Edited by Christopher J. Coyne and Rachel L. Mathers
Chapter 16: International Conflict and Leadership Tenure
Randall J. Blimes 16.1 INTRODUCTION For the last several decades, neorealist approaches to explaining international relations have been at the forefront of academic research. These approaches make the assumption that domestic politics is irrelevant to explaining foreign policy patterns because the anarchic nature of the international system constrains all states to act alike, regardless of variation in domestic-level factors. More recently, this approach has come under intense scrutiny and more and more scholars, notably those writing in the liberal tradition, have begun to argue that variation in domestic institutions plays a large role in explaining variation in foreign policy. Research areas such as the dyadic democratic peace and the diversionary theory of war, for example, have suggested that leaders take domestic preferences and opinions into account in forming foreign policy. However, while research along these lines has been both productive and plentiful, there is still a great deal of theoretic and empirical disagreement about exactly how and why domestic politics matters. This chapter focuses on exploring the relationship between international conflict and leadership tenure. Broadly defined, this subject encompasses some of the most fruitful and important literatures within international relations study. I divide the research done on conflict and leadership tenure into two categories. The first category is what I refer to as “indirect” analysis. This body of research views leadership tenure as a cause of international conflict. It asks such questions as: do leaders use war as an instrument to increase domestic support and make their tenure more secure...
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