Rising and falling

Kevin Lewis

October 24, 2018

Retrenchment as a Screening Mechanism: Power Shifts, Strategic Withdrawal, and Credible Signals
Brandon Yoder
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Both advocates and opponents of retrenchment have treated it as an undesirable, last‐ditch strategy for states that have already experienced severe decline. This article presents a formal model that identifies an unrecognized benefit of retrenchment: It can provide declining states with valuable information about rising states' future intentions. By removing constraints over the behavior of rising states in a particular region, a declining state can induce hostile risers to attempt revision of the regional order. This, in turn, makes a riser's cooperative behavior more credible as a signal of benign intentions, allowing the decliner to oppose hostile types while accommodating benign ones. In contrast to the existing focus on retrenchment as a desperate strategy taken from a position of weakness, this article suggests that the informational benefits of retrenchment are greatest when it is undertaken early, from a position of strength.

Use It or Lose It: The Political Economy of Counterinsurgency Strategy
Carrie Lee & John Kendall
Armed Forces & Society, forthcoming

Regular budget cycles and annual evaluations of bureaucratic funding have created a “use-it-or-lose-it” atmosphere in agencies throughout the American government, resulting in large expenditures in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year. We show that these spending patterns apply in a least likely case: junior officers in a war zone, and that indiscriminate fourth-quarter expenditures are correlated with increases in insurgent violence. Using reconstruction data from the war in Iraq, this article shows that the tendency to overspend at the end of the fiscal year is both pervasive and detrimental to security objectives. By combining extensive interview work with econometric analysis, this article offers new insights into the politics of war, civil-military relations, and postconflict reconstruction and suggests that these pathologies may have a substantive, negative impact on a government’s ability to effectively wage counterinsurgency operations.

More than Peripheral: How Provinces Influence China's Foreign Policy
Audrye Wong
China Quarterly, September 2018, Pages 735-757

Most analyses of China's foreign and security policies treat China as a unitary actor, assuming a cohesive grand strategy articulated by Beijing. I challenge this conventional wisdom, showing how Chinese provinces can affect the formulation and implementation of foreign policy. This contributes to existing research on the role of subnational actors in China, which has focused on how they shape domestic and economic policies. Using Hainan and Yunnan as case studies, I identify three mechanisms of provincial influence - trailblazing, carpetbagging, and resisting - and illustrate them with examples of key provincial policies. This analysis provides a more nuanced argument than is commonly found in international relations for the motivations behind evolving and increasingly activist Chinese foreign policy. It also has important policy implications for understanding and responding to Chinese behaviour, in the South China Sea and beyond.

Until the Bitter End? The Diffusion of Surrender Across Battles
Todd Lehmann & Yuri Zhukov
International Organization, forthcoming

Why do armies sometimes surrender to the enemy and sometimes fight to the bitter end? Existing research has highlighted the importance of battlefield resolve for the onset, conduct, and outcome of war, but has left these life-and-death decisions mostly unexplained. We know little about why battle-level surrender occurs, and why it stops. In this paper, we argue that surrender emerges from a collective-action problem: success in battle requires that soldiers choose to fight as a unit rather than flee, but individual decisions to fight depend on whether soldiers expect their comrades to do the same. Surrender becomes contagious across battles because soldiers take cues from what other soldiers did when they were in a similar position. Where no recent precedent exists, mass surrender is unlikely. We find empirical support for this claim using a new data set of conventional battles in all interstate wars from 1939 to 2011. These findings advance our understanding of battlefield resolve, with broader implications for the design of political-military institutions and decisions to initiate, continue, and terminate war.

Closing the Window of Vulnerability: Nuclear Proliferation and Conventional Retaliation
Jan Ludvik
Security Studies, forthcoming

Living with a nuclear-armed enemy is unattractive, but, strangely, states seldom use their military power to prevent the enemy’s entry into the nuclear club. It is puzzling why preventive strikes against nuclear programs have been quite rare. I address this puzzle by considering the role of conventional retaliation, a subfield of deterrence that so far has received scant attention in the literature. I theorize the concept of conventional retaliation and test its explanatory power. First, I explore all historical cases where states struck another state’s nuclear installations and find none occurring when the proliferator threatened conventional retaliation. Second, I explore two cases where a strike was most likely, but the would-be attacker balked and find smoking-gun evidence that the threat of conventional retaliation restrained the would-be attacker. This evidence supports my claim that the threat of conventional retaliation is sufficient to deter a preventive strike against emerging nuclear states.

Shall We Riot Too? The Geographical Neighbor Impact on Political Instability
Daryna Grechyna
Kyklos, November 2018, Pages 581-612

This paper investigates the impact of regional political instability on the political instability of a country. Our identification strategy relies on the spatial nature of international relations. We use the characteristics of the neighbors’ neighbors as the instruments for the neighbors’ political instability and regional dummies to control for common regional shocks. We show that political instability in neighboring countries has a strong positive impact on a given country's political instability. The average of neighbors’ population size appears to be a significant mediating factor behind this relationship.

The Impact of Industry Consolidation on Government Procurement: Evidence from Department of Defense Contracting
Rodrigo Carril & Mark Duggan
NBER Working Paper, October 2018

We study the relationship between market structure and public procurement outcomes. In particular, we ask whether and to what extent consolidation-driven increases in industry concentration affect the way in which the government procures its goods and services. We focus on the defense industry, by far the largest contributor to federal procurement spending in the U.S. This industry experienced a sharp increase in the level of concentration during the 1990s, driven by a series of large mergers between defense contractors. Using detailed microdata on Department of Defense (DoD) contract awards, we estimate the causal effect of industry concentration on a series of procurement outcomes, leveraging the differential impact of these mergers across product markets. We find that market concentration caused the procurement process to become less competitive, with an increase in the share of spending awarded without competition, or via single-bid solicitations. Increased concentration also induced a shift from the use of fixed-price contracts towards cost-plus contracts. However, we find no evidence that consolidation led to a significant increase in acquisition costs of large weapon systems, nor to increased spending at the product market level. We infer that the government’s buyer power, especially relevant in this context given the government is often the only purchaser, constrained firms from exercising any additional market power gained by consolidation.

