Research

My research seeks to bridge divisions between national and international politics, between domestic and foreign policy, between local and global issues and solutions. Specifically I focus on the effects of major powers on small powers, concentrating on military intervention and counterinsurgency.

Major powers, especially the United States, face substantial threats to international security. The role of armed force in dealing with these threats relies in part on how leaders of target states negotiate—or fail to do so—in the diplomatic arenas and how domestic groups respond to military interventions. My work advances our understanding of these situations by evaluating the political constraints and considerations of targeted leaders, in the case of military intervention, and civilians, in the case of counterinsurgency.

For more information, please read my Research Statement and see my vita.


Military intervention

Target selection

In “Kill the Kleptocrats? Domestic Politics and Selection of Intervention Targets,” I argue counterintuitively that states intervene with military force to support worse performing governments while supporting rebellions against betterperforming governments. I focus on external actors’ assessments of the political benefits of intervention relative to the status quo based on the political performance of potential target governments. I examine a monadic cross-national time-series dataset including data on the direction of support of military interventions, a measure of political performance based on the residual of infant mortality rates (IMR), and other indicators of political, economic, and social development. Government-sided military interventions are more likely when target governments underperform in terms of IMR, indicating an institutionally-dictated need for external fiscal support that generates an opportunity for foreign policy concessions to the patron leader, whereas overperformance leads to rebel-sided interventions against autocrats and neutral interventions in democracies.

Intervention and delegation
In a working paper presented at the Public Choice Society and the Texas Triangle IR conferences, I develop a bargaining model that includes military assistance from a third party to a civil war belligerent force. If bargaining between belligerents fails, the third party decides whether or not to intervene. This model allows us to examine the effects of possible intervention on how target governments strategically behave given the threat of intervention.