Can Appeals For Peace Promote Tolerance and Mitigate Support for Extremism? Evidence from an Experiment with Adolescents in Burkina Faso.
With Allison Grossman and Niloufer Siddiqui.
Forthcoming at Journal of Experimental Political Science
Recent efforts to improve attitudes toward outgroups and reduce support for extremists in violent settings report mixed results. Donors and aid organizations have spent millions of dollars to amplify the voices of moderate religious figures to counter violent extremism in West Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Despite this investment, we know little about whether such messaging persuades the primary recruits of violent extremist organizations: at-risk youth in fragile settings. In this paper, we consider whether pro-peace religious messaging can promote social cohesion among school-age respondents in Burkina Faso. Using a survey experiment, we find little evidence that such messages affect reported attitudes or behaviors towards religious extremism and find instead that it can have the unintended effect of increasing intolerance towards ethnic others. Our findings carry lessons about the inadvertent priming of ethnic identities that can result in a backlash effect among certain societal segments.
Peacekeeping and the Enforcement of Intergroup Cooperation: Evidence from Mali
The Journal of Politics 84, no.1 (January 2022): 194-208 (open access)
Despite the abundance of evidence that peacekeeping works, we know little about what actually makes peacekeepers effective. Recent work suggesting that local agendas are central to modern conflicts make this omission particularly problematic. The article demonstrates that the presence of peacekeepers makes individuals more optimistic about the risks of engagement and the likelihood that members of out-groups will reciprocate cooperation. I use data from a lab-in-the-field experiment conducted in Mali, a West African country with an active conflict managed by troops from France and the United Nations (UN), to show that UN peacekeepers increase the willingness of individuals to cooperate relative to control and French enforcers. Moreover, I find that UN peacekeepers are especially effective among those participants who hold other groups and institutions in low esteem, as well as those who have more frequent contact with peacekeepers. Follow-up interviews and surveys suggest that perceptions of the UN as unbiased rather than other mechanisms account for its effectiveness.
PDF | Appendix | Replication Data | Pre-analysis Plan
Featured as Empirical Studies of Conflict Working Paper 20.
Why Share? An Analysis of the Sources of Power-Sharing after Conflict
Journal of Peace Research 58, no. 2 (March 2021): 248–62.
Why do former belligerents institutionalize power-sharing arrangements after a civil war ends? The choice of power-sharing institutions shapes the nature of governance in many post-conflict settings. A better understanding of how belligerents come to choose institutionalized forms of power-sharing would thus help us explain how belligerents come to make a seemingly simple institutional choice that may have immense consequences. Existing scholarship emphasizes the nature of the conflict preceding negotiations, international actors, or state institutional capacity as critical factors for determining whether former belligerents will agree to share power or not. Yet these accounts overlook the importance of political considerations between and within ethnic groups. This article argues that elites create power-sharing institutions when the most significant threat to their political power comes from an outside group as opposed to from within their own group. That is, forward-looking and power-minded leaders of former belligerents push for the type of power-sharing at the negotiating table that affords them the greatest opportunity to influence country-level politics after the conflict has concluded in full. For elites facing competition from outside, this means securing power-sharing through institutional rules and guidelines in the settlement of the civil war to ensure that they are included in the governance of the state. By contrast, for elites fearing in-group rivals, complex governance institutions are at best unnecessary and, at worst, a significant concession to weaker opponents. I test the argument with a cross-national analysis of an original dataset of 186 power-sharing negotiations from 1945–2011. The empirical analysis suggests that elites are most likely to institutionalize power-sharing when no single ethnic group dominates politics and when most ethnic groups are unified. The quantitative analysis is complemented with illustrative examples from cases of power-sharing negotiations that offer insight into the proposed theoretical mechanisms.
PDF | Appendix | Replication Data
Nationality, Gender, and Deployments at the Local Level: Introducing the RADPKO Dataset
With Patrick Hunnicutt
International Peacekeeping 27, no. 4 (2020), 645-72
This paper introduces the Robust Africa Deployments of Peacekeeping Operations (RADPKO) dataset, a new dataset of geocoded United Nations peacekeeping deployments. Drawing upon primary documents sourced directly from the UN covering 10 multidimensional peacekeeping operations from 1999 to 2018, RADPKO oﬀers comprehensive monthly time-series data on UN peacekeeper deployment location by type, gender, and nationality. We describe the data collection in detail and discuss the cases and time periods missing from the data. We show that although the UN responds dynamically to conflict events in the field, deployments outside of population centres tend to be fairly homogeneous in regard to both nationality and gender. We use this data to empirically investigate the oft-posited link between deployment of peacekeepers and reductions in violence at the local level. We replicate and extend past studies but find that some previous findings are vulnerable to robustness checks, primarily due to data incompleteness. Our analysis suggests the importance of data collection transparency, management, and description to the quantitative study of peacekeeping. The data, updated annually, provides new opportunities for scholar conducting micro-level research on peacekeeping, conflict, development, governances, and related topics across subfields in Political science.
