The ‘Dictator’s Endgame’: Explaining Military Behavior in Nonviolent Revolutions

December 05, 2017
03:00 pm - 04:30 pm

About the event

Dictators live dangerously. Historically, the most frequent threat to a dictator’s political survival comes from regime insiders. In recent decades, however, threats from nonviolent mass mobilizations have increased sharply. In a dictator’s endgame, when peaceful mass protests overwhelm a regime’s security forces, the ability to maintain the loyalty of the military is key to a dictator’s survival. When dictators lean on military support, however, they may find that the generals refuse to obey their orders. Even prior to the Arab uprisings, the success or failure of dozens of popular uprisings were contingent upon the loyalty of troops. If military allegiance plays such a critical role, what factors explain a military’s decision to support or abandon a dictatorship?

During this presentation, scholar and civil-military relations expert Aurel Croissant explored explanations for the varying outcomes of dictators’ endgames in the period from 1946 to 2014 and examined how military decisions impact post-revolt regime dynamics. 


  • Aurel Croissant, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow

Moderated by: 

  • Shanthi KalathilDirector, International Forum for Democratic Studies

About the Speakers

Aurel Croissant is professor of political science at Heidelberg University in Germany, where his research focuses on democratization, authoritarianism, civil-military relations, and Asian politics. He has published over 200 articles, book chapters, monographs, and edited volumes, appearing in English, German, Russian, Spanish, and Korean. Since 2012, he has served as co-editor of the journal Democratization and also serves on the editorial board of the Asian Journal of Political Science and the Journal of Contemporary Southeast Asian Affairs. He has provided consultancy services on democracy building for European institutions such as the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Transparency International, and the Dutch Foreign Ministry. 

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