Recouping after Coup-Proofing: Compromised Military Effectiveness and Strategic Substitution

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Authors C. Shannon Brown, Christopher J. Fariss, R. Blake McMahon
Paper Category
Paper Abstract In order to counter the threat of a coup, states often undertake a number of strategies to “coup-proof” their militaries, such as creating institutional redundancy, severely limiting interbranch communications, and basing promotions on loyalty rather than merit. As a result of such policies, however, the fighting effectiveness of these armed forces is degraded, and the marginal return on military investment is greatly reduced. We argue that leaders who have coup-proofed their militaries undertake several substitution policies in order to offset their military weakness when faced with external threats. These policies include pursuing chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons and forging alliances. We find support for these theoretical predictions in quantitative tests on data with global coverage between 1970 and 2001.
Date of publication 2016
Code Programming Language R

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