While recent scholarship suggests that conscription decreases support for military action, we argue that its effect is contingent both on a draft’s consequences for inequality in military sacrifice and on partisanship. In an experiment examining public support for defending South Korea, we find that reinstating the draft significantly decreases support for war among Democrats; however, this effect is diminished if the draft reduces inequality in sacrifice. Support for war among Republicans, by contrast, responds neither to information about conscription nor its inequality ramifications. A follow-up experiment shows that conscription continues to significantly decrease support for war, even in the context of a retaliatory strike against a foreign state that targeted American forces. Moreover, partisanship and the inequality ramifications of the draft continue to moderate the relationships between conscription and public opinion. More broadly, our study emphasizes the importance of examining how Americans evaluate foreign policy–relevant information through partisan lenses.
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© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.
- belief structure
- domestic politics
- use of force