Dissertation Project

A Variety of Political Control Strategies in Civil-Military Relations (Available Upon Request)
My dissertation examines how political leaders endeavor to exert control over the military, as well as the impact of these strategies on conflict resolution and leader survival. It is composed of three documents. The first, titled "Controlling the Military in the Shadow of External Threats," investigates the circumstances under which nondemocratic leaders modify their level of control over the military, with a particular emphasis on how external threats affect that calculation. I suggest that when external threats grow, authoritarian leaders relax their control over the military to maintain military effectiveness. When the external security threat is low, leaders enhance their control over the military. I use Bayesian item response theory to measure a latent variable of military control composed of numerous indicators of military control. A cross-national quantitative empirical investigation demonstrates that authoritarian leaders facing significant external security threats reduce their levels of control over the military. A significant advance in this study is that it 1) provides a detailed theoretical explanation of how external security threats affect variation in military control levels, and 2) provides consistent empirical support for my argument by constructing a robust measure of military control.

The other two papers in my dissertation study the effects of military control on conflict resolution and leader survival. When authoritarian authorities exercise greater control over the military, I propose that they attempt to resolve interstate territorial conflicts and civil wars through peaceful negotiations. Additionally, my dissertation examines how differing levels of military control affect the tenure of authoritarian leaders. My research indicates that internal coup risk and external security concerns can have different impacts on the duration of leaders, depending on the degree of military control in non-democratic regimes. In general, my dissertation sheds light on how a sizable proportion of authoritarian leaders effectively defend their regimes against foreign adversaries and their own army by altering their military control strategies.