By Dave Anderson:
Bernard Finel raises a very good point concerning the pragmatic consequences of the victory or death incentives towards repressive regimes:
there is now a pretty clear pattern in play. If you are a dictator and you either lose power or leave power under pressure, you can expect to either be killed or end up in jail. This is not a good precedent if you are hoping to encourage peaceful change.
What happened to all these men, these often-brutal dictators, certainly qualifies as �justice� in a sense. And it unquestionably reinforces norms about legitimate state conduct. But by the same token, while the certainty of punishment may deter future brutality, it also means that existing despots, particularly those with blood on their hands are going to be less likely to go without a fight.
Victory or death produces a lot of deaths especially when the alternative is to allow dictators who are leaving under pressure to go into exile with a couple billion dollars worth of loot, their families, and the families of their inner selectorate. Sure, that solution space does not have the visceral rightness of victory or death, but it can often minimize deaths during the dying phases of a regime.