Zoltan Barany: The Gulf Monarchies and Gulf Defense Establishments

Zoltan Barany has published an article and Cambridge elements manuscript.

“The Gulf Monarchies and Israel:From Aversion to Pragmatism” (The Middle East Journal)

Abstract: The relationship between most of the Gulf monarchies and Israel has improved in recent years. This article argues that four fundamental reasons account for the shift in Gulf leaders’ attitudes: growing alignment of geopolitical interests against Iran, failings of American Middle East policy, recognition of the potential economic benefits of détente, and attitudinal shifts about the Palestinian cause. While this trend is present nearly throughout the Gulf, individual states’ evolving nexuses to Israel underscore the divergences in their foreign policies.

The Political Economy of Gulf Defense Establishments:

The six monarchies on the Arabian Peninsula have devoted enormous sums to defense in past decades. Nevertheless, the gap between their expensive armaments and their capacity to deter aggression and/or project military strength has narrowed but little in that time. This Element takes a political economy approach and argues that structural factors inherent in the Gulf states’ political systems prohibit civilian oversight of the defense sector and are responsible for this outcome. Lax restraints on military outlays, in turn, enable widespread corruption, lead to large-scale waste, and account for the purchasing of unneeded, unsuitable, and incompatible weapons systems. The Element explores the challenges caused by plummeting oil prices and the resulting budget cuts and considers the development of domestic defense industries in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, intended as a part of their economic diversification program. The setbacks of the Saudi-led coalition’s on-going war in Yemen starkly illustrate the narrative.


Kurt Weyland: Assault on Democracy

Kurt Weyland has published Assault on Democracy: Communism, Fascism, and Authoritarianism During the Interwar Years

From the introduction: Does the recent wave of right-wing populism foreshadow a revival of fascism? To elucidate this question, this book examines the politics of fascism, authoritarianism, and Communism during the interwar years. In this way, the study sheds light on the reversal of liberal progress during this era, which brought the frequent downfall of democracy and the proliferation of authoritarianism and fascism. This autocratic riptide arose from a massive backlash against Communism and from conservative elites’ wariness of fascism and their preference for authoritarian rule.

Rachel Wellhausen: Contingent Advantage? Sovereign Borrowing, Democratic Institutions and Global Capital Cycles

Rachel Wellhausen (with Cameron Ballard-Rosa and Layna Mosley) has published “Contingent Advantage? Sovereign Borrowing, Democratic Institutions and Global Capital Cycles” in the British Journal of Political Science.

Abstract: How do domestic and global factors shape governments’ capacity to issue debt in primary capital markets? Consistent with the ‘democratic advantage’, we identify domestic institutional mechanisms, including executive constraints and policy transparency, that facilitate debt issuance rather than electoral events. Most importantly, we argue that the democratic advantage is contingent: investors’ attention to domestic politics varies with conditions in global capital markets. When global financial liquidity is low, investors are risk-averse, and political risk constrains governments’ capacity to borrow. But when global markets are flush, investors are risk-tolerant and less sensitive to political risk. We support our argument with new data on 245,000 government bond issues in primary capital markets – the point at which governments’ costs of market access matter most – for 131 sovereign issuers (1990–2016). In doing so, we highlight the role of systemic factors, which are under-appreciated in much ‘open economy politics’ research, in determining access to capital markets.

The price of doing business: Why replaceable foreign firms get worse government treatment

Rachel Wellhausen (and Leslie Johns) published “The price of doing business: Why replaceable foreign firms get worse government treatment” in Economics & Politics.

Abstract: We argue that a host government treats foreign firms better if those foreign firms have fewer replacements. We identify a key structural determinant of replaceability: the startup costs that foreign firms must incur to begin production. Since the host government can only take from foreign firms that actually produce in its market, it must treat foreign firms better when their startup costs are high, lest the government drive all foreign firms out. Our theoretical model applies contemporary trade theory to foreign direct investment and provides insights about the understudied relationship between foreign and domestic firms. Most importantly, it endogenizes market entry and exit, establishing the importance of entry despite scholars’ long‐time focus on exit. Our analysis uses cross‐national firm‐level data on taxes and production outcomes, and we provide a new industry‐level measure of government treatment of foreign firms.

