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Presented By: Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies

WCED Lecture. Foreign Support and Authoritarian Rule

Adam E. Casey, WCED Postdoctoral Fellow

Adam E. Casey Adam E. Casey
Adam E. Casey
Conventional wisdom suggests that great power patrons prop up client dictatorships. However, this is generally assumed rather than systematically analyzed. This project provides a comprehensive reassessment of the relationship between foreign sponsorship and authoritarian survival using original data on autocratic client regimes in the postwar period. These results demonstrate that patronage from Western powers—the United States, France, and the United Kingdom—is not associated with client regime survival. Instead, only Soviet sponsorship reduces the risk of regime collapse. Casey explains this variation by considering the effects of differing strategies of foreign sponsorship on client regime coup vulnerability. Seeking to establish the basis for stable patron-client relations, the Soviet Union and United States built the institutional foundations for their alliances on very different institutions with profound consequences for client regime durability. The Soviet Union bet on building Leninist parties and partisan armies which proved remarkably effective in preventing military coups: not a single Soviet client regime lost power to a military coup. By contrast, the United States invested in cultivating client military
forces built in its own nonpartisan image. This rendered American clients vulnerable to their own military forces, and successful coups were accepted as "faits accompli" by the United States. Casey evaluates these arguments using evidence from the full universe of client dictatorships in the Cold War as well as six detailed historical case studies.

Adam Casey is a WCED Postdoctoral Fellow for 2021-23. His research broadly considers the relationship between dictators and their armed forces. He is currently working on two book manuscripts he will develop as a postdoctoral fellow. The first considers the relationship between foreign support and authoritarian rule. His second book project (with Dan Slater and Jean Lachapelle) considers the origins of military political power in the postcolonial world. In particular, this project investigates why some militaries have come to dominate their polities, while others have been tightly controlled by political leadership. Casey received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Toronto in 2020.

This lecture will be presented in person in 1010 Weiser Hall and on Zoom. Webinar registration required at

If there is anything we can do to make this event accessible to you, please contact Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.

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