Terrorism, Spoiling, and the Resolution of Civil Wars

40 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2013

See all articles by Michael Findley

Michael Findley

University of Texas at Austin

Joseph K. Young

American University; American University - School of International Service

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

Civil war combatants use terrorism frequently during civil wars, yet we understand very little about terrorism’s effects on war resolution. It is generally assumed that the primary combatants to a war hold a veto over the resolution of the war, but less attention has been devoted to whether otherwise marginal groups can derail peace agreements. We contend that even terrorism, a generally low intensity form of violence, can make civil war peace processes less likely to end in a peaceful, durable resolution. Using a new and large geographically coded database of terrorism in civil wars, we find that terror tactics by even weak, marginalized actors can spoil peace processes by prolonging the time until the end of a war, or hastening the time until recurrence. Our argument and results add to the literature on civil wars by explicating the process linking terrorism to war duration and outcome. We also provide solid empirical tests, which have been lacking in past studies of spoiling and civil war resolution. More generally, the results underscore the importance of investigating different varieties of political violence during civil conflict.

Keywords: terrorism, spoilers, civil war

Suggested Citation

Findley, Michael and Young, Joseph K., Terrorism, Spoiling, and the Resolution of Civil Wars (2013). APSA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper, American Political Science Association 2013 Annual Meeting, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2300120

Michael Findley

University of Texas at Austin ( email )

2317 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712
United States

Joseph K. Young (Contact Author)

American University ( email )

School of Public Affairs
4400 Massachussetts Ave
Washington, DC 20016
United States

American University - School of International Service ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

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