Collective Deterrence in the Shadow of Shifting Power

Julianne Phillips and Scott Wolford published, “Collective Deterrence in the Shadow of Shifting Power,” in International Studies Quarterly.

Abstract: Twelve of twenty-six war-winning coalitions since 1815 have seen at least two members go to war against one another after victory. What separates durable and fragile war-winning coalitions? To answer this question, we analyze a game-theoretic model of shifting intra-coalition power and collective deterrence. We show that (1) shifting power within war-winning coalitions can undermine commitments to the postwar settlement, but (2) revisionist threats from a powerful defeated side can enhance the credibility of commitments within the winning coalition, securing peace when intra-coalition war would otherwise be inevitable. We also recover these patterns in empirical models of the outbreak of war between former coalition partners: shifting power within a coalition is associated with increased probabilities of intra-coalition war, but only when the defeated side is not too powerful. A common enemy can thus preserve peace between former partners who would otherwise go to war over the terms of shared victory.

HW Perry: Human Rights Issues, and the Elitification of the U.S. Supreme Court

HW Perry has two new publications:
Abstract: Unlike thirty years ago, human rights issues are now routinely raised in Australian constitutional cases. In this article, the authors examine the role of the amicus curiae in the United States Supreme Court and consider how far and to what extent the amicus curiae device has been accepted in decisions of the High Court of Australia. The authors analyse the High Court’s treatment of applications for admissions as amici curiae, noting the divergent approaches taken by Chief Justice Brennan and Justice Kirby, and drawing attention to the practical difficulties faced by applicants who seek admission to make oral submissions. Human rights cases raise questions of minority rights that should not be adjudicated without input from those minorities. The authors recommend that Australia adopt the U.S. approach, to admit written submissions as a matter of course, and to allow applicants to make oral submissions when they have a serious and arguable point to make. This approach is consistent with the Court’s significant role of establishing legal policy norms for the entire nation, including for the identity groups that increasingly occupy the Court’s attention. The focus here is on Australia, but the argument for the role of amici is more general and might well apply to high courts elsewhere.
“The Elitification of the U.S. Supreme Court and Appellate Lawyering,” 72 S.C. L. Rev. 245 (2020): 245-304.  

Kim Guiler – Honorable Mention

Kim Guiler received an honorable mention from the editors of Mediterranean Politics in the selection for the 2020 “Richard Gillespie Mediterranean Prize” for her article “From prison to parliament: Victimhood, identity and electoral support.”

Rachel Wellhausen – VPR Award

Rachel Wellhausen won a $10,000 Research and Creative Grant from the Office of the Vice President for Research, for her project, “Weaponizing Waste: How Developing Countries use Garbage Imports for Political Advantage.”

Recent PhDs – Fall 2020

Megan Farrell: Affiliation Among Political Violence Groups: Signaling Commitment
Iasmin Goes Aragão Santana: The Source of Self-Restraint? How Domestic Politics and International Markets Shape Natural Resource Policy in the Developing World
Daniel Weitzel: The Causes and Consequences of Valence Attacks in European Multi-Party Systems

Calvin Thrall – David A. Lake Best Paper Award

Calvin Thrall won the David A. Lake Award for Best Paper at the 2020 International Political Economy Society conference, the biggest conference for the subfield, for his paper, “Spillover Effects in International Law: The Case of TaxPlanning and Investor-State Dispute Settlement.”

