Statecraft and the Delegation of Power PoliticsWhat strategies do states employ to advance their interests in the world? How do states get partners (agents) to behave in advantageous ways? How do policymakers decide which strategies to implement among alternatives?
How do states prevent misuse when building the military capacity of military partners? This paper argues that states sometimes prevent misuse by manipulating the balance of power between a partner and its adversaries. They do this through, what I call, counterbalancing transfers of military power and defense assurances to the partner's adversaries. Counterbalancing prevents misuse by preemptively undermining the reasons that the partner and its adversaries might have to employ military power against one another. Leveraging illustrative historical examples, policymaker interviews, novel computations of tetradic (four actor) political relationships, generalized difference-in-difference-in-differences (three-way fixed effects) analyses of interstate arms transfers and a within-dyad case study, this paper develops evidence that counterbalancing is an important solution to the problem of misuse. (Status: Expect to submit for publication in Summer 2019)
The Strategic Foundations of the Liberal Order [Working paper]
The liberal order — characterized by strategic restraint through rule-based institutions — is often presented as a sort of quid-pro-quo, grand bargain in which the leading state (the U.S.) and secondary states (Western Europe and Japan) agree to mutually operate through rules-based institutions that limit returns to power in order to limit the costs of power politics. This paper argues that strategic restraint actually solves two distinct challenges: one that rising, secondary states face; and a second that leading states confront. Specifically, restraint by secondary states helps to disincentivize domination by a leading, but declining, power; and restraint by the leading state helps to disincentivize secondary states from balancing against it. Under certain conditions, that plausibly obtained after World War II, these decisions represent self-enforcing equilibria separate from one another. (Status: Expect to submit for publication in Spring 2020)
I Think Therefore I Act: Causal Beliefs in the Making of Europe [Full abstract] [Working draft available on request]
How do states select among the alternative strategies available to them? Challenging the conventional claim that international or domestic structure predetermines state behavior, I argue that policymakers use causal beliefs – ideas about cause and effect in international relations – to mitigate uncertainty and identify optimal foreign policy strategies. As evidence, I present disaggregated case studies, based on extensive archival research, of the decisions by Italy and the United Kingdom to pursue European integration. (Status: Expect to submit for publication in Spring 2020)
The Trouble with Carrots and Sticks: Recognition and Retaliation Challenges in International Politics
How do states shape the incentives of other actors in international politics? This paper argues that carrots and sticks (conditional inducements) are less of a panacea than believed because typical features of international and domestic politics generate moral hazard that can make carrots and sticks prohibitively expensive or impossible to implement. This moral hazard arises not only when hidden action makes it hard to recognize partner behavior (this is the traditionally story) but also in two, previously overlooked situations that prevent states from retaliating against shirking. The first arises when domestic or bureaucratic actors with a vested interest in the status-quo erect political roadblocks to monitoring for and sanctioning shirking behavior. The second constraint on punishment arises when the target government is so vulnerable to internal or external threats that punishment threatens to hasten its downfall and empower an unfriendly actor in its place. (Status: Expect to submit for publication in Summer 2020)
The Causes and Consequences of International Arms TransfersWhy do states transfer military power through arms transfers and military training? Who transfers military power to whom? What are the effects of arms transfers on the political development of recipients?
Military Capacity Building and the International Transfer of Arms
Why do states transfer military power? This paper argues that one common explanation for arms transfers is military capacity building. To reduce costs and magnify power, sates often delegate to partners — both state and non-state actors — to deter threats, fight wars, and pressure adversaries on issues of dispute. In this context, delegating states transfer military power to their partners to increase their coercive effectiveness. Leveraging data on post-World War II interstate arms transfers, this paper shows that states transfer arms when they have incentives to delegate to partners to employ power against an adversary but that these transfers are conditional on the incentives of partners to misuse transferred capability. (Status: Expect to submit for publication in Summer 2019)
“If We Don’t Sell "Them Weapons, Someone Else Will”: Market Structure and the Global Trade in Arms
How do we explain broad patterns in the international trade in arms? Existing accounts of the arms trade are largely monadic: they explain why producers export and why consumers import but not to/from whom. This paper tests an original formal model about how the structure of markets for weapons -- from competitive to monopolistic -- and foreign policy preferences interact to shape dyadic patterns and prices in the arms trade. When markets are monopolistic, suppliers restrict transfers so as not to empower their enemies; but when markets are competitive, because most recipients will be able to find a willing supplier, producers are willing to sell to pretty much anyone. In competitive markets, then, dyadic patterns are shaped primarily by importer concerns about becoming dependent on unfriendly suppliers. Counter-intuitively, concerns about dependency give suppliers the power to collect economic rents by charging their friends more. (Status: Work in Progress)
The Unintended Effects of Arms Transfers on Recipient Countries
What are the consequences of arms transfers for economic and political development (e.g. growth, rule of law, civil-military relations) and military conflict in recipient countries? Existing research finds contradictory effects due to severe inferential challenges. This paper leverages empirically validated models of arms transfers from my other research projects to compute propensity scores and match on comparable cases in order to mitigate selection bias. (Status: Work in Progress)
Political Science and Foreign PolicyWhat is the role of social-scientific theory and evidence in foreign policy design? How can political scientists produce knowledge that is useful to foreign policy practitioners? How should we train practitioners to make evidence-based foreign policy?
