Networks of Third-Party Interveners and Civil War Duration

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Networks of Third-Party Interveners and Civil War Duration

A growing body of research has examined the role that the international community plays in civil war duration and settlement (e.g., Balch-Lindsay and Enterline 2000; Collier et al. 2004; Elbadawi and Sambanis 2000; Hartzell et al. 2001; Regan 2002; Walter 1997). Theoretical and empirical research mostly focuses on contextual conditions and interventions organized under the auspices of international and regional organizations. This literature, moreover, is less explicit on how unilateral interventions undertaken by third-party states affect wars. More often in civil wars, however, states become involved unilaterally in the conflict and act without the consent of multilateral organizations. From this perspective interventions appear rooted in realist orientations to world politics where states enter ongoing wars to pursue their security interests. Empirical models implicitly approach unilateral interventions by states as discrete events that play independent roles in the course of a conflict. What is missing in these accounts is that unilateral interventions are rarely isolated from each other. Instead, they exert a cumulative impact on civil war processes given that they are undertaken in a multiparty environment where interveners and combatants are involved in a complex web of relations (Cunningham 2006; Findley and Teo 2006; Gent 2007; Scott 1996). At the extreme, interventions are coordinated by those that undertake them, but at the very least, civil war combatants see the conflict as a process and cumulatively integrate interventions into their decision-making whether or not it is intended by interveners. Therefore, intervention outcomes cannot be considered independent of how interveners relate to each other in the civil war setting.

Civil wars into which more than one outside country intervened present a strategic setting where the political relationships among intervener states affect intervention outcomes. At its core, possible interactions between intervening states can be conflictual or cooperative. States can form rival networks in a civil war and compete for diverse outcomes by engaging in offsetting interventions. Geopolitical struggles between intervener states play a crucial role in transforming combatants’ preferences between war and settlement. The context of Congo’s civil war (1992- 1997)1 illustrates that interveners’ relation with each other had a consequential role in the evolution of the conflict: fluid alliances among Congo’s neighbors, Rwanda, Uganda, Angola and Zimbabwe, resulted in recurrent insurgencies and ultimately motivated the government to engage in systematic killings of civilians in 1994 (Afoaku 2002). Similarly, the competition between South Africa and Cuba in the Angolan civil war (1975-1991) fed by superpower confrontation and regional feuds helped generate a protracted and costly war that lingered for decades (Rothchild and Hartzell 1992). States with similar preferences can also act with the objective to establish peace, as in El Salvador in 1989 where Colombia, Mexico, Spain, Venezuela and the US formed an ad hoc coalition to bring the civil war to an end (Prantl 2005).

In this article we model the interactive role that unilateral interventions play in civil war duration.2 We focus our framework on groups of interveners and their cumulative impact. In doing so, we apply network analysis to the empirical domain of third-party intervention in civil war. Drawing on the realist scholarship, we argue that third-parties’ choice of sides and the distribution of their preferences lead to certain alignment patterns. States supporting opposite sides in a civil war – what we call balancers– aim to offset each other’s influence and in doing so, they spoil the chances for peaceful settlement. There are also seemingly consensual networks of states in the civil war environment, such as states that support the same side of a civil war, which we call bandwagons. The question of how bandwagoning versus balancing acts of interveners affect the duration of conflict is an important one. We argue that bandwagoning interventions have an easier time manipulating combatant behavior since there is a certain degree of agreement in their actions, and we link this favorable impact to close political relations among interveners. However, simply having a joint preference for a certain combatant does not enhance interveners’ cumulative effect on conflict duration. In fact, the conversion of preferences over the outcome of a war may lead to free riding on the part of potential allies or inability to strategically time their actions to alter combatant behavior (Gent 2007). Part of our theoretical puzzle is that even states with divergent preferences can also support the same combatant and create an effect similar to balancing.

We therefore empirically differentiate cases of bandwagoning with similar and divergent preferences. In the following sections, we outline our theory and its empirical implications. We expect to see that intervener states with similar interests have the ability to curb their disagreements and pursue a collective solution to civil wars. By sending reinforcing signals and unifying their offers, these interveners have the potential to convince or coerce the combatants into a settlement that they favor. On the contrary, states that oppose each other in the strategic environment of civil wars encourage opportunistic and rent-seeking behavior among combatants which can develop an incentive to play interveners off against each other. In the empirical section, we present a network analysis of civil war interventions in the post-World War II period which provides support to this argument. Our findings show that balancing behavior prolongs fighting whereas bandwagoning generates an earlier termination, but only when intervening parties share similar preferences. In the conclusion part, we discuss the policy implications of our findings and emphasize the positive effects of coordinated interventions by like-minded states on bringing civil wars to an end.
Civil Wars and Their Duration

