Erica De Bruin, assistant professor of government, presented two papers at the International Studies Association Annual Convention, held Feb. 18-22, in New Orleans.
In "Does Counterbalancing Work? Evidence from Developing States," De Bruin evaluates the effectiveness of counterbalancing, a coup-prevention strategy in which leaders create or expand paramilitary and militia forces to balance the power of the military.
The paper finds that counterbalancing frequently backfires, provoking the very coups it is intended to prevent. At the same time, it significantly decreases the likelihood that any coup attempt that does occur will succeed. This explains why so many leaders continue to make counterbalancing a central feature of their coup-prevention strategies.
De Bruin also presented a paper on "Coups, Coup Prevention, and Civil War," which traced the process by which conflicts between military and civilian leaders escalate to civil war.