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Statements of Resolve
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Statements of resolve - in which leaders indicate that their country is committed to a position and will not back down - are a fixture of international conflict. However, scholars have not agreed on how much these statements affect conflict outcomes or which conditions give them coercive credibility. Statements of Resolve argues that an important and underappreciated factor influencing the impact of resolved statements is the ability to follow through. Roseanne W. McManus explains how adversaries analyze a leader's ability to follow through on statements and shows that perceptions of the ability to follow through are influenced not only by military capabilities but also by less obvious domestic political conditions. Through rigorous statistical tests based on quantitative coding of US presidential statements and case studies of three Cold War conflicts, this book shows that resolved statements can effectively coerce adversaries, but only when a sufficient physical and political ability is present.


'The factors that influence the credibility of leaders is a critical topic for international politics. In this fascinating new book, Roseanne W. McManus shows what makes leaders credible, and why. Her multi-method approach significantly advances our understanding of credibility and conflict by demonstrating that statements of resolve are most effective at influencing adversaries when leaders have both the military and domestic political capacity to follow through on their public statements. I highly recommend this book to all interested in international politics.'

Michael Horowitz - University of Pennsylvania

'When do statements of resolve constitute credible signals of state intentions, and when are they merely cheap talk? This multi-method study demonstrates that a state’s military and political capacity to follow through on coercive threats plays a major role in influencing the perceptions and behavior of international adversaries. Statements of Resolve is an important theoretical and empirical contribution with significant policy implications.'

Jack S. Levy - Board of Governors’ Professor of Political Science, Rutgers University, New Jersey

'Do international adversaries consider the president’s ability to follow through with threats when responding to the US? Do American domestic circumstances enter into their calculations? McManus addresses these questions by measuring observable domestic political factors, such as the president’s popularity and the hawkishness of veto players, to show - through able and careful quantitative analyses as well as enlightening case studies - that adversaries attend to domestic factors in evaluating the credibility of presidential statements. Her case studies of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Reagan’s relations with the Soviet Union, the US during the Vietnam War show how other countries attend to varying constraints presidents face. Those interested in domestic politics and foreign policy and in international bargaining, in particular, will place Statements of Resolve very high on their lists of ‘must-reads.'

Glenn H. Palmer - Executive Director of the Peace Science Society and Professor of Political Science, Penn State University

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