Guide Diversionary War: Domestic Unrest and International Conflict

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She finds that diversionary force is less suited to quelling domestic unrest than domestic policies that address the economy. The richness of the book is also enhanced by covering decision making analysis. She then tests it with quantitative and qualitative methods that are exemplars of multi-method research. The result is a book that deserves a wide audience in the field. In , she was a research fellow at the John F.

Diversionary foreign policy

Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? The very existence of diversionary wars is hotly contested in the press and among political scientists. Yet no book has so far tackled the key questions of whether leaders deliberately provoke conflicts abroad to distract the public from problems at home, or whether such gambles offer a more effective response to domestic discontent than appeasing opposition groups with political or economic concessions.

President James Buchanan's decision to send troops to Mormon Utah in Read more Read less. Review "Focusing on decision making by various leadership groups, [Oakes] seeks to put international conflict on a spectrum of other alternatives concurrently available to leaders. Read more. Don't have a Kindle? Chance to win daily prizes. Get ready for Prime Day with the Amazon App. No purchase necessary. Get started. Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:. No customer reviews. Share your thoughts with other customers.

Write a customer review. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway. Although the theory was not officially addressed in academia until the past half-century, the benefits of a diversionary foreign policy had long been accepted by governments and others as conventional wisdom. In , Simmel and Lewis A. Essentially, their work postulated that populations of nations increase their cohesion during times of conflict with an out-group another nation, organization, etc.

As an example, President George W. This type of response suggests that leaders have an incentive to manufacture conflict whenever they are in the need of a boost of popularity. From this assertion, scholars have used this conventional wisdom to expand and test the theory's true applications. The purpose of diversionary foreign policy is to divert the attention of the public away from domestic issues.

This means that the conditions leading to diversionary tactics include any sort of domestic unrest. This incorporates dissatisfaction with domestic policies and poor economic conditions. The theory predicts that the use of external force will increase the chance of reelection, so it would be used during a time when the president does not seem to have a good chance of reelection.

The necessary conditions of the opposing state differ based on which theory one ascribes to, traditional or contemporary. The traditional view of diversionary foreign policy suggests that a state will target another in which conflict is likely to be prolonged, which would be against states with comparable military capabilities.

This refers to the increase of cohesion among the "in-group" because of the common enemy or "out-group". On the other hand, contemporary diversionary theory states that, due to the uncertainty of international relations and the high cost of war, a state is more likely to prey on a weaker state where victory will be more quickly and easily obtained. It is also seen more in democracies where the government needs to be more responsive to public sentiment. In , King Henry V of England invaded France shortly after his succession to the throne, resulting in a short campaign and a resounding victory at the Battle of Agincourt.

Sir John Keegan has opined that the primary motivation for Henry's decision to invade France ostensibly asserting, "on dubious legal grounds", a claim to the succession of the French throne , was to solidify his popularity at home and quell unrest from other English nobles, several of whom questioned the legitimacy of his dynasty, since his father, Henry IV , had usurped the throne from Richard II. One historical example that demonstrates the conventional acceptance of the effectiveness of a diversionary war is the Russo-Japanese War of During the months leading up war, Russia experienced numerous workers strikes that lead to internal unsettledness.

It has been argued that, as a way to distract their population, the Russian Tzar and his ministers decided to goad the Japanese into declaring war, thereby turning Japan into the needed out-group. Clearly, at least some of the Russians in power at the time believed that by a diversionary war, they would be able to distract their population from the domestic troubles that had been haunting Russia. However, there is some evidence that the Tsar himself, and some of his advisors, did not believe that, being viewed as overmatched, Japan would be willing to go to war, and intended to use only the threat of such a conflict as a diversionary tactic.

However, the Russo-Japanese War is also in example of how a diversionary war can backfire.

Diversionary War: Domestic Unrest and International Conflict | Amy Oakes

Japan soundly defeated Russia in battle. This only aggravated the calls for replacing the Tzar, loosened the Tzar's grip on power, and some say hastened the path toward the Russian Revolution of and eventually In order to unify its citizens under the new flag and new leadership, the National Assembly began the French Revolutionary Wars. It first declared war on Austria , soon to be joined by Prussia. Otto von Bismarck utilized diversionary foreign policy often during his quest to unify Germany. These wars distracted the German people from the cultural difference that previously had prevented them from forming a single country.

Bismarck used the success of the Franco-Prussian War in a similar fashion, officially establishing a German Empire following the siege of Paris.

Many contemporary examples involve the U. The examples follow a similar model in which the U. Because the U. During a period of major social movements and widespread domestic issues within the country, the United States intervened in the conflict between North and South Vietnam under the policy of containment. This failed to unite the country.


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In fact, many did not see the justification in going to war and started a large anti-war movement , yet Lyndon B. Johnson was reelected while the war was taking place. After Iraq invaded Kuwait , the United States deployed troops to the area and were then backed by the U.

U.S. Foreign Wars & Conflicts - Overview

After the attacks on September 11, the U. The economy was also not doing well. Iraq's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction was presented as immediate threat to the United States. The occupation of Iraq was considered successful and the ongoing conflict led to George W.

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Bush 's reelection. As the war continued and the economy worsened, Bush's approval ratings dropped. The National Reorganization Process , the ruling military government of Argentina , started the Falklands War to divert public attention from the country's chronic economic problems and the regime's ongoing human rights violations of the Dirty War. A study in the journal Security Studies found that Russia's seizure of Crimea in early "increased national pride among Russians while support for President Vladimir Putin rose dramatically, and they suggest that the two processes were causally linked.

The focus of the Diversionary War theory on individual state actors and their domestic situations as causes for war challenges the basis of major approaches to International Relations. Many of these International Relation theories used by scholars, such as liberalism and realism , focus on states as the main actors in the international system.

Technically, this is referred to as using the interstate level of analysis. These scholars attribute the motives and actions of states to the states themselves, instead of the decision makers inside their governments.

Diversionary War: Domestic Unrest and International Conflict

On the other hand, the use of diversionary foreign policy suggests that factors inside of a state, such as domestic disputes and economic lows, have as much of an impact on foreign policy as national interests. As a result, examinations of the use of diversionary wars shift the study of International Relations away from the interstate level of analysis, toward the domestic level of analysis, and even the individual level of analysis. This means the diversionary foreign policy thesis does in fact fit within the neoclassical realist framework.

As with most theories there are disagreements among experts regarding diversionary wars. Diversionary foreign policy is supported by anecdotal evidence because it is hard to prove a theory in international relations quantitatively. When quantitative or empirical tests are attempted, the results are fairly ambiguous and there is not enough consistency among various findings to establish a definitive conclusion [8] This creates a discrepancy between the theoretical and historical text and the empirical evidence.

To begin with, there is an opposing theory that argues a state leader has the most leverage when citizens are content with domestic policy and he has high public approval ratings. It is then assumed that leaders are most likely to engage in international conflicts when the domestic approval is highest. This idea relies heavily on sociological studies that focus on the cohesion of small groups. Problems arise when theorists try to apply this to a large group such as a nation state, which is composed of many smaller groups.

In fact, there are examples of external conflict leading to more unrest between domestic groups.