Boldt, Damian. "Democratization, Authoritarian Reversal, and International Conflict." Working Paper (most recent draft October 2022).

Abstract: Do democratic transitions lead to increases or decreases in international conflict? Does autocratic backsliding increase the potential for international conflict? What role does domestic institutional strength play in these processes? The substantial literature on the democratic peace would suggest that transitions to democracy decrease the potential for international conflict as democracies do not fight each other. However, Mansfield and Snyder (1995; 2002a; 2002b; 2005; 2009; 2012) argue that democratization is a messy process often left incomplete, which can increase the potential for international conflict when domestic political institutions are weak. While subsequent studies have questioned some of the empirical choices or case selections made by Mansfield and Snyder, their theoretical proposition remains a challenge to the literature that supports the democratic peace hypothesis. In this study, I develop a better test of Mansfield and Snyder's theoretical argument by proposing improved counterfactual comparisons and employing a nonparametric difference-in-differences identification strategy. I do not find strong support for the proposition that incomplete democratization leads to increases in international conflict, even under weak domestic institutions. However, my results also do not suggest that complete democratization has a pacifying effect as others in the literature find.

Boldt Damian. "The Legacy of Slavery and Group Attitudes Towards International Conflict." Manuscript in preparation.

Abstract: I examine the legacy of slavery and how it shapes group attitudes towards international conflict in the U.S. case. I argue that Whites who live in areas with higher levels of slavery prior to the U.S civil war will be more likely to support an international conflict that is seen as serving the group interest or that is supported by intra-party elites. Repressive institutions such as slavery establish positive norms surrounding the use of violence to accomplish the group’s political goals and drive political party affiliation. Norms promoting violence to accomplish political goals make it easier to support international conflict that is viewed as serving the group’s interest – international conflict becomes an extension of more localized violence to which the group has prior exposure. Partisan affiliation can also lead to increased support for international conflict when there are strong intra-party elite cues supporting the conflict. I use data measuring the U.S. county-level slave population prior to the U.S. civil war and U.S. county-level survey data on support for the international use of military force from 2006 to 2016. I employ a semi-parametric estimator to control for post-treatment confounders without perfectly specifying the functional form of pre-treatment or post-treatment confounders. I estimate both the controlled direct effect of slavery as well as the conditional effect of key mediating variables to understand a better picture of the entire causal process.

Boldt Damian. "Persuasion or Backlash? Experimental Evidence on the Effect of Bilateral Naming and Shaming on Foreign Public Opinion." Pre-Analysis Plan in preparation.

Abstract: Does bilateral naming and shaming lead to a backlash in foreign audiences? Naming and shaming is viewed by many as one of the pre-eminent tools available to human rights advocates to seek policy change. Furthermore, elites in liberal democracies may face pressure both domestically and international to name and shame countries that engage in human rights abuses. Recent scholarship argues that naming and shaming by human rights advocates can lead to a backlash in foreign mass publics and embolden elites to continue to violate human rights (Snyder 2020). Bilateral naming and shaming by elites representing states may lead to successful persuasion when compared to naming and shaming by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), especially when a state is able to impose a unilateral cost or sanction on the abusing-state. Alternatively, bilateral criticism might activate the same in-group/out-group cleavages as are thought to be activated by NGO naming and shaming. I test whether bilateral naming and shaming is able to successfully persuade foreign audiences or whether there is a backlash using a novel survey experiment in the Philippines.