Domestic diversion: Selective targeting of minority out-groups
Conflict Management and Peace Science
20 - 41
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Domestic political use of force is a strategy for political leaders to divert the public’s attention away from economic instability and rebuild political capital. But, diversionary incentives are not the only motivation; the targeted vulnerable minority’s capabilities are important. We analyze how the combination of diversionary incentive and out-group mobilization capabilities influences leaders’ decision-calculus. Embattled leaders make strategic decisions about both the target and the adequate severity of force to accomplish diversion without risking conflict escalation. We empirically test the resulting hypotheses using the Minorities at Risk dataset from 1998 to 2003 and find support for our expectations. Incentive alone does not determine domestic political use of force; the same incentive produces variance in the severity of force dependent on the targeted out-group’s mobilization capability. Governments match the severity of domestic force to political survival goals and the costs and risks of political use of force.
Political use of force