“It's the War, Stupid!”: Determinants of Retrospective Evaluations of American Presidents
James King & Jason McConnell
Presidential Studies Quarterly, forthcoming
Public opinion of presidents after they have left office is primarily the product of whether or not their administration entangled the United States in an unpopular military conflict. Using data from Gallup polls, we demonstrate that the forces of peace and prosperity drive approval ratings of former presidents when out of office but do not impact public assessments equally. A former president’s popular standing is tarnished more by association with an unpopular war than it is enhanced by economic prosperity.
Virtuous violence from the war room to death row
Paul Slovic et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 25 August 2020, Pages 20474-20482
How likely is it that someone would approve of using a nuclear weapon to kill millions of enemy civilians in the hope of ending a ground war that threatens thousands of American troops? Ask them how they feel about prosecuting immigrants, banning abortion, supporting the death penalty, and protecting gun rights and you will know. This is the finding from two national surveys of Democrats and Republicans that measured support for punitive regulations and policies across these four seemingly unrelated issues, and a fifth, using nuclear weapons against enemy civilians (in survey 1) or approving of disproportionate killing with conventional weapons (in survey 2). Those who support these various policies that threaten harm to many people tend to believe that the victims are blameworthy and it is ethical to take actions or policies that might harm them. This lends support to the provocative notion of “virtuous violence” put forth by Fiske and Rai [A. P. Fiske, T. S. Rai, Virtuous Violence: Hurting and Killing to Create, Sustain, End, and Honor Social Relationships (2014)], who assert that people commit violence because they believe it is the morally right thing to do. The common thread of punitiveness underlying and connecting these issues needs to be recognized, understood, and confronted by any society that professes to value fundamental human rights and wishes to prevent important decisions from being affected by irrelevant and harmful sociocultural and political biases.
Camouflaged propaganda: A survey experiment on political native advertising
Yaoyao Dai & Luwei Luqiu
Research & Politics, August 2020
We examine a new form of propaganda, political native advertising, in which political actors, including foreign governments, buy space in independent media outlets to publish advertisements that are camouflaged as standard news stories. Those who engage in this form of propaganda hope to exploit the higher credibility of the hosting media site to enhance the persuasiveness of their message. Despite the obvious political implications and ethical issues at stake, political native advertising has received almost no scholarly attention. Our article begins to redress this imbalance. Using an online survey experiment with real political native advertisements in the Washington Post and The Telegraph bought by the Chinese government, we provide some of the first empirical evidence on basic but important features of political native advertising. We find, among other things, that respondents struggle to distinguish political advertisements from standard news stories regardless of their level of education and media literacy, that political advertisements are more convincing if they appear on and are perceived as news from an independent hosting media site than in a government-controlled news outlet, and that trust in the hosting media site declines if the political advertisement is detected.
Precision-guided or blunt? The effects of US economic sanctions on human rights
Jerg Gutmann, Matthias Neuenkirch & Florian Neumeier
Public Choice, October 2020, Pages 161-182
This study analyzes the consequences of economic sanctions for the target country’s human rights situation. We offer a political economy explanation for different types of human rights infringements or improvements in reaction to economic shocks caused by sanctions. Based on that explanation, we derive hypotheses linking sanctions to four types of human rights: economic rights, political and civil rights, basic human rights, and emancipatory rights. We use endogenous treatment regression models to test those hypotheses by estimating the causal average treatment effect of US economic sanctions on each type of human rights within a uniform empirical framework. Unlike previous studies, we find no support for adverse effects of sanctions on economic rights or basic human rights, once the endogenous selection of sanctioned countries is modelled. With respect to women’s rights, our findings even indicate a positive effect of sanctions that is associated with improvements in women’s economic rights. Only our results for political rights and civil liberties suggest significant deterioration under economic sanctions. We conclude that it is important to account for the potential endogeneity of economic sanctions and to distinguish different dimensions of human rights, as the effects of economic sanctions along those dimensions may vary considerably.
Will You Die for Your Country? Workplace Death in an Era of Mass Incarceration
Eiko Strader & Miranda Hines
Sociological Forum, forthcoming
People with criminal records in the United States continue to face limited employment opportunities due to social stigma and legal barriers. In contrast to the civilian sector, the military conducts a “whole person” evaluation to screen potential recruits and regularly hires people with felony and misdemeanor records. Moreover, evidence suggests that the military serves as a socially integrative institution and may facilitate desistance from future crimes. However, critics argue that the military exacerbates inequalities by subjecting marginalized communities to the unequal burden of service. Using the data obtained from the Army, we examine the relative risks of combat exposure and casualties between enlisted soldiers with and without criminal records who joined between 2002 and 2009. The results suggest that soldiers with felony and misdemeanor records are more likely to be assigned to combat occupations than those without criminal records. We also find that among soldiers assigned to positions with low combat exposure, ex‐offenders face a higher risk of death compared to those without criminal records. Findings do not dispute the idea that the military facilitates desistance from future crimes and provides second chances to people with criminal records, but reaffirm the fact that military service costs lives and limbs.
