Dictators at War and Peace

Dictators at War and Peace

by Jessica L. P. Weeks

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Why do some autocratic leaders pursue aggressive or expansionist foreign policies, while others are much more cautious in their use of military force? The first book to focus systematically on the foreign policy of different types of authoritarian regimes, Dictators at War and Peace breaks new ground in our understanding of the international behavior of dictators.

Jessica L. P. Weeks explains why certain kinds of regimes are less likely to resort to war than others, why some are more likely to win the wars they start, and why some authoritarian leaders face domestic punishment for foreign policy failures whereas others can weather all but the most serious military defeat. Using novel cross-national data, Weeks looks at various nondemocratic regimes, including those of Saddam Hussein and Joseph Stalin; the Argentine junta at the time of the Falklands War, the military government in Japan before and during World War II, and the North Vietnamese communist regime. She finds that the differences in the conflict behavior of distinct kinds of autocracies are as great as those between democracies and dictatorships. Indeed, some types of autocracies are no more belligerent or reckless than democracies, casting doubt on the common view that democracies are more selective about war than autocracies.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801479823
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 09/08/2014
Series: Cornell Studies in Security Affairs
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Jessica L. P. Weeks is Assistant Professor and Trice Faculty Scholar in the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Table of Contents

Introduction1. Authoritarian Regimes and the Domestic Politics of War and Peace
Audiences, Preferences, and Decisions about War
Hypotheses, Implications, and Cases
2. Initiating International Conflict
Measuring Authoritarian Regime Type
Modeling the Initiation of International Conflict
3. Winners, Losers, and Survival
Selecting Wars
War Outcomes in the Past Century
Outcomes of Militarized Interstate Disputes, 1946–2000

The Consequences of Defeat4. Personalist Dictators: Shooting from the Hip
Saddam Hussein and the 1990 Invasion of Kuwait
Josef Stalin: A Powerful but Loose Cannon
5. Juntas: Using the Only Language They Understand
Argentina and the Falklands/Malvinas War
Japan's Road to World War II
6. Machines: Looking Before They Leap
The North Vietnamese Wars against the US, South Vietnam, and Cambodia
The Soviet Union in the Post-Stalin Era
Conclusion: Dictatorship, War, and PeaceAppendix
Works Cited

What People are Saying About This

Virginia Page Fortna

"In this cogent analysis of the important variation among autocratic regimes when it comes to decisions about war and peace, Jessica L. P. Weeks shows that the usual dichotomy between democracies and autocracies is too simplistic. By focusing on not only domestic accountability but also the predilections of leaders and, crucially, the preferences of the domestic audiences they are accountable to, Weeks shows that some autocrats face incentives much like democracies, and therefore behave much like their democratic counterparts when it comes to questions of war and peace. Others are constrained by strong domestic audiences that have relatively hawkish views. Still other leaders face few constraints, and it is their own preferences and predilections that matter. Weeks' theory helps explain not only conflict initiation but also war outcomes and the fates of wartime leaders. This book combines parsimonious yet powerful theorizing with rigorous and thoughtful multimethod analysis, to answer crucial policy questions about war and peace. It is a model of what good IR scholarship should be."

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