To Keep and Bear Arms

Kevin Lewis

August 18, 2021

The Effect of Aerial Bombardment on Insurgent Civilian Victimization
Colin Tucker
Security Studies, forthcoming


Little is known about how air strikes influence insurgent behavior toward civilians. This study provides evidence that air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by counterinsurgency forces were a contributing factor in its civilian victimization. I theorize that air strikes expanded the distribution of insurgent fatalities to include higher-echelon membership and, at the same time, imposed psychological impairments on its fighters. As a consequence, these changes relaxed restraints on civilian abuse at the organizational and individual levels. This theory is informed by interviews of ISIS defectors and translations of ISIS documents and tested through a statistical analysis of granular-level data on air strikes and one-sided violence during ISIS's insurgency. These findings contribute to our knowledge of insurgent behavior and provide important policy implications in the use of air strikes as a counterinsurgency (COIN) tool.

Sorting out the aid-corruption nexus
Jamie Bologna Pavlik & Andrew Young
Journal of Institutional Economics, forthcoming


We employ matching methods to explore the relationships between foreign aid flows and corruption in recipient countries. Data are drawn from recipients of foreign aid for the 1996-2013 period. We find no compelling evidence of an effect running from corruption to aid flows. Furthermore, point estimates imply that corruption reforms lead countries to receive less aid. Alternatively, we generally find that, over a 10-year horizon, a sustained increase in aid leads to more corruption in a recipient. It is the sustained nature of an aid increase that seems to be important for this effect. (We generally do not report significant results for large changes in aid that are not sustained over time.)

Foreign Aid and Soft Power: Great Power Competition in Africa in the Early Twenty-first Century
Robert Blair, Robert Marty & Philip Roessler
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming


Is foreign aid an effective instrument of soft power? Does it generate affinity for donor countries and the values they espouse? This article answers these questions in the context of Chinese aid to Africa and the competing aid regime of the United States. The study combines data on thirty-eight African countries from Afrobarometer, AidData, and the Aid Information Management Systems of African finance and planning ministries. The authors use spatial difference-in-differences to isolate the causal effects of Chinese and US aid. The study finds that Chinese aid to Africa does not increase (and may in fact reduce) beneficiaries' support for China. By contrast, US aid appears to increase support for the United States and to strengthen recipients' commitment to liberal democratic values, such as the belief in the importance of elections. Chinese aid does not appear to weaken this commitment, and may strengthen it. The study also finds that Chinese aid increases support for the UK, France and other former colonial powers. These findings advance our understanding of the conditions under which competing aid regimes generate soft power and facilitate the transmission of political principles and ideals.

Chinese views on nuclear weapons: Evidence from an online survey
Naomi Egel & Lincoln Hines
Research & Politics, July 2021


What are Chinese public attitudes regarding nuclear weapons? Although scholars have studied Chinese elites' views on nuclear weapons, surprisingly little is known about the views of China's public. To understand Chinese public views on nuclear weapons, we conduct an online survey (N = 1066) of Chinese respondents. This is, to our knowledge, the first survey of Chinese public attitudes towards nuclear weapons. We find that although Chinese citizens view the possession of nuclear weapons as important for their country's security, they strongly oppose the use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances. We also provide respondents an opportunity to describe their views on nuclear weapons in their own words. Using computer-assisted text analysis, we assess patterns in these open-ended responses and compare across age groups. We find that younger respondents emphasize non-material factors such as having a greater voice internationally, whereas older respondents emphasize self-defense. Overall, this analysis sheds light on the public attitudes that may shape China's evolving approach to nuclear weapons.

Learning to Predict Proliferation
Nicholas Miller
International Organization, forthcoming


How effective are states at assessing and predicting the nuclear intentions of foreign countries? Drawing on close to 200 US assessments of foreign countries' proliferation intentions between 1957 and 1966, this research note finds that close to 80 percent of testable US assessments were correct and that they shifted from highly inaccurate in the late 1950s to highly accurate in the 1960s. Based on quantitative and qualitative analysis, I conclude that learning from early failures led the intelligence community to achieve higher accuracy.

Putting Terror in Its Place: An Experiment on Mitigating Fears of Terrorism among the American Public
Daniel Silverman, Daniel Kent & Christopher Gelpi
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming


An American's yearly chance of being killed by a terrorist attack sits at roughly 1 in 3.5 million. Yet, over 40 percent of Americans consistently believe that they or their family members are likely to be a terror victim. Can these inflated estimates of the risks of terrorism be brought closer to reality? With trillions of dollars spent on the "War on Terror," this question is not just theoretically but practically important. In order to investigate, we use an experimental approach assessing whether people update their beliefs about terrorism when given factual information about the relative risks it presents. We find that public fear of terrorism and demand for countering it can be sharply reduced with better information, dropping essentially to pre-9/11 levels after the treatment and staying that way two weeks later. These results suggest that countering the indirect costs of terrorism may largely require providing more context and perspective.

Rewarding good political behavior: US aid, democracy, and human rights
Zohid Askarov et al.
European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming


We investigate whether the allocation of US aid is influenced by a recipient's democracy and human rights record. The analysis is done in two ways. First, a comprehensive meta-analysis of 284 estimates from 58 studies. Studies report a wide range of results, but the meta-analysis concludes that both human rights and democracy are clear motives for giving aid, with democracy being relatively more important. Second, a new primary study of the data corroborates that a greater share of the House of Representatives held by Democrats results in more aid allocated based on a recipient's democracy record.

