Selective Wilsonianism: Material Interests and the West's Support for Democracy
International Security, Spring 2020, Pages 158-200
When a mass movement broke out in 2013 against the corrupt government of Viktor Yanukovich in Ukraine, the United States and its West European allies mobilized to support it. The policy was justified by the Wilsonian logic of promoting democracy and celebrated as such by liberals. Realists for the most part agreed with the liberal argument regarding the motive of that support, but criticized it as delusional and argued that the subsequent civil war in Ukraine was the consequence of that policy. This is a puzzle, because five years prior to the Ukrainian events, a mass movement had rocked Armenia - another post-Soviet state. The West's attitude toward that movement, however, ranged from indifference to hostility, even though the Wilsonian motives for supporting that movement should have been stronger. The difference in the West's response resulted from the different positions of the two movements toward Russia: the Ukrainian movement was intensely hostile toward Russia, whereas the Armenian movement was not. In other words, where Wilsonianism dovetailed with a geopolitical motive, it was triggered; where it diverged, Wilsonianism remained dormant. This is not a deviation from the general pattern either. Contrary to the popular narrative, the West has supported democracy only when that support has been reinforced by material interests, and rarely, if ever, when it has posed a threat to such interests.
Local Soldier Fatalities and War Profiteers: New Tests of the Political Cost Hypothesis
Matthew Boland & David Godsell
Journal of Accounting and Economics, forthcoming
We test the political cost hypothesis using local soldier fatalities as a source of as-if-random variation in the threat of political costs for local defense firms. Soldier fatalities vary the threat of political costs for defense firms because the U.S. tradition of shared sacrifice during war vulgarizes war profits amid dead soldiers. Local defense firms record more income-decreasing accruals, equal to 1.17 percent of total assets, in response to a one standard deviation increase in local soldier fatalities (an additional 29 soldier fatalities in the average state-year). A wide variety of robustness tests corroborate our inferences.
At What Cost? Reexamining Audience Costs in Realistic Settings
Sarah Croco, Michael Hanmer & Jared McDonald
Journal of Politics, forthcoming
Scholars have argued that leaders pay domestic audience costs for backing down from a prior position. We challenge this argument theoretically and methodologically. We argue that scholars have erred by measuring "costs" exclusively through disapproval of a leader's handling of the situation when general job approval more accurately reflects audience cost theory. This distinction matters because Americans often have strong existing opinions of the president, such that situational disapproval does not damage general approval. We also argue that the use of hypothetical leaders compounds this problem. We test these assertions using two experiments. Our primary design examines approval for both a hypothetical president, as is common in the literature, and the then-sitting president, President Obama. Our secondary design allows us to alter the president's partisanship. The results strongly support our theory, suggesting scholars have missed an important piece of the puzzle by focusing on situational approval for hypothetical leaders.
International political alignment during the Trump presidency: Voting at the UN general assembly
Martin Mosler & Niklas Potrafke
International Interactions, forthcoming
We examine voting behavior of Western allied countries in line with the United States over the period 1949 until 2019. Descriptive statistics show that voting in line with the United States on resolutions in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) was on average 7.2 percentage points lower under Donald Trump than under the preceding United States presidents. The policy shift is especially pronounced for resolutions dealing with the Middle East. The decline in common UNGA voting behavior is significant for the resolution agreement rate and the absolute difference of ideal points. The results suggest that the alienation of Western allies is not driven by ideological distance based on a classical leftwing-rightwing government ideology scale.
Paradoxes of Professionalism: Rethinking Civil-Military Relations in the United States
International Security, Spring 2020, Pages 7-44
The U.S. military's prevailing norms of professionalism exhibit three paradoxes that render the organization poorly suited to meet contemporary challenges to its nonpartisan ethic, and that undermine its relations with civilian leaders. These norms, based on Samuel Huntington's objective civilian control model, argue that the military should operate in a sphere separate from the civilian domain of policymaking and decisions about the use of force. The first paradox is that Huntingtonian norms, though intended to prevent partisan and political behavior by military personnel, can also enable these activities. Second, the norms promote civilian leaders' authority in decisionmaking related to the use of force, yet undermine their practical control and oversight of military activity. Third, they contribute to the military's operational and tactical effectiveness, while corroding the United States' strategic effectiveness in armed conflict. These tensions in Huntington's norms matter today because of intensifying partisanship in society and in the military, the embrace by civilian leaders of objective control and their concomitant delegation of authority in armed conflict to the military, and growing questions about the causes of the inconclusive outcomes of the United States' recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is time to develop a new framework for military professionalism.
