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International Conflict and the Strategic Selection of Foreign Policy Advisors

In this book I examine the selection of foreign policy advisors and the influence of advisors on international conflict.

Existing research on the importance of foreign policy advisors has tended to ignore the possibility that an advisor's potential influence informs the advisor selection process. In other words, the selection of advisors is treated as something spontaneous rather than the result of a concerted effort by leaders to select advisors with certain characteristics or who will exercise certain types of influence. This is analogous to explaining the escalation of an interstate conflict without taking into account how the conflict began.

I suspect that the selection of foreign policy advisors is part of a strategic decision-making process by political leaders worldwide. In the second chapter of the book I make several predictions regarding the personal characteristics that leaders look for in potential advisors. In chapters 3-6, I discuss the results of observational and experimental analyses that provide strong support for those predictions. I end the book with a series of case study chapters that show the theoretical argument manifesting not just in the data or statistical results, but in the real world. Among other things, I show that states where the leader has more hawkish foreign policy advisors are less likely to be targeted in an international conflict and that leaders facing a higher likelihood of being targeted are more likely to select hawkish advisors in order to help fend off potential attacks

This project benefitted from a $7500 grant that I used to conduct archival research in Oman in November 2015. The manuscript is currently under review.

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