US grand strategy and the origins of the developmental state
Journal of Strategic Studies, August 2020, Pages 737-761
Scholars have credited a model of state-led capitalism called the ‘developmental state’ with producing the economic miracles of Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. This article examines how the developmental state was shaped by the Cold War. US grand strategy focused on accelerating economic development among allies that were under the greatest threat from Communist China and North Korea. American aid agencies became involved in the process of state-building in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan and supported economic planning. I verify this claim by contrasting US policies on Taiwan with US policies in the Philippines, which faced a weaker Communist threat.
Fueling Conflict? (De)Escalation and Bilateral Aid
Richard Bluhm et al.
Journal of Applied Econometrics, forthcoming
This paper studies the effects of bilateral foreign aid on conflict escalation and deescalation. First, we develop a new ordinal measure capturing the two‐sided and multifaceted nature of conflict. Second, we propose a dynamic ordered probit estimator that allows for unobserved heterogeneity and corrects for endogeneity. Third, we identify the causal effect of foreign aid on conflict by predicting bilateral aid flows based on electoral outcomes of donor countries which are exogenous to recipients. Receiving bilateral aid raises the chances of escalating from small conflict to armed conflict, but we find little evidence that aid ignites conflict in truly peaceful countries.
The War Scare That Wasn't: Able Archer 83 and the Myths of the Second Cold War
Journal of Cold War Studies, Summer 2020, Pages 86-118
Did the Cold War of the 1980s nearly turn hot? Much has been made of the November 1983 Able Archer 83 command-post exercise, which is often described as having nearly precipitated a nuclear war when paranoid Warsaw Pact policymakers suspected that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was using the exercise to launch a preemptive nuclear strike. This article challenges that narrative, using new evidence from the archives of the former Warsaw Pact countries. It shows that the much-touted intelligence effort to assess Western intentions and capabilities, Project RYaN, which supposedly triggered fears of a surprise attack, was nowhere near operational at the time of Able Archer 83. It also presents an account of the Pact's sanguine observations of Able Archer 83. In doing so, it advances key debates in the historiography of the late Cold War pertaining to the stability and durability of the nuclear peace.
The Consequences of Defeat: The Quest for Status and Morale in the Aftermath of War
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming
Studies of the effect of past actions have focused on yielding without a fight. What happens, however, when states fight and lose? This article assesses the effect of defeat on a state’s behavior and finds that recently defeated states are more likely to initiate disputes than are undefeated or victorious states or states that fight to a draw. This aggression comes at the expense of states responsible for defeat and third-party states uninvolved in the original defeat. The analysis below examines the validity of five potential explanations for postdefeat aggression, including models rooted in failed political objectives, an emotional desire for revenge and reputation-building and finds evidence in support for the latter two. These existing mechanisms fail, however, to explain a key finding - the systematic targeting of weaker, third-party states - which, I argue, is best explained by a desire to bolster the state’s status and confidence in the aftermath of defeat.
The Oxygen of Publicity: Explaining U.S. Media Coverage of International Kidnapping
Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, forthcoming
What explains U.S. media coverage of Americans kidnapped abroad? While some hostages receive national media attention, others hardly make the local news. Using an original, event count dataset of newspaper stories about Americans kidnapped abroad since 2001, this article tests the oft-cited, under-measured assumption that “terrorism” receives more media attention than other violence. Controlling for variation across kidnapping, I show that those framed as “terrorism” receive more coverage. Challenging existing literature, I also demonstrate that incidents with more victims receive less coverage than those incidents with fewer victims, and that there is no “missing white woman syndrome” in international kidnapping.
UN Peacekeeping and the Rule of Law
American Political Science Review, forthcoming
The UN is intimately involved in efforts to restore the rule of law in conflict and postconflict settings. Yet despite the importance of the rule of law for peace, good governance, and economic growth, evidence on the impact of these efforts is scant. I develop a theory to explain when UN rule-of-law reform is likely to succeed, then test the theory using original datasets capturing the number of civilian personnel deployed to each UN mission in Africa, the number of personnel assigned specifically to rule-of-law-related tasks, and the extent and nature of actual rule-of-law-related activities in the field. The correlation between UN presence and the rule of law is weak while conflict is ongoing, but robustly positive during periods of peace. The relationship is stronger for civilian than uniformed personnel, and is strongest when UN missions engage host states in the process of reform.