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Even Generals Need Friends: How Domestic and International Reactions to Coups Influence Regime Survival

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Even Generals Need Friends: How Domestic and International Reactions to Coups Influence Regime Survival

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Abstract

Signals from domestic and international actors have been shown to influence the likelihood of coups. Coups remain difficult to predict and consequently leave policy makers in a reactive stance, but little systematic work assesses how these reactions influence long-term outcomes. We examine how reactions from domestic and international actors influence the duration of coup-born regimes, arguing that negative reactions will shorten leadership duration. We further probe these relationships by considering how signaling consistency, Cold War dynamics, and precoup relationships condition the influence of reactions on leadership duration. Tests use events data to capture domestic and international reactions and newly coded information on leadership to capture leader duration. Results indicate that international responses have a profound influence on leadership tenure, especially those from strong actors. We find tentative support that state reactions have the strongest effect during the Cold War, while international organizations matter the most afterward.

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International Military Alliances, 1648-2008: This inaugural title in the Correlates of War series from CQ Press catalogs every official interstate alliance signed from the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 through the early 21st century, ranking it among the most thorough and accessible reviews of formal military treaties ever published. Maps and introductions showcase the effects of alliances on the region or international system in century-specific chapters, while individual narratives and summaries of alliances simultaneously provide basic information, such as dates and member states, as well as essential insights on the conditions that prompted the agreement. Additionally, separate and/or secret articles are highlighted for additional context and interest.
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What drives politics in dictatorships? Milan W. Svolik argues that all authoritarian regimes must resolve two fundamental conflicts. First, dictators face threats from the masses over which they rule – this is the problem of authoritarian control. A second, separate challenge arises from the elites with whom dictators rule – this is the problem of authoritarian power-sharing. Crucially, whether and how dictators resolve these two problems is shaped by the dismal environment in which authoritarian politics takes place: in a dictatorship, no independent authority has the power to enforce agreements among key actors and violence is the ultimate arbiter of conflict. Using the tools of game theory, Svolik explains why some dictators, such as Saddam Hussein, establish personal autocracy and stay in power for decades; why leadership changes elsewhere are regular and institutionalized, as in contemporary China; why some dictatorships are ruled by soldiers, as Uganda was under Idi Amin; why many authoritarian regimes, such as PRI-era Mexico, maintain regime-sanctioned political parties; and why a country's authoritarian past casts a long shadow over its prospects for democracy, as the unfolding events of the Arab Spring reveal. When assessing his arguments, Svolik complements these and other historical case studies with the statistical analysis of comprehensive, original data on institutions, leaders, and ruling coalitions across all dictatorships from 1946 to 2008.
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Few scholars have systematically examined whether the world outside a state's borders can influence the prospects for democracy. Jon Pevehouse argues that regional organizations, such as the European Union and the Organization of American States, can have an important role in both the transition to, and the longevity of, democracy. Combining statistical analysis and case study evidence, Pevehouse finds that regional organizations can be a potent force for instilling and protecting democracy throughout the world.
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Recent research on economic sanctions has produced significant advances in our theoretical and empirical understanding of the causes and effects of these phenomena. Our theoretical understanding, which has been guided by empirical findings, has reached the point where existing datasets are no longer adequate to test important hypotheses. This article presents a recently updated version of the Threat and Imposition of Economic Sanctions dataset. This version of the data extends the temporal domain, corrects errors, updates cases that were ongoing as of the last release, and includes a few additional variables. We describe the dataset, paying special attention to the key differences in the new version, and we present descriptive statistics for some of the key variables, highlighting differences across versions. Since the major change in the dataset was to more than double the time period covered, we also present some simple statistics showing trends in sanctions use over time.
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Between 1952 and 2012, there were a total of 88 successful military coups in Africa. Of those, 63 occurred prior to 1990, and 10 cases since the adoption, by the defunct Organization of African Unity (OAU), of the Lomé Declaration in July 2000, banning military coups and adopting sanctions against regimes born out of this. The article shows that the African Union (AU) has followed in the footsteps of the OAU in this regard. Assisted by some African regional organisations and international partners, the combined effect of this policy of the AU – assisted by other factors – has been a significant reduction in the occurrence of this phenomenon. While not constituting a funeral arrangement for military coups in the immediate future, these developments – if they were to continue – may indeed make this eventuality achievable in the long run. But the article also reveals some challenges the AU is facing in ensuring this.
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In the last decade, studies have documented how autocrats use elections as a way of legitimising and stabilising their regimes. Simultaneously, a literature on negative external actors (also known as ‘black knights’) has developed, emphasising how various international actors use anti-democracy promotion strategies to undergird authoritarian regimes. In this article, these two literatures are fused in an attempt to shed light on the external dimension of authoritarian elections and what is termed ‘black knight election bolstering’. First, five mechanisms are elucidated, through which external assistance increases the chances of ‘winning’ elections in authoritarian settings (signaling invincibility, deterring elite defection, undermining opposition activities, dealing with popular protests, and countervailing pressure from foreign democracy promoters). Second, it is argued that external actors are most likely to offer election bolstering when they face a particularly acquiescent partner or when electoral defeat is perceived to lead to radical and undesired regime change. The relevance of both factors is augmented when uncertainty of the electoral outcome is high. Finally, four cases of Russian intervention during elections in three authoritarian neighbour countries (Ukraine in 2004, Belarus in 2006, and Moldova in 2005 and 2009) are analysed. The case studies corroborate the theoretical arguments: not only does Russia engage in all five types of black knight election bolstering, but it does so only when one or more of the three explanatory factors are present.
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Building on a growing literature in international political science, I reexamine the traditional liberal claim that governments founded on a respect for individual liberty exercise “restraint” and “peaceful intentions” in their foreign policy. I look at three distinct theoretical traditions of liberalism, attributable to three theorists: Schumpeter, a democratic capitalist whose explanation of liberal pacifism we often invoke; Machiavelli, a classical republican whose glory is an imperialism we often practice; and Kant, a liberal republican whose theory of internationalism best accounts for what we are. Despite the contradictions of liberal pacifism and liberal imperialism, I find, with Kant and other democratic republicans, that liberalism does leave a coherent legacy on foreign affairs. Liberal states are different. They are indeed peaceful. They are also prone to make war. Liberal states have created a separate peace, as Kant argued they would, and have also discovered liberal reasons for aggression, as he feared they might. I conclude by arguing that the differences among liberal pacifism, liberal imperialism, and Kant's internationalism are not arbitrary. They are rooted in differing conceptions of the citizen and the state.
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Objective President Obama has faced a plethora of challenges both at home and abroad during his first term. While some challenges were inherited, the Arab Spring uprisings provided a new opportunity for him to strengthen America's role as a global leader. Much debate has raged over the way in which Obama dealt with the uprisings. Supporters view Obama's foreign policy as a selling point as he moves toward the 2012 elections, while opponents have condemned him as a follower “leading from behind.” Absent in this debate is an objective attempt to both articulate Obama's foreign policy agenda in both a historical and cross‐national context, and an effort to analyze Obama's reaction to the Arab Spring uprisings vis‐a‐vis other state leaders. This article attempts to rectify these problems to better understand whether Obama was a leader or a follower during the Arab Spring. Methods We begin with a thorough discussion of Obama's foreign policy approach and then present empirical analysis of original data of all state signals during the Arab Spring uprisings. ResultsThough we find some evidence pointing toward leadership, the bulk of our evidence indicates that Obama was largely either an active spectator or a follower during the uprisings. Conclusion We conclude that, at best, Obama showed weak evidence of leadership during the Arab Spring uprisings.
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We argue that international organizations decrease the duration of international conflicts by mitigating commitment problems and encouraging combatants to cease hostilities more quickly. Empirical analyses of militarized interstate dispute duration (1950-2000) reveal that increasing shared international organization (IO) participation reduces the length of disputes, even after accounting for selection into international conflict.We also find that international organizations designed to mitigate commitment problems decrease dispute duration, while IOs capable of reducing information asymmetries do not influence dispute length.