Abstract: Even if their home state has no investment treaty with the host state, investors cangain access to ISDS by investing “indirectly” through a subsidiary located in a thirdstate. It has been claimed that this practice of “proxy arbitration”, which expands thescope of the investment treaty regime as well as the potential legal liabilities faced bycapital-importing states, is driven by investors’ strategic investment treaty-shoppingbehavior. In this paper, I argue that proxy arbitration is actually aspillover effectfrom the international tax treaty regime: firms and individuals are motivated to investindirectly through third state subsidiaries in order to reduce their tax burden by gainingaccess to the bilateral tax treaty network. Once the subsidiaries are created, theycan be repurposed as ISDS claimants if a dispute arises. Using novel data on theownership structures of ISDS claimants as well as several detailed tax data sources, Ifind support for this theory. The results highlight the extent of the interdependencebetween different regimes for regulating global business: firm behaviors incentivizedby one regime may have unintended downstream consequences for other regimes. Thepotential for such spillover effects is magnified by the primacy of the bilateral treatyas a tool for regulating international commerce, as well as private actors’ ability tofragment their ownership chains across several states.

Tse-min Lin wins Grant

Tse-Min Lin has won a grant from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Houston to establish a Center for Taiwan Studies at UT, with Yvonne Chang. The sum total of the grant is $800,000 ($160,000 per year for 5 years).

Philip Moniz: JEPS Article on COVID

Philip Moniz has published “How Bad Is It? Elite Influence and the Perceived Seriousness of the Coronavirus Pandemic” in the Journal of Experimental Political Science.

Abstract: In spite of its immense global impact, Republicans and Democrats disagree on how serious a problem the coronavirus pandemic is. One likely reason is the political elites to whom partisans listen. As a means of shoring up support, President Trump has largely downplayed and but sometimes hyped the severity of the virus’s toll on American lives. Do these messages influence the perceived seriousness of the virus, how the president is evaluated as well as support for and compliance with social distancing guidelines? Results suggest that Republican identifiers had already crystallized their views on the virus’s seriousness, the president’s performance, and social distancing policies and behaviors. Unexpectedly, information critical of President Trump’s policy decisions produced a backlash causing people to show less concern about the virus’s death toll and rate the president’s performance even more highly.

Evaluating the Evaluator: Has the ABA Rated President Trump’s Judicial Nominees Fairly?

Austin Nelson published a student note in the Texas Law Review entitled “Evaluating the Evaluator: Has the ABA Rated President Trump’s Judicial Nominees Fairly?
Abstract: Since 1953, the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary has evaluated presidential nominees for federal judgeships, rating them as Well Qualified, Qualified, or Not Qualified. The ABA insists that these ratings are “independent” and “nonpartisan,” but high-ranking Republicans, dating back to President George W. Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, have challenged this assertion. To date, research published in journals of law, political science, and economics has largely supported Republican suspicions, finding a pro-Democratic and anti-Republican bias in the ABA’s judicial ratings. Senators from both major parties have recently questioned the credibility of the ABA and have called for a federal investigation into the ABA’s judicial evaluation process. In the words of Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, “the ABA has to assess whether its ratings are going to continue to have the kind of credibility they had merited and deserved in the past.”This Note takes up the question of the ABA judicial committee’s nonpartisanship. It evaluates the ABA ratings assigned to nominees for the U.S. courts of appeals, made during the administrations of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. This Note employs an ordered logistic regression model, it controls for relevant nonpolitical qualifications, and it finds no statistically significant difference in the way the ABA treated the appellate nominees of Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump. Whatever was true in the past, today’s ABA ratings do not exhibit a clear partisan bias in either direction. The ABA’s judicial ratings favor appellate nominees who are legally experienced, regardless of the nominating president.

Separation of Powers: Legitimacy, not Liberty

Tara Ginnane published “Separation of Powers: Legitimacy, not Liberty” in Polity.

