The North Korean Regime, Domestic Instability and Foreign Policy
This paper presents a theory of how politics within personalist regimes influence foreign policy that has diverging implications from theories that have stressed the stabilizing effects of international conflict. It then tests whether North Korean conflict behavior under the personalist rule of the Kims is driven by the logic of enhancing domestic stability. Methodology— It assesses whether periods when the incentive to use conflicts to stabilize domestic rule were highest—during acute food shortages—are associated with higher levels of two measures of state violence. Findings— It finds little evidence to support the argument that domestic stability motivates North Korean use of violence abroad. Practical Implications— The article's findings suggest that concern about domestic stability is not the primary motivator of North Korean foreign policy. Originality/Value— This study utilizes acute food shortages as a measure of domestic instability, as well as two different measures of violence instigated by the North Korean state to test a key hypothesis regarding the relationship between domestic instability and external conflict.
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