More Political Scientists on Intervention

by Erica Chenoweth on August 29, 2013 · 4 comments

in Violence,War

Josh Busby gives a good timeline of the political science blogosphere’s Syria conversation so far. The thesis: we are all conflicted. Prior studies should generally make us pessimistic, but not all cases are the same.

Additional links:

Commentaries by political scientists at the Center for a New American Security are all over the map in terms of whether intervention in Syria is a good idea. All of them urge caution and a clear strategic endgame for any intervention.

Marc Lynch warns against the possibility of mission creep.

Sara Bjerg Moller argues that compellence is the best way to describe an American air strike in Syria (if it happens).

For some more optimistic takes on the potential effectiveness of intervention:

In the July 2013 issue of the American Journal of Political Science, Andrew Kydd and Scott Straus argue that interventions can have modest benefits (in terms of further atrocity prevention) “if the third party is relatively neutral and if alternative costs are imposed on decision makers.” Their paper is here (gated).

In a forthcoming article in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, Jacqueline Demerrit finds that international intervention in support of rebel groups can limit the escalation of killings, whereas intervention in support of the government can prevent the onset of mass killings. Her paper is here (ungated).

Please feel free to add more in the comments section below.

{ 4 comments }

Luis August 29, 2013 at 9:52 am

I really liked Chris Clary’s take here at the smokefilledroom:
http://thesmokefilledroomblog.com/2013/08/27/a-case-for-modest-military-force-in-syria

Andrew Kydd August 29, 2013 at 10:47 am

Thanks for mentioning our piece! FYI, it is in the July issue, the current one, not March.

Erica Chenoweth August 29, 2013 at 11:47 am

Thanks! Corrected.

jonathan August 29, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Question: are there any analyses from the perspective of criminal punishment? I mean specifically that in law school you learn that punishment has 3 components: deterrence of the person (by locking up, etc.), deterrence of others by example and expression of moral disapproval. I ask because Syria & chemical weapons seems more akin to this kind of analysis than geopolitics. I see Obama, who is a law professor, openly wrestling with the issue as a law professor might, trying to calculate how to send a “punishment” that deters in both senses while expressing moral disapproval but which doesn’t then extend to tilting the balance in an internal civil war.

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