Local Partners for Local Problems: What Forms of Military Intervention Build Civilian Support?
63 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2019 Last revised: 15 Nov 2019
Date Written: November 14, 2019
Under what conditions do intervention tactics shape civilian support for foreign intervention in fragile states? Critics of U.S. foreign intervention often observe that invasive tactics—such as reliance on offshore air power or the deployment of foreign ground troops—undermine local support by triggering nationalist resistance and fear of indiscriminate violence. In contrast, I argue that civilians prefer more invasive forms of intervention when foreign patrons assist local combatants from a common ingroup. I test the theory on original survey data collected in Baghdad, Iraq, in November 2017. Respondents preferred more invasive tactics when foreign patrons assisted the Iraqi Security Forces and pro-government militias, and less invasive support for outgroup combatants like the Kurdish Peshmerga. These findings suggest that many publicized examples of intervention failure can be attributed to a lack of attention to the legitimacy of local partners, as opposed to the identity or tactics of foreign interveners.
Keywords: Iraq, counterinsurgency, military intervention, ISIS, survey experiments
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