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Identifying the Culprit: Democracy, Dictatorship, and Dispute Initiation

  • DAN REITER (a1) and ALLAN C. STAM (a2)

Peceny, Beer, and Sanchez-Terry (2002) find that interstate dyads containing a democracy and a personalist dictatorship are more likely than other types of dyads to experience militarized disputes. They argue that this is because democracies are especially likely to challenge personalist dictatorships. Unfortunately, they do not identify which state in a conflictual dyad initiated the dispute and so cannot present data to support their claim. We improve on their research design by using “directed dyads” to identify potential initiators. We confirm their finding that democracy–personalist dictatorship dyads are particularly conflict-prone, but we also disprove their argument that democracies attack dictators, as we find that personalist dictatorships are more likely to challenge democracies, but not vice versa. We also find that other kinds of autocracies, namely, military regimes and single-party regimes, are more likely to challenge democracies than vice versa. Our findings have important implications for understanding the relationships between regime type and international conflict.The authors thank Caroline Beer very much for assistance with data.

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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
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