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Notes from the Editors

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 May 2012

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We have readily assumed that, within Muslim countries, fundamentalists will most oppose American influence and policies, but Lisa Blaydes and Drew A. Linzer find a striking and perhaps surprising regularity: Anti-Americanism is most pronounced in the least observant Islamic countries. Moreover, opposition to the United States does not seem to be related to any particular American policies or to American culture generally. Anti-Americanism arises instead, they argue in “Elite Competition, Religiosity, and Anti-Americanism in the Islamic World,” from elite strategy, in which fundamentalist political factions fan anti-American sentiments to compete with more secular groups. That competition is most intense, and hence the anti-American strategy most frequently employed, in Islamic countries in which divisions between secular and religious forces are most pronounced. Employing a mix of statistical and case study methods, Blaydes and Linzer find that, within countries, observant Muslims are likelier to express anti-American sentiments; between countries, competition between secular and religious forces, and not fundamentalism, inspires anti-U.S. sentiment.

From the Editor: In This Issue
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2012


We have readily assumed that, within Muslim countries, fundamentalists will most oppose American influence and policies, but Lisa Blaydes and Drew A. Linzer find a striking and perhaps surprising regularity: Anti-Americanism is most pronounced in the least observant Islamic countries. Moreover, opposition to the United States does not seem to be related to any particular American policies or to American culture generally. Anti-Americanism arises instead, they argue in “Elite Competition, Religiosity, and Anti-Americanism in the Islamic World,”Footnote 1 from elite strategy, in which fundamentalist political factions fan anti-American sentiments to compete with more secular groups. That competition is most intense, and hence the anti-American strategy most frequently employed, in Islamic countries in which divisions between secular and religious forces are most pronounced. Employing a mix of statistical and case study methods, Blaydes and Linzer find that, within countries, observant Muslims are likelier to express anti-American sentiments; between countries, competition between secular and religious forces, and not fundamentalism, inspires anti-U.S. sentiment.

Like Islam, Protestant Christianity has been a proselytizing faith. Have Protestant denominations' missionary successes influenced subsequent political development outside those sects' European and North American homelands? They have, argues Robert D. Woodberry in “The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy,” and to a much greater extent than we might have imagined. Across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Oceania, and controlling for many other plausible factors, the adoption of Protestant Christianity accounts for about half of the variation in present-day democracy, and that association holds within continents and when one instruments for Protestantism to guard against possible endogeneity. The likely causal mechanism, Woodberry suggests, has involved the influence of Protestantism on literacy, social organization, and colonial reforms.

Islam sought, and conversionary Protestantism flourished under, empire (in the case of Protestantism, especially British, Dutch, and U.S. rule); and the whole scholarly topic of empire has enjoyed a recent revival from the works of, among others, Michael Doyle and Niall Ferguson. Vast empires (Persia, Macedon, and Rome) existed alongside, contended with, and eventually succeeded the Greek city-states, yet with few exceptions the major figures of Greek political theory are generally taken to have centered attention on the polis. In “Between Empire and Polis: Aristotle’s Politics,” Mary G. Dietz shifts the perceptual field that sustains such “polis-centric” accounts of Aristotle's Politics. Drawing on Aristotle's broader philosophical corpus as well as on biographical and historical details, Dietz reveals a perspective capable of discerning empire and polis as things “coming to be and passing away” in the Hellenic world, and thus also attentive to the political stakes of this process of transience and change. Read in this light, Dietz argues, Politics can be understood as less invested in settled oppositions between Greek and barbarian, citizen and alien, center and periphery than is often supposed. Yet, Dietz concludes, it can also be seen as providing both heuristic resources for engaging contemporary questions of postnational citizenship and transnational politics and a cautionary tale for those would make the case for empire today.

