Foreign Military Interventions in Civil Conflicts, 1946-2002

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Empirical evidence shows that foreign military interventions in civil conflicts on the side of the government or opposition are frequent and they have significant political and economic impacts on both the intervening states and the target states. While many recent quantitative studies have examined the impact of foreign military interventions on the dynamics and outcomes of civil conflicts, similar attention has not been paid to the factors that motivate foreign powers to intervene in intrastate disputes. Most of the theoretical insight on the causes of military intervention comes from earlier qualitative studies that analyze the foreign policy decision making of interveners in detail. In contrast, the small amount of quantitative research conducted on this topic focuses more on the attributes of the civil conflict that attract foreign military intervention. The purpose of this study is to analyze the causes of military interventions from a foreign policy decision making perspective which has been neglected in current quantitative studies. In order to identify the factors that motivate state leaders to use military intervention as a foreign policy instrument, this dissertation examines the international and domestic sources of foreign policy decision making through a modified realist framework. Hypotheses are tested against a novel dataset that includes both actual and potential interveners in all civil conflicts between 1946 and 2002. Sub-sample analyses are also conducted for major powers, democracies and autocracies to understand the relative importance of international, domestic and contextual factors on the intervention decisions of different types of states. The empirical findings show that the strategic significance of the conflict state, interventions by rivals or allies, and domestic considerations of leaders play a more critical role than the attributes of the civil conflict when foreign powers are deciding whether and on whose side to intervene in a civil conflict. While these empirical findings provide an improved understanding of the rationale behind foreign military interventions in civil conflicts, this dissertation also contributes theoretically to the current literature by bringing back the much needed foreign policy decision making perspective into the study of interventions.