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We seek to answer the question, What effect does international war participation have on the ability of political leaders to survive in office? We develop a model of political reliability and derive seven related hypotheses from it that anticipate variation in the time a national political leader will survive in office after the onset of a war. Drawing upon a broadly based data set on state involvement in international war between 1816 and 1975, our expectations are tested through censored Weibull regression. Four of the hypotheses are tested, and all are supported by the analysis. We find that those leaders who engage their nation in war subject themselves to a domestic political hazard that threatens the very essence of the office-holding homo politicus, the retention of political power. The hazard is mitigated by longstanding experience for authoritarian elites, an effect that is muted for democratic leaders, while the hazard is militated by defeat and high costs from war for all types of leaders. Additionally, we find that authoritarian leaders are inclined to war longer after they come to power than democratic leaders. Further, democratic leaders select wars with a lower risk of defeat than do their authoritarian counterparts.
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It may seem preposterous to write about the effects of the economic sanctions currently in effect against Rhodesia since the process is not yet completed: we do not know how it will all end, and primary source material of a crucial nature is not yet available. But the purpose of this article is more in the direction of a general theory, using the case of Rhodesia as a source of examples and illustrations. The material on Rhodesia included here consists of some secondary sources, such as books and articles, and some primary sources, such as documents and other printed material; but the basic sources are mainly personal observation and a number of informal interviews with Rhodesian citizens (mostly businessmen) and with citizens of other African countries (mostly politicians), all dating from January 1966, about two months after UDI.
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Leadership turnover may produce significant foreign policy changes when leaders differ from their predecessors in their preferences over the resort to war and when they cannot commit to implement inherited policies. How, then, does the expected behavior of an incumbent leader's successor affect crisis bargaining in the present? I analyze a leader-centric model of crisis bargaining in which (a) the distributive outcomes of crises affect political survival, (b) leadership turnover implies the accession of a new leader with potentially different preferences, and (c) successors can renegotiate inherited settlements. In equilibrium, the sensitivity of an incumbent’s political survival to making concessions interacts with the resolve of the successor to affect both the terms of settlement and the occurrence of war. First, political survival incentives can lead an incumbent to demand more than her adversary is willing to concede, provoking war when the successor is of similar resolve. Second, when a politically sensitive incumbent will be followed by a resolute successor, her adversary may grant otherwise unnecessary concessions to bolster the relatively irresolute incumbent in office. Finally, when a politically sensitive incumbent will be followed by an irresolute successor, her adversary may attack in order to depose the incumbent, hastening her replacement to secure better bargains in the future. Predictions about the present balance of resolve and leaders’ survival incentives may thus be fundamentally altered in light of the future balance of resolve.
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We use new data on coup d’états and elections to document a striking development: whereas the vast majority of successful coups before 1991 installed durable rules, the majority of coups after that have been followed by competitive elections. We argue that after the Cold War international pressure influenced the consequences of coups. In the post-Cold War era those countries that are most dependent on Western aid have been the first to embrace competitive elections after the coup. Our theory also sheds light on the pronounced decline in the number of coups since 1991. While the coup d’état has been and still is the single most important factor leading to the downfall of democratic government, our findings indicate that the new generation of coups has been far less harmful for democracy than their historical predecessors.
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With ten attempts since 2010, coups d'état are surprisingly common events with vital implications for a state's political development. Aside from being disruptive internally, coups influence interstate relationships. Though coups have important consequences, we know little about how the international community responds to these upheavals. This paper explores what drives global actors to react to coups. Our theory differentiates between normative concerns (for example, protection of democracy) and material interests (for example, protection of oil exports) as potential determinants of international responses to coups. We argue that coups against democracies, coups after the Cold War, and coups in states heavily integrated into the international community are all more likely to elicit global reaction. Using newly collected data, we explore the number of signals that states and IOs send to coup states from 1950 to 2011. The analyses reveal that coups against democracies and wealthy states draw more attention. States react when democracies are challenged by coups, while IOs react to coups in Africa and coups during the post-Cold War period. We surprisingly find that heavy traders and oil-rich states do not necessarily receive more reaction, suggesting that international actors are more driven by normative concerns than material interests when reacting to coups.
