Military Interventions and Transnational Terrorism: An Intense Relationship

41 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2010 Last revised: 6 Sep 2010

See all articles by Seung-Whan Choi

Seung-Whan Choi

University of Illinois at Chicago

Matthew D. Powers

Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP

Date Written: 2010


Given that international military interventions provide both the opportunity and willingness for the adoption of transnational terrorist tactics, these military encroachments provide an ideal environment in which terrorism can flourish. However, military interventions’ exacerbating effect on terrorism should depend on the intensity - perceived in terms of troop size - of the intervention in question. In particular, very low-scale and very high-scale military interventions should have little or no effect on transnational terrorism, while interventions of intermediate intensity should have a statistically significant positive effect. The reasoning for this hypothesis is drawn from resource-mobilization theory in which it is posited that the potential for political violence results from a group’s ability to mobilize resources in support of collective action. A cross-sectional, time-series data analysis of 165 countries from 1968 to 2005 reveals that, when military interventions are categorized according to intensity, only those with moderate numbers of troops are consistent, positive predictors of terrorism. n policy terms, these findings suggest that transnational terrorist violence may be mitigated through a policy of military restraint or overwhelming military force.

Keywords: transnational terrorism, military interventions, resource-mobilization

Suggested Citation

Choi, Seung-Whan and Powers, Matthew D., Military Interventions and Transnational Terrorism: An Intense Relationship (2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Seung-Whan Choi (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

Department of Political Science (MC 276)
1007 W Harrison St
Chicago, IL 60607
United States
312-413-3280 (Phone)
312-413-0040 (Fax)


Matthew D. Powers

Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP ( email )

201 Redwood Shores Parkway
Redwood Shores, CA 94065
United States

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