"The Two Faces of Opposition to Chemical Weapons: Sincere Versus Insincere Norm-Holders" (with Christopher W. Blair and Jonathan A. Chu), Invited to Revise and Resubmit at the Journal of Conflict Resolution.
Prominent research holds that the use of weapons of mass destruction is taboo. But how strong are these norms? Investigating this question among the mass public, we argue that some citizens actually support taboo policies in private but are unwilling to express counter-normative opinions openly due to fear of social sanction. These insincere norm-holders are difficult to identify empirically because they are observationally equivalent to sincere norm-holders in direct-question surveys. To overcome this challenge, we use a list design, which allows survey respondents to indirectly express sensitive opinions. The results from three list experiments show that between 10% and 17% of Americans falsify their preferences over chemical weapons use when asked directly. Our findings advance a specific debate on the strength of weapons taboos, while our conceptualization of insincere norm-holders and methodological application have broader implications for how scholars might think about and measure norms in international politics.
"Madman or Mad Genius? The International Benefits and Domestic Costs of the Madman Strategy."
According to the "Madman Theory" outlined by Richard Nixon and embraced by Donald Trump, being perceived as mad can help make seemingly incredible threats––like starting a nuclear war––more credible. However, a wave of recent research has largely concluded that the Madman Theory does not work. In this study, I theorize that the international benefits of the Madman Theory have been underestimated, but also that there are significant domestic costs associated with adopting such a strategy. Through a series of five novel survey experiments, I find evidence that perceived madness does provide advantages in coercive bargaining vis-a-vis foreign adversaries. Nevertheless, the advantages of perceived madness do not come without costs. Domestic audiences strongly disapprove of a leader perceived as crazy, as the public does not want a madman for a president. Overall, this study provides clearer support for the Madman Theory than most previous literature has found, but also breaks new theoretical ground in highlighting the domestic costs of perceived madness.
"To Compete or Retreat? The Global Diffusion of Precision Strike" (with Michael C. Horowitz).
The precision strike complex is a critical element of modern military power, and realist theories would have predicted rapid proliferation after its public debut in the First Gulf War. In fact, the precision strike complex has proliferated slowly. To explain this puzzle, we theorize that interstate security threats significantly impact proliferation, but not in the way traditionally theorized. Drawing on the economics literature, we argue that the relationship should resemble an inverted-U. When states have rivals with moderate precision strike capabilities, they have security incentives to compete with them. However, when states face highly advanced adversaries, it becomes more difficult to escape their competition, making acquisition less appealing. We test our theory on a novel dataset tracking country-level acquisition of eight aspects of the precision strike complex from 1980-2017. Our non-linear theory and original dataset make important contributions to the international relations literature and provide a resource for future studies.
"Could a Woman Have Gone to China? Evidence of a Gendered Peace Premium" (with Christopher W. Blair).
An old adage holds that "only Nixon could go to China.'" In other words, hawkish leaders face lower domestic barriers to pursuing conciliation with foreign enemies than dovish leaders. Is it similarly more difficult for female leaders to pursue peace than male leaders? We argue that female leaders do indeed face greater domestic barriers to pursuing peace. Since female leaders are perceived by the public as weaker than male leaders, they have political incentives to adopt more belligerent foreign policies in order to prove their toughness. Additionally, by acting according to "type" and proposing peace, conciliatory policies by female leaders will be perceived as less in the national interest than the same policies by a male leader. This project holds critical implications for whether increased female officeholding around the globe will lead to less belligerent foreign policies and more peace, or the reverse.
"Do Armed Drones Counter Terrorism, Or Are They Counter-Productive? Evidence from 18 Countries" (with Matthew Fuhrmann and Michael C. Horowitz).
Do armed drones increase or decrease terrorism? To date, the literature on this question remains split between competing camps of drone optimists and pessimists. Existing research focuses almost exclusively on the short-term effect of the U.S. drone program in Pakistan, meaning we know little about the impact of drones outside of the U.S. context. However, armed drones are proliferating rapidly around the world, making a broader analysis possible. Using new data to leverage this increase in proliferation, we assess whether getting armed drones changes the degree to which all 18 countries that obtained this technology from 2001 to 2019 experienced terrorism. Employing a variety of estimation strategies, including two-way fixed effects, we find that armed drone programs are associated with significant reductions in terrorism. Overall, this project makes two central contributions to the literature. First, by analyzing the universe of cases, this project constitutes the most wide-ranging analysis of armed drone effectiveness conducted. Second, compared to previous studies that examine the short-term impact of drones on weekly and monthly levels of terrorism, our design allows us to comment on the longer-term strategic effects of drones. Our findings provide evidence that drones are effective as a strategic counter-terrorism tool.