Who Fights for Reputation: The Psychology of Leaders in International Conflict
In Who Fights for Reputation, Keren Yarhi-Milo provides an original framework, based on insights from psychology, to explain why some political leaders are more willing to use military force to defend their reputation than others. Rather than focusing on a leader’s background, beliefs, bargaining skills, or biases, Yarhi-Milo draws a systematic link between a trait called self-monitoring and foreign policy behavior. She examines self-monitoring among national leaders and advisers and shows that while high self-monitors modify their behavior strategically to cultivate image-enhancing status, low self-monitors are less likely to change their behavior in response to reputation concerns.
Exploring self-monitoring through case studies of foreign policy crises during the terms of U.S. presidents Carter, Reagan, and Clinton, Yarhi-Milo disproves the notion that hawks are always more likely than doves to fight for reputation. Instead, Yarhi-Milo demonstrates that a decision maker’s propensity for impression management is directly associated with the use of force to restore a reputation for resolve on the international stage.
Who Fights for Reputation offers a brand-new understanding of the pivotal influence that psychological factors have on political leadership, military engagement, and the protection of public prestige.
*Winner of the 2019 Best Book on Foreign Policy, American Political Science Association
** Winner of the 2020 Biennial Best Book on Foreign Policy, The International Studies Association
Knowing the Adversary: Leaders, Intelligence, and Assessment of Intentions in International Relations
States are more likely to engage in risky and destabilizing actions such as military buildups and preemptive strikes if they believe their adversaries pose a tangible threat. Yet despite the crucial importance of this issue, we don’t know enough about how states and their leaders draw inferences about their adversaries’ long-term intentions. Knowing the Adversary draws on a wealth of historical archival evidence to shed new light on how world leaders and intelligence organizations actually make these assessments.
Keren Yarhi-Milo examines three cases: Britain’s assessments of Nazi Germany’s intentions in the 1930s, America’s assessments of the Soviet Union’s intentions during the Carter administration, and the Reagan administration’s assessments of Soviet intentions near the end of the Cold War. She advances a new theoretical framework—called selective attention—that emphasizes organizational dynamics, personal diplomatic interactions, and cognitive and affective factors. Yarhi-Milo finds that decision makers don’t pay as much attention to those aspects of state behavior that major theories of international politics claim they do. Instead, they tend to determine the intentions of adversaries on the basis of preexisting beliefs, theories, and personal impressions. Yarhi-Milo also shows how intelligence organizations rely on very different indicators than decision makers, focusing more on changes in the military capabilities of adversaries.
Knowing the Adversary provides a clearer picture of the historical validity of existing theories, and broadens our understanding of the important role that diplomacy plays in international security.
* Winner of the Furniss Award for Best Book on International Security, 2016
** Winner of the 2016 Best Book on Diplomacy and Politics, The International Studies Association