Threatened by the Worst but Hoping for the Best: Unraveling the Relationship Between Threat, Hope, and Public Opinion During Conflict
Oded Adomi Leshem & Eran Halperin
Political Behavior, forthcoming


How does the threat from future violence shape the opinions of those mired in violent intergroup disputes? Two competing rationales seem plausible. During conflict, threat from future violence increases support for dovish policies because the destruction and suffering associated with violence make peace seem more desirable and urgent. At the same time, threat from future violence can decrease support for dovish policies because peace seems inconceivable when violence is on the rise. Indeed, existing studies on the link between threat perceptions and support for conflict-related policies yielded mixed results. We argue that, to some extent, this puzzle could be solved by (1) examining threat through its two core components, namely perceived severity of harm and perceived likelihood of harm, and (2) linking these two components of threat with the two components of hope, namely the wish to attain a goal (in our case peace) and the expectations of attaining it. These arguments were tested using original data collected among 800 Israelis and Palestinians. Results show that the part of threat stemming from perceiving future violence as severe generates support for dovish policies because it increases citizens' wishes for peace. At the same time, the part of threat that stems from perceiving future violence as likely decreases support for the same policies due to decreased expectations that peace can be achieved. We show that the relative weight of the two components of threat determines citizens' support for conflict-related policies. Implications for political behavior during conflict are discussed.

An International Game of Risk: Troop Placement and Major Power Competition
Mark David Nieman et al.
Journal of Politics, forthcoming


What strategies are behind major powers' decisions to deploy forces abroad? We argue that major powers use noninvasion troop deployments to create, consolidate, and expand their spheres of influence around the world, while at the same time trying to prevent their major power rivals from doing the same. This results in an action-reaction process, in which each additional major power troop placement happens as a strategic response to recent and anticipated placements by others. This theoretical framework leads us to expect temporal and regional clustering in troop deployments by allied and rival major powers. We test our expectations using data on troop deployments and a local structure graph model, a network estimator that allows for modeling each troop placement as a function of other deployments, weighted by ideological similarity. Our results provide evidence for our hypotheses.

Regime Uncertainty and Interstate Conflict
Muhammet Bas & Omer Orsun
International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming


Regime type is an important variable in international relations. Numerous scholars have theorized its effects on actors' crisis behavior and outcomes. Despite regime type's importance, the literature has not focused on the role its uncertainty might play in interstate politics. This is in stark contrast to the scholarly attention given to uncertainty about other similarly important variables like actor capabilities, intentions, or fighting costs. In this paper, we aim to address this gap in the literature by providing a theory of regime uncertainty's effects on conflict and developing a novel measure of uncertainty about regime type in interstate relations to test our hypotheses. We find that regime uncertainty breeds caution rather than conflict: higher uncertainty about the opponent's regime type makes conflict initiation and escalation less likely in disputes, and dyads with more uncertainty are less likely to experience conflict onset.

The French bonds: The little-known bidding war for France's holdings in American debt, 1786-1790
Peter Theodore Veru
Financial History Review, August 2021, Pages 259-280


In 1786, the Van Staphorst brothers, America's Dutch investment bank, entered the French office of the Director General of Finance, intent on making an offer for a portion of France's holdings of American bonds. Unknowingly, their offer set off a bidding war that could have ended with poorly capitalized American financial adventurers owing a large portion of bonds which could threaten the fragile health of American credit. At the eleventh hour, the Van Staphorsts conjured up a bold, unprecedented, scheme to persuade the French that it would be unnecessary to sell their American bonds at discounted prices.

The diplomatic burden of pandemics: Lessons from malaria
Benjamin Bagozzi & Ore Koren
Political Science Research and Methods, forthcoming


This note seeks to understand the extent of the disruptions to international relations caused by pandemics, focusing on one globally-endemic disease: malaria. We posit that longstanding diseases such as malaria have the potential to undermine the political ties of nation states, as well as the many benefits of these connections. Our argument is tested empirically using both directed-dyadic and monadic data, while incorporating methods that account for endogeneity and other relevant concerns. We find that the geographic malaria rates of a country not only serve to historically discourage foreign governments from establishing diplomatic outposts on a country's soil, but also lead to an aggregate decrease in the total diplomatic missions that a country receives. We then discuss the current implications of these findings.

Preventive war and sovereign debt
Colin Krainin et al.
Conflict Management and Peace Science, forthcoming


The preventive motive for war arises because states cannot commit to limit the use of their growing power. This commitment problem can lead to war when there are not enough resources available to compensate the declining state for their expected losses. In this article, we show how capital markets affect preventive war incentives by introducing a profit-maximizing bond market to the canonical bargaining model of war. We find that the nature of the power shift and fundamentals of the market for debt interact to determine when a preventive motive is more likely to lead to war. Two main results show that (1) less probable but more extreme power shifts are most dangerous and (2) unlike the direct effect of interest rates on the cost of war, higher interest on sovereign debt makes war more likely. We present evidence for the latter effect by extending Lemke's (2003) study of preventive war for major-power dyads between 1816 and 1992.


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