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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Leaders, Audiences, and the Use of Force

  • Author(s): Merrell, Brandon Cole
  • Advisor(s): Lake, David A
  • Slantchev, Branislav L
  • et al.

I examine three strategic tradeoffs between political accountability and violence. First, I argue that leaders who are accountable to their citizens may face domestic pressure to participate in risky and costly wars. Second, I show how countries can benefit from concealing their development of new military technology, whereas war can result when such efforts become publicly known. Finally, I demonstrate that citizens in fragile and under-institutionalized societies can deter their governments from engaging in abusive behavior, but these constraints on sovereign authority may come at the risk of domestic violence or instability. I support the findings with a combination of analytic theory, quantitative data, and qualitative case studies.

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