Democracy and Coercive Diplomacy

Democracy and Coercive Diplomacy

Democracy and Coercive Diplomacy

Democracy and Coercive Diplomacy

Synopsis

Schultz explores the effects of democratic politics on coercive diplomacy. He argues that open political competition between government and opposition parties influences threats in international crises, how rival states interpret those threats, and whether or not crises can be settled short of war. Compared to their nondemocratic counterparts, democracies make threats more selectively, but those they do make are more likely to be successful--that is, to gain a favorable outcome without war. Schultz uses game-theoretic models and tests the resulting hypothesis using both statistical analyses and historical case studies.

Excerpt

In March 1999, as the first draft of this manuscript was being completed, the United States and its allies launched an air war against Yugoslavia over its treatment of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. While this conflict was fascinating for many reasons, one aspect that particularly struck me was President Clinton's decision to announce, both before and during the air campaign, that he had no intention of introducing ground troops into Kosovo. Why Clinton was reluctant to use ground forces is not very puzzling. Given the costs that were anticipated and the lack of strong public support, any such operation would have been politically and militarily quite risky. The decision to announce his intentions publicly, however, came under strong criticism, especially when the air campaign failed to produce immediate results. “How does it make sense, ” asked Republican Senator John McCain, “to tell your enemy before you go into a conflict that you will not exercise whatever options are necessary to achieve victory?” (US Senate 1999). Asked this very question in an April 19 Newsweek interview, Vice President Al Gore defended the president's strategy: “We have an obligation to candidly communicate with the American people about what we're doing and why, and what we're not doing and why. And if candor and clarity are costs of democracy, it's not the first time. ”

This book explores how the transparent political process within democracies influences the way these states use threats of force, how the targets of those threats respond, and whether or not crises are resolved short of war. While Gore's response reflects a common perception that the requirements of open deliberation and debate impose liabilities on democratic foreign policy, my findings suggest a more mixed and, on balance, more positive conclusion. The Kosovo episode reflects a class of cases in which the demands of domestic politics and the demands of . . .

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