Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Administration, Mississippi State University

Current Research

Current Research

 

With Friends Like These:

Israel and Taiwan's Defense Ties with Central America

President Tsai Ing-Wen and President Daniel Ortega meet in Managua in January 2017

President Tsai Ing-Wen and President Daniel Ortega meet in Managua in January 2017

This paper explains the causes and effects of the ties between security challenged states preoccupied with preserving their own security and extra-regional non-major power states. By comparatively analyzing the defense ties of Israel and Taiwan with Central America, from the 1970s until the present, I find, they maintain relations due to shared ideologies and economic gain. Furthermore, Israel and Taiwan’s relations have centered on delivering defense equipment and training officers of Central American states’ security forces, and use bilateral and multilateral approaches. Most importantly, they support Central American states against internal and external threats. However, the findings do not support two explanations regarding Israel and Taiwan’s motivations: first, they maintained these relations to enhance their own security; and, second, they acted as surrogates for the United States in the region. The findings on the relationships’ effects on the Central American states also challenge a core assumption regarding the foreign policies of rogue states, a variety of security challenged states: that their foreign policies seek to destabilize other states.


The Second Insurgency:

Explaining the Rise of Late-Entering Insurgent Groups in El Salvador and Guatemala

The Contras, in 1987

The Contras, in 1987

Why do new insurgent groups within ongoing insurgencies? Extant studies assume all insurgent groups in a society arise from the same social cleavages, resource, and institutional preconditions. Yet late-entering insurgent groups’ success depends on beating early insurgent groups in acquiring resources and obtaining sympathizers and recruits. A comparative analysis of insurgencies in El Salvador (1970-1992) and Guatemala (1960-1996), based on insights from First Movers’ Advantage (FMA) theory in the field of marketing strategy, demonstrates that late insurgent groups arise from opportunities created by early insurgent groups’ failure to: (a) present a distinct ideological frames; (b) establish cohesive organizations with popular and effective leaders; (c) capture resources; and, (d) prevent sympathizers and recruits from switching or ceasing support.  


Checking Trust:

Measuring Social Capital at the Individual Level

Bowling alone? Or in leagues? Perhaps there's a better way to understand social trust.

Bowling alone? Or in leagues? Perhaps there's a better way to understand social trust.

Research on social capital formation posits that iterated interactions within associative organizations in societies’ increases mutual trust, norms of reciprocity, and altruistic tendencies, which in turn increases social goods like political cooperation and government responsiveness. However, such research assumes that only the popularity of such associative organizations, that too of the type that act as bridges between social groups rather than bonding within them, demonstrate levels of social capital. We problematize this assumption to argue that the ratio of ‘checkpoints’ where individuals are required to present proofs to make social and economic transactions, and ‘trustpoints’ where such proofs are not required, can also demonstrate the presence of social capital. Moreover, we argue that the relative unevenness of social capital among ascriptive groups can be measured by “fastlanes” that differentially treat individuals based on identity. By providing a less context specific measurement than associative organizations, our theory provides a more general measure of social capital and one that shows how social capital can be measured at the individual level.