Peer-Reviewed Articles

Many are skeptical of the appeal of authoritarian political systems. We argue that global audiences will embrace authoritarian models when they believe that autocracies can meet governance challenges better than democracies. We collect comprehensive data on the external messaging of the Chinese and American governments. We then conduct a randomized experiment in 19 countries across 6 continents exposing global citizens to real messages from the Chinese and American governments’ external media arms. We find that exposure to a representative set of Chinese messages strengthens perceptions that the Chinese Communist Party delivers growth, stability, and competent leadership. It also moves the average respondent from slightly preferring the American model to slightly preferring the Chinese model. In head-to-head matchups, messages from the U.S. government are less persuasive. Our findings show how autocracies build global support by selling growth and competence, with important implications for democratic resilience.

The idea of using nuclear weapons to kill noncombatants is said to evoke strong moral opprobrium among millions of individuals across the globe, such that national leaders should be constrained from using the weapons even when such a decision would be strategically sensible. Classical area scholarship and recent survey evidence suggest that this “nuclear taboo” is strong among the Chinese public, buttressed by culturally grounded preferences for moderation in warfare. Drawing on findings in cultural sociology and political behavior, we argue that previous studies mislead on the extent to which ordinary Chinese citizens might oppose the use of nuclear weapons in a real military clash, primarily due to a failure to distinguish baseline preferences for nuclear non-use from the willingness to approve of governmental decisions to use these weapons. Results from an original survey experiment fielded in mainland China show that many individuals who personally dislike the idea of using nuclear weapons are nonetheless willing to support their leaders’ decision to do so. Our study contributes new and systematic knowledge about Chinese nuclear attitudes and highlights the value of harnessing interdisciplinary insights to inform the research agenda on the nuclear taboo.

Existing databases on conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) feature a disproportionate number of “zero” observations, which conflate a true absence of CRSV with an unknown presence of CRSV. Empirical studies model such zeros as solely indicating a lack of CRSV, thereby obscuring what needs to be known about its determinants and patterns. In this article, I present a comprehensive meta-reanalysis of quantitative CRSV studies that have disregarded the two-fold nature of excessive zeros in their data. To redress this neglect, I differentiate the two types of zeros probabilistically and then estimate the prevalence of CRSV conditional on the statistical partitioning of its two zero types. My meta-reanalysis refines previous findings, restoring confidence in intuitive theoretical expectations and resolving inconclusive and unexpected results in the field. It also dispels potential misconceptions by providing alternative evidence and explanations. Overall, distinguishing the two classes of zeros in estimation yields more informed results, making substantial contributions to scholarly understanding of CRSV while avoiding spurious confirmations and disconfirmations.

Why do commanders tolerate sexual violence by their subordinates? Commander tolerance allows military sexual violence (MSV) to persist in times of peace, war, and post-conflict peacekeeping. However, most of the previous studies on MSV have focused on perpetrators’ criminal motives while neglecting the role of commander tolerance. In this article, I offer a tripartite general theory of commander tolerance that systematically weaves together the diverse conditions under which commanders tolerate MSV at the micro, meso, and macro levels of social scientific inquiry. Toward this end, I build on the conventional principal–agent model of MSV but crucially depart from its core constructs to create a dynamic multi-commander theoretical framework. The theory represents the most rigorous explanation of commander tolerance to date and offers practical implications for military justice systems in terms of MSV. Placing commander tolerance at the center of studies on military violence opens an array of new avenues for research.

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