As it did even against Alexander’s attempts to meld loyalties,Footnote 2 the question of ethnic hegemony and privilege arises in every multinational regime. Romans, Britons, French, Austrians, Americans, Turks—all, throughout their respective empires, enjoyed privileges and immunities denied to subject nationalities, ethnicities, or (often enough) religions. Yet in present-day multinational states, such behavior seems counterintuitive. Leaders can count on the loyalty of their co-ethnics and will rationally better deploy state resources to win other groups to their side.Footnote 3 A logical testing ground for this puzzle is sub-Saharan Africa, where most states are multiethnic and power sometimes shifts from one ethnicity to another. Against some expectations, Raphaël Franck and Ilia Rainer show (in “Does the Leader’s Ethnicity Matter? Ethnic Favoritism, Education, and Health in Sub-Saharan Africa”) objective evidence of outcomes from 18 African states over 50 years that unambiguously supports the view that leaders privilege their co-ethnics, giving them, among other things, better primary education. The effect of leadership, which holds both over time and across countries, proves much stronger than that of linguistic fragmentation or ethnic segregation and may (they suggest) go far to explain sub-Saharan Africa’s persistent underdevelopment.

So “strongmen” favor their co-ethnics; are they also likelier (facing low audience costs) to initiate conflicts with other states? Conventional wisdom answers “Yes.” Yet, as Jessica L. Weeks demonstrates in “Strongmen and Straw Men: Authoritarian Regimes and the Initiation of International Conflict,” we must distinguish among kinds of autocracies. Personalist and military dictatorships do, in fact, start wars more frequently, for reasons we can readily comprehend: A personalist dictator effectively answers to no domestic audience, whereas a military dictator responds to fellow military officers, who are usually ready (as Clausewitz would have put it) “to continue policy by other means.” Civilian dictatorships that are not personalist, Weeks shows, are far less prone to initiate interstate conflicts; indeed, civilian autocrats with powerful elite audiences start wars as seldom as do democracies. In Weeks's view, we need, both for scholarly understanding and for informed foreign policy, to distinguish among authoritarian regimes and bear in mind their substantial variation in belligerency.

In democracies, what kind of spending do voters reward, and how do politicians respond—likely anticipating voters' reactions? Although many studies of U.S. congressional elections have found little local or individual response to increased district-level “pork,” a different picture emerges when one considers whether voters reward presidents for outlays in their localities. In “The Influence of Federal Spending on Presidential Elections,” Douglas L. Kriner and Andrew Reeves find that voters do reward incumbent presidents (or the incumbent party's nominee) for increased local spending. They do so especially in battleground states and in counties whose representatives in Congress belong to the incumbent president's party. The effect is attenuated, but by no means obviated, among more conservative voters. Thus, Kriner and Reeves argue, federal spending is much like Congress: unpopular in the aggregate, but locally appreciated. Their result, interestingly, comports well with the wider swath of research that shows how presidents are credited (or blamed) for much that government does (and even a lot that it cannot do) and that representatives in Congress usually garner neither credit nor blame.

But why, if politicians gain (or believe they can) from distributive spending, do they often delegate spending decisions to bureaucrats?Footnote 4 In “Legislatures, Bureaucracies, and Distributive Spending,” Michael M. Ting models a stripped-down interaction between a legislature and a bureaucracy. The legislature may choose to bypass the bureaucracy and allocate pork through internal bargaining (think “earmarks”), or it may “professionalize” such decisions, delegating allocation to civil servants with instructions to judge according to the objective quality of the proposed project. Professionalization becomes likelier, Ting finds, with (a) the expected overall quality of programs, (b) an anticipated scarcity of high-quality programs, and (c) the competency of bureaucrats—but only when the expected quality of programs is low (and hence low-quality programs face almost certain rejection by objective standards). If one adds to the set-up an independently elected executive, divided government tends to politicize allocations. Finally, politicized programs are larger (i.e., government is more frugal when decisions are professionalized). One implication of Ting's model is that we should be careful what we wish for: As the number of high-quality proposals to, for example, the National Science Foundation or the National Institutes of Mental Health increases, politicians will be tempted to circumvent peer review and earmark funds themselves.

