Covert operations, wars, detainee destinations, and the psychology of democratic peace

Christian Crandall, Owen Cox, Ryan Beasley, Mariya Omelicheva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


We explore US covert forcible actions against democratic governments and their citizens and show that inter-democratic use of covert force is common and can be accommodated within the theory of democratic peace. Grounded in the Perceptual Theory of Legitimacy, we argue that democracies are constrained by public perceptions of their legitimacy from overtly aggressing against other democratic states. When democracies desire to aggress against their democratic counterparts they will do so covertly. We test the assumptions of the theory and its implication with (1) laboratory studies of the conflation of democracy with ally status, and (2) historical analyses of covert militarized actions and prisoner detention, which show that US forcible actions, when carried out against democracies and their citizens, are carried out clandestinely.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)929-956
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Issue number5
Early online date11 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • Democratic peace
  • Belief structure
  • Militarized interstate disputes
  • Legitimacy


Dive into the research topics of 'Covert operations, wars, detainee destinations, and the psychology of democratic peace'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this