"The Character and Origins of Military Attitudes on the Use of Force" International Studies Quarterly 66:2 (June 2022).
with Kaine Meshkin and Robert Schub
Do military and civilian attitudes on the use of force differ and, if so, why? Past scholarship is divided not only on whether decision-makers with military experience are more hawkish but also in whether differences stem from organizational selection or socialization. We contribute to these debates through a unique opportunity to survey incoming military officers at the US Military Academy before and after basic training – and pair the results with simultaneous surveys of a nationally representative sample. We find that future military elites are more hawkish than civilians, the gap is evident upon arrival, and initial socializing experiences cannot explain the gap. Numerous tests addressing potential socialization effects over a longer period reveal that experience may attenuate hawkishness but that it is insufficient to offset initial differences. The results indicate that preexisting attitudes shape the groups into which elites select as much as experiences in those groups shape attitudes.
"Authoritarian Advisers: Institutional Origins of Miscalculation in China's International Security Crises" (revised and resubmitted to International Security)
When and why is China prone to miscalculate in international security crises? National security institutions – the formal and informal relationships between political leaders who make decisions and the bureaucratic advisers who inform those decisions – offer one important answer to this question. I develop a typology differentiating between three institutional types. When China possesses integrated institutions, leaders can leverage bureaucratic capacity to more effectively collect and process information that curbs the risk of miscalculation. In contrast, China is more likely to miscalculate when political-bureaucratic relationships break down in one of two ways. Fragmented institutions destroy state capacity and encourage bureaucrats to manipulate information to conform with leader beliefs. Siloed institutions degrade inter-bureaucratic information sharing and coordination, which degrades the quality of bureaucratic contributions to the leader’s decision-making process. A cross-sectional analysis of China’s international security crises from 1949 to 2012, as well as three illustrative case studies, demonstrate that national security institutions help to explain the majority of China’s crisis miscalculations.
"Leaders, Bureaucracy, and Miscalculation in International Crisis" (under review)
When does bureaucracy make states prone to miscalculate in international crisis? International relations scholarship often assumes that bureaucracy increases the propensity for miscalculation, but offers comparatively few insights into what makes bureaucracy in some states more prone to miscalculation than in others. I develop a theory of crisis miscalculation that emphasizes variation in institutional relationships between political leaders and foreign policy bureaucracies. I argue that two dimensions of these institutions – capacity for information search and oversight structure – help explain why some states are more prone to miscalculate than others. To test my argument, I introduce a novel data set that measures these institutional differences across the globe from 1946 to 2015. Contrary to canonical theories that argue that bureaucratic advice undermines strategic judgment, the analysis finds that institutions that integrate bureaucrats into a leader's decision-making process tend to perform better in interstate crises than those that exclude them. The theory and findings improve our understanding of how bureaucracy shapes the crisis behavior of modern states.
"Advisers and Aggregation in Foreign Policy Decision-Making" (under review)
with Josh Kertzer, Eric Min and Robert Schub
Do advisers affect foreign policy and, if so, how? Recent scholarship on elite decision-making prioritizes leaders and the institutions that surround them, rather than the dispositions of advisers themselves. We argue that despite the hierarchical nature of foreign policy decision-making, advisers' predispositions towards the use of force shape state behavior through participation in deliberations. We test our argument by introducing an original dataset of 2,881 foreign policy deliberations between US presidents and their advisers from 1947 to 1988. Applying a novel machine learning approach to estimate the hawkishness of 1,073 Cold War-era foreign policy decision-makers, we show that adviser-level hawkishness has consistently large effects on foreign policy decisions. Conflictual policy choices grow more likely as hawks increasingly dominate the debate, even when accounting for leader dispositions. These results enrich our understanding of international conflict by demonstrating that advisers' dispositions, which aggregate via deliberation, systematically shape foreign policy.
"Armies and Influence: Public Deference to Foreign Policy Elites" (revise and resubmit at Journal of Conflict Resolution)
with Josh Kertzer
When is the public more likely to defer to elites on foreign policy? Existing research suggests the public takes its cues from co-partisans, but what happens when co-partisans disagree? We argue that the public defers to elites whose prior experiences signal expertise and favorable intentions. Not all types of experience, however, are created equal in the eyes of the public. The public is especially deferential to elites with backgrounds in socially-esteemed institutions, even when the core competencies of those institutions are not directly related to the issue at hand. We test our argument using two conjoint experiments that capture the information-rich environment in which the public must discriminate between cues from many types of elites. We find that the American public defers to more experienced elites generally, but is especially deferential towards elites with experience in trusted institutions. Specifically, our results show that the public defers more to elites with military backgrounds, even when considering non-military issues. The results have important implications for the study of public opinion, bureaucratic politics, and civil-military relations.
"Bureaucracy and Cyber Coercion" (under review)
with Heidi Demarest and Robert Schub
Works in Progress
The Military Origins of Civilian Power in China
with Dan Mattingly
Foreign Policy Information in Authoritarian Regimes: Evidence from China
with Eric Min
Dictatorship and Diplomacy: The Rise (and Fall?) of Professionalism in China's Foreign Ministry
Regime Type, Threat Perception, and Interstate Competition
Supported by the Smith Richardson Foundation
Chinese Diplomatic Exchange Dataset, 1949-2015
with Austin Jordan
Chinese Military Diplomacy
with Austin Strange
"Autocratic Institutions and Actors," Oxford Handbook of Foreign Policy Analysis
Image: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Beijing - 2017