Distributive spending on local pork differs substantially from redistributive spending on safety net programs: pensions; insurance against disability or unemployment; and aid to children, the elderly, or the poor generally. Support for welfare-state spending differs greatly over time and across nations and policy domains, as does polarization of public opinion on such issues—but why? This is a very old question, to which Philip Rehm, Jacob S. Hacker, and Mark Schlesinger offer an intriguing new answer in “Insecure Alliances: Risk, Inequality, and Support for the Welfare State.” Although factors like pre-redistribution inequality (as measured by the Gini index or the income difference between the mean and the median voter) or the “skewness” of the income distributionFootnote 5 surely matter, we must remember that many social programs bear aspects of insurance as well as (or more than) redistribution. Hence, Rehm et al. argue, we must consider not only who in a given society is disadvantaged, but who is at risk (of unemployment or catastrophic injury or illness, for example). Where mostly the poor are at risk (i.e., “disadvantage” and “insecurity” are highly correlated), remedial programs will be seen as chiefly redistributive and will therefore elicit narrow support (chiefly among the poor) and strong opposition (chiefly among the better off). Where, by contrast, the better off are also (or even more) at risk, remedial programs enjoy broader support and are less contested. Deploying cross-national evidence both from the ISSP Role of Government IV surveys and from a battery of new items on income insecurity that the authors were able to add to the 2008–9 American National Election Study, Rehm et al. find statistically and substantively strong support for their hypothesis—across countries as well as among policy domains within the United States. Where the correlation between risk and poverty is weak, be it in a country (e.g., Switzerland) or a policy domain within the United States (e.g., long-term care), support for government intervention is strong, with little polarization. Where risk is strongly correlated with low income (e.g., among countries, the United States and United Kingdom; within the United States, loss of income from divorce), support for a government program is weak, and respondents are strongly polarized. So although rapid technological change and offshoring may make even the better off insecure (thus hypothetically increasing support for the welfare state), at least in the United States, the rich and well educated increasingly diverge from the poor and low skilled in their exposure to unemployment and illness, thus reducing support for and increasing polarization about the social safety net.

A third important category of government spending, distinct from either pork or redistribution (both forms of consumption), is investment in durable public goods—roads, sewers, harbors, and the like. Intuitively, and in some previous work, government's choices between present consumption and future investment have been linked to such factors as politicians’ anticipated tenure of office (a longer term permits less discounting of the future) and the concentration or fragmentation of power (fragmented responsibility induces a classic “common pool” problem that privileges consumption over investment). Much less attention has been devoted to the importance of supermajority approval, now becoming more common in many jurisdictions. If spending decisions by a legislature require a two-thirds or three-quarters majority, does the share of outlays devoted to long-term investment increase, decrease, or remain basically the same? In fact, according to Marco Battaglini, Salvatore Nunnari, and Thomas R. Palfrey (“Legislative Bargaining and the Dynamics of Public Investment”), investment will increase with the size of the required majority, reaching its maximum under unanimity rule (and, as previous work had suggested, a minimum where each representative can “dictate” local spending). Battaglini et al. reach this result first in a stylized model, where an arbitrary number of representatives from local districts bargain to divide a given endowment into long-term investment and transfers to each district.Footnote 6 They then test that result experimentally, where five-person committees decide such an allocation under a voting rule that may involve dictatorship, simple majority, or unanimity. Many readers will see this result as a more precise incarnation of Pareto optimality, in which unanimity rule guarantees that no one is made worse off, and at least someone is made better off, by a given decision.

Do people, when they hear or deliberate over opposing viewpoints, change their minds? The conventional answer in research on campaigns and public opinion is that they do, and probably all too frequently. Almost legendarily, early “frames” or impressions decay quickly, whether in experiments or campaigns, and the most recent message—however much it contradicts earlier ones—is what endures.Footnote 7 Yet this ephemerality may be confined to “captive” subjects (in the laboratory or sitting before their television screens), who are presented (or even bombarded) with information not of their choosing. In a different laboratory experiment, where after initial exposure, subjects can choose information themselves,Footnote 8 James N. Druckman, Jordan Fein, and Thomas J. Leeper find (in “A Source of Bias in Public Opinion Stability”) quite an opposite effect: Subjects dogmatically adhere to opinions formed by early frames and reject later, contradictory frames. Although the context of the experiment was health care policy, Druckman and his colleagues suggest that the effect is likely much more general, extending to polarization (likely to intensify the more people can self-select information), the choice of early frames in policy debates or political campaigns, and—not least—how to design laboratory experiments to reflect better what goes on in the real world, where people are free to choose (and at least part of the time do choose) their own sources of information.