The systematic examination of civil war duration has been relatively new. How long civil wars are expected to last has been linked to grievances associated with pre-conflict repression and poverty (Collier and Hoeffler 2004; Gurr 2000; Regan and Norton 2005), natural resources and the possibility of contraband financing (Fearon 2004; Ross 2004), ethnic segmentation (Cederman and Girardin 2007; Fearon and Laitin 2003) and outside involvement in civil wars by international/regional organizations (Doyle and Sambanis, 2000) and states (Balch-Lindsay and Enterline 2000; Regan 2002; Regan and Aydin 2006). The onset of civil war reflects a failure to reach agreement over the distribution of domestic resources. The factors that contribute to war duration further complicate this bargaining process and diminish peaceful alternatives by affecting the capabilities and resolve of the warring parties. The ability of the opposition to press their demands by force of arms and the government’s ability to resist throughout the war become an integral part of war duration in this setting (Buhaug et al. 2008; Cunningham et al. 2009). Rebel organizations that can effectively recruit from local population by offering economic incentives, as in contraband financing, or by playing the ethnic card, as in ethnically divided societies, can challenge the government for a longer period. Other strategies may enhance rebels’ military standing vis-à-vis the government. For instance, rebel groups that have sanctuaries in neighboring states and operate across porous borders can prolong an insurgency with hit-and-run tactics (Fearon 2004; Salehyan 2007). On other hand, governments that can extract resources from the populace as in high GDP societies expect to prevail against the rebels on the battlefield. Therefore, they might be less likely to give in to rebel demands and prefer a decisive victory to negotiated outcomes which would also contribute to war duration. Similarly, democratic governments may find scorched-earth policies to uproot the insurgency incompatible with their political culture and their reluctance to resort to violence allow rebels to fight for longer periods.

To the extent that reaching an agreement between warring parties is made more difficult by these conditions, we would expect civil wars to be of a longer duration. Important for our theoretical argument is that relative capabilities and the information that civil war parties hold about each other can be manipulated by external interventions (Regan and Aydin 2006). While most interventions are ineffective in bringing civil war to an end, less is known about the conditions under which they can spoil peace process. How multiple interveners relate to each other in the civil war setting and whether external states engage in competing or cooperating interventions will have a dramatic impact on civil war processes. We next describe the mechanisms by which this plays out.
Civil Wars in Complex Environments

Evidence from the latter half of the 20th century points to civil wars as multiparty environments: in almost half of the wars in this period, more than one third-party state intervened in the same conflict, pointing to the interconnected dimensions of external interventions. We assume that within the context of a civil war, states considering an intervention are mostly aware of the presence or interest of other actors. US intervention in Nicaragua in the 1980s was openly debated before Congress, providing other potential interveners information that influenced their options. The Boland Amendment was an attempt by Congress to curtail all forms of military aid to the Contra, and the Reagan Administration’s ‘discovery’ of Soviet bombers being unloaded at a Nicaraguan port were visible components of the debate over whether or how the US should intervene (Scott 1996). In a similar fashion, Zimbabwe intervened in Congo in 1998 after the Ugandan President Museveni declared support for the insurgents, effectively countering Zimbabwe’s efforts to shape the outcome. While not all intervention decisions are so public, such strategic information might generally be available to other states considering intervention, permitting the opportunity to bandwagon with or balance against contemporary interveners. Sometimes this information may be conveyed so as to coordinate actions and form ad hoc coalitions among interveners into civil wars. The Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda coalition in the Congo War is illustrative of a “non-institutionalized, informal alliance… [based on] neighboring states” who felt threatened by Mobutu’s policies (Rupiya 2002).

Polarization of interests between the East and West in the Cold War period provides an example of the role that third-parties jointly play in civil wars (Van de Walle and Bratton 1997). In Angola, superpowers competed for influence over the combatants through their client states South Africa and Cuba. In Mozambique (1979-1993), the US provided assistance to the government with the hope that they would dismantle their socialist program and support the West whereas the Soviet assistance was aimed at saving Mozambique’s failing socialist experiment (Scott 1996). However, sabotaging peace by third-party states is not exclusively a Cold War phenomenon. Politics of nation-state formation in the late 19th century also illustrates the multiparty environment of civil wars. The Ottoman Empire dissolved as a result of the foreign interventions in its rebellious frontiers in the Balkans and the Middle East. Britain, France and Russia intervened in the Greek and Bulgarian rebellions against the Ottomans to support rebel claims to separation (Clogg 2002). Contrary to the Balkan cases, Armenian rebels on the Eastern front could not garner enough material support from Western powers and the disagreement between third-parties contributed to an unsuccessful Armenian movement leading to massive human suffering in 1914.

As several cases of intervention from different historical epochs suggest, states that intervene in the same civil war share an interest in the war outcome despite their unilateral actions. This interest might favor similar as well as opposing outcomes and lead to alignments which are cross-cutting sources of influence on combatants. Few studies however modeled the interdependent aspect of interventions. Regan (2002: 71), for example, argued that the strategic nature of opposing interventions has a debilitating impact on civil war duration: “…any conflict that attracts opposing interventions is considerably more likely to remain ongoing than a conflict that does not have interventions supporting both sides.”

More recent projects also model the multiparty environments of civil wars focusing on the implications of multiple rebel groups and external states on peace process (see Cunningham et al. 2009; Walter 2006). Among these studies, Cunningham (2006) shows that multiparty civil wars, including those with more than one external participant, experience longer durations. Gent (2007) suggests that major powers usually undertake opposing interventions in civil wars so that they affect the course of events in their favor and abstain from interventions when their preferences are most similar. Similarly, Findley and Teo (2006) show that states balance the role of their rivals in civil wars by supporting opposing sides, whereas shared security interests between interveners in the form of alliances do not necessarily lead to bandwagoning on the same side. We build on this literature and explicitly model the role interveners’ interrelations play in civil war duration.

