Why is economic coercion more effective against some countries than others? We argue that the answer lies in each side’s ability to minimize its own costs during a dispute while maximizing its power to hurt the adversary. To test our hypotheses we offer new measures of economic power and vulnerability based on commodity-level trade data. Statistical tests strongly support our hypotheses. Sanctions are more likely to succeed when sanctioners have a comparative advantage in their exports, but more likely to fail if the target’s export portfolio is diverse or the target has a comparative advantage in its exports. This paper is being revised for resubmission to Journal of Politics.
Dangerous Contenders: Election Monitors, Islamist Opposition and Terrorism (co-authored with Patrick M. Kuhn)
How do international observers decide whether to criticize or condone electoral fraud in a country? We argue that this decision depends strongly on the identity of the victims of electoral fraud. A monitoring organization is more likely to overlook fraud committed against groups that are deemed dangerous by its sponsor. Based on this insight, we hypothesize that in the post-Cold War era election monitors are more tolerant of fraud against Islamic challengers, especially when Islamist movements are perceived as a threat to political stability. In support of our hypothesis, we find that outside monitors are more likely to endorse an election in countries with an Islamist opposition party and an ongoing Islamist terrorist campaign. Furthermore, we find that the effect is driven by Western monitoring organizations and becomes stronger after the September 11 attacks. Our findings provide a simple yet powerful insight: the calculus of outside observers depends not only on who they wish to see in power, but also who they want to keep out of the office. This paper is being revised for resubmission to International Organization.
Domestic Politics and the Motives of Emerging Donors: Evidence from Turkish Foreign Aid
Why does Turkey (one of the largest emerging donors) give more aid to some countries than others? This paper shows that recipient need, ethnic similarity and UN voting record matter. However, after the AKP’s rise to power in 2002 Turkey began to give more (humanitarian) aid to Muslim nations and more (economic) aid to its trade partners, while the importance of ethnic similarity and geopolitical affinity diminished. This paper is forthcoming in Political Research Quarterly. [Link to Paper] [Replication Materials]
Export Similarity and International Conflict
In this paper (co-authored with Tyson J. Chatagnier) we focus on international trade’s potential to create tension between states that sell similar goods to the global market. We create measures of export competition using commodity-level trade data from 1962-2000 and test their effects on the probability of international crises. We find that countries that produce and sell similar goods are generally more likely to fight. This paper is published in Journal of Conflict Resolution. [Link to Paper] [Replication Materials]