Foreign Powers and Intervention in Armed Conflicts

Foreign Powers and Intervention in Armed Conflicts

Foreign Powers and Intervention in Armed Conflicts

Foreign Powers and Intervention in Armed Conflicts


Intervention in armed conflicts is full of riddles that await attention from scholars and policymakers. This book argues that rethinking intervention-redefining what it is and why foreign powers take an interest in others' conflicts-is of critical importance to understanding how conflicts evolve over time with the entry and exit of external actors. It does this by building a new model of intervention that crosses the traditional boundaries between economics, international relations theory, and security studies, and places the economic interests and domestic political institutions of external states at the center of intervention decisions.

Combining quantitative and qualitative evidence from both historical and contemporary conflicts, including interventions in both interstate conflicts and civil wars, it presents an in-depth discussion of a range of interventions-diplomatic, economic, and military-in a variety of international contexts, creating a comprehensive model for future research on the topic.


In the growth of a general war, the entry of additional nations
was often like the fisherman who intervened while the waterbirds
fought or waterbirds who pounced while the fisherman slept.

MAJOR WARS IN THE HISTORY OF NATIONS have been characterized by the involvement of foreign powers. In the nineteenth century, the two deadliest conflicts involved external states as interveners. Great Britain, France, and Italy entered the Crimean War (1854–1856) on the side of the Ottoman Empire against Russia. Russian claims as a protectorate over the Ottoman Greeks and its insistence on the neutrality of Istanbul to great powers strengthened the Concert of Four Powers, leading to a consensus on the possible responses to Russian aggression. British government claimed that “nothing is more calculated to precipitate [a Turkish catastrophe] than the constant prediction of its being close at hand.” Napoleon was prepared to declare war against the Russian offensive in the Near East: “France, as well as England, will be compelled to leave to the fate of arms the fortune of war that which might now be decided by reason and justice.”

A decade later, Uruguay and Argentina built the Triple Alliance with Brazil (1866) against an expansionist Paraguay and defeated the Paraguayan dictator Francisco Solano Lopez in the deadliest war in Latin America. The unmatched military and economic power of the Brazil–Argentina alliance inflicted tremendous economic costs and human casualties on Paraguay, wiping out half of its population.

Similarly, in the twentieth century, much ink was spilled on wars such as the Balkan wars, two world wars, the Korean War, and the Gulf War, which had an undeniable but mostly overlooked international dimension. While the shadow of Turks united Balkan states against the Ottoman Empire in the First Balkan War (1912), they were soon to be divided on territorial issues, giving . . .

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