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Looking Weak in the War on Terror: Policy Consistency and International Reputations for Resolve


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Principal Investigator(s):

Sarah E. Croco
University of Maryland
Email: scroco@umd.edu
Home Page: http://www.gvpt.umd.edu/scroco/

Sample size: 1021
Field period: 5/8/2008 - 5/19/2008

 

Abstract:

When discussing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Bush made clear that long-term reputational consequences are a central concern of his administration. The question of whether this concern will figure as prominently into the calculus of President Obama remains open. This project addresses the question of whether reputational concerns can transfer between leaders by using a survey experiment to determine the circumstances under which citizens feel their leader has put his or her reputation for resolve in the eyes of leaders of other countries in jeopardy. This focus on what citizens think about foreign observers’ perceptions of their leader is both intentional and important. Although political scientists who study international reputations are generally concerned with the perceptions leaders have of one another, the prevalence of concerns about international credibility in the 2004 election and in current political discourse suggests the concern carries considerable weight with citizens as well. This survey experiment is designed to test two groups of related hypotheses using 8 treatment groups in which the leader’s party ID and position(s) on Iraq are the key manipulations. The first set of hypotheses examines the circumstances under which citizens will be most concerned about the reputation of a leader proposing withdrawal, while the second examines how citizens respond to leaders who “flip-flop”, or change their position on the war.

Hypothesis:


HI: Citizens will be equally concerned about the international reputation of any leader who proposes withdrawing from
Iraq, regardless of his earlier position on the war, the consistency of his position or partisan affiliation.
H2: Citizens will be more concerned about the international reputation of a leader who proposes withdrawal if the leader supported the war when it began in 2003 and less concerned about a leader proposing withdrawal if the leader has always opposed the war.
H3: Citizens will be more concerned about the international reputation of a leader who proposes withdrawal if the leader is a Republican and less concerned about a leader proposing withdrawal if he is a Democrat.
H4: Citizens will be most concerned about the international reputation of a leader who proposes withdrawal if the leader is a Republican who initially supported the war and least concerned about a leader proposing withdrawal if he is a Democrat who always opposed the war.
H5: Citizens will be more concerned about the international reputation of a leader who proposes withdrawal if the leader is a Democrat and less concerned about a leader proposing withdrawal if he is a Republican.
H6: Citizens will be more concerned about the international reputation of a leader if the leader’s position on Iraq has changed over the course of the war and less concerned about a leader if his opinion on the war has remained consistent.
H7: Citizens will be more concerned about the international reputation of a Democratic leader whose position on Iraq has been inconsistent and less concerned about a Republican leader whose position has changed over the course of the war.

Experimental Manipulations:

The Senator's position on the war when it began, his current position and his party membership.

Key Dependent Variables:

The respondent's assessment of the Senator's international reputation for resolve in the war on terror.

Summary of Findings:

Respondents who support the war view Sentaors who currently oppose it as being weak internationally. There is no evidence of any treatment effects among respondents who are against the war in Iraq.

References:

Croco, Sarah. 2008. Peace at what price?: Domestic politics, settlement costs and war termination. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

For information on any working papers, please contact Sarah Croco at scroco@umd.edu.


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