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Loans from international organizations impose large costs on the receiving nation. The decisions to accept such loans and then whether or not to implement the prescribed reforms are made with high stakes in mind. Domestic leaders are most likely facing punishment for the current economic crisis, but what is their incentive to implement the arrangements if the costly reforms associated with the loans may reduce their ability to satisfy their supporters? To fully understand this relationship, I develop a theory that explains leader tenure in the post-reform period as a function of the rational decision to accept a loan. Leaders who expect to be secure in the adjustment period are more willing to accept the conditions that accompany loans rather than attempt to withstand the crisis on their own. With the use of a selection duration model, I examine the interplay between electoral incentives and institutional dynamics to show that leaders governing under different institutional arrangements are affected differently for involvement in IMF loans. Since leaders choose when to accept IMF loans based on their own expectations of post-reform tenure, democratic leaders are less likely to participate in loans. Authoritarian leaders, on the other hand, are more likely to participate in agreements because their hold on power in the post-reform period is stronger.
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Although coup risk plays an important role in theories of war, revolution, and democratization, scholars have not developed a rigorous conceptualization and valid measure of the concept. We develop a structural understanding of coup risk as distinct from proximate causes of coups as well as coup-proofing strategies that regimes implement to avert coups. Theoretical insights into factors that predispose regimes toward coup vulnerability provide the groundwork for an improved measure based on strength of civil society, legitimacy, and past coups. Cross-national statistical analyses are used to significantly improve on previous coupincidence models and highlight deficiencies of the common approach to measuring coup risk. The structural conceptualization of coup risk enhances understanding of broader civil-military dynamics, in particular the well-known distinction between motives and opportunities for launching coups. This distinction is shown to be insensitive to an important observational equivalence: that coups may be rare in both high-and low-risk cases.
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Military coups d�etat pose numerous problems. particularly for civil governments attempting to pursue radical policies. There has been too little study of possible forms of resistance to them. The article concentrates mainly on cases of civil (nonviolent) resistance to coups, for example in Russia in 1917, Germany in 1920, Japan in 1936, and France and Algeria in 1961. Problems of resistance in Greece after 1967 and in Chile in 1973 are also briefly mentioned. The main conclusions are that civil resistance can in certain circumstances contribute to the undermining of miltary coups by, or in association with, a complex variety of pressures. There is a case for greater reliance on civil resistance as a means of opposing military coups.
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International Security 29.1 (2004) 49-91 When Gen. Eric Shinseki, chief of staff of the U.S. Army, testified in February 2003 that an occupation of Iraq would require "something on the order of several hundred thousand troops," officials within George W. Bush's administration promptly disagreed. Within two days, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared, "It's not logical to me that it would take as many forces following the conflict as it would to win the war"; Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz characterized Shinseki's estimate as "wildly off the mark." More than a year after the occupation of Iraq began, the debate continues over the requirements and prospects for long-term success. History, however, does not bode well for this occupation. Despite the relatively successful military occupations of Germany and Japan after World War II, careful examination indicates that unusual geopolitical circumstances were the keys to success in those two cases, and historically military occupations fail more often than they succeed. Why do some military occupations succeed whereas others fail? Although the occupation of Iraq has prompted a slew of analyses on op-ed pages, there is almost no academic literature answering this question. The most relevant studies choose "nation building" as their primary subject of interest and focus on liberal democracy and successful economies as key objectives. Nation building, however, is not the central goal of occupations, and, further, not all occupations aim to build nations. Rather, the primary objective of military occupation is to secure the interests of the occupying power and prevent the occupied territory from becoming a source of instability. When creating certain political or economic systems, such as liberal democracy or an open economy, has been the goal of an occupying power, it has been so because it was thought that democracy and open markets would further the occupying power's security goals. Security objectives and nation-building objectives sometimes coexist within occupations, but conflating occupation success with the establishment of liberal democracy and functioning economies is misguided. This study recognizes the different goals of military occupation and includes occupations with objectives other than nation building. Further, in these studies of nation building, the logic of case selection is usually not explicitly presented. Discussions of the current occupation of Iraq often either turn to the relatively successful cases of post-World War II Germany and Japan or randomly select a subset of occupations to examine, but a valid study of occupations must examine both successes and failures. I present a data set of twenty-four military occupations since the Napoleonic Wars, which allows for a more systematic examination of the causes of occupation success and failure. Finally, many studies of nation building offer interesting and provocative arguments, but they stop short of answering the most important questions. For example, a recent RAND study concludes that successful nation building requires a lengthy time commitment, normally at least five years, but that study does not ask what conditions are conducive to occupiers making the costly commitment to a lengthy occupation and to occupied populations accepting the extended presence of a foreign power. I explain why some occupations last long enough to succeed whereas others end prematurely and why some occupations, such as the U.S. occupations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic in the early twentieth century, fail despite their protracted nature. The crux of my argument is that military occupations usually succeed only if they are lengthy, but lengthy occupations elicit nationalist reactions that impede success. Further, lengthy occupation produces anxiety in impatient occupying powers that would rather withdraw than stay. To succeed, therefore, occupiers must both maintain their own interest in a long occupation and convince an occupied population to accept extended control by a foreign power. More often than not, occupiers either fail to achieve those goals, or they achieve them only at a high cost. Three factors, however, can make a successful occupation possible. The first factor is a recognition by the occupied population of the need for occupation. Thus, occupation is more likely to succeed in societies that have been decimated by war and require help in rebuilding...
