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Sierra Leone: Military Coups and Dictatorships  

Jimmy D. Kandeh

The recurrence of subaltern coups and the involvement of politicians in these usurpations of state power are key features of military interventions in Sierra Leone. The losers of the 1967 and 1996 general elections instigated and/or supported coups that toppled the elected governments, and the coups of 1968 and 1992 also attracted the support of many disgruntled politicians. The country’s first two coups and the 1992 coup were pro-SLPP (Sierra Leone People’s Party) while the 1968 and 1997 coups were broadly supportive of the All People’s Congress party. Collusion between military factions and politicians permeates all ranks of the army but is particularly salient among senior officers, who share the same class location with politicians but not with armed subalterns whose ties to politicians are based not on shared class interests but on patronage and communal solidarity. Subaltern usurpations of state power in Sierra Leone reflect, inter alia, the extent to which senior officers have been clientelized by political incumbents and rendered less prone to stage coups in the contemporary period. Far more likely to attempt coups are armed regulars who, as a substratum, are unclientelizable, malleable, and often unpredictable. That the last three coups (1997, 1992, 1968) were carried out by this insurgent militariat is indicative of how senior officers have been displaced as major coup plotters since the 1960s. The underlying causes of these coups are rooted in state failures, low levels of institutional development, endemic corruption, politicization of the military, and the failure of the country’s political class to deliver development and good governance. Deterring coups in the future will depend as much on what politicians do as on what subaltern factions of the military are planning or capable of doing, but distancing politicians from the military and prolonging democratic rule are critical to reducing the probability of coups. Neither civilian nor military factions of the country’s political class are genuinely committed to democratic governance, but the two most important factors holding the military in check are the relatively long duration of constitutional rule (1998 to the present) and the global community’s hostility to military seizures of power. Four elections have been held since the last coup in 1997, with power twice (2007, 2018) alternating between the two main political parties. Elections are no longer precipitating coups, and the more of them that are held freely and fairly the better the prospects for military disengagement from politics and democratic maturation.


Terrorism and Foreign Policy  

Brian Lai

The effect of foreign policy on terrorism is an important area of research that bridges work on international relations and intrastate conflict by highlighting how an outside country can influence attacks from a nonstate actor in another country. Research in this area is important for understanding how countries like the United States can best deal with the threat of international terrorism. Research has generally demonstrated that states with active foreign policies are more likely to experience international terrorism, particularly democracies and the United States. This has been hypothesized to occur because active foreign policies create blowback, or negative feelings toward a state, leading to greater acts of terrorism against that state. Beyond the effects of a state’s general foreign policy, others have looked at more specific policies, such as military occupation and intervention. This body of research argues that international terrorism is often a response to perceived occupation of an area. Groups see terrorism as a method to dislodge the occupying force. This argument has been refined by other scholars, who have presented conditions or extensions of this argument. Others have focused on military intervention, arguing that the presence of troops, the negative sentiment that they evoke, and their effect on strengthening the government all create incentives for groups to attack the foreign power that has deployed troops. Foreign aid has been seen as a policy that can address the threat of terrorism. Aid has been argued to be able to improve local conditions and incentivize and reward local states for engaging in counterterrorism. Others have presented conditions under which aid is more or less likely to be effective, including the idea that military aid might actually increase the amount of terrorism, for reasons similar to military intervention, and create an incentive for states to maintain a terrorist threat. Other foreign policy approaches have focused on legal attempts to stop terrorists from financing their organizations. These policies have been driven by the United Nations, coalitions of states, and individual states. This article also focuses on the methodological issues that all these studies face, as well as future research directions.


Violent Regime Change: Causes and Consequences  

Dov Levin and Carmela Lutmar

The practice of foreign imposed regime change (FIRCs) is old, multicausal, and multifaceted. FIRCs have two main characteristics: they include some form of violent use of force to execute them (either covert or overt in nature), and their consequence is a change in the leadership of the polity in which they take place. FIRCs are frequently claimed to have major effects on their targets, such as inducing shifts towards the regime type preferred by the intervener, inducing intra-state violence, increasing cooperation with the target, and improving the economic welfare of the intervener. A review of the literature on the causes and effects of such interventions as well as the main existing datasets of FIRCs shows that significant progress has been made in our understanding of these phenomena with research on some aspects of FIRCs, such as their utility as a tool of inducing democratization, reaching a near scholarly consensus in this regard. Scholars studying this topic can adjust their current approaches (such as agreement upon a list of FIRCs, and the avoidance of conceptual over-stretching) in order to enable continued progress.


Military Intervention in Interstate and Civil Wars: A Unified Interpretation  

Zachary C. Shirkey

Military intervention into interstate and civil wars is both common and important. It lengthens wars, makes them more severe, and shapes how they are fought. Even the mere possibility of intervention can alter the course of a war as belligerent powers alter their strategies to either encourage or dissuade potential interveners. These effects of military intervention are found in both civil and interstate wars. Yet, is state intervention into interstate and civil wars essentially one phenomenon or are they distinct phenomena? By looking at which states are likely to intervene, why and when they intervene, and which wars are most likely to experience intervention, it becomes clear the similarities between state military intervention into civil and interstate wars are more significant than are the differences. In other words, despite some important differences, they are subsets of the same phenomenon. In both types of wars, allies, geographically proximate states, and great powers are more likely to intervene. Also, information revealed by events within both types of wars prompts intervention and explains its timing. Last, wars in which international organizations become involved, both civil and interstate, are more likely to experience intervention. There are, however, important differences notably in the areas of cross-border ethnic ties, the presence of great powers in the war, the use of non-state proxies, and wars caused by commitment problems.