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Alexander B. Downes

Alexander B. Downes

Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2007–2008

 

Experience

Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2007–2008

Current Affiliation: Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University

 

 

By Date

 

2014

Winter 2013/14

"Correspondence: Reevaluating Foreign-Imposed Regime Change"

Journal Article, International Security, issue 3, volume 38

By William G. Nomikos, Alexander B. Downes, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2007–2008 and Jonathan Monten, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2006–2007

William G. Nomikos responds to Alexander B. Downes and Jonathan Monten's Spring 2013 International Security article, "Forced to Be Free?: Why Foreign-Imposed Regime Change Rarely Leads to Democratization."

 

2013

AP Photo/Maurizio Gambarini

Spring 2013

"Forced to Be Free? Why Foreign-Imposed Regime Change Rarely Leads to Democratization"

Journal Article, International Security, issue 4, volume 37

By Jonathan Monten, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2006–2007 and Alexander B. Downes, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2007–2008

Is military intervention effective in spreading democracy? Existing studies disagree. Optimists point to successful cases, such as the transformation of West Germany and Japan into consolidated democracies after World War II. Pessimists view these successes as outliers from a broader pattern of failure typified by cases such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

2009

Fall 2009

"Correspondence: Another Skirmish in the Battle over Democracies and War"

Journal Article, International Security, issue 2, volume 34

By Dan Reiter, Editorial Board Member, Quarterly Journal: International Security, Allan Stam and Alexander B. Downes, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2007–2008

Dan Reiter and Allan Stam respond to Alexander Downes's Spring 2009 article "How Smart and Tough Are Democracies? Reassessing Theories of Democratic Victory in War."

 

 

AP Photo

Spring 2009

"How Smart and Tough Are Democracies? Reassessing Theories of Democratic Victory in War"

Journal Article, International Security, issue 4, volume 33

By Alexander B. Downes, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2007–2008

New evidence challenges the near-conventional argument that democracies are more likely than nondemocracies to win wars they start. A reanalysis of original data on war outcomes and an in-depth case study of the Johnson administration's decisions regarding Vietnam in 1965 demonstrate that democracies of all types are not significantly more likely to win wars. Furthermore, they are constrained by domestic politics and are often pressured into unwinnable wars.

 

2008

March 2008

Targeting Civilians in War

Book

By Alexander B. Downes, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2007–2008

Accidental harm to civilians in warfare often becomes an occasion for public outrage, from citizens of both the victimized and the victimizing nation. In this vitally important book on a topic of acute concern for anyone interested in military strategy, international security, or human rights, Alexander B. Downes reminds readers that democratic and authoritarian governments alike will sometimes deliberately kill large numbers of civilians as a matter of military strategy. What leads governments to make such a choice?

 

2007

AP Photo

December 2007

"Restraint or Propellant? Democracy and Civilian Fatalities in Interstate Wars"

Journal Article, Journal of Conflict Resolution, issue 6, volume 51

By Alexander B. Downes, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2007–2008

This article investigates the effect of regime type on the number of civilian fatalities that states inflicted in interstate wars between 1900 and 2003. As opposed to several previous studies, the author finds little support for normative arguments positing that democracies kill fewer civilians in war.

 

 

AP Photo

December 2007

"Draining the Sea by Filling the Graves: Investigating the Effectiveness of Indiscriminate Violence as a Counterinsurgency Strategy"

Journal Article, Civil Wars, The Origins and Effectiveness of Insurgent and Counterinsurgent Strategies, issue 4, volume 9

By Alexander B. Downes, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2007–2008

"It is commonly believed in the literature on insurgency and counterinsurgency that to be effective in undermining civilian support for guerrillas, violence against noncombatants must be selective or risk alienating the population. Yet cases exist where governments have defeated insurgencies by wielding indiscriminate violence against noncombatants. This paper explores the conditions under which such violence can be effective through a case study of British counterinsurgency strategy in the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902)."

 

 

December 2007

"Introduction: Modern Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Comparative Perspective"

Journal Article, Civil Wars, The Origins and Effectiveness of Insurgent and Counterinsurgent Strategies, issue 4, volume 9

By Alexander B. Downes, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2007–2008

"Why do individuals and groups take up arms to wage guerrilla insurgencies? How are insurgent groups organized, and what strategies and tactics do they use? What determines how insurgent groups treat civilian populations? How can states best defeat insurgencies? Is violence—including the killing of civilians—an effective tool of counterinsurgency (COIN), or are softer 'hearts and minds' strategies more likely to yield results?"

 

2006

Spring 2006

"Desperate Times, Desperate Measures: The Causes of Civilian Victimization in War"

Journal Article, International Security, issue 4, volume 30

By Alexander B. Downes, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2007–2008

Despite international norms and injunctions against using civilians as targets, as well as all indications that targeting civilians is rarely, if ever, effective, belligerents continue to engage in this behavior. Two variables—desperation to win and reduce casualties on one's own side, and the intention to conquer enemy territory—explain this phenomenon.

 

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