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Dictators at War and Peace (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs)

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I raise the issue because the case study chapters also do not ex ante identify threats to see whether domestic audiences punish leaders for failing to carry through on their threats.

The book offers an important answer to the centuries-old international relations question as to how the politics within states affect the politics between states? Of course, democracy should remain an important policy priority in its own right, if for no other reason than that democracy is the political system most likely to respect personal and political freedoms. At one extreme, Machines like contemporary China, in which leaders are accountable to a civilian audience, are effectively indistinguishable from democracies, if anything more cautious about the use of force and more likely to win the wars that they fight. First, in the theory, all the variation that potentially drives variation in the use of force is between regime types; there are no time-varying factors or variables.For example, by a rough count, over 60% (387 of 627 country years) of Machines in the dataset were communist states, which might plausibly also have adopted a more cautious foreign policy. For Weeks, Strongmen like Nasser are the central decision-makers on war and peace, and Nasser could provoke war with Israel with little fear for his political fate given his personal control over the security forces. These regimes are likely to be more aggressive, since civilian leaders may be removed for opposing the use of force rather than for going to war unsuccessfully, and civilian elites cannot prevent the military from taking action.

A recent literature argues that the initiation of a crisis is a poor proxy for threats [31]Moreover, it is not clear that the outcome of ouster means that the audience punishes the leader for failing to carry through on a threat. These criticisms should in no way detract from the questions Weeks raises and from her insights into the logic of different authoritarian regimes at war and peace. Nonetheless, I agree that there is still much to be learned by linking monadic arguments about regime type to (dyadic) theories of strategic interaction.Since these factors come together coherently, Weeks can use them to rank regimes from least to most likely on each of the proposed dependent variables, with for example Strongmen having the highest, Bosses, the second highest, Juntas the second lowest and Machines the lowest probability of conflict initiation. By allowing such protests to occur and continue, autocratic governments can credibly tie their hands on an issue and compel concessions from adversaries. Goemans advocates building an argument more closely around the bargaining theory of war, which focuses on the puzzle of why states choose war rather than reaching a more efficient peaceful bargain. It is also true that the unit of analysis in Chapter 2 is the directed dyad-year rather than the country-year. Moreover, civilians were outnumbered by military officers in important ministries, and were increasingly excluded from important political and military decisions.

In the remainder of this review, I examine Weeks’s major contribution—her typology of authoritarian regimes.Downes proposes that Weeks’s description of dictatorial regimes pays insufficient attention to variance in civil-military relations, demonstrating his critique through descriptions of Imperial Japan, Wilhelmine Germany, and Egypt under Nasser. Another, as Goemans points out, is to integrate time-varying factors into the model, allowing for within-regime variation rather than the across-regime variation on which I focus. Brooks argues that civilian and military leaders shared power in the Wilhelmine system: “the German army…had substantial latent power and constituted a major force within the kaiser’s coalition. Thus, even without recourse to force, the Japanese military could topple the regime, a prerogative it exercised on multiple occasions. Indeed, some types of autocracies are no more belligerent or reckless than democracies, casting doubt on the common view that democracies are more selective about war than autocracies.

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