Drew Kinney

Political Science / Ph.D. Candidate

Drew Kinney

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Comparative Politics, International Relations


International Relations (security, foreign policy), Comparative Politics (civil-military relations, political violence, development), Middle Eastern Studies


Drew's dissertation investigates the puzzle of civilian statesmen's role in military takeovers. If civilians endanger themselves by inviting officers into the political affairs of their country, then why and under what conditions would civilians take that risk? Students of civilian control assume politicians want to keep soldiers in their barracks. As a result, students of coup theory have missed the novel empirical contribution of my research: civilians have actively plotted and participated in coups d'état in Syria and Iraq, as well as in regions outside the Middle East. Why? I argue that polarization increases the stakes of political defeat while limited chance at electoral success (dim electoral prospects) push civilian statesmen into alliances with like-minded military officers.

I find that radical civilian politicians commonly used the military as a tool to takeover by cementing civil-military relationships and infiltrating the rank and file with partisans. As conventional wisdom has it, coups usually originate among a small conspiratorial "clique" of officers. My study urges students of civil-military relations to consider these cliques may also include civilians.