Patriotism or Paychecks: Who Believes What About Why Soldiers Serve
Ronald Krebs & Robert Ralston
Armed Forces & Society, forthcoming
Although voluntary recruitment to the military is today the Western norm, we know little about citizens' beliefs regarding service members' reasons for joining. This article, reporting and analyzing the results of a nationally representative U.S. survey, rectifies this gap. We find that, despite the reality of market-based recruitment, many Americans continue to subscribe to an idealized image of service members as moved by self-sacrificing patriotism. This belief is most heavily concentrated among conservative Americans. Liberal Americans are more likely to believe that service members join primarily for economic reasons. Those furthest to the left are more inclined to aver that service members join chiefly to escape desperate circumstances. Perhaps most surprising, we discover a disconnect between respondents with military experience and their families: The former are more likely to acknowledge that pay and benefits are a primary motivation for service, whereas their families are more likely to embrace a patriotic service narrative.
Demystifying the Quantum Threat: Infrastructure, Institutions, and Intelligence Advantage
Security Studies, Spring 2020, Pages 335-361
In theory, a fully functional quantum computer could break the cryptographic protocols that underwrite cybersecurity everywhere, which would be disastrous for national security, global trade, and civil society. Quantum cryptography, conversely, promises an unprecedented level of security, yet this benefit comes with some danger: revisionist actors with impenetrable communications might be able to conduct surprise attacks and covert conspiracies. In reality, neither of these threat scenarios are likely. Intelligence advantage in political competition depends on the interaction of technological infrastructure with organizational institutions. Robust cryptosystems can be undermined by poor organizational coordination, and careful security policy can compensate for technical vulnerabilities. Scientific innovation in quantum technology only affects one of these dimensions while potentially complicating the other. Even if the formidable engineering challenges of quantum computing can be overcome, signals intelligence collectors will still have to analyze a vast number of decrypts and deliver timely and relevant judgments to interested decision makers. The quantum networks of tomorrow, similarly, will provide little protection for complex organizations that have weak operations security practices. In the practice of intelligence, we should expect classical politics to dominate quantum computing.
Russia's intelligence illegals program: An enduring asset
Intelligence and National Security, March 2020, Pages 385-402
This article explores the enduring value of Russia's intelligence illegals program, concluding that Russia's urgency to employ illegals is at least as great today as it has ever been. Technological advancements have made clandestine human intelligence operations increasingly risky. Nevertheless, the Russian illegals program has overcome challenges and compromises before, and Russian leaders today continue to glorify illegals from the past and present. Consequently, for a variety of reasons - historical and practical - it is highly unlikely that Russia will replace the intelligence illegals program that it still needs today.
Public opinion, international reputation, and audience costs in an authoritarian regime
Xiaojun Li & Dingding Chen
Conflict Management and Peace Science, forthcoming
Does the public in authoritarian regimes disapprove of their leaders' backing down from public threats and commitments? Answers to this question provide a critical micro-foundation for the emerging scholarship on authoritarian audience costs. We investigate this question by implementing a series of survey experiments in China, a single-party authoritarian state. Findings based on responses from 5375 Chinese adults show that empty threats and commitments expose the Chinese government to substantial disapproval from citizens concerned about potential damage to China's international reputation. Additional qualitative evidence reveals that Chinese citizens are willing to express their discontent of leaders' foreign policy blunders through various channels. These findings contribute to the ongoing debate over whether and how domestic audiences can make commitments credible in authoritarian states.
Who Wants to Be a Suicide Bomber? Evidence from Islamic State Recruits
Andrea Michelle Morris
International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming
Suicide attackers are frequently educated and economically well-off. These findings are widely taken as evidence that highly competent individuals predominately volunteer to conduct suicide operations. I evaluate this theory using a novel dataset on the personnel records of members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The dataset contains information on the characteristics of individuals who volunteer for suicide attacks as opposed to normal combat missions. The results reject the self-selection hypothesis, as education and religious knowledge are negatively associated with volunteering for suicide attacks. Instead, the findings are consistent with an alternative explanation for why high-quality individuals commit suicide attacks: leaders of terrorist organizations carefully screen recruits and select high-quality individuals to commit these attacks. The results highlight the importance of leader demand rather than soldier supply of suicide bombers.
Too central to fail? Terror networks and leadership decapitation
Daniel Milton & Bryan Price
International Interactions, forthcoming
Leadership decapitation, as a means of hindering the operations and hastening the demise of terrorist organizations, has been the subject of a growing body of research. However, these studies have not examined how an organization's position in a broader network impacts its ability to weather decapitation. We argue that highly networked organizations possess characteristics that make decapitation less effective. To test this argument, we combine data on leadership decapitation with network data on terrorist organizations and find that well-networked organizations are resilient to leadership decapitation. Our study has implications for our understanding of how terrorist organizations respond to counterterrorism efforts.