When international or regional institutions do not coordinate interveners’ actions, the joint impact on the outcomes are harder to gauge. Peacekeeping operations are inherently multiparty efforts that aim at overcoming the strategic problems that intervener states might face. The collection of interveners is organized under a common command structure. Finnemore (2003: 74) argues that “…multilateralism … increases the transparency of each state’s actions to others and so reassures states that opportunities for adventurism and expansion will not be used.” Similarly, Abbott and Snidal (1998: 19, italics added) claim that international organizations help states overcome certain strategic problems relevant to civil war intervention: “UN peacekeeping allows powerful states to support conflict reduction without being drawn into regional conflicts and discourages other powers from taking advantage of their inactions.” Multilateral efforts therefore aim to impose a common set of preferences over interveners, preventing inaction or opportunistic behavior.

Unilateral interventions reflect states’ national interests especially when they are pursued in the context of other outside parties’ involvement in the conflict. Anticipating that multiple interventions will affect war outcomes interactively, interveners may factor others’ moves into their decision-making to coordinate their actions or destroy the influence of other external actors. Multiple interventions in a civil war are therefore cross-cutting pressures on civil war combatants. The most visible cases in Iraq and Afghanistan provide a window on this logic, as do Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Angola to name a few. In the following sections, we explore the cumulative effect of interventions through the networks that form among intervener states based on their choice of sides. The key element of these networks is that, in order to affect the duration of the war, they have to influence the core factors that impede the ability to reach a mutually agreeable bargain, or alternatively, be sufficient to facilitate a quick victory for one side of the conflict by affecting capabilities to the favor of this combatant.
Choosing Sides or Choosing Stakes in Civil Wars?

Patterns in unilateral interventions are a function of states’ preferences over civil war combatants and outcomes. Among the variants of contemporary realist scholarship, neorealism predicts that states respond to power and choose to ally with the weaker side in international conflicts to balance the power of the rising state. Furthermore, research has shown that profit-seeking, interests, perceived threats and risks may play a greater role than power in states’ alignment decisions. The complexity of these external stimuli may lead to diverse alignment patterns contradicting the predictions of balance of power theory. 3 Similar alliance patterns can also be observed in civil wars where third-party states align on the same or opposite sides with other interveners. We investigate two fundamental forms that such alignments can take in affecting combatants’ preferences each with important implications on civil war processes; balancing and bandwagoning. An application of the realist concepts balancing and bandwagoning to the civil war context requires certain simplifications. Given the inherent asymmetry in the distribution of power between the government and rebels, power as in the neorealist formulation would be a misleading starting point.4 Besides, even small amounts of aid dramatically redistribute rebels’ chances of inflicting costs on the government without necessarily affecting the power distribution at the onset of the conflict.5

To facilitate the introduction of these concepts to civil wars, we start by defining states that intervene to support the same side of the war as bandwagons and states that support opposite sides as balancers (Findley and Teo 2006). We see these two strategies for intervening as attempts to manipulate the capabilities that warring parties hold and the asymmetry of information related to capabilities that presents one of the pathologies of bargaining. Facilitating or destroying the influence of other interveners, third-party states can affect the resolve of the parties to press further concessions (or settle with fewer) whereas their cumulative effect is closely related to how they relate to each other in the civil war setting.

An initial investigation of third-party alignments suggests previously unrecognized patterns in civil war intervention. Table 1 shows the number of balancing and bandwagoning states.6 An important pattern in alignment choices is that a greater number of interveners choose to enter a civil war to oppose a previous intervener rather than jumping on the bandwagon. Hence, when defined as same side versus opposite side intervention among third-parties, balancing behavior appears to be slightly more common than bandwagoning in the civil war context. This trend is reversed in the post-Cold War period where interveners became less likely to enter wars to balance against each other. Another major tendency in the data is that 66.7% (332) of interveners among bandwagons chose to support the government side whereas only 33.3% (166) entered the conflict to assist the insurgency. Such overwhelming support to governments can be explained with third-parties’ status-quo bias in civil wars: external actors aim to preserve the distribution of benefits and power within a country rather than assisting armed opposition in revising it. As a result, most external actors to a civil war do not attempt to use intervention to unseat incumbents. Instead, they seem to have an incentive to strengthen incumbents’ hand against challenger groups that resort to arms suggesting that interveners’ behavior may indeed be driven by the concern to perpetuate rulers’ monopoly of power than defying their sovereignty. In effect, bandwagoning interveners seem to prefer a bargain closer to the ex ante status quo position, and may combine their efforts to manipulate capabilities, and information to preserve this position.

