Public Opinion or Powerful Friends: The Motivation of Minor Power Intervention Into External Conflict
Gallagher Cunningham, Kathleen
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When and how do minor power states decide to intervene in external conflicts? When minor power states intervene, what form of intervention do they employ? I argue that particular types of intervention (military, financial, or diplomatic) are determined in part by whether a specific intervention is conducted to appease domestic or international audiences. When intervention is primarily a response to the domestic public, foreign policy elites will first and foremost take high visibility intervention action. If there is no strong domestic public opinion on the intervention but there is pressure from major power allies, foreign policy elites will be more likely to take financially costly intervention action. Previous explanations have not examined the entire menu of possible intervention types, missing important variation in the decision-making calculus around intervention. This study tests this theory with a mixture of qualitative and quantitative analysis. It uses a national public opinion survey in the Republic of Georgia (2017) to support which external conflicts interest the public, public preferences for diplomatic intervention, and elite interest in public preference. It then follows this with a historical case study of India, Sri Lanka and the Tamils (1980-1990) illustratively demonstrating the exact mobilization mechanism of the public and their impact on intervention. These two chapters show that the public cares about cases with solidarity ties and media attention, and overwhelmingly prefers diplomatic intervention. It also shows a majority of elite policymakers do believe the public impacts foreign security policy. The last empirical chapter turns to the role of major power allies in motivating intervention. This dissertation uses a statistical analysis and data from 1975-2009 to show the importance of major power security incentives and security contexts in motivating minor power military intervention. It shows mixed impacts of major power security incentives and security contexts in motivating economic intervention, and shows that major power-minor power intervention occurs in less than 1% of all diplomatic intervention cases. This supports that major powers play a large role in motivating military intervention, but suggests that major powers have a smaller role in motivating diplomatic intervention.