Alexander B. Downes

Alexander B. Downes

Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs
1957 E St. 605B
Phone: 202-994-7859
Fax: 202-994-7761

Areas of Expertise

International security, civilian victimization and civilian casualties in war, foreign-imposed regime change.


Alexander B. Downes specializes in international security. His research interests include the causes and effectiveness of civilian victimization in warfare; the utility of foreign-imposed regime change for achieving states' goals, as well as the effects of foreign-imposed regime change on target states; and the determinants of military effectiveness. Downes's book Targeting Civilians in War was published by Cornell University Press in 2008 and won the Joseph Lepgold Prize for best book in international relations published in that year. The book argues that civilian victimization is a function of desperation to win and conserve on military casualties in costly and protracted wars of attrition, and the desire to eliminate actual or potential threats to control over territory in wars of territorial annexation. Downes's work has appeared in the journals Civil Wars, International Security, Journal of Conflict Resolution, SAIS Review, and Security Studies. Downes has held fellowships at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University (2007/08); the Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University (2003/04); and the Olin Institute for Strategic Studies, Harvard University (2002/03).


Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2004