***Table 1***

How do these alignments play into combatants’ calculations? In identifying interventions’ cumulative effect on civil war processes, one can infer the compatibility between states’ goals from their choice of sides. Multiple interveners may attempt to offset each other’s influence in the civil war by supporting opposite sides of the conflict and contribute to the willingness of the warring parties to fight for longer periods. Balancing behavior is in part driven by the relationship among interveners, their divergent interests and preferences over outcomes (Akcinaroglu and Radziszewski 2005; Findley and Teo 2006). While balancers are trying to undermine others’ efforts by targeting opposite sides, they also send signals to the combatants that they have the support of an external patron to pursue their individual goals. In this respect, balancing interventions result in little incentive to negotiate, make concessions, or capitulate on the combatant side and instead, lead to a stalemate situation. By way of example, Belgium militarily intervened in Congo’s civil war (1960-1965) to support the separatist movement in the Katanga region while the US and Britain were favoring an intervention on the side of the central government to bolster its position vis-à-vis internal factions.7 In 1961, UN intervened against the Belgians on the government side whereas the US and Britain refused to support the separatist movement and pressured Belgium to change its course of action. In 1962, Belgium had changed its policy in favor of a unified Congo and withdrew its support from the rebels (Regan 2000). Once Belgium decided to switch sides and abandon the insurgents, which came after a stalemate between the Katanga rebels and the Congolese central government, the balance was tipped in favor of the government and the conflict finally terminated.

Opening up a new bargaining dimension in the war, balancing behavior can also lead to increased resolve on the combatant side: competing third-parties give combatants an incentive to exploit their disagreement and ask for greater rents to comply with their demands. Interveners’ incompatible preferences have the potential to turn the conflict into a source of revenue (Collier and Hoeffler 2004). Combatants might get more attention externally while fighting than they have received before the war, encouraging them to sustain the war environment as a bargaining chip against external actors. One result of balancing behavior is a conflict that lasts longer because a mutual agreement is elusive, as previously suggested by scholars (Balch-Lyndsay and Enterline 2000; Regan 2002). The consistent South African support to the RENAMO rebels in Mozambique’s long and deadly civil war is a good illustration of how easily third-parties can spoil the prospects for peace. South African military strategists laid down a plan of attack for the rebels aimed at weakening the government with relatively cheap strategies and securing an easy victory for the rebels (Young 1990).8 Hence, ‘spoilers of peace’ are not limited to insurgents and governments; balancing interveners can also complicate wars with their disagreements (Kydd and Walter 2006; Stedman 1997).

While the notions of balancers and opposing interventions are not new to civil war research, there is an inherent difficulty with defining a bandwagoning intervention in the context of unilateralism. In its most basic application and in line with the opposing interventions concept, it can be defined as interventions that back the same side of the conflict. Balancers attempt to preserve the status quo in civil wars whereas multiple actors jointly supporting one side may be driven by incentives to precipitate the war’s end by tipping the balance to the favor of a particular combatant.

Yet, whether same-side interveners would have an equally robust but opposite impact on the course of events is not certain. Bandwagoning may result from shared as well as divergent preferences and hence presents a sample of interveners with mixed preferences and relations. There are distinct features of this seemingly cooperative environment which may dampen a favorable impact.

First, states that have similar preferences in a civil war may face a serious collective action problem and wait for like-minded states to pay the costs of intervention (Fearon and Laitin 2004; Gent 2007; Mearsheimer 1990). If states that favor similar outcomes have an incentive to free-ride on others, bandwagoning, similar to balancing, should be disproportionately undertaken by states with competing preferences. Hence, genuinely cooperative interventions will be dwarfed by those that do not necessarily pursue similar solutions to wars.

Second, states may support the same side of the war because of differences in their policy positions. Interveners that hold competing preferences over the outcome try to manipulate the terms of a prospective bargain but in doing so, they may both see their best chance for success residing in support to the same side of the civil war. Having disputes over the post-conflict order, bandwagoning states may compete for the loyalty of the same combatant and push for incompatible conflict outcomes. By adding a new bargaining dimension to the conflict, divergent preferences increase the number of actors that should commit to war’s end (Cunningham 2006). The target then has a strong incentive to make the most gains from this environment and protract fighting for a decisive and favorable outcome. For instance, in Mozambique (1979-1993), China, Russia, Britain and the US supported the government side despite their entrenched disagreements. In spite of the fact that FRELIMO, with close ties to the Soviets, dominated the government, both the US and Britain denounced the rebel group RENAMO as a terrorist organization. Yet, the US and Soviets had targeted the same side to achieve almost contradictory outcomes. Another case that illustrates such divergence in interveners’ preferences is the tripartite relationship between Sukarno, the US and Soviets during Indonesia’s civil war against the revolutionary rebels based in Sumatra and Sulawesi. Under the disguise of neutrality, Sukarno skillfully manipulated the US and Soviet aid where the major powers hoped to affect the Indonesian political system in line with their polarized preferences (Feith and Lev 1963).9

Third, strategic considerations also drive bandwagoning behavior. External actors – especially the weaker ones – may choose to intervene on the government side to maximize their influence in the war rather than wasting their resources in financing the rebels for an uncertain outcome. Indeed, the number of third-party interventions on the government side in the post-1945 period is almost twice the interventions on the rebel side which may suggest that states find it cost-efficient to support the power-holders rather than their challengers. Cost-driven intervention can also take place on the rebel side: low-cost intervention efforts such as providing safe heavens, arms and military know-how dramatically increase rebels’ capacity to inflict costs on the government and subsequently increase their resolve to stay in the fight. Not only weak and isolated third-party states but also major power interveners may be driven by the costs of intervention in their choice of sides. American support for the ABC movements against communist-leaning governments in Africa and Asia was based on this logic. The former Director of CIA William Casey admitted that aid to anti-communist rebels was a cheap intervention strategy: “It is much easier and less expensive to support an insurgency than it is for us and our friends to resist one. It takes relatively few people and little support to disrupt internal peace and economic stability of a small country” (quoted in Scott 1996: 22).