Abstract: The normative justification for separation of powers is canonically articulated in terms of liberty. However, critics of this justification claim that separation of powers either does not or is not necessary to protect liberty and therefore is obsolete. This article argues that separation of powers still has a valuable role to play in American politics, but not one articulable in terms of liberty. Instead, its value hinges on its potential to contribute to normative political legitimacy. I present the legitimacy model of separation of powers as an ideal to evaluate practice and assess proposed reforms. I build from political science work on conflictual constitutionalism to argue that the American separation of powers’ structure makes the branches differentially competent at identifying and considering certain types of reasons for actions. This makes it more likely that government decisions will be based on relevant reasons considered through appropriate procedures, which is a way to institutionalize a legitimacy-enhancing requirement that government treat those subject to its decisions according to an attitude that respects their autonomous capacities. The legitimacy model offers good theoretical reasons to affirm separation of powers’ potential value to contemporary political life.

Mill on Deference and Democratic Character

Alec Arellano published “Mill on Deference and Democratic Character” in Political Research Quarterly.

Abstract: Citizens of liberal democracies today increasingly exhibit a distrust of perceived elites, especially experts and those of advanced educational attainment more generally. John Stuart Mill’s work offers potential responses to this phenomenon. Mill regards deference to superior wisdom as an essential part of a well-developed character while esteeming independent thought. Although his emphasis on the importance of character formation is well known, his concern for inculcating a salutary form of deference has been underexplored. I show how Mill’s approaches to this task include redesigning the political process to amplify the voice of the highly educated, promoting more widespread opportunities for learning, and consistently emphasizing the partiality of human understanding. I also compare Mill’s treatment of the place of deference in democratic politics with that of Alexis de Tocqueville’s, and consider how Tocqueville might critique Mill’s strategies for cultivating deference. In so doing, I demonstrate how these authors provide us with resources for navigating the tensions between popular sovereignty and expertise, and between independent thought and intellectual authority.

Campaign Effects and the Elusive Swing Voter in Modern Machine Politics

Ken Greene published “Campaign Effects and the Elusive Swing Voter in Modern Machine Politics” in Comparative Political Studies.

Abstract: Are vote-choice buying attempts successful? Much research across the social sciences argues that political machines expertly turn citizens into clients, undermining core aspects of democracy. Using insights from behavioral theories of vote choice, I argue that standard partisan campaigns can diminish vote-choice buying’s efficiency. Machines face a targeting problem: Local brokers identify good clients using long-term markers but then campaigns shift many citizens’ vote-relevant attitudes in ways that brokers cannot detect, leading to targeting errors. Vote-choice buying remains effective on recipients who are unmoved by the campaigns, but this group is small where campaigns are influential. Tests using panel surveys from Mexico’s 2000 and 2012 elections measure vote-buying attempts with direct questions and list experiments, employ various measures of campaign influence, and rely on new and existing estimation techniques. The findings yield a more optimistic view of the quality of elections in new democracies than current literature implies.

Burdine Chronicles – October 2020

Dear Alumni and Friends,

The more perceptive among you will notice that this edition of the Burdine Chronicles is coming to you long after APSA – such as it was – is over. We could say, “COVID has upended the world and everything is crazy,” but instead we’re going to claim we have been waiting on a few developments to crystalize so that we can share the most up-to-date news with you (which turns out to be at least half true).

First, bucking the national trend, we are conducting two faculty searches this Fall – an open rank search in Racial and Ethnic Politics (REP) and a junior search in Methods. Please share broadly and let us know of any great candidates! Here is the link to the Methods ad. You can find the Racial and Ethnic Politics ad here.

Second, we have organized two election roundtables – an election preview October 29 at 5 pm (Sean Theriault, Bethany Albertson, Tasha Philpot, Jim Henson) and an election review November 10 at 5 pm (Daron Shaw, Alison Craig, Hannah Walker, Eric McDaniel).  Participation is open, but registration is required. We hope many of you can join us.

We recorded another installment in our ongoing, occasional Reflections series. This time we had a great conversation with Pat McDonald and Rob Moser on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and US foreign policy on the global system. We talk about the collapse of the consensus that sustained that global order for so many years, about how that affects US capacity to be a global leader, and how the pandemic has accelerated trends that had been brewing for years, and that underpinned the election of Donald Trump.

