Konstantin Sonin: “Why did Putin invade Ukraine? A theory of degenerate autocracy”
Paper presented in the seminar
Title: Why did Putin invade Ukraine? A theory of degenerate autocracy
Author: Konstantin Sonin, John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy
Many, if not most, personalistic dictatorships end up with a disastrous, suicidal decision such as Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union, Hirohito’s government launching a war against the United States, or Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Even if the disastrous decision is not ultimately fatal for the regime such as Mao’s Big Leap Forward or the Pol Pot’s collectivization drive, they typically involve monumental miscalculation and lack of competence. We offer a theory of non-democratic regimes, in which the need for regime security dictates, in difficult circumstances, replacement of technocrats by incompetent loyalists, leading, in turn, to disastrous decisions.
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