Dissertation Project

A Variety of Political Control Strategies in Civil-Military Relations
Hwalmin Jin, “Controlling the Military in the Shadow of an External Threat” (Chapter 1, in progress)

Under what conditions do leaders of nondemocracies choose one strategy over another in controlling the military in the shadow of external security threats? This study investigates the impact of changes in external security threat levels on the choice of coercion, co-optation, or mixed strategy. I argue that nondemocratic leaders adjust their coup-proofing strategies against the military by ascertaining external security threat levels. Leaders are less likely to implement coercive coup-proofing tactics, such as imposing counterbalances on the military, when there are increased security threats, to retain military effectiveness. Instead, leaders execute co-optive strategies such as allowing the military to participate in national cabinets, not only to avoid the risk of jeopardizing military preparedness but to reduce the chance of a coup. The mixed strategy is most likely to be chosen at an intermediate threat level because leaders are more likely to select coercion or co-optation at the two extreme security conditions. Cross-national data on coup-proofing measures and external security threats provide empirical support for my arguments. This paper sheds new light on the relationship between external security threats and civilian control strategies in nondemocratic regimes.
Hwalmin Jin, “Civil-Military Relations and Peaceful Conflict Management” (Chapter2, in progress)

My study examines the effects of civil-military relations on conflict management. Relatively few studies explore the connection between peaceful dispute resolutions and civil-military relations. I argue that authoritarian leaders try to settle interstate territorial disputes and civil wars through peaceful settlements to decrease the level of external security threat. By promoting a peaceful external security environment, authoritarian leaders can maintain coercive coup-proofing measures in the shadow of the risk of a domestic coup. The existing studies examine whether external security threats, such as militarized conflicts and spatial rivalry, increase the risk of a coup. Specifically, I use the Item Response Theory to measure the latent continuous trait of military control in authoritarian regimes. My study suggests that leaders have more of an incentive to terminate territorial disputes and civil wars in a conciliatory manner to establish and maintain coercive control of their armed forces.


Kyung Suk Lee, James D. Kim, Hwalmin Jin, and Matthew Fuhrmann  Nuclear Weapons and Low-Level Military Conflict (International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming)

Do nuclear weapons deter low-level military conflict? Although the political effects of nuclear weapons have been debated for more than 70 years, scholarship has yet to produce a clear answer. We design a study that reduces the risk of omitted variable bias relative to prior research. Our analysis compares the rates of conflict among eventual nuclear powers in the periods before and after they obtained an arsenal. We include two-way fixed effects to control for time invariant state-specific confounders and address common shocks. Our findings indicate that switching from nonnuclear status to a nuclear arsenal decreases the risk of being targeted in militarized interstate disputes (MID) by nonnuclear challengers. However, when it comes to low-level conflict, nuclear powers do not appear to be deterred from instigating disputes with other nuclear-armed states. This result stands in contrast to most prior studies, which conclude that the possession of nuclear weapons increases or does not reliably decrease the risk of being targeted – even for nonnuclear challengers. Although there are clear limits to the deterrence benefits of nuclear weapons at low levels of conflict, states can reduce their vulnerability to some degree by developing a nuclear arsenal.

Working Papers

Hwalmin Jin and Michael Koch, Pork or Public Goods: South Korean Legislative Voting and War Issues” (under review)

We investigate how electoral concerns at the district level affect foreign policy issues by examining the individual legislators’ roll call decisions on the issue of sending troops to Iraq in the South Korea National Assembly. Our central claim is that South Korean legislators are sensitive to electoral concern when they decide to vote for war bills due to the increasing importance of programmatic politics. The empirical findings confirm that there is a growing divergence of legislators’ roll call behavior depending on their electoral marginality and consideration for pork-barrel or programmatic politics. Governing party members are less likely to vote for war bills while more likely to vote for domestic bills as their electoral competitiveness increases. The study represents the first empirical examination of roll call vote behavior on the commitment of troops outside of the US and Europe, focusing on electoral marginality in the context of pork and programmatic politics.

Weiwen Yin and Hwalmin Jin, “Bilateral Trade and Public and Private Mobilization (in progress)

We investigate how bilateral trade dependence affects the process of interstate conflicts. Public mobilization can be used as a tool to deter the enemy because it is a costly signal. It will become more costly when the country dyad depends on each other on trade because it suggests that the signal sender is even willing to endure trade disruption and sacrifice trade to deter the target. On the other hand, countries that do not trade with each other much have little incentive to use public mobilization to deter, while private mobilization/fait accompli becomes a more preferable option because of the benefit of surprise attack. Our paper adds to the understanding of why trade leads to peace. Unlike existing scholarship that shows trade promote peace by other mechanisms, such as liberal peace theory, we show that trade results in peace by strengthening the credibility of public mobilization, which deters war.