The puppet state in international law and politics

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


Michael Barkum


Manchukuo, Slovak Republic, Transkei, South Africa

Subject Categories

Political Science


In a three-part framework, this dissertation addresses itself to the phenomenon of the kind of political entity that formally claims to be an independent state, but which is actually under the control of another state, the "master" state. First, a conceptual analysis examines the historical origins and development of the idea of the puppet state, including its metaphorical quality and meanings, and its organizational features and implications. Second, as the main body of the dissertation, an empirical analysis examines in descriptive detail three concrete cases--Manchukuo (1932-1945), the Slovak Republic (1939-1945), and the Republic of Transkei (proclaimed in 1976). A standard set of twelve investigative dimensions is applied to each case to produce comprehensiveness and to facilitate comparability. Third, a quasi-theoretical analysis takes up these cases in terms of so-called deception theory, discusses several major assumptions and considerations of particular relevance to international law, and examines the structure and dynamics of international political discourse about puppet states as affected by the manipulative efforts by master states to utilize and promote them as instrumentalities of fraud. As a result of this tripartite and three-case analysis, the general model of the puppet state is untethered from its traditional over-identification with the stereotypical Manchukuo case, and is broadened so as to be more readily applicable to analyzing other instances of this phenomenon in international law and politics.


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