The Diversionary Theory of War

The Diversionary Theory of War
Diversionary Theory of War or Scapegoat Hypothesis:
In order to overcome popular or elite divisions at home, leaders will attempt to take public attention from internal concerns and finding an external foe (either real or fabricated) to divert attention.
Variables: Leaders, Regime types
? helps us understand that there is a connection between foreign and internal policies.
? Sociological studies of IN Group/ Out Group and social cohesion do translate well for the theory
? War overtime becomes more costly to internal politics i.e. Vietnam
? In civil strife, or civil war, hostile foreign policy might further erode a regimes political base.
? The theory is best when there is a moderate level of cohesion of population, and a moderate support of the government.
? External conflict might also cost internal disorder
? Internal conflict might also cause an enemy to attack a weak state
? Russet: governments are now expected to control the economy. Presidents need to have their power to persuade congress, therefore are in constant need of public support.
? The dangers: not only is war unpopular but defeat can lead to an increase in internal conflict.
? Escalation is based on international factors more so than individual leaders who choose initiation of aggression?

Falkland case: Argentenian government could have acted in diversionary theory
à The action gained Thatcher support afterwards that she didn?t have before.

? In democratic regime it becomes more common in economic weakness
? In authoritarian regimes action is more common in economic rise
? Democratic leaders are in constant campaigning.
? Moral dimension has to be clearly seen by the people

Rally around the Flag Effect:
à A form of Diversionary tactic by the leader to sway public attention to foreign enemies instead of himself thereby giving him extra support. P. 136 Bruce Russet

The Falkland Case:
àin argentina there were not many choices to follow. On the British side they were worried about internal resistance from the elites
à governments in times of war cannot commit to most of their problems internally

The Rally itself:
àShort Term: Roughly one month or two
àExtra Support: Normally arises in about a 10% increase
These are the teachers notes now:

à Rally around the flag occurred In Israel after terrorist attacks, Ireland, and now.
1- You may create the will to resistance to battle rather than overcome the resistance from the internal.
2- Sanctions can create a rally around the flag effect and a resentment to those responsible. It might create a legitimacy (like Iraq) that it wouldn?t already have.
3- DO leaders believe that there is a rally around the flag effect? Eg. After Soviet Union was attacked by Germany, Stalin came out to make speeches and got a rally of his public. Stalin knew that when war happens, a regime that is unpopular will likely go down. HE feared the opposite of a rally around the flag effect.
à Rally effect can occur regardless of a Diversionary theory.

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