In sum, same side intervention does not always imply similarity in preferences but can be driven by strategic and practical considerations. Thus, it is ambiguous whether bandwagons would have a more favorable impact than balancers on civil wars as they are like to include a mix of cooperative and conflicting states. Following this discussion, we hypothesize that while balancers prolong the fighting, bandwagons will have an ambiguous effect on conflict duration:
H1: Balancing interventions will increase the duration of the civil war.
H2: Bandwagoning interventions will have an ambiguous effect on war duration.
Exclusively emphasizing interveners’ choice of sides conceals important patterns in their interrelations and limits our ability to understand interventions’ cumulative impact. While balancing states reveal the incompatibility in their incentives by supporting opposite sides in a civil war, bandwagons can either be motivated by shared preferences or by competing interests and require examining how these actors relate to each other. If we conceive bandwagons as forming a network in civil wars, identifying dis/agreement patterns among network members becomes particularly important. The degree of agreement between a particular intervener and others in its network shape and constrain how this intervener will affect combatants’ demands and preferences. Among networked interveners, political relations play an important role and determine interveners’ agreement and ability to reconcile their differences to generate a cumulative impact.

Third-parties that not only support the same side but also have complementary preferences can tacitly or explicitly coordinate their actions to multiply their effect on the outcome. Those that have shared interests in general would also choose similar stakes in their intervention efforts. Favoring similar solutions to international problems, these states may have greater success in minimizing their differences, avoiding misunderstandings and finding a common ground to bring civil wars to an end.10 Unlike competing states, states with genuinely similar preferences would make offers in an explicit and unified fashion, effectively signal their true preferences to other actors in the civil war environment and clarify the terms on which they can accept negotiation and settlement. As they pursue similar outcomes to war, alignments among these interveners are likely to be tight. In this setting, combatants will be less likely to find an outside patron and gang up on their adversary which diminishes their incentives to hold out until interveners sweeten the pot for settlement. Given the rigidity of their alignments, these interveners can eliminate combatants’ incentives to play them off against each other. Combatants are less likely to rebuff interveners’ offers when they receive unified signals and will be hard-pressed to shape their demands on the basis of the outside offer.

This discussion requires that we closely examine the political relations among bandwagoning interveners and leads to the main hypothesis that interveners sharing similar interests will favor similar outcomes to wars and in doing so, will shorten war durations:
H3a. Bandwagoning interveners with similar interests will shorten the duration of the civil war.
H3b. Bandwagoning interveners with divergent interests will increase the duration of the civil war.

Research Design

Our empirical analysis adopts an updated version of the interventions data originally used in Regan and Aydin (2006). This dataset covers all civil wars in the period 1945-1999 which cross the threshold of 200 fatalities and includes the most comprehensive information on forms of third-party interventions. We have focused our analysis on unilateral interventions undertaken by states without an explicit authorization from IGOs. We use all interventions, including multilateral ones by international/regional organizations, in statistical tests. The comparison group in empirical analysis is mediations and multilateral interventions which are explicitly conflict management efforts whereas such intent can be ambiguous in military and economic interventions. Therefore, the effect of coercive and biased interventions will be analyzed in comparison to mediations and interventions by international (e.g., UN) and regional (e.g., ECOWAS, EU) organizations as the baseline category.

The unit of analysis is intervention month. We examine how the individual impact of an intervener at time t is constrained or enhanced by its relation to other third-party states involved in this war. To build on the example of the Chadian civil war (1983-1986), France intervened in the 1st month of the war to support the Hissen Habre government. We claim that the effect of this intervention was contingent on France’s interrelations with other intervener states and their alignment patterns. Other intervention attempts involve third-party states such as the US and former Zaire also on the government side, and Libya on the side of the rebels under the leadership of Goukouni. For France’s intervention, France bandwagoned with the US and former Zaire whereas it balanced against Libya’s influence attempts. 11

There are two main groups of states we consider in the network analysis; states that support opposing sides (balancers), and states that have certain alignment patterns (bandwagons). The dataset that we adopt codes the form of intervention (military, economic or mediation) and whether a third-party intervention targets the insurgents, or the government which are the variables that we use to create these networks.12 Since military and economic interventions are predominantly undertaken as biased actions supporting a particular side of the civil war, we adopt them in identifying balancing and bandwagoning behavior.13 Bandwagons are especially important to our framework as they form the networks that target the same combatant. In the Chad example, France forms a network with the U.S. and former Zaire by targeting the same side and their joint impact on the war is a matter of their interrelations. Both our analysis and previous work suggest that third-party states that intervene on opposite sides of a civil war consistently prolong war durations. Yet, not much is known about the cumulative effect of bandwagons which is the group of states that we specifically focus on.

