The Fallacy of Democratic Victory: Decision-Making and Arab-Israeli Wars: 1967-2006

Yossef, Amr (2009) The Fallacy of Democratic Victory: Decision-Making and Arab-Israeli Wars: 1967-2006. PhD thesis, University of Trento, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Abstract

This study explains the causes of war outcomes from the perspective of the decision-making process. It challenges the “democratic victory theory,” which contends that democracies are more likely to win wars because they make better decisions about initiating wars and have wider public support. Existing criticisms of this theory contest its assertion that voluntary public support and caution about initiating wars are unique to democracies and its reliance on statistical correlations. This study shows that these criticisms have not been adequate, and identifies significant flaws in the democratic victory theory in scope, application, and method and offers an alternative explanation of the quality of the decision-making process and war outcomes. I use the groupthink and organizational theories to establish criteria for assessing the quality of the decision-making process independently from regime type. I propose an alternative explanation of the quality of the decision-making process drawing on the balance-of-power theory and group dynamics. The main argument is that when external environment poses a serious threat to a state’s security and a state’s leadership is cohesive, its leaders are more likely to engage in a high-quality decision-making process, which offers a greater chance of victory. This argument not only offers a more persuasive account of why democracies win wars, but also explains why non-democracies can win wars or achieve standoffs. These propositions are tested in a case study analysis of four Arab-Israeli wars – June 1967, Attrition 1969-70, October 1973, and July 2006 – using process-tracing and counterfactual methods. The analysis reveals that democratic and non-democratic regimes do not operate in the way hypothesized by the democratic victory theory. Instead, the quality of the decision-making process is influenced by the extent to which a state is facing a serious security threat and its leadership is cohesive. The case studies also show that war outcomes vary – victory, draw, or defeat – according to the leadership’s performance of the decision-making criteria, which plays an important role as relative to other factors affecting war outcomes, such as material power, weapons technology, military strategy, civil-military relations, and national culture.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:International Studies
PhD Cycle:XXI
Subjects:Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/04 SCIENZA POLITICA
Uncontrolled Keywords:War Outcomes; Arab-Israeli Wars; Decision-Making; Quality of the Decision-Making Process; Democratic Victory; Democratic Peace; Groupthink; Organizational Structure; Threat Environment;
Repository Staff approval on:17 Jun 2009 18:11

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