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Domestic Support and Diversionary External Conflict in Great Britain, 1950- 1992

T. Clifton Morgan and Christopher J. Anderson
The Journal of Politics
Vol. 61, No. 3 (Aug., 1999), pp. 799-814
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2647829
Page Count: 16
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Domestic Support and Diversionary External Conflict in Great Britain, 1950- 1992
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Abstract

Recent studies have analyzed the diversionary theory of international conflict. The theory, which holds that state leaders occasionally turn to external conflict as a means of dealing with domestic political problems, has been widely accepted for centuries. Despite its intuitive appeal, quantitative studies have failed to document the phenomenon. Recent work has significantly refined the argument and empirical evidence supporting the revised theory has been presented. Because these empirical analyses have focused almost exclusively on the United States, it is not clear whether the theory is generalizable. Our purpose here is to test the revised diversionary theory in Great Britain for the 1950-92 period. The findings show that the level of public support for the British government is in fact associated with the probability that Britain threatens, displays, or uses force abroad. These findings are consistent with the theoretical argument, suggesting that it is applicable outside the United States.

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