Rivalry Intervention: Why International Rivals Intervene in Civil Conflicts
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This dissertation examines balancing intervention into civil conflict by international rivals. That is, the phenomenon of two states, locked in a long-term and ongoing conflictual relationship, intervening on opposing sides of a civil conflict occurring in a third-party. Extant research has demonstrated that civil conflicts which experience balancing intervention are longer, bloodier, and more difficult to resolve than those which do not; outside supporters fuel continued violence by providing support for domestic factions. The consequences are significant with respect to global security, meaning the study of civil war intervention is a pressing issue in the fields of Political Science and International Relations. Scholars have typically focused on the characteristics of civil conflicts which precipitate intervention; by contrast, this dissertation emphasizes the relationship between interveners, locating the motivation for intervention at the international level. Specifically, the dynamics that exist between long-standing enemies – or ‘rivals’ – are posited to trigger balancing intervention. States in rivalry have experienced a history of crisis and confrontation. This context shapes the perceptions of each side, such that rivals anticipate future conflict. Rivalry is an ongoing, continuous state of security competition; present behaviour is conditioned by the ‘push’ of the past (reputation and experience) and the ‘pull’ of the future (uncertainty and a preference for survival). In this respect, rivalry is a broadly rational process, not a psychological or emotional pathology driven by ‘hatred’ or ‘hostility’. With respect to civil conflict intervention, rivals anticipate the loss of security that would result from non-intervention and act accordingly. The causal mechanism triggering intervention is the underlying dynamic of the rivalry relationship itself. In order to assess and develop this argument, the dissertation examines three cases of civil conflict intervention by rivals. First, Indian and Pakistani interventions into Afghanistan (2001-present); second, Israeli and Syrian interventions into Lebanon (1975-85); and third, US and Soviet interventions into Angola (1975). The cases suggest that a common process – or mechanism – operates across time and space, linking rivalry to intervention. These findings have significant policy implications moving forward, particularly as the international community formulates conflict stabilization practices vis-à-vis complex civil conflict environments.