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Beyond Academia

The International Interactions Policy Blog

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International Interactions is a peer-reviewed journal with direct relevance to a wide and interdisciplinary audience. Readers include political scientists, economists, historians, mathematicians, statisticians, anthropologists, sociologists, and other social science researchers with an interest in international relations, as well as informed professionals in business and government.

Launched in 2019, II's blog initiative aims to synthesize scholarly findings for a practitioner audience. Each blog post describes the policy takeaways of a recent II article, in the authors' own words, and is accompanied by a period of free access to the original published article. This is an exciting opportunity to share the important scholarly work of the journal with engaged policymakers who can apply this research to current issues and challenges. 

Latest posts are featured below. To access previous posts, visit the blog archive.

Leadership, Combat Experience, and Crises

Ross A. Miller describes his article, "Welcome to the Jungle: A research note on leader entry, combat experience, and dispute targeting," published in Volume 46, Issue 4 (2020).
The research article is free-access from May 7 - July 31, 2020.

Dr. Ross Miller, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Dr. Ross Miller is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Learn more about Dr. Miller here.

Are new leaders with combat experience less likely to be threatened by international adversaries than those without?

Unfortunately, not. In fact, they are about three times MORE likely to be challenged.

Previous studies imply that leaders with military training should deter challengers, because they are assumed to view the use of military force as the “continuation of politics by other means.” The commonly-held assumption is that the more “trigger happy” the leader, the less likely an international challenge is. Indeed, in October 2008, then-Vice Presidential candidate Joseph Biden Jr. appeared to apply this very logic, when he warned that, if elected, Barack Obama—a candidate with no military training—would be tested by an international challenger within six months of taking office.

This article argues that, although leaders with combat experience have military training, they have also encountered the human costs of war, which fundamentally changes their worldviews on the utility of military force. Instead of seeing war as simply a “continuation of politics by other means,” combat-experienced leaders are conservative in its application, because they understand all too well its costs. Adversaries account for this conservatism, making combat-experienced leaders attractive targets of demands, especially early in their tenure.

Empirical analyses of about 200,000 observations of state-to-state interactions from 1900-2001 reveal that the risk of an international challenge is greatest early in the tenure of combat-experienced leaders. They are significantly more likely to be the targets of a threat, display, or use of military force than other leaders—including those with military service. Over time, this risk declines as both leaders and adversaries adapt.

Read the published article*

*This article is free-access May 7 - July 31, 2020.

An Alternative Theory of Diversionary Behavior

Dennis M. Foster & Jonathan W. Keller discuss their paper, "Single-party government, Prime Minister psychology, and the diversionary use of force: theory and evidence from the British case," published in Volume 46, Issue 2 (2020). The research article is free-access until May 31, 2020.

Read the policy post Read the published article

Dennis M. Foster is Jackson-Hope Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of International Studies and Political Science at Virginia Military Institute, USA. Learn more about Col. Foster here.

Jonathan W. Keller is a Professor of Political Science at James Madison University, USA. Learn more about Dr. Keller here.

State Belligerence and Diplomatic Status

Steven Ward describes the outcomes of his research article, "Status from fighting? Reassessing the relationship between conflict involvement and diplomatic rank," published in Volume 46, Issue 2 (2020).

Read the policy post Read the published article

Dr. Steven Ward is an Assistant Professor of Government and the Associate Director of the Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at Cornell University, New York, USA. Learn more about Dr. Ward here, and follow him on Twitter @Steven_m_ward.

There's more to discover from International Interactions. Visit the archive to explore II's older blog posts, or go straight to the journal homepage to find the latest scholarly content.

International Interactions

International Interactions is a leading interdisciplinary journal that publishes original empirical, analytic, and theoretical studies of conflict and political economy. The journal has a particular interest in research that focuses upon the broad range of relations and interactions among the actors in the global system. Relevant topics include ethnic and religious conflict, interstate and intrastate conflict, conflict resolution, conflict management, economic development, regional integration, trade relations, institutions, globalization, terrorism, and geopolitical analyses. The journal aims to promote interaction among social science disciplines by encouraging interdisciplinary work among political scientists, economists, sociologists, anthropologists, geographers, statisticians, and mathematicians.

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