The psychological effects of state socialization: IGO membership loss and respect for human rights
Gina Lei Miller, Ryan Welch & Andrew Vonasch
International Interactions, forthcoming

We present an interdisciplinary theory that considers how loss of membership in international organizations affects states’ human rights practices. Drawing mostly from social psychology and international relations research, we argue that states are socialized into the international community through a process of social influence, whereby they are incentivized to comply with group norms by the promise (threat) of social rewards (punishments). Social influence occurs when states form social bonds through interactions with other states. When social bonds are severed, fewer opportunities for social influence occur due to lower information to both the remaining states and the state that lost those social bonds. Thus, we hypothesize that the loss of membership from IGOs reduces incentives to comply with group norms and adversely affects human rights practices at home. A combination of propensity score matching/regression and autoregressive distributed lag (ADL) models on a global cross-section across the years 1978-2012 supports the theory. Specifically, losing at least one IGO membership leads to a long-run drop in human rights respect of about one quarter to one half standard deviation.

Terrorism and the Rise of Right-Wing Content in Israeli Books
Tamar Mitts
International Organization, forthcoming

In the past few years the Western world has witnessed a rise in the popularity of right-wing political discourse promoting nationalistic and exclusionary world views. While in many countries such rhetoric has surfaced in mainstream politics only recently, in Israel, right-wing ideology has been popular for almost two decades. Explanations for this phenomenon focus on Israeli citizens’ attitudinal change in the face of exposure to terrorism but largely do not account for why such ideas remain popular over the long term, even after violence subsides. In this study I examine whether the long-lasting prominence of right-wing nationalistic politics in Israel is linked to the perpetuation of right-wing ideology in popular media. Analyzing the content of more than 70,000 published books, I find that content related to the political right has increased in Israeli books after periods of terrorism, a change that has become more pronounced over the years.

Producing Goods and Projecting Power: How What You Make Influences What You Take
Jonathan Markowitz, Christopher Fariss & Blake McMahon
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

How does a state’s source of wealth condition the domain in which it seeks to project influence? We argue that what a state makes conditions what they take. Specifically, the less states rely on land rents to acquire wealth, the less interested they will be in seeking control over territory and the more interested they will be in securing access to distant markets. We develop and test several observable implications that should follow whether this proposition is true. First, as states become less economically dependent on territory, they should be less likely to fight over territory; second, those states should be more likely to both invest in power projection capabilities and subsequently project power at greater distances. Our findings support our theory. These results are robust across a variety of model specifications that take into account potential confounds, such as regime type, economic development, threat, and geography.

How Do Sanctions Affect Incumbent Electoral Performance?
Brandon Beomseob Park
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

How do sanctions affect incumbent electoral performance during elections? Although existing literature suggests that sanctions may shorten or prolong incumbent tenure, we are less informed about their role in incumbent electoral fortunes. This research argues that sanctions hurt incumbents’ vote shares because citizens are more likely to hold their elected officials accountable for sanction-induced economic hardships and political instabilities. It also argues that the electoral punishment is pronounced in less democratic countries because sanctions, together with elections, significantly limit dictator’s co-optation strategy and open a greater window of opportunity for once repressed opposition groups in a repressive regime. Using 381 multiparty elections in seventy-nine countries between 1972 and 2012, this research finds that sanctions deteriorate the incumbent electoral performance, and they do so for autocratic leaders more than the democratic leaders. This study has important implications about the potential accountability in autocracies, the timing of sanctions imposition, the role of oppositions’ mobilization, and broadly speaking, the role of sanctions in democratization.

Reactions to imposed political change: A prospective experimental investigation of Jewish settlers’ resistance to state contraction
Sivan Hirsch-Hoefler, Dennis Kahn & Gilad Hirschberger
Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, forthcoming

The implementation of a peace agreement between adversarial parties often carries a price, such as the imposition of political change on a population that opposes the peace agreement. The current research uses a resistance to change perspective and focuses on Jewish settlers in the West Bank as a case example of reactions to potential imposed political change. An experimental field study of Jewish West Bank settlers (N = 453) was conducted to understand the influence of ideology and psychological-contextual factors on resistance to change. On this basis, we examined four determinants, one ideological and three related to psychological resistance: (a) the character of the settlers (ideological vs. quality of life settlers); (b) legitimacy (size of the majority in parliament); (c) recompensation (a unilateral withdrawal with no tangible benefits, or a bilateral quid-pro-quo agreement); and (d) group-affirmations (messages that boost perceived in-group value). We measured explicit support for legal (normative) and unlawful (nonnormative) resistance, and measured implicit aggression using a lexical-decision task. Results showed that both ideological and psychological-contextual factors played a significant role in resistance: Ideological settlers showed greater support for normative resistance, and exhibited high implicit aggression, but primarily in response to perceptions of recompensation. Group affirmations, however, backfired and elicited greater resistance in this group. Quality of life settlers exhibited low support for resistance and responded more positively to group affirmations. Legitimacy played no significant role in resistance to forced evacuation. Results reveal that ideology alone does not predict resistance to imposed political change, suggesting that psychological interventions may help settler populations cope with imposed change.


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