PDF | Appendix | Replication Data
Access the RADPKO data portal for the latest version.
What Is the Mechanism Underlying Audience Costs? Incompetence, Belligerence, and Inconsistency
With Nicholas Sambanis
Journal of Peace Research 56, no. 4 (July 2019): 575–88.
Audience cost theory posits that concern over the nation’s reputation pushes voters to sanction leaders who make empty threats because they tarnish the nation’s honor. We question the empirical support for that theory. We show that survey vignettes in the previous experimental literature conflate audience costs generated by inconsistency and belligerence with approval losses arising from the perception that the leader is incompetent. These ‘incompetence costs’ are due to leaders not achieving audiences’ preferred outcomes. Our article contributes to the literature on audience costs by disentangling inconsistency and belligerence costs from incompetence costs, which we find are the larger component of audience costs. We also make a methodological contribution: we show that experimental designs in previous studies cannot test the different mechanisms; that previous estimates of audience costs are biased because treatments affect respondents’ beliefs about the likely outcome of policy actions; and we suggest a new experimental framework to estimate audience costs. Our results are consistent with arguments that audiences care more about policy outcomes than about leaders’ inconsistency or belligerence during a crisis.
PDF | Appendix | Replication Data
Accompanying guest blog post in the Duck of Minerva.
Does Electoral Proximity Affect Security Policy?
With Nikolay Marinov and Josh Robbins
The Journal of Politics 77, no. 3 (2015): 762-73,
How do approaching elections affect the security policy states conduct? We build on classic political economy arguments and theorize that one problem likely faced by democratic policy makers near elections is that of time inconsistency. The time-inconsistency problem arises when the costs and benefits of policy are not realized at the same time. We develop an application of the argument to the case of allied troop contributions to Operation Enduring Freedom and the International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan. In that case, we argue that the expectation should be one of fewer troops committed close to elections. The exogenous timing of elections allows us to identify the effects of approaching elections on troop levels. Our finding of significantly lower troop contributions near elections is arguably the first identified effect of electoral proximity on security policy.
PDF | Appendix | Replication Data
Accompanying article in The National Interest.
Reevaluating Foreign-Imposed Regime Change
International Security 38, no. 3 (Winter 2013/14): 184–195.
Although Downes and Monten (2013) offer promising results in support of their hypothe ses, two factors should make scholars skeptical of the conclusions drawn from their interpretation of the evidence. First, even though Downes and Monten duly explore the efficacy of varieties of FIRC, they omit the most critical analytical category related to the dependent variable. In evaluating the ability of FIRC to produce democracy, one should focus on cases of foreign-imposed democratization (FID) where the intervener intended to replace a nondemocratic regime with a democratic one. Second, the nature of FIRC operations has changed over time in ways unaccounted for by Downes and Monten. For historical and theoretical reasons outlined in this paper, FIRC carried out before World War I looks significantly different from FIRC carried out since 1918. A closer examination of the targets of FID after World War I reveals a fairly remarkable success rate: thirteen out of seventeen targets transitioned to consolidated democracies within ten years of the intervention (see table 1). Such a record should give us pause be fore concluding that FIRC has little or no independent effect on a state's democratization prospects.
Nomikos, William G. and Danielle N. Villa. "Unintended Consequences: Reconsidering the Effects of UN Peacekeeping on State-sponsored Violence." Revise and resubmit at International Peacekeeping.
Hunnicutt, Patrick, William G. Nomikos, and Rob Williams. "Non-Combatants or Counter-Insurgents? The Strategic Logic of Violence against UN Peacekeepers." Under review.
Nomikos, William G. ``Peace is in the Eye of the Beholder: How Perceptions of Impartiality Shape Peacekeeping Outcomes.'' Under review.
Stollenwerk, Eric and William G. Nomikos. "More Security, More Legitimacy? Effective Governance as a Source of State Legitimacy in Areas of Limited Statehood." Under Review.
Nomikos, William G., Ipek Sener, and Rob Williams. “Does UN Peacekeeping Protect Civilians? Evidence from the Border Between Burkina Faso and Mali.”
WORK IN PROGRESS
(all titles subject to change)
Nomikos, William G., Gechun Lin, Amaan Charaniya, Rex Deng, Dahjin Kin, and Ipek Sener. "Public Opinion during International Crises."
Nomikos, William G. and Ipek Sener. "Communal Disputes in Mali."
Nomikos, William G. and Michael Olson. "Political Participation in the Reconstruction-era South."
Grossman, Allison N., William G. Nomikos, and Annamaria Prati. "Local Governance and Perceptions of Authority in Africa."
Lin, Gechun and William G. Nomikos. "New Methods and Software for Measuring Latent Public Support with Social Media Data."