Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

The Bar Fight Theory of International Conflict: Regime Type, Coalition Size, and Victory

Political Science Research and Methods (Forthcoming)

26 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2011 Last revised: 18 Nov 2015

Benjamin A. T. Graham

University of Southern California - School of International Relations

Erik Gartzke

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Christopher J. Fariss

Pennsylvania State University

Date Written: August 12, 2015

Abstract

Studies of regime type and war have shown that democracies tend to win the wars they fight, but questions remain about why this is the case. A simple, if under-appreciated, explanation for democratic victory is that democracies fight alongside larger and more powerful coalitions. Coalition partners bring additional material capabilities and may provide intangible benefits to the war effort, such as increased legitimacy or confidence. Democracies may also find coalitions less costly or constraining, even as democratic war aims may be easier to apportion among the victors without diluting the spoils. Evaluating our hypotheses in a sample of all wars (or all militarized disputes) during the period 1816-2000, we find that democracies have more coalition partners when they fight, and that states fighting with more numerous coalition partners are more likely to win major contests. This finding is robust to replacing the number of coalition partners with the cumulative military power of those partners. Non-democracies also gain a likelihood-of-victory benefit with additional partners, but they appear less willing or able to form large military coalitions. Finally, we show that the indirect effect of democracy on success in war through coalition size subsumes much of the direct effect previously attributed to regime type.

Suggested Citation

Graham, Benjamin A. T. and Gartzke, Erik and Fariss, Christopher J., The Bar Fight Theory of International Conflict: Regime Type, Coalition Size, and Victory (August 12, 2015). Political Science Research and Methods (Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1915353 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1915353

Benjamin A. T. Graham

University of Southern California - School of International Relations ( email )

3518 Trousdale Parkway
VKC 330
Los Angeles, CA California 90089-0043
United States
8586996306 (Phone)
2137420281 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://dornsife.usc.edu/graham

Erik Gartzke

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
San Diego, CA
United States

Christopher J. Fariss (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University ( email )

University Park
State College, PA 16802
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
144
Rank
171,665
Abstract Views
864