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One extension of the democratic peace argument is that democratic leaders have electoral incentives to carefully choose their conflicts. This is why democracies are more likely to fight shorter wars that they win. In a new paper coming out in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, I find (with Steve Miller) that democracies are no more or less likely to fight shorter conflicts or to win them. Using disputes rather than wars, we demonstrate that the association between joint democracy and these empirical regularities is, you guessed it, a function of the (lack of) territorial threat facing democracies. Democracies are rarely targeted by territorial issues.
Below is the abstract, followed by a link to the full paper.
Recent scholarship suggests that democracies tend to fight shorter conflicts that can be easily won. This is most likely due to the accountability incentives that constrain democratic leaders. Fearing removal from office, democratic leaders will try to choose short conflicts against weaker opponents. The authors question this argument by presenting an alternative explanation for the connection between democracy and shorter disputes and victories. Building on prior works that have identified a territorial peace, this article argues that democracies often have few territorial issues over which to contend. In fact, rarely do democracies have territorial disputes with their neighbors. Thus, democracies have less difficult issues to resolve, and this makes conflict escalation less likely against neighbors. Without neighbors ready to attack the homeland, states at territorial peace can more easily choose favorable conflicts to escalate. This logic applies to all states at territorial peace, of which democratic states are just a subset. Analyses of directed-dispute dyads between 1816 and 2001 provide confirmation for our argument. Regime type does not predict conflict selection or victory once controls are added for issue salience.
The British Journal of Political Science has released (online) my article with Alex Braithwaite that examines the effects of concentrations of territorial disputes. We find that these territorial "hot spots" explain much of the relationship previously identified as the democratic peace. In fact, the presence of two democracies in the dyad is NOT a statistically significant predictor of peace once we add the hot spot measure. Only by interacting territorial hot spots with the jointly democratic dyad measure do we find statistical significance. In other words, democracy has an effect only AFTER the region has been settled. However, even here, the substantive significance of joint democracy is quite small. As this chart shows, joint democracy provides an almost imperceptible decrease in the likelihood of conflict.
This article builds on Alex's great work on conflict location and aggregation. The findings also of course provide more evidence that the democratic peace can better be described as a subset of the territorial peace, using an alternative specification from the analyses described in my book.
Here's the abstract, followed by a link to the full paper.
The likelihood of conflict and the observation of joint democracy tend to cluster regionally. This article tests the argument that these clusters can be explained by regional variations in the stability of international borders using a new dataset of territorial dispute hot spots from 1960–1998. These hot spots identify spatial and temporal correlations in the territorial dispute data and therefore serve as close proxies for regional or neighbourhood instability. The addition of these hot spots also eliminates a common form of omitted variable bias – the spatial clustering of conflict – in international conflict models. These results confirm that joint democracy is only statistically significant as a predictor of fatal militarized interstate disputes in more peaceful neighbourhoods once territorial hot spots are jointly estimated. The interaction between joint democracy and regional instability confirms that the effects of regime type on continued conflict apply mostly to dyads in peaceful regions.
New Article Release: Individual Identity Attachments and International Conflict: The Importance of Territorial Threat
The December issue of Comparative Political Studies released my paper (with Marc Hutchison and Steve Miller) on individual self-identifications. We use Afrobarometer and World Values Survey data to show that individuals that are targeted by territorial conflict are more likely to consider themselves to be members of their national group; interestingly, individuals in initiating states self-identify with their ethnic or other group.
The article demonstrates well the effects of territorial conflict on the individual. Here, it provides additional support for the argument I make in the book that territorial conflict "centralizes" public opinion, even to the point of reinforcing national self-identifications.
Here's the abstract, followed by a link to the paper:
This article provides some of the first individual-level evidence for the domestic salience of territorial issues. Using survey data from more than 80,000 individual respondents in 43 separate countries, we examine how conflict affects the content of individual self-identification. We find that international conflict exerts a strong influence on the likelihood and content of individual self-identification, but this effect varies with the type of conflict. Confirming nationalist theories of territorial salience, territorial conflict leads the majority of individuals in targeted countries to identify themselves as citizens of their country. However, individuals in countries that are initiating territorial disputes are more likely to self-identify as members of a particular ethnicity, which provides support for theories connecting domestic salience to ethnic politics. That conflict has variegated effects on identity formation suggests the relationship is not endogenous. Our within-case analysis of changes in Nigerian self-identifications further demonstrates that individuals are quite susceptible to the types and locations of international conflict.
I have loaded the replication data for each empirical chapter of The Territorial Peace to a dedicated Dataverse Page for the book. The link to the data can be found here: The Territorial Peace Dataverse Collection
All data are in Stata files with replication logs. If you note any errors or inconsistencies between the data and the book, please let me know as soon as you can.
Note that these data are provided for replication purposes only, and I do not wish them to be used for separate analyses unless my prior consent is given. Thanks.
This blog provides additional commentary on current events and academic discussions on themes related to my book, The Territorial Peace: Borders, State Development, and International Conflict, available from Cambridge University Press, September 2012.