Closer to home, it turns out the Government Department at the University of Texas at Austin is not the sole occupant of its own universe. Like many other organizations and most of society, since last Spring we have been engaged in an extended conversation on diversity and inclusion. Raúl Madrid led a diversity task force this Summer and Fall to address these issues.

The conversation and the work of the task force have pushed us to innovate in a number of ways that we think will make us a stronger department. We are hopeful that the REP search mentioned above will bring an exciting new scholar to the department. With strong support from Dean Ann Stevens, of the College of Liberal Arts, we are working diligently to establish a REP research lab that will be co-led by Amy Liu and Eric McDaniel, and that will seek to blend Americanist and Comparative approaches to the study of Racial and Ethnic Politics. Although nothing is yet final, we are hopeful that the lab will become a space for innovation and collaboration across fields, one that will bring together faculty, graduate and undergraduate students. In addition, and in conjunction with the REP Lab, we are pursuing a new postdoc program spearheaded by the university’s Vice Provost for Diversity. If we are successful, this program will bring two postdocs to the Department for three years, to work on REP research. At the end of the three years there may well be another position opening up in REP.

Given that you inhabit the same universe we do, I would love to hear about the conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion happening on your campuses. Drop us a line to share what you’ve learned and what you are doing differently.

Speaking of the Zeitgeist, we continue adapting to our new teaching environment in the age of COVID. This fall we have expanded our menu of made-for-virtual online classes. Sean Theriault and Bethany Albertson are teaching a new virtual-native elections class; Eric McDaniel and Daron Shaw are teaching their Gov 310 online; and Pat McDonald and Rob Moser continue to teach their very successful Gov 312 online. In addition, Stephen Jessee has developed a virtual-native Methods class that debuted this summer and is on again this Fall. These are all excellent courses we will be teaching online long after we return to “normal” – whatever that might look like. Many others have adapted their standard in-person classes to hybrid and online formats. This department is full of gifted and committed teachers and COVID hasn’t changed that. Our enrollments are up by nearly one thousand students over last Fall.

Of course, in keeping with tradition, we are here to celebrate the many achievements of our alumni, our students, and our faculty! You can find recent alumni news here, but let me highlight a couple of the less traditional contributions our alums have made.

Johnny Meyer, who earned his PhD this past year, received the TISTA Tech Veteran Academic Leadership Award for his role in creating Veterans’ Voices, a state-wide humanities project. Veterans’ Voices brings soldiers and civilians together to break the silence around the experience of war. The project is sponsored by Humanities Texas, and has received two consecutive grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

In addition to publishing a NY Times Op-Ed on criminal justice on Native American lands (This 19th Century Law Helps Shape Criminal Justice in Indian Country), David Heska Wanbli Weiden (PhD 2007) has published Winter Counts, a crime novel that takes place on a Native American reservation. His novel was chosen as a Best Book by Amazon, Apple Books, Oprah Magazine, Time, The Washington Post, and other outlets.

You can find additional recent alumni publications here. They include books and articles in prominent journals, as well as op-eds and other contributions, underlining the wide range of interests our alumni have, and the contributions they make. Be sure to send us your publications, as I’m sure there are many more we are not listing, just because we don’t know about them.

Our alums are moving up and moving around too. You can find the news of alumni promotions and jobs here. And we keep adding to the alumni list. Please join me in congratulating recent graduates, and their placements.

But just because our former students are doing lots of interesting things doesn’t mean our faculty have been idle. You can find recent faculty accomplishments here, and you can stay generally up to date by checking in with our blog.

These are interesting times, for sure. The challenge for us is not merely to survive them, but to learn from them and emerge stronger than ever. In the Government Department at UT we are working as always to make our department better, through new hires, self-reflection and improvement, new approaches to teaching, and continuing efforts to produce research that matters. I’m sure you are all doing the same, and I look forward to hearing from you on the many ways in which you too are constantly innovating and improving.

Be well and keep in touch.

