"Are You Talkin' to Me? The Domestic Politics of Government Signaling in International Conflicts"
Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008
Mershon Center for International Security Studies
1501 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43201
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Matthew Fehrs received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Duke University. His project, "Are You Talkin' to Me? The Domestic Politics of Government Signaling in International Conflicts," explores three puzzles in international relations theory:
- What causes a country to have or perceive incomplete information and lead states to war?
- Why, despite high levels of transparency and freedom of information, are democracies likely to be attacked?
- What is the role of opposition groups in military crises?
To answer these questions, Fehrs developed a theory that focuses on the unity and hawkishness of the government in democratic states. He hypothesizes that the more unified a government, the less likely it is to send mixed signals to potential challengers. Likewise, the more hawkish a country, the more likely it is to use military posturing and harsh rhetoric.
During his year at the Mershon Center, Fehrs plans to pursue two case-study articles. The first will provide an alternative explanation for the Falklands War based on his dissertation theory, analyzing the divisions within the British government and how these were viewed by the Argentines. The second will apply Fehrs's theory to contradictions in British signaling prior to World War I.
Postdoctoral Fellow Mershon Center