Our main dependent variable is the time to war termination in the next month and is created by the ‘stset’ command in Stata adopting monthly data of interventions. Failure event is defined as war termination and cross-sectional component (or ID in Stata language) is the civil war. We have used a variance-adjusted Cox model with a discrete time dataset which includes all third-party interventions in the post-1945 period (Box-Steffensmeier and Zorn 2002; Cleves 1999).14 This technique models the dependency between interventions within a civil war by accounting for ties between observations. This is an important feature that is consistent with our theory. While standard Cox regression assumes that observations are independent, duration models for multiple failure time data overcome this problem by adjusting the covariance matrix of the estimators to account for the remaining unit-level effects. We report robust standard errors clustered by civil war.

Network Variables. To test for the cumulative effect of bandwagoning and balancing interveners, we have constructed several network variables.15 We first created a dyadic dataset by matching the state that intervened at time t with others that concurrently or previously intervened in the same civil war.16 That is, an intervener in month t is paired with interveners that entered the conflict in the same month (t) or in previous months; t-1, t-2… t-n. Then, we have coded whether interveners in these dyads intervened on the same or opposite sides of the conflict. In case of same side intervention, we have measured dis/agreement patterns in this dyad and aggregated these measures to the bandwagoning network.17

The most basic network variables test for an intervener’s choice of sides with previous interveners and its effect on war duration (H1 and H2). Balancing is a dichotomous variable (1-0) that measures whether an intervention at time t is supporting opposing sides of the war with previous or concurrent interveners; and, Bandwagoning measures dichotomously (1-0) whether the intervention at t is supporting the same side with previous interveners. These are not mutually exclusive categories: an intervener state might be balancing against a previous intervener and bandwagoning with another one in multiparty civil wars. Rather than conceiving balancing and bandwagoning as one-time commitment and collapsing multiple interventions by the same third-party state into one, we operationalized them as acts of balancing and bandwagoning within the context of a civil war. By doing so, we account for any change in a particular intervener’s policy over the course of the war and also in its interrelations with other interveners as others enter and exit the conflict. Solo Intervention is also a dichotomous indicator (1-0) and accounts for interventions that are not networked. If a single intervener state has attempted military or economic intervention(s) in a civil war or an intervening party has not explicitly assisted either side of the conflict, this intervener is not in a network that can constrain or enhance its effect on war duration in line with our theory. These cases are coded as one on this variable.

Interest Similarity is measured as the minimum distance between bandwagoning interveners’ roll call votes in the United Nations General Assembly (1946-2002). Data are adopted from Gartzke and Jo’s United Nations General Assembly Voting, 1946-1996.18 We have used the S3UNI variable which is based on the three category (yes-abstain-no) roll call votes. In this variable, missing data for 1964 for which there are no votes are interpolated. This variable ranges between -1 and +1 and higher values indicate greater network agreement. In cases where there are multiple interveners, the minimum dyadic score is assigned to all bandwagoning interventions within that civil war. Hence, the study assumes that among bandwagoning interveners, the dyad with the lowest agreement will do the greatest harm to an early termination of this conflict and constrain the effect of everyone else in the bandwagoning network. As stipulated in H3a and H3b, our expectation is that as similarity of interests among intervening parties in the bandwagoning network increases, the cumulative effect of same side interveners is to shorten war durations whereas divergence of preferences implies network disagreement and will constrain a favorable impact that bandwagons may jointly generate.

Network size is measured as the number of interveners that support the same side within a civil war. It is the number of previous interveners that intervener in month t has bandwagoned with and includes the latter in the count. For instance, the U.S.’s network size as a bandwagoning state in the Chadian conflict in the 2nd month is coded as 3 including itself and France and former Zaire which also supported the government. Finally, our preliminary description of the data (Table 1) has provided some initial insights into intervener behavior suggesting that most bandwagons choose to support the government side. Our theoretical framework also suggested that strategic and practical considerations can lead to bandwagoning behavior on the rebel or the government side. Since bandwagoning is defined here as same side intervention without specifying which specific side bandwagoners actually supported, it is important to control for interveners’ choice of sides in the empirical analysis. Support for the Rebel Side is a dichotomous indicator coded as 1 if the intervention at t supports the rebel side and 0 if it supports the government.

Control Variables. Considering previous work on civil war duration, it is important to capture the capabilities and resolve of the parties to the conflict. In order to account for the military capabilities of the rebels, we adopt the Log Rebel Strength variable which is operationalized as the natural logarithm of the number of rebel soldiers recruited by the rebel organization over the course of the war (Regan and Aydin 2006). External Rebel Base measures rebels’ capacity to wage a longer war against the state by operating from a foreign base and is coded as 1 if the rebels “had a presence outside the boundaries of the target [civil war] state” and 0 otherwise (Salehyan 2007: 239).19 To account for the rebel organization’s ability to recruit, we adopt two variables. Extractables is a dichotomous variable that equals to 1 if the civil war country has opiates or gemstones and 0 otherwise and is an indicator of the availability of economic incentives to the rebel organization for recruitment and financing. The composition of society is the second important variable. Similar to natural resources, ethnic cleavages can be exploited by rebel leaders to entice local populace into the organization. Ethnic Fractionalization data are adopted from Fearon and Laitin (2003) and is the probability that two randomly drawn individuals come from different ethno-linguistic groups. This variable ranges from 0 (homogenous) to 1 (highly fragmented).