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Many sources of economic data cover only a limited set of states at any given point in time. Data are often systematically missing for some states over certain time periods. In the context of conflict studies, economic data are frequently unavailable for states involved in conflicts, undermining the ability to draw inferences of linkages between economic and political interactions. For example, simply using available data in a study of trade and conflict and disregarding observations with missing data on economic variables excludes key conflicts such as the Berlin crisis, the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Gulf War from the sample. A set of procedures are presented to create additional estimates to remedy some of the coverage problems for data on gross domestic product, population, and bilateral trade flows.
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John Mearsheimer is Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science, University of Chicago. This article emerged from a paper written for a February 1990 conference at Ditchley Park, England, on the future of Europe, organized by James Callaghan, Gerald Ford, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, and Helmut Schmidt. An abridged version of this article appears in the Atlantic, August 1990. I am grateful to Robert Art, Stacy Bergstrom, Richard Betts, Anne-Marie Burley, Dale Copeland, Michael Desch, Markus Fischer, Henk Goemans, Joseph Grieco, Ted Hopf, Craig Koerner, Andrew Kydd, Alicia Levine, James Nolt, Roger Petersen, Barry Posen, Denny Roy, Jack Snyder, Ashley Tellis, Marc Trachtenberg, Stephen Van Evera, Andrew Wallace, and Stephen Walt for their most helpful comments. 1. There is considerable support within NATO's higher circles, including the Bush administration, for maintaining NATO beyond the Cold War. NATO leaders have not clearly articulated the concrete goals that NATO would serve in a post-Cold War Europe, but they appear to conceive the future NATO as a means for ensuring German security, thereby removing possible German motives for aggressive policies; and as a means to protect other NATO states against German aggression. However, the Germans, who now provide the largest portion of the Alliance's standing forces, are likely to resist such a role for NATO. A security structure of this sort assumes that Germany cannot be trusted and that NATO must be maintained to keep it in line. A united Germany is not likely to accept for very long a structure that rests on this premise. Germans accepted NATO throughout the Cold War because it secured Germany against the Soviet threat that developed in the wake of World War II. Without that specific threat, which now appears to be diminishing rapidly, Germany is likely to reject the continued maintenance of NATO as we know it. 2. I am not arguing that a complete end to the Cold War is inevitable; also quite likely is an intermediate outcome, under which the status quo is substantially modified, but the main outlines of the current order remain in place. Specifically, the Soviet Union may withdraw much of its force from Eastern Europe, but leave significant forces behind. If so, NATO force levels would probably shrink markedly, but NATO may continue to maintain significant forces in Germany. Britain and the United States would withdraw some but not all of their troops from the Continent. If this outcome develops, the basic bipolar military competition that has defined the map of Europe throughout the Cold War will continue. I leave this scenario unexamined, and instead explore what follows from a complete end to the Cold War in Europe because this latter scenario is the less examined of the two, and because the consequences, and therefore the desirability, of completely ending the Cold War would still remain an issue if the intermediate outcome occurred. 3. The impact of such a change on human rights in Eastern Europe will not be considered directly in this article. Eastern Europeans have suffered great hardship as a result of the Soviet occupation. The Soviets have imposed oppressive political regimes on the region, denying Eastern Europeans basic freedoms. Soviet withdrawal from Eastern Europe will probably change that situation for the better, although the change is likely to be more of a mixed blessing than most realize. First, it is not clear that communism will be promptly replaced in all Eastern European countries with political systems that place a high premium on protecting minority rights and civil liberties. Second, the longstanding blood feuds among the nationalities in Eastern Europe are likely to re-emerge in a multipolar Europe, regardless of the existing political order. If wars break out in Eastern Europe, human rights are sure to suffer. 4. It is commonplace to characterize the polarity—bipolar or multipolar—of the international system at large, not a specific region. The focus in this article, however, is not on the global distribution of power, but on the distribution of power in Europe. Polarity arguments can be used to assess the prospects for stability in a particular region, provided the global and regional balances are distinguished from one...
