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Domestic Strife and the Initiation of Violence at Home and Abroad

Kurt Dassel and Eric Reinhardt
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 43, No. 1 (Jan., 1999), pp. 56-85
DOI: 10.2307/2991785
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2991785
Page Count: 30
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Domestic Strife and the Initiation of Violence at Home and Abroad
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Abstract

Classical diversionary theory suggests that domestic strife leads to foreign aggression. This theory has been unsupported empirically because it ignores the critical role played by the military in decisions to use force abroad. Strife leads to external aggression when it threatens the organizational interests of the military; otherwise, the military is reluctant to do politicians' dirty work. Only a particular type of domestic strife-contested political institutions or conflict over the fundamental rules of the political game-necessarily threatens the military's interests and thereby encourages aggression. Using annual observations on all countries since 1827, we estimate fixed-effects duration dependent logit models of the initiation of violence at home and abroad. We find robust evidence showing that contested institutions significantly increase the probability of the initiation of violence and that they account for violence usually attributed to other forms of domestic strife, regime type, and regime change.

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