Diversionary Despots? Comparing Autocracies' Propensities to Use and to Benefit from Military Force

Authors


  • A previous version of this article was presented at the 2008 annual meeting of the International Studies Association. We thank Joseph Aistrup, Andrew Long, three anonymous reviewers, and the editors for helpful comments.

Jeffrey Pickering is Professor of Political Science, Kansas State University, 244 Waters Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506 (jjp@ksu.edu). Emizet F. Kisangani is Professor of Political Science, Kansas State University, 244 Waters Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506 (emizetk@ksu.edu).

Abstract

This article adds to recent research that has begun to systematically analyze the varied conflict propensities of autocracies. Using political incentive theory, we develop hypotheses on the diversionary proclivities of three distinct types of autocratic regimes that contradict conventional wisdom and the findings of recent empirical studies. To provide a full rendering of autocracies' diversionary tendencies, we test our hypotheses with Generalized Method of Moments (GMM) models that capture reciprocal relationships among external military force and four of its potential domestic causes from 1950 to 2005. Although our results provide only partial support for political incentive theory, they demonstrate the utility of using properly identified reciprocal models and of analyzing refined conceptualizations of autocratic regimes. We find that certain types of autocracies are more prone to use diversionary force and to benefit from it than others.

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