized research designs that allow us to disentangle how constituents and parties affect legislative voting. In this paper we apply one-to-one matching research designs to compare the effects of constituency and party on trade policy voting in both the U.S. House and Senate. The research design allows us to account for a variety of different constituent factors that could influence voting, and then determine if party has any effect beyond constituent interests. The results suggest that party plays a significant role in legislative voting on trade policy once we account for constituency effects. Between 1824 and 1930, political party almost completely determines trade policy votes and although the effect of party is weaker since 1930 it is still significant. These results suggest that to understand the political economy of trade policy we need to incorporate the way that partisan politics affects trade polic

Nicholas Weller (2007), “Trading Policy: Constituents and Political Party in U.S. Trade Policy,” unpublished paper. Available here.

September 20, 2007

Senior Nello on who wins and loses from agricultural liberalization

Abstract: This paper aims at showing the role of agriculture in determining many of the controversies and problems of the current phase of globalisation. This first entails presenting key statistics indicating the main developments in world agricultural trade, illustrating how there has been a relative deterioration of the export performance of developing countries. The Doha Development Agenda of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is then analysed, indicating the positions of the main actors involved as this illustrates the perceived vulnerabilities and opportunities arising from agricultural trade liberalisation. The final part of the article provides a survey of the main estimates of the impact of agricultural trade liberalisation, and tackles the issue of those countries, sectors and households that might be adversely affected by the process. In particular, the paper will attempt to illustrate how the possible negative consequences of the failure of the Doha Round could be overcome.

Susan Senior Nello (2007), “Winners and Losers from World Agricultural Trade Liberalisation,” EUI Robert Schuman Center Working Paper. Available here.

September 06, 2007

Legro on What China Will Want

Abstract: China’s national power is growing rapidly, but what China will do with its newfound capabilities remains an issue of contentious debate among scholars and policymakers. At the heart of the problem is the difficulty of divining future intentions. Two arguments have dominated the debate. One focuses on power and likely Chinese revisionism. The other highlights China’s growing interdependence and likely future satisfaction. Both are problematic in terms of logic and evidence. They offer linear projections that ignore the way that China’s future is likely to be contingent—especially on the interaction of foreign policy ideas and events. Relative power and interdependence are important but their impact is mediated through the doctrines leaders use to justify action and establish authority: those ideas are prone to change in regular ways—and with them China’s intentions. If this argument is right, policy prescriptions that advocate containing, engaging, or some mix of the two (i.e., hedging) in relations with China need to be reconfigured.

Jeffrey W. Legro (2007), “What China Will Want: The Future Intentions of a Rising Power,” Perspectives on Politics 5: 515-534. Available here.

September 04, 2007

Kahl on measuring progress in Iraq.

Extracts: In terms of security, there has been a reduction in sectarian murders and insurgent attacks in areas where there are either more American troops or more cooperation between U.S. troops and local Sunni sheiks and militants, or both. … Politically, there has been no progress in Baghdad. There has been political progress in Anbar among the Sunnis, but this is not sectarian reconciliation or even “accommodation” since Anbar is homogenous. Politics has regressed in the south as Muqtada al-Sadr’s Jaish al Mahdi (JAM), SIIC (and its Badr militia), and the
Fadhila Party violently compete for local dominance. … To the degree that there is progress in Iraq, it is all “bottom-up” rather than “top-down.” The central government is broken. It is a corrupt, failed state. All the “progress” is occurring via ad hoc arrangements at the local and provincial level. Moreover, bottom-up progress may, paradoxically, be undermining top-down progress, as U.S. cooperation with Sunni sheiks and former militants exacerbates Shia paranoia. … There are no George Washingtons or Kemal Ataturks in Iraq and, even if there were, Iraq’s central institutions can’t be fixed and wielded in a way to produce stability from the top-down anytime soon. … Continued decentralization and separation might lead to a relatively stable equilibrium if it is structured in a way that addresses the security dilemma (both among communities and between localities and the center) driving the conflict. A perfect three-way Shia-Sunni-Kurd split into homogenous regions (i.e., a “soft partition” as in Bosnia) is unlikely. There will be substantial mixing in many parts of the country, and perhaps a desire for a unified “Iraq” among much of the population, for the foreseeable future. But, all politics in Iraq is becoming local, the central government will remain weak, and U.S. policies must be designed to accommodate this reality.