On the government side, Log GDP measures government’s ability to extract resources and is the natural logarithm of GDP per capita. Data are adopted from Gleditsch (2002). Democratic civil war countries, on other hand, may be reluctant to engage in an absolute war against the rebels which might limit their battlefield effectiveness and prolong the fighting time. Democracy is coded as 1 if the civil war country has a score that is equal to or higher than 6 on the democracy-autocracy index (-10, +10) from POLITY IV and 0 otherwise (Jaggers and Gurr 1995). As Fearon (2004) suggests, populous countries tend to have longer civil wars and are more susceptible to ethnic uprisings in peripheral areas. Log Population accounts for this dynamic and is measured as the natural logarithm of the war country’s total population.

Statistical Results

Our first hypothesis (H1) argues that the joint impact of interventions supporting opposing sides in a civil war is to prolong fighting. Limited empirical research has previously shown that balancing diminishes prospects for conflict resolution (Regan 2002). Our results reported in Table 2 present strong empirical support to earlier work and show that this type of intervener behavior significantly prolongs civil wars. While this is an intuitive finding and has received some scholarly attention, we make a contribution by testing this systematically and offering empirical support to the idea that opposing interventions complicate and prolong civil wars. In a civil war where an intervener attempts to offset others’ influence, this form of third-party alignment contributes to war duration by 92.9% (Table 4).20 Balancers reveal the incompatibility in their preferences to the combatants and encourage them to look for solutions on the battlefield with the support of an external patron. The longer durations observed for civil wars in which balancing takes place imply that interveners competing with each other in this environment lead to a stalemate situation between combatants and spoil prospects for peace.

While interveners supporting opposite sides contribute to the killing time, do bandwagons have an easier time in bringing civil wars to an end? Our answer is no. The insignificant finding on bandwagoning in Model 1 suggests that this type of intervention behavior has no effect on war durations. This finding is in line with our expectations in H2 that bandwagons are a sample of interveners with mixed preferences and their cumulative impact on wars is ambiguous.21 The favorable impact of states with shared preferences can be swamped by those supporting the same combatant but pursuing incompatible outcomes. This finding, however, presents strong support to the collective action problem among third-party states in intrastate violence discussed in previous research (Fearon and Laitin 2004; Gent 2007). States with similar preferences prefer that others pay the price or work within a multilateral framework to share the costs of intervention. They do intervene unilaterally when there is disagreement over war outcomes, which suggests that states that support a particular combatant in a civil war setting may disproportionately come from states with divergent preferences with regard to war outcomes (Gent 2007).

Support for the Rebels variable suggests that outside assistance for the rebel or the government side does not have an impact on how long the fighting continues. Even when multiple actors support one side of the conflict as in bandwagoning behavior, biased interventions make little difference in civil war processes.22 This result further indicates that how interveners choose sides does not matter in the course of the war; what matters most is whether interveners are willing to pursue similar solutions to wars and shape combatants’ bargaining positions accordingly.

***Table 2***

Our results in Model 2 support this interpretation and show that interveners’ interrelations are central to understanding their cumulative impact on war termination. While choice of sides in the form of bandwagoning has a null association with war durations, choice of stakes provides important insights. Interest Similarity consistently reduces war duration in line with the expectations stipulated in H3a and H3b. For instance in a network of five bandwagoning states, an intervention increases the prospects of war termination by 68.6% if there is agreement of interests among interveners in the form of similarity in voting patterns (90th percentile value, Table 3). Hence, our network approach suggests that states that support the same side and also share similar interest can unify their signals to the combatants, and credibly signal their preferences and reservation points to each other to find a common ground for settlement. They can coerce or entice the combatants into a deal that they agree upon and stop the fighting.

***Table 3***

Network size decreases the prospects of war termination leading to longer expected durations (Model 2); yet, its effect is not consistent across models. This finding is in line with previous research which showed that civil wars with multiple actors tend to last longer (Cunningham 2006). As the size of the network increases, interveners seem to further complicate the bargaining process between the war parties. When multiple interveners compete for influence over combatants or send mixed signals, they fail to generate a favorable impact on war durations. On other hand, Solo Intervention has a consistently significant and negative coefficient and increases war duration by 89.3% over the baseline (Table 3). These findings together suggest that military and economic interventions lead to longer durations than organizational interventions or mediations independent of the number of actors that undertake them. As such, groups of interveners have the same detrimental effect with states that go it alone or they fail to shape war processes unless there is some sort of agreement between intervener states.

Other independent variables used as controls suggest that characteristics of the war and the civil war state also have a role to play in civil war duration by affecting the capabilities and resolve of the combatants. Ethnolinguistic composition of the civil war country (Ethnic Fractionalization) does not necessarily prolong wars in line with Fearon and Laitin’s (2003) findings on fractionalization and civil war onset. Log Rebel Strength measured as the natural logarithm of the number of rebel soldiers and Extractables in the form of opiates and gemstones fail to have a significant effect on rebel organization’s capacity to wage a longer war. Considering that the resilience of insurgencies is closely related to the opportunity space shaped by geography and state capacity, the sheer number of rebel recruits may be less relevant to understand how long rebels can protract the fighting. Pointing once again to the political opportunity space, rebels are capable and willing to fight longer wars when they have an External Base outside the borders of the civil war country (Salehyan 2007). In line with our discussion on the role of government capacity in war duration, rich civil war countries (Log GDP) seem to be especially less likely to give in to insurgents and are willing to fight long wars against their opponents whereas governments in populous countries (Log Population) face resilient insurgencies and hence longer war durations.

