PhD dissertation

The last decades have seen an increase in the number of interventions in conflict and post-conflict zones led by multinational organizations and this trend does not seem to recede. Almost mechanically, this created environments where multiple organizations are intervening simultaneously. This thesis focuses on interactions in the field among organizations conducting missions and operations. Using regime complexity theories, this project proposes to understand how relations among organizations are translated and adapted in the field. I suggest that two separate, but interrelated types of interactions at play here: first, the complex cooperation/competition/dismissal dynamics among organizations in the field. Second, the feedback loop created between headquarters and field offices. I use an innovative methodology combining social network analysis and stories-oriented interviews.

Garrison State Project

This multi-year project, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, is examining the expansion of what political scientist Harold Lasswell called “garrison states”: developed democracies in which organizations concerned with issues of national security grow in size, become more active, and are less and less subject to oversight. The project looks at 7 countries, over a time span of almost 70 years, to see if Lasswell’s argument holds for a variety of democracies: large vs. small, members of alliances vs. neutrals, and those with vs. those without colonies. If it turns out that Lasswell was indeed correct, this suggests that in the long term, democratic governance is being eroded by concerns over national security.

It is hypothesized that elites will increasingly tend to agree amongst themselves on foreign policy issues regarding national security, whereas there will be no such trend on other foreign policy issues. It is further hypothesized that this tendency toward consensus will be augmented or attenuated for particular countries depending on whether the country in question had an overseas empire and/or is part of a formal military alliance. This research project involves developing a methodology (based on overlapping reasoning claims in political debates) for determining consensus, then applying that methodology to pairs of foreign policy debates (one on national security, one not), at three points in time from the early cold war to the present, for seven countries: United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, New Zealand, Japan, and Switzerland.
This proposal is at the intersection of foreign policy analysis and comparative politics, on the one hand, and political psychology, on the other. The core hypothesis on elite consensus was developed from work related to Lasswell’s “garrison state” construct; further hypotheses were suggested by scholarship on the “national security state” and on surveillance. The methodology of coding speeches in debates for reasons and looking for covariation in the reasoning in those speeches was developed from work on argumentation and influenced by work in political psychology on ideology, on “framing,” and on “motivated reasoning,” although each of those latter strands presupposes a stronger notion of covariation than in the project.