Book Project We're Here, Now What? Uncertainty, Local Institutional Strength, and Foreign Rule Strategy
While many have illustrated the poor track record of armed state-building projects abroad, few have asked why powerful states choose to employ this costly strategy given its inherent drawbacks. If institution-building strategies frequently fail to achieve their objectives, why do powerful states ever engage in the calamitous practice? My book project asks two interrelated questions: What determines a foreign ruler’s choice of strategy following armed intervention, and why do foreign rulers often fail to plan post-intervention strategies prior to the arrival of troops on the ground? I argue foreign rule strategies materialize in two distinct steps that explain the interrelated nature of the timing and content of strategic decisions in foreign rule missions. First, I argue that pre-existing institutional strength of local territories largely guides major powers’ strategic choices following armed intervention, regardless of the foreign ruler's prior goals and preferences. Second, however, uncertaintyprior to armed intervention inhibits assessment of local contexts and prevents selection of a foreign rule strategy until after troops have arrived in the foreign territory. Only once the foreign ruler's military intervenes into the foreign territory can the fog of intervention, and uncertainty caused by it be lifted. Then, the foreign ruler's military can assess the strength of the local institutions in the territory and their suitability for meeting their goals. Using an original database of over 160 cases of foreign rule from 1898-2015 coupled with in-depth case study research, my project illustrates the crucial importance local institutional strength plays in determining both the content and timing of a powerful state's foreign rule strategy.
Articles "Is America Prepared for Great Power Competition?" with Brian Blankenship. 2019. Survival. (Forthcoming).
"The Perils of a Bright-Line Between Anarchy and Hierarchy in Conceptualizing International Orders." 2017. A Response to Butcher and Griffiths in "Comparing International Systems in World History: Anarchy, Hierarchy, and Culture." International Studies Quarterly Online Symposium. doi:10.7910/DVN/VDZG7L