The origins of overthrow : hegemonic expectations, emotional frustration, and the impulse to regime change
Title: The origins of overthrow : hegemonic expectations, emotional frustration, and the impulse to regime change
Author: GHALEHDAR, Payam
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2015
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of Political and Social Sciences
Why has regime change, defined as military intervention aimed at forcibly transforming a target state's domestic political authority structure, been a long-standing practice in US foreign policy, used roughly two dozen times since 1900 despite its limited success in producing peace, stability and/or democracy? Extant theories fail to provide sound answers. Realist approaches, for example, under-predict the recurrence of regime change if great powers should have no reason to intervene in weaker states, or over-predict it if anything goes under anarchy. Similarly, democracy promotion arguments overstate the causal importance of the US desire to expand liberty globally. This dissertation presents a novel explanation for the recurrence of regime change in US foreign policy, arguing that the practice of regime change is predicated upon what I call 'emotional frustration', an anger-arousing emotional state that is brought about by a foreign leader's obstructive behavior perceived to be rooted in implacable hatred. While obstruction is ubiquitous in interstate interactions, I claim that the combination of hegemonic expectations towards a target state and the perception of hatred shape the extent to which a foreign leader's conduct evokes an emotional response on the part of foreign policy elites. Once emotionally frustrated, regime change becomes an attractive foreign policy instrument to decision-makers who seek a way to confront and put a stop to the obstruction of a menacing target state. It enables frustrated leaders both to permanently get rid of a perceivedly hostile foreign leader and to discharge their frustration through the use of force. Illustrating the importance of emotional frustration, I conduct four historical case studies based on primary sources, spanning almost one hundred years of US history. Regime changes in Cuba (1906), Nicaragua (1909–12), the Dominican Republic (1965), and Iraq (2003) reveal overlooked patterns of emotional frustration that have time and again animated regime change decisions.
LC Subject Heading: United States -- Foreign relations -- Psychological aspects; Political messianism -- United States; United States -- Military policy; World politics -- Psychological aspects
Defence date: 20 March 2015; Examining Board: Professor Christian Reus-Smit, University of Queensland (supervisor); Professor Jennifer Welsh, European University Institute; Professor Roland Bleiker, University of Queensland; Professor Michael Cox, London School of Economics.
Type of Access: embargoedAccess