Stasis or Decay? Reconciling Covert War and the Democratic Peace

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Date: Dec. 2015
From: International Studies Quarterly(Vol. 59, Issue 4)
Publisher: Wiley Subscription Services, Inc.
Document Type: Report
Length: 280 words

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Abstract :

Byline: Michael Poznansky Democratic states sometimes engage in covert interventions-sometimes involving forcible regime change-against other democracies. Critics charge that these interventions raise doubts about the robustness of the "democratic peace." I argue that they require analysts to rethink some aspects of democratic-peace theory. Democratic states base their behavior toward other democracies on expectations about the future trajectory of their regimes: whether, and to what extent, those states will likely remain democratic in the future. When they expect democracy to persist, the constraints of the democratic peace operate. But when democracies expect another state's democratic character to break down, or decay, they prove more willing to engage in covert forcible regime change. I test my dynamic version of democratic-peace theory by examining US efforts to forcibly depose Iran's Mohammed Mossadegh (1953) and Chile's Salvador Allende (1970-1973). The framework developed here helps to resolve a longstanding anomaly for the democratic peace-secret interventions between democracies-while also providing policymakers with a clearer sense of the stakes associated with covert democracy promotion and subversion. Article Note: Author Note: For helpful comments I would like to thank Sarah Andrews, Karen Farrell, Harrison Frye, Pete Furia, Erik Gartzke, Boris Heersink, Colin Kielty, Jeff Legro, Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl, Todd Sechser, Paul Sigmund, and participants at the Lansing B. Lee, Jr. Seminar in Global Politics at the University of Virginia. I would especially like to thank Suparna Chaudhry, Roger Herbert, Sam Plapinger, Matt Scroggs, the editors at International Studies Quarterly, three anonymous reviewers, and especially John Owen and Dale Copeland for their comments on multiple drafts. A previous version of this paper was presented at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Political Science Association. All errors are my own.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A439973066