Air War College Thesis

Air War College Thesis-17
Her Ph D dissertation (upon which her book manuscript is based) was awarded first runner-up for the 2015 Kenneth Waltz Prize from the American Political Science Association, an award that recognizes the best dissertation written in security studies in a calendar year. in political science from Stanford University in 2015, and a S. I argue that military operations on the battlefield are systematically influenced by civilian politicians to favor lower-risk strategies in the months preceding a domestic election.

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I test this by first presenting evidence that shows considerable temporal variation in alliance formation amongst democracies, and then by utilizing a new dataset that tracks the electoral calendar of every state in the modern era.

Results indicate that democracies are much less likely to enter into alliances in response to new security threats as domestic elections draw nearer and public opinion becomes increasingly important.

The literature on diversionary war thus far is plagued by methodological and theoretical problems that contribute to the diversity of findings on how leaders use conflict to stay in power.

Principle among these theoretical shortcomings is a lack of attention to the institutional differences between democratic countries and autocratic states that lead to varying predictions about the frequency and timing of diversionary conflict, and the incentives of leaders to maintain power and direct public attention away from domestic instability.

In each case, I show that domestic politics profoundly influence civilian decision-making during conflict, and that this influence is most pronounced in the months immediately preceding an election.

These findings challenge our current understanding of battlefield effectiveness, normal civil-military relations, and how democracies fight wars more generally.

Direct politicization occurs when civilians intervene in operations through direct requests, increasing monitoring, or changing tactical guidelines, while operations are indirectly politicized when the military polices its own behavior in response to organizational, bureaucratic, or personal incentives.

This culminates in a preference for defensive operations in the months leading up to a domestic election, while high-risk offensive strategies are delayed until after electoral pressures have been resolved.

Using reconstruction data from Iraq and Afghanistan, this paper shows that, even in the least likely scenarios, 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 using a new data set, this paper offers new insights into the politics of war and suggests that domestic political incentives have a substantive, negative impact on a government’s ability to effectively wage counterinsurgency operations. Existing theories suggest that states balance and bandwagon when new security threats emerge, but there exists considerable temporal variation in when states respond to changes in the international system, particularly among democracies.


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