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The problem of aggregating WEIS events data, coded as discrete events, into a continuous time series representing conflict or cooperation between two nations is discussed. Past literature on the subject reveals continuing confusion and controversy regarding such a conflict-cooperation scale. A new scale based on a small panel of international relations faculty is presented. Replication of several past studies of great power reciprocity, using the new scale, shows a slight increase in the statistical significance of relationships.
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Post-World War II Western foreign policies are often based on the claim that the spread of democracy will result in global peace. Our understanding of how this propagation can bring about peace is limited, and we have little reason to believe that the causal arrow points only in one direction. We tackle these issues by modeling the linkages between states' regime types, interstate conflict, and the strength of the democratic community relative to the autocratic community. Analysis of our model suggests initial increases in the strength of the democratic community increase the level of conflict in a system. Beyond a threshold of democratic strength, however, conflict wanes as the democratic community waxes. Our model also suggests that the survival rate of democracies increases as the material strength of the democratic community increases and decreases as systemic conflict rises. Empirical analyses offer support for the survival propositions.
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This paper explores empirically how domestic political and economic challenges affect political leaders’ propensity to respond with the use of force at home and abroad. The foreign policy and world politics literatures are replete with references to leaders’ alleged use of external conflict when confronted with domestic challenges, but rarely consider domestic responses to dissent or the role of interstate threats. Comparative research on repression primarily focuses on linkages between domestic challenges and leaders’ resort to repressive policies, but ignores international alternatives. Neither literature considers the influence of external threats and opportunity structures on resort to use of force and coercion at home and abroad. Alternatively, we contend that foreign conflict and repression are complementary and potentially interchangeable policies that leaders may use to maintain political power in the face of domestic pressure. We hypothesize that the level of domestic political constraints conditions the opportunity and likelihood of selecting either repression or foreign conflict in response to domestic challenges. Since the ability to capitalize on external conflict involvement in all likelihood is not independent of international opportunity structures, we explicitly address differences in the availability of historical interstate animosity. We test our hypotheses on resort to repression and external dispute involvement on a global sample of political leaders for the period 1948–82. Our results indicate that repression and external conflict involvement appear to be largely independent and driven by different challenges: While there is some evidence that domestic conflict increases the likelihood of disputes and that external threat may promote repression, there is little support for the idea of direct substitution in kind since leaders frequently combine both dispute involvement and repression.
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The 3 August 2005 military coup was Mauritania's best opportunity to turn the page on decades of the deposed quasi-military regime's destructive politics. This article critically analyses relevant aspects of the transition that ensued in the context of the prevailing models of military withdrawal from politics in Africa. It also examines the challenges that Mauritania's short-lived Third Republic faced. It argues that the transition process did not escape the well-known African military junta leader's proclivity to manipulate transitions to fulfil suddenly awakened self-seeking political ambitions, in violation of solemn promises. While there was no old-fashioned ballot stuffing to decide electoral outcomes, Mauritania's junta leader and his lieutenants spared no effort to keep the military very much involved in politics, and to perpetuate a strong sense of entitlement to political power. Originally designed as an ingenious ‘delayed self-succession’ of sorts, in the end, another coup aborted Mauritania's democratisation process and threw its institutions in a tailspin. This only exacerbated the challenges that have saddled Mauritania's political system and society for decades – unhealthy civil-military relations, a dismal ‘human rights deficit’, terrorism, and a neo-patrimonial, disastrously mismanaged economy.