For more, see Colin Kahl (2007), CNAS Policy Brief: Measuring Progress in Iraq. Available here.

Via Laura Rozen.

August 28, 2007

Hathaway on states' human rights commitments

Abstract: This article examines states’ decisions to commit to human rights treaties. It argues that the effect of a treaty on a state - and hence the state’s willingness to commit to it - is largely determined by the domestic enforcement of the treaty and the treaty’s collateral consequences. These broad claims give rise to several specific predictions. For example, states with less democratic institutions will be no less likely to commit to human rights treaties if they have poor human rights records, because there is little prospect that the treaties will be enforced. Conversely, states with more democratic institutions will be less likely to commit to human rights treaties if they have poor human rights records - precisely because the treaties are likely to lead to changes in behavior. These predictions are tested by examining the practices of more than 160 countries over several decades.

Oona Hathaway (2007), “Why Do Countries Commit to Human Rights Treaties?,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 51:588-621. Available here.

August 27, 2007

Woodford on globalization and monetary control

Abstract: It has recently become popular to argue that globalization has had or will soon have dramatic consequences for the nature of the monetary transmission mechanism, and it is sometimes suggested that this could threaten the ability of national central banks to control inflation within their borders, at least in the absence of coordination of policy with other central banks. In this paper, I consider three possible mechanisms through which it might be feared that globalization can undermine the ability of monetary policy to control inflation: by making liquidity premia a function of “global liquidity” rather than the supply of liquidity by a national central bank alone; by making real interest rates dependent on the global balance between saving and investment rather than the balance in one country alone; or by making inflationary pressure a function of “global slack” rather than a domestic output gap alone. These three fears relate to potential changes in the form of the three structural equations of a basic model of the monetary transmission mechanism: the LM equation, the IS equation, and the AS equation respectively. I review the consequences of global integration of financial markets, final goods markets, and factor markets for the form of each of these parts of the monetary transmission mechanism, and find that globalization, even of a much more thorough sort than has yet occurred, is unlikely to weaken the ability of national central banks to control the dynamics of inflation.

Michael Woodford (2007), “Globalization and Monetary Control,” unpublished paper. Available here ($5 or NBER access required).

August 22, 2007

Lyall on indiscriminate violence and insurgency

Abstract: Does a state’s use of indiscriminate violence incite insurgent attacks? Nearly all existing theories and empirical studies conclude that such actions only fuel insurgencies by facilitating insurgent mobilization. This proposition is tested using a natural experiment that draws on random artillery strikes by Russian forces in Chechnya (2000-05) to estimate the impact of indiscriminate violence on subsequent insurgent violence. A difference-in-difference (DD) estimation method is adopted in which shelled villages are matched with similar non-repressed settlements over identical time periods to estimate treatment effects. The findings are counterintuitive. Shelled villages and their home districts (raiony) exhibit less post-treatment violence than control groups. In addition, commonly-cited “triggers”for insurgent retaliation, including the lethality and duration of indiscriminate violence, are either insignificant or negatively correlated with insurgent attack propensity.

Jason Lyall (2007), “Does Indiscriminate Violence Incite Insurgent Attacks? Evidence from a Natural Experiment,” unpublished paper. Available here.

August 16, 2007

Fordham on Democrats, Republicans and Cold War Spending

Abstract: The domestic politics of American military spending during the Cold War confronts scholars with an important but often overlooked puzzle: the two major parties appear to have switched positions on the issue. During the early Cold War era, Democrats were generally supportive of increased military spending while Republicans were critical. After the mid-1960s, Democrats increasingly tended to oppose larger military budgets, while Republicans more often favored them. This paper presents evidence about the process through which this change took place. It identifies several developments in the domestic and international environment that may have contributed to this party switch, and evaluates preliminary evidence about each of them.

Benjamin O. Fordham (2007), “The Evolution of Republican and Democratic Positions on Cold War Military Spending: A Historical Puzzle,” Social Science History forthcoming. Available here.

August 15, 2007

Fordham on Economic Interests and Support for Global Activism

Abstract: This research note evaluates the effect of economic interests on public support for American global activism. Those who were relatively well-positioned to benefit from the American-supported postwar international order should be more likely to support it. An analysis of American National Election Study data on support for isolationism between 1956 and 2000 supports this line of argument. Individual self-interest is probably the most important pathway through which the international economy has influenced public opinion. However, the aggregate effects of exports and imports on respondents’ home states have also made a difference. The effects of economic interests are substantively large and fairly consistent over time.

Benjamin O. Fordham (2007), “Economic Interests and Public Support for American Global Activism,” forthcoming, International Organization. Available here.

David Lake on International Trusteeship and Civil Wars

Abstract: The current model of state-building implicitly rests on a formal-legal conception of legitimacy in which law or institutions confer authority on officials, who then employ that authority to create a social order. But a formal-legal approach, however well suited to established states governed by a rule of law, is inappropriate in the anarchy of a failed state. Key to successful state-building, I argue, is restoring the legitimacy of the state’s monopoly of violence. I develop an alternative, relational conception of legitimacy drawn from social contract theories of the state in which authority derives from a mutually-beneficial contract in which the ruler provides a social order of benefit to the ruled, and the ruled in turn comply with the extractions (e.g., taxes) and constraints on their behavior (e.g., law) that are necessary to the production of that order. The contract becomes self-enforcing – or legitimate – when individuals and groups become “vested” in that social order by undertaking investments specific to the particular contract. This implies that providing security, protecting property rights, and adjudicating disputes within society should be the first step in any state-building process. International trustees can facilitate indigenous state-building efforts by helping establish a social order and creating expectations that the order will endure into the future. By creating expectations of stability, the trustee can encourage specific investments and the vesting of interests in the social order. This paper proceeds in five principal sections. The first examines the concepts of state failure and state-building, arguing for a new focus on rebuilding state legitimacy. Section II probes and criticizes the intellectual foundations of the current model and practice of state-building. I then develop an alternative analytic foundation and model that rests of a relational conception of authority in Section III. I develop the role of international trustees in the state-building process and examine further the tensions identified above in Section IV. The final section examines the case of Somalia.

David A. Lake (2007), “Building Legitimate States After Civil Wars: Order, Authority, and International Trusteeship,” unpublished paper. Available here.

August 03, 2007

Carpenter on children born of wartime rape as an international 'non-issue'

Today, child soldiering has become the most prominent issue on a laundry list decried by a transnational network of activists and organizations working in the issue domain of children and armed conflict. However, the network around children and armed conflict (CaAC) does not lobby for all categories of children affected by war: until very recently the particular needs of girls and HIV-AIDS orphans were invisible on this agenda, and issues still absent from the laundry list include children born as a result of wartime rape; children in military families, and children indoctrinated by the war toy and entertainment industries in industrialized societies. Why do activists in leading transnational organizations adopt certain issues or populations of concern but not others? … In short, how do lead actors or “gatekeepers” within transnational issue spheres select causes from the endless pool of possible options? … With a team of graduate student coders, I attempted such an analysis by examining human rights advocates’ discourse about an issue that has not emerged on the transnational child rights agenda (children born of wartime rape). … my findings point to the potential importance of inter-network politics in constraining issue adoption even in such seemingly “easy” cases.

Charli Carpenter (2007), “Studying Issue (Non)-Adoption in Transnational Advocacy Networks,” International Organization 61:643-667. Available here.

Snyder et al. on the politics of unipolarity

Why did America invade Iraq? The glib answer is “because it could.” … But this explanation begs the important questions. Disproportionate power allows greater freedom of action, but it is consistent with a broad spectrum of policies, ranging from messianic attempts to impose a new world order to smug insulation from the world’s quagmires. How this freedom is used depends on how threats and opportunities are interpreted through the prism of ideology and domestic politics. In this sense, unipolarity was a permissive cause of the Bush Administration’s preventive war doctrine and its application in Iraq. … During the twentieth century, whether under multi-, bi- or unipolarity, America enjoyed the luxury of disproportionate power and geographical buffering, which allowed—even required—ideology to define America’s strategically underdetermined world role. This ideology was normally liberalism, sometimes that of the disengaged “city on a hill,” sometimes that of the crusading reformer.Writing in the wake of the Vietnam War, Stephen Krasner worried that the more powerful the United States would become, the more this ideological leeway would express itself as imperialism … What changed in 2001 was not just the terrorist attack, but also the ideological and political environment that made the most of it. … Three decades of increasing partisan ideological polarization on domestic issues culminated in the Bush Administration’s extending it into the realm of foreign policy. … Three decades of increasing partisan ideological polarization on domestic issues culminated in the Bush Administration’s extending it into the realm of foreign policy.

Jack Snyder, Robert Shapiro and Yaeli Bloch-Elkon (2006), “Free Hand Abroad: Divide and Rule at Home,” unpublished paper. Available here. Via Andrew Gelman.

July 30, 2007

Hiscox and Lake on the Size of States

Abstract: We demonstrate that territorial size is intimately linked to the structure of political authority within states. We take an evolutionary approach, arguing that there are certain stable, long-term equilibrium combinations of size and political institutions. Building on a general theory of public goods provision and rent-seeking, we predict that, ceteris paribus, democracies will tend to be smaller than autocracies, since governments in the latter have greater incentives to expand the territory under their control in order to maximize rents; looked at from the other direction, small states are more likely to have democratic institutions than large states, since governments in the latter suffer greater losses in rents from expanding the size of the ruling coalition. Federalism offers an alternative type of equilibrium. We predict that democracies are more likely to adopt federal institutions than are autocracies, since governments in the latter are less inclined to relinquish authority to produce public goods (and hence the capacity to generate rents) to others. In addition, by allowing different public goods to be provided at more optimal scales, federalism increases incentives for democratic governments to expand the size of the state. Overall, we expect that unitary (i.e. non-federal) democracies will tend to be smaller than both autocracies and federal democracies. We find strong support for the hypotheses in a series of cross-sectional empirical investigations.. Theory and evidence indicate that democracy, federalism, and size are closely related to one another.

Michael Hiscox and David Lake (unpublished), “Democracy, Federalism, and the Size of States.” Available here. Via Lawrence Solum.

July 12, 2007

Brenner on the Travails of IR Theory

Abstract: Whereas the end of the Cold War sparked debates within and among paradigms in the field, the response to September 11 has been comparatively muted. Some observers have questioned the significance of September 11, while others have cast doubt on the ability of realism to account for an outcome that falls outside of its emphasis on great-power conflict. Realism must not only address outside critics but also overcome internal resistance in the face of these changes. This resistance entails reluctance by theorists to address a novel phenomenon, as well as axiomatic impediments that lie in the hard core of the realist research program. The mechanism of “monster-adjustment,” discussed by Imre Lakatos, is offered as a way in which realism can extend its scope beyond centralized territorial states. This process subjects the underspecified assumption of the necessity of unit isomorphism in international systems to increased scrutiny, offering a way to extend the explanatory capacity of realist frameworks. With realism released from these constraints, opportunities for productive engagements with other paradigms may be realized.

William J. Brenner (2006),” In Search of Monsters: Realism and Progress in International Relations Theory after September 11,” Security Studies 15:496 - 528. Available here (sub required). Also available here.

July 06, 2007

Drezner on Public Opinion and Realism

Abstract: For more than half a century, realist scholars of international relations have maintained that their worldview is inimical to the American public. For a variety of reasons - inchoate attitudes, national history, American exceptionalism - realists assert that the U.S. government pursues realist policies in spite and not because of public opinion. This paper takes a closer look at the anti-realist assumption by examining survey data and the empirical literature on the mass public’s attitudes towards foreign policy priorities and worldviews, the use of force, and foreign economic policy over the past three decades. The results suggest that far from disliking realism, Americans are at least as comfortable with the logic of realpolitik as they are with liberal internationalism. The persistence of the anti-realist assumption might be due to an ironic fact. American elites are more predisposed towards liberal internationalism than the rest of the American public.

Daniel W. Drezner (forthcoming), “The Realist Tradition in American Public Opinion,” Perspectives on Politics. Available here.

July 05, 2007

Nexon and Wright on the Politics of Empire

Abstract: Scholars of world politics enjoy well-developed theories of the consequences of unipolarity or hegemony, but have little to say about what happens when a state’s foreign relations take on imperial properties. Empires, we argue, are characterized by rule through intermediaries and the existence of distinctive contractual relations between cores and their peripheries. These features endow them with a distinctive network-structure from those associated with unipolar and hegemonic orders. The existence of imperial relations alters the dynamics of international politics: processes of divide and rule supplant the balance-of-power mechanism; the major axis of relations shift from interstate to those among imperial authorities, local intermediaries, and other peripheral actors; and preeminent powers face special problems of legitimating their bargains across heterogeneous audiences. We conclude with some observations about the American empire debate, including that the United States is, overall, less of an imperial power than it was during the Cold War.

Daniel Nexon and Thomas Wright (2007), “What’s at Stake in the American Empire Debate,” American Political Science Review 101:253-271. Available here. Further discussion by Ron Cooley at 3 Quarks Daily and in the comments section of this post at Crooked Timber.

July 03, 2007

Horowitz, Simpson and Stam on the politics of wartime casualties

The current long-term deployment of American troops has led many to reconsider the capabilities of an all-volunteer force as well as democratic states’ ability to sustain high levels of military casualties over long time-periods. These debates are not new: military leaders and statesmen have long debated the relative merits of professional versus conscript armies. Academics and policy makers have long been concerned about the erosion of democratic resolve during wartime. We attempt to arbiter these debates by coupling a theory of property takings and domestic institutions with battlefield casualty data drawn from the population of interstate wars over the last 200 years. We find conscription, like other non-market based property takings, to be a wasteful means of mobilizing military manpower. Volunteer armies suffer far fewer casualties than their conscripted counterparts. We also find that this effect compounds when it interacts with regime type. Volunteer democratic armies suffer especially few casualties. And while liberal democratic states typically do not use their conscripts as cannon fodder throwing men against fire in desperate efforts to win, we also find that democratic societies are willing to bear the costs of large scale commitments to maintaining state sovereignty and survival when targeted by authoritarian states, at times even in the face of certain defeat. These findings bring strong statistical evidence to bear on the debates surrounding regime type, military manpower, and state resolve.

Michael Horowitz, Erin Simpson and Allen Stam, “Domestic Institutions and Wartime Casualties,” unpublished paper. Available here.

June 29, 2007

Bussmann and Schneider on Economic Globalization and Civil War

Abstract: One of the disputed consequences of global economic integration is the possible effect that foreign economic liberalization exerts on social cohesion. Proponents of commercial liberalism see stabilization as an indirect consequence of growing economic interdependence, while globalization critics are much more skeptical. They expect, at least during the liberalization process, destabilizing effects. We examine in this paper the contradictory claims in the light of what we call the distributional theory of civil war. This variant of commercial liberalism qualifies the peace-through-trade hypothesis and expects, based on political economy models of trade policy making, that the redistributive struggle associated with foreign economic liberalization can culminate in violent forms of protest. We demonstrate that a higher level of economic openness is indeed associated with a lower risk of civil war. At the same time, economic liberalization increases the chances of instability weakly. None of the following factors are found to exert any compensatory influence on instability: social spending, foreign aid, and financial flows from the International Monetary Fund. Discontent over the process of globalization is thus a destabilizing force despite the pacifying effect that the level of economic integration exerts.

Margit Bussmann and Gerald Schneider, ” (2007) When Globalization Discontent Turns Violent: Foreign Economic Liberalization and Internal War,” International Studies Quarterly 51:79-97. Available (sub required) here.

Raas And Long on whether Israel can destroy Iran's nuclear facilities

Abstract: Does Israel have the ability to conduct a military attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities similar to its 1981 strike on Iraq’s Osirak reactor? The Israeli Air Force has significantly upgraded its equipment since the early 1980s, but the Iranian nuclear complex is a much harder target than was the Osirak reactor. Iran has three facilities that are critical for nuclear weapons production: a uranium conversion facility, an enrichment facility, and a heavy-water production plant and associated plutonium production reactor. This article analyzes possible interactions of Israel’s improved air force, including the addition of F-15I aircraft and U.S.-supplied conventional “bunker-buster” precision-guided munitions, with the Iranian target set and air defense systems. It concludes that Israel has the capability to attack Iran’s nuclear infrastructure with at least as much confidence as it had in the 1981 Osirak strike. Beyond the case of Iran, this finding has implications for the use of precision-guided weapons as a counterproliferation tool. Precision-guided weapons confer the ability to reliably attack hard and deeply buried targets with conventional, rather than nuclear, weapons. Intelligence on the location of nuclear sites is thus the primary limiting factor of military counterproliferation.

Whitney Raas and Austin Long (2007), “Osirak Redux? Assessing Israeli Capabilities to Destroy Iranian Nuclear Facilities,” International Security 31:7-33. Available (sub required) here. Earlier working paper version available here.