Monday, June 22, 2015

Distracting With Invasion

As I've told students many times, if a president is in trouble at home, then there's nothing like a good invasion to distract everyone's attention. The Venezuelan government created new military zones that actually include Colombian territorial waters. As you might guess, the Colombian government has sent a note of protest. This is especially prickly for Colombia, which already was supposed to cede territory to Nicaragua but refused and pulled out of the International Court of Justice.

For Venezuela, this builds on the simultaneous push toward Guyana's maritime borders (though as Boz points out, this could well be the exact same for Guyana's president).

I have never seen a theory of distraction, but it would be interesting to contemplate. Under what circumstances does distraction "work" (which itself would have to be clearly defined). Probably the most famous case where it didn't work was the Argentine junta's invasion of the Falklands/Malvinas. That, of course, was a real military exercise whereas Venezuela's claims are not. It's very hard to pinpoint where it works because so many other factors are at play. At the very least, though, we could look at approval ratings before and after some claim on another country's territory. Other variables would have to include economic indicators, how democratic the government is, etc.

As for Nicolás Maduro, it's hard to see how this will prompt Venezuelans to look beyond crime, inflation, scarcity, and the like.


Anita 4:49 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anita Kellogg 4:51 PM  

There is pretty well developed literature in International Relations on the diversionary use of force and "rally 'round the flag" effects. For example, AHMER TARAR's Diversionary Incentives and the Bargaining Approach to War in International Studies Quarterly (2006) 50, 169–188 at

Lillie Langtry 1:40 PM  

And of course, in the Falklands it DID work for Margaret Thatcher in the UK, whose government saw its popularity shoot up.

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP