Peace at What Price?: Leader Culpability and the Domestic Politics of War Termination
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Why do some leaders stay in wars they are unlikely to win? Why do other leaders give in to their adversaries' demands when continued fighting is still possible? Peace at What Price? strives to answer these questions by offering a new theoretical concept: leader culpability. Culpable leaders - those who can be credibly linked to the decision to involve the state in the war - face a significantly higher likelihood of domestic punishment if they fail to win a war than non-culpable leaders who do the same. Consequently, culpable leaders will prosecute wars very differently from their non-culpable counterparts. Utilizing a large-N analysis and case illustrations, the book's findings challenge the conventional wisdom regarding the relationship between war outcomes and leader removal and demonstrate the necessity of looking at individual leader attributes, instead of collapsing leaders by regime type. The book also offers new insights on democracies at war and speaks to the American experience in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
leaders will also care about the political fortunes of their allies (hereafter, cofaction members) within the government. The regime type of the state dictates which domestic political actors are associated with the leader’s faction. In democracies, for instance, members of the executive’s political party are a part of the leader’s faction. In nondemocracies, generals from the same junta in military dictatorships or family members in monarchies may serve as cofaction members. The defining
of gratitude are the numerous undergraduate research assistants from the University of Michigan and University of Maryland who helped at every stage of the process, from building the dissertation data set to proofreading the final manuscript. They are, in rough chronological order: Jessica Enger, Megan Irving, David Larson, Alexandra Link, Rachel Welford, Christopher Caruso, Roberto Rosales, Marcus Johnson, Alex Knobel, and Jessica Liu. They have my eternal gratitude for the energy and dedication
culpable leaders face a tough dilemma that has its origins in domestic politics. They can stay in a war that is going poorly on the slim chance they will be able to eke out a highly improbable victory, thereby avoiding punishment, or admit their failure and lose power (and all its benefits) in the near term. Recognizing these domestic dynamics reveals that staying in a war “irrationally” and opting to gamble may be a culpable leader’s best strategy. This insight sheds light on the puzzle of why
began or, if he was, why he was not persuasive or powerful enough to stop the prime minister from pursuing it. Culpability and Domestic Punishment 59 policies that members of their governing coalition would disapprove of. This logic is especially relevant in decisions related to war where, given the gravity of the issue and the potential for severe consequences, the executive should only want to proceed if he has strong domestic support.12 This incentive creates a selection effect similar to
is relatively small and generally more insulated from failure in war. To test Punishment Hypothesis 2 more directly, however, a comparison of the effects of culpable losing leaders of different regime types is needed. A simple test of equivalency of the two effects provides strong support for the hypothesis. Using the results from Model 3, culpable democratic leaders who lose or perform badly during the war are significantly more likely to be punished than their nondemocratic counterparts who do