Puzzling Policy Shifts
Fickle Western Support of Democracy Promotion in Economically Salient Countries
Keywords: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.
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