Dan Brinks

Public Reactions to International Legal Institutions: The International Criminal Court in a Developing Democracy

Terry Chapman (and Stephen Chaudoin) has published, “Public Reactions to International Legal Institutions: The International Criminal Court in a Developing Democracy,” in Journal of Politics.

Abstract: We examine public attitudes concerning a possible investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC). We hypothesize that citizens tend to display lower levels of support for investigations in their own country than hypothetical ones abroad. We further argue that this decrease in support is moderated by a citizen’s “proximity” to the investigation. Both perpetrators and victims of alleged crimes can be hesitant about legal interventions, with the former fearing prosecution and the latter fearing the loss of a fragile peace. We use a survey experiment about the ICC in Kyrgyzstan that randomly assigned respondents to a control group, asked about foreign investigations, and a treatment group, asked about an investigation into recent local violence. Treatment lowered otherwise relatively high approval for investigations. This effect was strongest in regions most proximate to the violence, especially among coethnics of victims. Our findings help explain why support for international law can vary widely across subnational constituencies.

The Environmental Costs of Civil War: A Synthetic Comparison of the Congolese Forests with and without the Great War of Africa

Kyosuke Kikuta has published, “The Environmental Costs of Civil War: A Synthetic Comparison of the Congolese Forests with and without the Great War of Africa,” in Journal of Politics.

Abstract: Despite the fact that, between 1950 and 2000, more than 80% of wars occurred within biodiversity hot spots, we do not fully understand the environmental costs of war. This study conducts one of the first systematic evaluations of the costs of civil war for forest environments. The analysis, however, requires a proper counterfactual: the forest coverage if it were not for civil war. Moreover, instead of estimating an average cost of diverse civil wars, it would be better to tailor the estimate to each war. I address these problems by applying the synthetic control method to the case of the Great War of Africa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The analysis shows that the civil war caused a 1.61% loss of the forests, which is more than the entire territory of Belgium and nearly a half of Sierra Leone, over five years. The finding calls further attention to “conflict timber” problems.

Albertson, Guiler: Conspiracy theories, election rigging, and support for democratic norms

Bethany Albertson and Kim Guiler published, “Conspiracy theories, election rigging, and support for democratic norms,” in Research and Politics.

Abstract: Under what conditions does conspiratorial rhetoric about election rigging change attitudes? We investigated this question using a survey experiment the day before and the morning of the 2016 US presidential election. We hypothesized that exposure to conspiratorial rhetoric about election interference would significantly heighten negative emotions (anxiety, anger) and undermine support for democratic institutions. Specifically, we expected that Democrats who read conspiratorial information about interference by the Russians in US elections, and that Republicans who read conspiratorial information about interference by the Democratic Party in US elections would express less support for key democratic norms. Our evidence largely supported our hypotheses. Americans exposed to a story claiming the election would be tampered with expressed less confidence in democratic institutions, and these effects were moderated by prior partisan beliefs about the actors most likely responsible for election meddling.

Jay Kao: Family Matters: Education and the (Conditional) Effect of State Indoctrination in China

Jay Kao’s paper, “Family Matters: Education and the (Conditional) Effect of State Indoctrination in China,” has been accepted for publication in Public Opinion Quarterly.

Abstract: When and how does state indoctrination work? Building upon research on motivated reasoning and family socialization, I argue that only those individuals whose parents have connections to political patronage are subject to state indoctrination because their pro-regime biases transmitted from parents induce higher receptivity ex ante to government messages. Focusing on political education in China, I conduct a quasi-experimental analysis exploiting the sharp variation in textbook content generated by China’s most recent curriculum reform. Results based on a national survey show that the new politics textbooks successfully affected only those individuals whose parents had worked for the government. The finding survives extensive robustness checks and falsification tests. I also consider several alternative explanations of the effects: preference falsification, selective attention, parental indoctrination, and educational quality. This paper not only highlights the role of intergenerational transmission in moderating the effectiveness of state indoctrination but also casts doubt on the actual degree to which regimes can change minds by changing educational content.