Puzzling Policy Shifts

Fickle Western Support of Democracy Promotion in Economically Salient Countries


  • Kirstie Lynn Dobbs Loyola University Chicago
  • JeongWoo Lee Korea University




authoritarian regime, democratization, dictatorship, economic interdependence, foreign policy


Why do Western powers support ruthless dictatorships in allied countries, but at other times condemn the actions of these same dictatorships in support of democratic revolutionaries? Based on this puzzle, this paper argues that Western support of democratization is dependent upon the economic ties that develop between the two allied states during the dictatorial era, prior to a democratic revolution. In contexts where the Western power has strong historical relations rooted in economic ties, a regime change is likely to be supported to ensure a continuation of the economic benefits previously received. We use the analytical perspective offered by the linkage and leverage thesis offered by Levitsky and Way (2013) and reformulate it to offer an alternative view in which to analyze foreign policy shifts and the breakdown of authoritarian regimes.

Author Biographies

Kirstie Lynn Dobbs, Loyola University Chicago

Kirstie Lynn Dobbs is a PhD candidate in the political science department at Loyola University Chicago. She studies revolutions in a comparative perspective and is especially focused on the role of revolutionary youth in the aftermath of a democratic transition, especially in the context of the Arab Spring. She has also conducted field research in Tunisia that investigates the evolution of foreign policy in the aftermath of a revolution and is broadening this research to include the contexts of all North African countries. She also serves as Chair of the Comparative Politics Student Research Committee in the International Association for Political Science Students.

JeongWoo Lee, Korea University

JeongWoo Lee is an MA candidate in the department of political science and international relations at Korea University and holds BA of political science from Kangwon National University. He is a vice chair of Student Research Committee on comparative politics, IAPSS from March 2015 and conducted his research at Nagasaki University, Japan with the support of Japan Student Support Organization (JASSO) from Sep. 2014 to Aug. 2015 about the American occupation of Korea. His BA thesis is about American occupational policy on activities of Korean political parties, 1945-1948. Currently, he is concerning on quantitative methodology and characteristics of the presidentialism in East Asian countries.




How to Cite

Dobbs, K. L., & Lee, J. (2017). Puzzling Policy Shifts: Fickle Western Support of Democracy Promotion in Economically Salient Countries. Politikon: The IAPSS Journal of Political Science, 32, 42–59. https://doi.org/10.22151/politikon.32.3