Does U.S. Military Intervention Reduce or Increase Terrorism?

41 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 9 Aug 2011

See all articles by Seung-Whan Choi

Seung-Whan Choi

University of Illinois at Chicago

Date Written: 2011


Whether U.S. military intervention causes retaliatory terrorist attacks is a contentious issue. This study first conceptualizes the U.S. military intervention-terrorism connection, and then performs empirical tests. A cross-national, time-series analysis of 166 countries during the period from 1970 to 2005 shows that the overall effect of U.S. military intervention on terrorism is detrimental, fueling more terrorist incidents if not more terrorist casualties. However, this finding varies depending on the type of intervention mission. Terrorist pursuit interventions successfully deter terrorism, but other intervention missions, such as those that neutralize domestic disputes, facilitate regime change, and offer humanitarian aid, backfire. These findings indicate that the U.S. should be more cautious of the use of the military since it inflames terrorism except for those instances in which combating terrorism is set as a central goal.

Suggested Citation

Choi, Seung-Whan, Does U.S. Military Intervention Reduce or Increase Terrorism? (2011). APSA 2011 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)


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