“Signaling in Foreign Policy” (with Erik Gartzke, Shannon Carcelli, and Jack Zhang) for The Oxford Encyclopedia of Foreign Policy Analysis, ed. Cameron Thies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017)
Review of A New Strategy for Complex Warfare: Combined Effects in East Asia, by Thomas A. Drohan. 2016 Parameters. 46(4)
Policymakers are increasingly concerned about conflict ``in the gray zone"--- the region between peace and war where, it is feared, challengers are able to alter the status quo without fear of triggering a larger military confrontation. Paradigmatic examples include the Russian annexation of Crimea and incursion into Eastern Ukraine and China's island building campaign in the South China Sea. Here, we define gray zone conflict in a manner that emphasizes theoretical consistency and highlights novel features and implications of its causes. While gray zone conflicts are often perceived as deterrence failures, they are better understood as responses to deterrence success. A key puzzle involves understanding why capable countries choose to fight in a limited fashion. To the degree that gray zone conflict results from prior deterrence successes, raising the cost of limited war could yield peace. Alternatively, the decision to fight in the gray zone could reflect an optimal low-cost war fighting strategy, in which case doubling down on deterrence risks escalation and broader war.
Poster at the 10th Annual Strategic Multi-layer Assessment (SMA) Conference (April 2017)
Presentation at the annual American Political Science (APSA) Conference (September 2018)
The military capabilities a nation employs during a crisis - known as domains - are widely believed to be important in the study of international relations, yet scholarly research on this topic remains limited. This paper introduces a new dataset on the military domains and units employed by state actors during 455 international crises from 1918 to 2007. It discusses the coding procedures, describes global trends, and provides one empirical application of the dataset to show how the study of the means used during international crises contributes to our understanding of international relations. We provide preliminary evidence that crisis outcomes are more likely to favor actors that deploy naval units.
Presentation at the International Studies Association (ISA) Conference (April 2018)
Un-piloted weapons have become an increasingly common tool in US military strategy, yet most relevant scholarship has focused on drones. This paper complements that research by providing the first comprehensive dataset of the entire universe of US cruise missile strikes from 1991-2017. This fine grained data allows scholars to examine the important of the various platforms used to launch cruise missiles, the geographic location and type of specific targets, and when cruise missiles are utilized during military operations. This article introduces the dataset of all US cruise missile incidents from 1991-2017, describes the variables of interest, and suggests important political questions that can be analyzed through the use of this data.
Poster at the International Studies Association (ISA) Conference (April 2018)
What determines the degree of alliance contributions to conflict theaters? France's military budget was twice the size of Italy's at the outbreak of the Gulf War yet their troops contribution was ten times the size. This disparity demonstrates a simple but consequential point: alliance commitments are always unequal. We shed light on this important but under-explored topic by exploring the determinants of the degree of alliance contributions to conflict theaters. Through a new data set of relative country-level military contributions to the war in Afghanistan (2001-2014), we measure the extent to which states committed troops to the war during its early years, relative to how many troops they could have contributed. Drawing upon measures of position within the alliance network we argue that states contribute to ongoing conflicts in proportion to their potential gains in the broader security community. Countries that are already closely aligned with the central coalition actors and those stranded on the periphery alike tended to under-commit troops relative to the largest contributors, whose moderate alignments left substantial room for subsequent gains to be had from signaling their commitment to the leading coalition actor.
Poster at the Political Networks Conference (June 2018)
Presentation at the American Political Science Association (APSA) Conference (August 2018)
Military capacity is considered central to national power, yet its measures remain aggregated and generalized. This paper aims to produce a better understanding of military capacity through a nuanced analysis of military technologies. The acumen of these technological bundles determine the military systems available to a given country and thus define military strategy, structure, and success. This research paper introduces the DoD's Militarily Critical Technologies List (MCTL) to shed light on the composition of technological bundles as well as empirically identifying military domains based on their technological portfolios. This new way of thinking about military technology through empirical validation will shed light on nations' system integration skills, the complementarity and substitutability of military technologies, and the role that alliances, trade ties, and domestic factor endowments play in shaping a military's technological portfolio.
Poster at the 10th Annual Political Networks Conference (June 2017)
Signaling one's resolve and capabilities should help countries avoid war by communicating the conditions for a negotiated bargain that can serve the same ends as war. However, the spiral model of conflict holds that communicating resolve and capability could cause your opponent to feel threatened and respond in kind, thus escalating tensions. How can preparation for conflict be a deterrent, yet also be a precursor to conflict? This disagreement begs the question of why countries sometimes signal prior to conflict but in other instances they do not. To fully understand a country's decision to signal or not signal prior to a conflict we must therefore understand the relationship between signaling and what a country hopes to 'win' in a dispute. This paper suggests that countries hoping to achieve a negotiated settlement will militarily mobilize in an informational manner designed to signal while those that hope to fight a conflict will militarily mobilize in a tactical manner designed to win. Analyzing signaling through military mobilization in 470 crises over the past century reveals variation in the military tools used, their role in signaling, and the consequent effect on what crises escalate to conflict.
Poster at the Peace Science Society (International) Conference (November 2017)
Presentation at the UC San Diego International Relations Retreat (June 2017)