Perfecting Tyranny: Foreign Intervention as Experimentation in State Control

THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW 19.2 (2014): 165-189

Facing limited or altogether absent constraints on their powers abroad, coercive foreign interventions allow members of the intervening government to experiment with new forms of state-produced social control. Domestic citizens ruled by the intervening government, however, are not immune from these innovations in state control. This paper argues that there are four related channels through which advancements in state produced social control abroad may boomerang back to the intervening country. First, the initial decision to engage in coercive foreign interventions changes the composition of domestic government activities by centralizing decision making and power. In the second channel, the experience of the coercive foreign intervention shapes the human capital of those involved in the intervention. In the third channel, the refinement and investment in human capital lead to changes in administrative dynamics within domestic organizations in the intervening country. Finally, in the fourth channel, coercive foreign interventions lead to innovations in physical capital associated with producing state social control.