This study identifies three methodological issues that affect inferences drawn in studies of presidential decisions to use force: aggregation, truncation, and dynamics. We suggest that a dichotomous measure of uses of force introduces aggregation bias, while the decision to examine only major uses of force introduces truncation bias. In addition, we argue that the presence of rivalry creates temporal dependence or dynamics in the use of force series. We reexamine the empirical findings reported in a seminal study of U.S. presidents' use of force during the Cold War (Ostrom and Job 1986). Our findings demonstrate the importance of these three methodological issues. Results of a Poisson Autoregressive (PAR) model show dynamics in the use of force series. Contrary to Ostrom and Job, we find that international variables have a larger substantive effect on the president's decision to use force than political variables like approval and domestic variables like economic performance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations