Text Box: Research

Dissertation:

Rogue and Responsible Dictators and Democrats: Institutions, War, and Peacemaking

Committee: Hein Goemans (chair), Mark Fey, Gretchen Helmke

 

My dissertation presents a theory of institutions, war and peacemaking across three chapters.  In the first chapter, I connect audience cost, diversionary war, and democratic peace theories by aligning countries along two dimensions.  The first traditional dimension is the type of political regime.  The second dimension measures degree of shared power over foreign policy.  I show that the institutionalization of shared power across dictatorships and democracies explains whether leaders engage in rogue or responsible international behavior.  In the second chapter, I develop a series of models to identify whether and how each of three mechanisms - information transmission, side payments, and audience costs - can lead to a mediated settlement.  I use both field work and statistical methods to empirically assess the models.  I provide evidence for a selection process in which audience costs make certain conflicts amenable to mediation, within those, various factors alter the likelihood of success.  I extend this theory of institutions, war and peacemaking to less deadly conflict by focusing on institutional variation and instability in Latin America.  As a whole, my dissertation contributes as it builds upon a richer description of institutions to provide a better understanding of how domestic pressures are systematically channeled through institutions to shape international behavior.

 

The Institutionalization of Political Responsibility: Connecting Theories of Audience Costs,    Diversionary War, and Democratic Peace

 

Isolation and Evaluation of Three Mechanisms for Mediation: Information Transmission, Side Payments, and Audience Costs

 

Responsible and Rogue Dictators and Democrats: Latin America's Domestic Instability, Institutions, and Foreign Policy

 

 

Additional Research:

Influence in Terrorist Networks: From Undirected to Directed Graphs

with Steven Brams, and Hande Mutlu, both of New York University, NY

 

Competence and Circumstance: International Conflict and the Subversion of the Political Opposition in Venezuela and Argentina

 

The Effect of Transnational Networks on Leader Survivability: Rwanda and Burundi

with Jennifer Petersen, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI

 

Perceptions of Trustworthiness and the Conditionality of Peace Agreements

 

Learning in Crises: A Model of Adaptive Belief Formation and WWI

with Jeremy Kedziora, University of Rochester, NY

 

 

Abstracts of Dissertation Chapters:

            

The Institutionalization of Political Responsibility: Connecting Theories of Audience Costs, Diversionary War, and Democratic Peace

Presented at Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL 2010

             I address tensions between audience cost, democratic peace, and diversionary war theories, in which leaders are either constrained from or compelled toward risky wars by domestic audiences.  I develop a formal model of domestic politics between a leader and another domestic governing body to contrast the effects of institutions and policymaking rules.  When power is shared, the governing body constrains the leader by sending a credible signal to the audience, as in audience cost theories.  Without power sharing, the governing body lets the leader hang himself risking full credit or blame in a gamble on war as in diversionary war theories.  In my empirical assessment, I align countries along two dimensions. The first traditional dimension is the type of political regime. The second dimension measures degree of shared power. To connect audience cost, and diversionary war theories, I show that shared responsibility and regime type explain whether leaders initiate wars, or enter wars in which they are targeted, in response to domestic pressure.  I revisit the Suez Crisis -- a case traditionally used to support audience cost theories -- to demonstrate that institutionalized political responsibility consistently explains more of the behaviors, the signaling, and results of the Suez Crisis, than audience cost theories.                                                                                                                                                      top

 

Isolation and Evaluation of Three Mechanisms for Mediation: Information Transmission, Side Payments, and Audience Costs

Presented at Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL 2009, 2010

             Explanations of mediation rely on the mechanism of information transmission, however, bargaining models show that parties in conflict maintain the incentive to bluff, and the addition of a third party does not remove this incentive.  Alternative explanations rely on the mechanism of side payments, however, the use of carrots and sticks can be made outside of a costly mediation process.  Using a series of formal models, I show that information transmission and side payments fail to explain why countries mediate, and that audience costs are a mechanism for mediation.  Audience costs lend the credibility necessary for leaders to offer lower concessions in mediation: this allows for a higher expected payoff from mediation, as opposed to a negotiation without a mediator: mediation yields better settlements, and wars against weaker opponents.  This makes audience costs rational given mediation, and mediation rational given audience costs, thereby explaining why countries mediate.  I empirically assess the models, and provide evidence to support the existence of a selection process in which audience costs makes certain conflicts amenable to mediation, and within those, mediation strategies and characteristics alter the likelihood of success.  I also draw support from field work in which I analyze the peace process that led to the 1998 mediated Brasilia Accords that resolved the territorial dispute between Ecuador and Peru involved in the 1995 Cenepa War.                                                                                                                                                          top

 

Responsible and Rogue Dictators and Democrats: Latin America's Domestic Instability, Institutions, and Foreign Policy

             The third chapter empirically tests the theories presented in earlier chapters against war, peace, and less deadly conflict using institutional variation and instability in Latin America.  I show that regimes with leaders who wield tight control over foreign policy, and face potentially high audience costs, are both more likely to initiate war and more likely to agree to mediated outcomes for peace.  Further, with protracted costly conflict, or where an agreement is not reached, these leaders are more severely punished by their audiences.  I argue that without shared responsibility, domestic instability is both a cause and consequence of international war and peace.

