Why Democratic Allies Defect Prematurely: Canadian and Dutch Unilateral Pullouts from the War in Afghanistan

Massie, Justin

Abstract

Why do some democratic allies prematurely withdraw from ongoing military US-led coalition operations? Why are some democratic allies more reliable than others? This article proposes a multifactorial integrated framework consisting of several causal mechanisms drawn from ideological, domestic, and alliance explanations of premature defection. It compares and contrasts two neglected case studies, namely the Canadian and Dutch withdrawal of combat troops from NATO’s counterinsurgency mission in southern Afghanistan. The comparative analysis finds that democratic institutional designs, parliamentary war powers, leadership turnover, as well alliance dependence and threat perceptions did not play a meaningful role in both cases of premature defection. It rather finds that domestic elite consensus interacted with electoral calculations to account for pullout choices. Right-wing ideological beliefs held by state executives also slowed down the decision to withdraw, and alliance pressures interacted with domestic elite consensus to account for commitment renewal into a noncombat mission. The article concludes with some implications for the theory of democratic alliance reliability.

 


Massie, J. (2016). « Why Democratic Allies Defect Prematurely: Canadian and Dutch Unilateral Pullouts from the War in Afghanistan », Democracy and Security, vol. 12, no 2, p. 85-113. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17419166.2016.1160222

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