Military purges and the recurrence of civil conflict

Jessica Maves Braithwaite, Jun Koga Sudduth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Literature on coup-proofing often suggests that such activities reduce military effectiveness, which could provide an environment ripe for civil conflict. However, if coup-proofing is dangerous, why do leaders engage in these strategies? We argue that a specific type of coup-proofing, military purges, deters domestic unrest by demonstrating the strength of the regime via the removal of powerful but undesirable individuals from office. We use original data on military purges in non-democracies from 1969–2003 to assess quantitatively how this type of coup-proofing activity affects the likelihood of civil conflict recurrence. We find support for our expectation that purges of high-ranking military officials do in fact help prevent further civil conflict. Purges appear to provide real benefits to dictators seeking to preserve stability, at least in post-conflict environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalResearch and Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Civil conflict
  • Coup d’etat
  • Dictatorship
  • Purge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Political Science and International Relations


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