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Abstracts of Additional Research:

 

Influence in Terrorist Networks: From Undirected to Directed Graphs

Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 29(7), Oct-Nov 2006: 703-718.

with Steven J. Brams and Hande Mutlu of New York University, NY

Presented at Public Choice Society, New Orleans, LA 2005

             A methodology for converting terrorist networks from undirected graphs to simplified directed graphs (or digraphs), and mapping the flow of influence in them, is described. It is based on an “influence assumption”—that important persons with more links influence less important persons with fewer links. This methodology, which was previously used to analyze the structure of influence relationships in Communist-bloc countries and the international system, is illustrated by its application to two terrorist networks constructed after 9/11. In the second more complex network, the hierarchy sheds light on the leadership and likely terrorist cells embedded in the network. Refined data and alternative assumptions about influence could provide additional insights into the structure of terrorist networks.

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Competence and Circumstance: International Conflict and the Subversion of the Political    Opposition in Argentina and Venezuela          

Using a formal model, I demonstrate that the weakness of the political opposition is necessary to allow a leader to rally for war.  I draw support by tracing the strength of the political opposition in Argentina from 1999 to 2006, during which Argentina suffered from a major financial crisis, and tracing the history of conflict with neighboring countries.  I show that regardless of the shift in presidential popularity, it was only when the political opposition was successfully subverted that Kirchner rallied for conflict with Uruguay.  Similarly, in tracing the strength of the political opposition in Venezuela throughout Chavez’ rule, I show that only when the opposition was subverted in 2006 did Chavez become more active in inciting conflict with the U.S.

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The Effect of Transnational Networks on Leader Survivability: Rwanda and Burundi

with Jennifer Petersen, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI

We develop a theory of “international moral obligation” in which leaders of wealthy countries become obligated to support weaker nations through the strategic interaction of transnational networks, domestic audiences, and leaders.  In our model, transnational networks increase the issue salience for a particular cause in order to attract donors.  This disproportionately affects domestic audiences in large countries with resources, because large countries with resources have wealthier domestic publics.  Leaders of wealthy nations are morally obligated to provide tangible and intangible resources to leaders of poor nations.  When the cure for the cause is of low cost, tangible resources are provided, and when cure for cause is too costly, intangible resources are provided.  As a result, the Rwandan President, a champion of anti-genocide, has the strategic incentive to promote himself as a champion for a cause that is too costly to make up for with dollars – leaders of wealthy nations pay President Kagame with international legitimacy – to increase his survivability in office.  We draw empirical support for our theory in comparing Rwanda to Burundi to use the natural experiment provided by matching ethnic compositions and conflict histories.

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Perceptions of Trustworthiness and the Conditionality of Peace Agreements

To end a war an agreement is often made that imposes conditions on each opponent in order to prevent future hostility.  A nation that is expected to meet certain conditions required for peace must be monitored by another nation(s) to ensure that the agreement is properly adhered to.  I term the former nation the rival, and the latter the monitor.  If the monitor suspects that the rival will likely break the peace agreement, then more conditions will be set against the rival to mitigate the potential for future aggression; thus, if trust is low, then conditionality is high.  However, recent literature suggests the opposite is true; less trustworthy rivals have fewer conditions mandated against them, while more trustworthy rivals have more conditions demanded of them.  I hypothesize that the range and frequency of conditions imposed on the rival depends on the monitor’s expected cost of ensuring that those conditions are met.  This expected cost changes according to the perceived trustworthiness of the rival – the more trustworthy the rival, the lower the expected costs to the monitor, the more conditions can be imposed.  Thus, when the monitor’s expected cost is taken into account, this unexpected dynamic in bargaining can be explained.  This study measures the trustworthiness of nations in conflicts that ended with peace and/or ceasefire agreements between 1989 and 2003, in relation to the degree of conditionality imposed on each opponent in final agreement.

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Beliefs in Repeated Crises: A Model of Adaptive Belief Formation and WWI

with Jeremy Kedziora, University of Rochester, NY

             We trace the effect of domestic pressure on the ability for leaders to learn during crises by analyzing the three Balkan crises that preceded WWI.  We find that in the 1908 Bosnia-Herzegovina annexation crisis Kaiser Wilhelm I learned that Russia would back down when threatened with war.  Meanwhile in the 1912 Balkan Wars, Tsar Nicholas learned that Germany would back down when threatened with war.  The unfortunate puzzle is why did both Germany and Russia believe that the other side would back down if threatened with war in the July Crisis of 1914?  We find evidence that each leader recalled only the crisis in which there was intense domestic pressure from within their own country, and forgot the crisis in which domestic concerns were low.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        top

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