Unreliable Allies? Democratic Reliability and Coalition Warfare in Iraq
23 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2015
Date Written: February 9, 2015
When do democracies become ‘unreliable’ alliance partners? Existing studies make conflicting claims about the alliance behavior of democracies. Some argue that democratic leaders are hardly constrained by domestic considerations in their decision-making, even when the public is largely opposed to a military commitment. Others contest that domestic politics does matter and, specifically, that election cycles influence decisions on whether to withdraw from an operation or to participate in the first place. This paper puts these arguments to an empirical test, investigating alliance dynamics for 29 democracies that participated in the ad hoc coalition for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) between 2003 and 2010. Employing fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA), the paper takes a set-theoretic approach that emphasizes the combination and interaction of the preconditions of coalition withdrawal. This complements and goes beyond existing studies that have been mainly formal and statistical work. The paper specifically focuses on the election cycle, government turnover, and partisanship as conditions that potentially cause withdrawal decisions.
Keywords: armed conflict, alliances, democracy, Iraq War, Coalition of the Willing, elections, partisanship, electoral politics, domestic politics, conflict
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