Stasis or Decay? Reconciling Covert War and the Democratic Peace

Poznansky, Michael, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Owen, John, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Copeland, Dale, Department of Politics, University of Virginia

According to existing theories of democratic peace (DP), we should not observe democracies using overt force against one another. During the Cold War, however, the U.S. used covert force against a number of democratic regimes in the developing world. This poses a theoretical and an empirical puzzle. First, does the use of covert force between democracies undermine the theoretical underpinnings of DP? Second, why do democracies use covert force against one another in some cases and not in others? While scholars have touched on these questions, we are in need of a more compelling causal logic. The theory presented here explores how anticipation of a target state's regime collapsing in the future shapes the calculus for peace and war in the present. I hypothesize that if decision-makers in one democracy anticipate regime collapse in another democracy-what I term an expectation of democratic decay-the constraints of DP will be negated. Conversely, if the regime is anticipated to remain democraticgenerating an expectation of democratic stasis-the constraints of DP should obtain. To test the argument, I conduct a case study of U.S. foreign policy towards Chile from 1963 to 1973, culminating in the overthrow of Salvador Allende. I would like to thank John Owen, Dale Copeland, Pete Furia, Erik Gartzke, Jeff Legro, Todd Sechser, Sarah Andrews, Karen Farrell, Roger Herbert, and Matt Scroggs for extremely helpful comments. I would also like to thank Paul Sigmund for providing numerous insights into the nuances of Chilean politics. "There are three possibilities in descending order of preference, a decent democratic regime, a continuation of the Trujillo regime or a Castro regime. We ought to aim at the first, but we cannot really renounce the second until we are sure that we can avoid the third." -John F.

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MA (Master of Arts)
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