Terrorism and External Audiences: Influencing Foreign Intervention Into Civil Wars
Political Science and International Affairs
School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding and Development
This article evaluates the effects of terrorism on interventions into civil wars. Considering civil wars from 1970–1999, this study analyzes how the use of terrorism as a tactic affects external interventions on behalf of opposition groups, interventions on behalf of governments, and diplomatic interventions. While some authors would suggest that groups might utilize terrorism as a tactic to gain external support, this study finds little evidence that groups are actually successful in gaining such support. In fact, terrorism that targets civilians appears to actually decrease the likelihood of military interventions on behalf of opposition groups. Furthermore, in civil wars with high numbers of terrorist attacks there is a greater likelihood of economic intervention on behalf of governments, further weakening the potential benefit for groups in utilizing terrorism as a tactic. While this is certainly a welcome finding, a consideration of five case studies of suicide terrorism (Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Iraq, India, and Turkey) provides evidence that the use of suicide terrorism within civil wars may have decreased the likelihood of external interventions on behalf of the government and of diplomatic interventions. These results are more troubling and suggest potentially grave consequences for mediating many of these conflicts.
Terrorism and Political Violence
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)