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date: 07 May 2021

Regime Type, Foreign Policy, and International Relationslocked

  • Joe D. HaganJoe D. HaganDepartment of Political Science, West Virginia University


One of the most prevalent ideas in the literature of international relations (IR) is that domestic political patterns are linked to foreign policy via the concept of political regime (democracy, anocracy, and autocracy). Since the beginning of the 21st century, the regime-type foreign policy nexus has gained ample theoretical and empirical credibility in IR theory. There are four areas of research on regime type and foreign policy: the first considers democratic peace literature focused on authoritarian and democratic foreign policies; the second deals with democratization and war literature that highlights the foreign policies of anocracies; the third uses the common large-N data sets and research design and unpacks democratic and authoritarian regimes (separately) to identify subtypes of each regime type; and the fourth is the so-called politics and war literature. The politics and war literature is fragmented, with authors pursuing separate and evidently incomplete lines of argument. There are three steps for integrating the key insights of the politics and war literature: First is the intensification of domestic opposition to established elites; second, the adoption of new ruling strategies as a means for leaders to cope with rising domestic political crises and to control their hold over the regime; and third, the occurrence of international crises, in which larger aspects of domestic politics persist or emerge and affect decisions involving the threat of war.

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