Presidential political ambition and US foreign conflict behavior, 1816–2010

Basic information

  • Author(s):
    • Becca McBride
    • Matthew DiLorenzo
    • James Lee Ray
  • Included in: Conflict Management and Peace Science
  • Published: October 1, 2016
  • Publisher: SAGE Journals

How do term limits affect international conflict behavior? We revisit this question using new quarter-year-level data on presidential political ambition in the US from 1816 to 2010. Multi-country research finds that the re-election motive decreases the likelihood of conflict initiation. We argue that there are good reasons to expect that the US is different. We find that politically ambitious US presidents are more likely to initiate international conflicts. Consistent with previous research, however, we find that political ambition appears to be unrelated to a president’s chances of becoming the target of a militarized dispute.


DiLorenzo, Matthew, Becca McBride, and James Lee Ray. 2016. “Presidential Political Ambition and US Foreign Conflict Behavior, 1816-2010.” Conflict Management and Peace Science.



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