Foreign Policy Evaluation: Challenges — and Solutions — to the Causal Identification of Foreign Policy Effects [Full abstract] [Working draft available on request]
Scholars of international relations increasingly engaged in, what is commonly referred to as, program or policy evaluation. Leveraging experimental and quasi-experimental tools for causal identification, this research seeks to understand the effect that some policy intervention has on outcomes of interest. This paper argues that the study of foreign policy effects requires special care because typical features of international relations are likely to violate all of the assumptions necessary for observational analyses of foreign policy effects to have a causal interpretation. I show that these problems threaten all sorts of findings in the literature and propose research designs to mitigate identification problems. (Status: Expect to submit for publication in Fall 2019)
Can Political Science be Policy Relevant? [Full abstract] [Working draft available on request]
Many of us study international relations because we hope to improve our country's foreign policy or to make some positive impact on the world. And yet, the gap between the study of international relations and the practice of foreign policy seems as wide as ever. This paper offers one reason: political scientists are simply not producing the sorts of information that policymakers need. Average treatment effects are of little use because foreign policymakers generally have the luxury of personalizing specific policy responses to each of the situations they confront. Bridging the gap requires that academics ask the sorts of questions that policymakers need answered and design their research to provide answers appropriate to the personalized context of foreign policymaking. (Status: Expect to submit for publication in Fall 2019)
Evidence-Based Foreign Policy Design
Based on a course I have taught to Stanford undergraduates and International Policy Studies Master’s students, I am in the early stages of compiling a short “guidebook” on how to teach practitioners to leverage the knowledge developed in the social sciences to improve foreign policy design. (Status: Work in progress)
Distributive Justice (Political Philosophy)I have a secondary interest – and some academic training – in analytic political philosophy. These papers resolve important challenges to a popular idea, known as choice sensitivity, according to which the justice of a distibution should depend on the degree to which it is the product of choices by relevant individuals.
A powerful critique of a wide range of popular principles of distributive justice is that they treat those with adaptive preferences unfairly, for example, by requiring that Amartya Sen’s “tamed housewife” receive relative few resources. This paper argues that adaptive preferences are a problem not only for welfarist conceptions of distributive justice but for any choice-sensitive principle. It shows that the problem from choice-sensitivity is not that the tamed housewife receives too few resources but that, because her preferences are non-autonomous, her just distribution is indeterminate. Rescuing choice-sensitivity from the problem of the tamed housewife, then, requires that distributive justice has a prerequisite: equality is only possible against a background of autonomous preferences. Advancing distributive justice, then, requires first promoting personal autonomy. (Status: Expect to submit for publication in Fall 2019)
What is choice-sensitive egalitarianism? This paper argues that any determinate choice-sensitive egalitarian principle must be specified along two egalitarian and two choice-sensitive dimensions. Alternative accounts of choice-sensitive egalitarianism — including resource egalitarian, luck egalitarian, luck prioritarian, capabilitarian and certain left-libertarian principles — are shown to emerge by answering these questions in different ways. (Status: Expect to submit for publication in Fall 2019)
Future Projects (Collaborators Wanted!)Some other projects I have been exploring. If you are interested in collaborating, let me know!
Sticky Like Honey or Sticky Like Glue: On the Costs of Institutional Change
Why do institutions become sticky in that it is costly to operate outside of them? The existing literature offers numerous hypotheses -- focal points, domestic political spillover, bureaucratic restructuring -- but little empirical testing. This paper would test alternative mechanisms for institutional stickiness by leveraging plausibly exogenous within- and between-country variation in the degree to which different institutions are embedded in bureaucratic processes, bilateral relations and the domestic economy.
Generating Ideology: How the Formative Experiences of Generational Cohorts Shape Worldviews
Major political, economic, social and cultural events are thought to provide a common coming-of-age experience for generational cohorts and shape its unique characteristics. These experiences are understood to be “life defining” because they occur at a young age, when personality and beliefs are still malleable. This paper leverages survey experiments to understand whether and how life-defining events shape the foreign policy worldviews of generational cohorts.