For most of us, the “frame” in which we perceive Mahatma Gandhi—shaped in large part, no doubt, by the 1982 Richard Attenborough film—has him as a saintly, otherworldly figure, admirable but somewhat out of place in the fray of power politics. His stance of nonviolence, we tend to believe, was a moral but hardly practical way of engaging the world. (The familiar trope is that nonviolence could work against the British, or even against U.S. bigots, but hardly against Hitler.) On the contrary, argues Karuna Mantena in “Another Realism: The Politics of Gandhian Nonviolence,” Gandhi was profoundly realist in his view of politics and in the very practical kind of satyagraha (“nonviolent action”—with an equal emphasis on the second word) that he advocated. Both in practice and in theory, Mantena shows, Gandhi advanced nonviolent methods that exerted maximum pressure; he aimed to achieve change, not demonstrate virtue. He rejected violence chiefly because it rarely achieved its professed ends and almost always made the situation worse. Nonviolence was the superior tactic because it was self-limiting. Whereas violence could overshoot—leading to escalation, to ends that even its practitioners found odious,Footnote 9 or to both—nonviolence, while (if rightly designed) equally effective, could fall into none of these traps. Gandhi’s tactics, at least as portrayed by Mantena, will remind some readers of the martial art aikido, in which no offensive tactics are countenanced: Rather, the shrewd defender simply deflects and redirects the attacker’s force in ways that frustrate and, sooner or later, immobilize the assailant. By not attacking, the defender can do no harm; by astute action, he or she can render the attacker harmless.


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1 The Managing Co-editor, as a previous co-author with one of the authors of this article, recused himself from all consideration of it.

2 Most famously, Alexander tried to merge Persian and Macedonian loyalties by integrating Persians into the Macedonian army, by giving Persians command of some units, and (not least) by the mass marriage of his leading officers to daughters of the Persian aristocracy.

3 Thus models of democratic voting assume that candidates focus their attention on “swing” voters, not those already committed to their (or the opposition's) side.

4 In the United States, for example, many decisions about localized spending are made by the supposedly neutral civil servants of the General Services Administration (GSA), and laws (e.g., the Hatch Act) specifically forbid elected officials from attempting to influence the GSA's decisions. For evidence on the extent to which such decisions can, in fact, be politicized, see Gordon, Sanford C., (2011), “Politicizing Agency Spending Authority: Lessons from a Bush-era Scandal,” this Review, 105: 717–34Google Scholar.

5 Lupu, Noam and Pontusson, Jonas (2011), “The Structure of Inequality and the Politics of Redistribution,” this Review, 105: 316–36Google Scholar.

6 The authors conjecture, but do not prove, that their result will hold also in bodies elected at large (e.g., by proportional representation).

7 See for example, Gerber, Alan S., Gimpel, James G., Green, Donald P., and Shaw, Daron R. (2011), “How Large and Long-lasting Are the Persuasive Effects of Televised Campaign Ads? Results from a Randomized Field Experiment,” this Review, 105: 135–50Google Scholar.

8 In the middle stages of the experiment, subjects could choose to read stories that agreed with the frame initially presented, that were completely unrelated to it, or that contradicted the initial frame.

9 Tacitus: Auferre, trucidare, rapere, falsis nominibus imperium; atque, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant. (“They plunder, they slaughter, they steal, and this they falsely name empire; they make a desert, and they call it peace”).

11 One widely accepted guide to such norms is given by the American Anthropological Association's Code of Ethics, particularly Section III.

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