Welcome to Major Foster's Website
Assistant Professor of International Studies & Political Science
432 Scott Shipp Hall | Ph: 540-464-7088 | FosterDM@vmi.edu
Major Dennis Foster is Assistant Professor of International Studies and Political Science at the Virginia Military Institute. After completing his bachelor's degree with a dual major in political science and history at Fairleigh Dickinson University (Madison, NJ) in 1998, Professor Foster undertook graduate studies at Penn State University, receiving his PhD in political science in 2004. His dissertation, The Bullies in the Their Pulpits: Diversion, Elite Opposition, and US Conflict Behavior, examined the impact of high-profile congressional opposition on the presidential propensity to use force for domestic political purposes. Its main empirical findings regarding the post-Civil War period reveal that, contrary to the expectations of the diversionary (or "wag the dog") hypothesis prevalent in public discourse and the academic literature, presidential administrations are more likely to use force when facing congressional opposition to their foreign policies and less likely to use force when facing congressional opposition to their domestic policies. An article relating to this project appears in the June 2006 issue of International Studies Quarterly. Professor Foster also has published articles in Conflict Management and Peace Science (on the variable incentives of major and minor powers to engage in diversionary conflict given high inflation) and Foreign Policy Analysis (on the use of diversionary force by presidents of different ideological orientations). In 2007, he took over the book review editorship of the Journal of Conflict Studies.
Professor Foster's research interests also include the impact of other domestic factors on international conflict propensity, the determinants of strategy choice by insurgent (especially terrorist) groups, and conventional and nuclear deterrence. He has taught courses on American politics, international relations, American foreign policy, the politics of terrorist violence, and research design. Professor Foster lives in Fairfield, VA, with his wife, Jaclyn.