In robustness checks, we have expanded the control variables in our analysis, and controlled for population outliers and the Cold War period (Table 5). In these alternative models, our findings on the key variables, Balancing and Interest Similarity remained intact lending support to the centrality of intervener agreement in understanding the link between external intervention and conflict duration. In Model 3, India and China, as the two most populous countries in our sample, have been excluded from the analysis. No change has been observed on the effect of the Log Population variable: in line with the findings in Table 2, populous countries continued to be associated with long civil wars. Second, we have analyzed Model 2 for the Cold War period (Model 4) and our findings remained generally stable except for the insignificant finding on the Log Population variable.23 In Model 5, we have replaced the Extractables variable with Gold, Diamond, and Oil which are coded as dichotomous variables that indicate the absence or presence of these natural resources in the civil war country. While Extractables have been consistently insignificant in all models, Diamond variable is negative and significant indicating that civil war countries with diamonds do have longer wars than others. Diamonds seem to contribute to rebel resolve and facilitate recruitment more than oil or gold. Finally, we have controlled for conflict Intensity in Model 6.24 Results show that civil wars in which intense fighting takes place have shorter durations which lend support to the “give war a chance” arguments (Luttwak 1999).

***Table 4***


Several processes endogenous to civil wars affect their duration in unexpected ways that researchers have yet to fully explore. The effect of third-party interventions is also a matter of what happens inside the conflict and is shaped by an interactive process that most of the time involves multiple states as interveners. A successful intervention outcome is more likely if external actors to an ongoing civil war can coordinate their actions, clearly communicate the outcomes for which they will distribute benefits and basically draw the line in the sand. Clear and reinforcing signals will diminish incentives on the combatant side to blackmail interveners or their opponents. This is potentially critical because the disagreement between interveners opens up a new bargaining dimension and increases the profitability of war. It also encourages combatants to rescale their initial demands as they anticipate that interveners cannot take decisive action to enforce a certain course of action.

Yet, such coordination, as useful as it might be, is hard to achieve if states considering intervention see the world in different ways, have a competitive rapport, and favor contradictory outcomes. Convergence between national interests seemed far from reach as major powers squabbled over their spheres of influence in the Cold War. Other bodies of evidence strongly suggest that there is more agreement between states on how to respond to violence in the international system in the post-Cold War period. The UN Security Council agreed on a greater number of peacekeeping missions after 1989 (Fearon and Laitin 2004) whereas ad hoc coalitions of third-party states that aimed to overcome the bureaucratic struggles in the UN and bring an end to civil wars proliferated with the end of the Cold War (Prantl 2005). In our case, we would therefore expect to see an enhanced effect of intervener networks on civil war duration in this period. Given that states are more able to take joint action and alignments are less rigid in a multipolar world, like-minded states would have an easier time in acting together and stop the fighting in civil wars.

At the very least, the prescription that the evidence bears out is that states should refrain from sending mostly unintended signals of tolerance for violence through their inability to agree on and pursue a collective solution to civil wars. Besides, civil wars do not terminate immediately and decisively once external states demonstrate a united front. Though alignment patterns are important elements of interveners’ cumulative effect on civil wars, most interventions are simply ineffective and fail to facilitate wars’ end. The complex causes of civil wars complicate and constrain the effect of even the most benevolent third-party efforts. While disagreements between interveners will inevitably lead to longer war durations, our results demonstrate that cooperation can pay off under certain conditions.

Our network approach has captured the dependencies between third-party states’ unilateral efforts and modeled interveners’ role through their interrelations. It offered an improved model of civil war intervention in which the network of interactions between intervening states and the coalitions that they build are as important as the interventions themselves in shaping combatants’ preferences. This approach shifts the unit of analysis for understanding conflict management and peacekeeping from the unilateral intervention to the network of interveners. There are several important ways that the network approach can be advanced to better understand ad hoc coalitions that form between interveners in civil wars. Examining distributions of preferences within networks through similarity of foreign policy goals was one way to model third-parties’ choice of stakes whereas more complex tie between interveners including economic and political can improve our understanding of agreement patterns in intervener networks. Advanced analysis can also better account for coordination efforts by measuring power relations and the centrality of particular outside actors in developing networks.

A network approach to intervention has far-reaching, and potentially novel, scholarly and policy implications for understanding an important issue of international security. In a globalizing world where the adverse the effects of civil wars can no longer be contained by the borders within which they unfold, this approach points to the centrality of international cooperation in solving a major issue in the global era. Despite the intuitiveness of our argument, previous studies have not provided the evidence to demonstrate that that disagreement and competition between interveners can complicate the management of civil wars. With a more coherent understanding of the interactive role of external actors, intergovernmental organizations and states can make sound policy choices based on scientific insight. One of the more pressing strategic challenges that confront the international community in the post-Cold War global order remains the management of civil wars. In order to effectively manage these complex political issues our evidence suggests that states first need to overcome their own reluctance to cooperate, sometimes across ideological lines. At the very least, external states should make sure that their relationships with each other does not contribute to, rather ameliorate, the struggles of people in civil war countries.


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