Strategy of intervention

The dissertation project is about the strategies of military intervention, that are common features of the contemporary conflict landscape.

The academic study of military intervention has yielded innumerable insights regarding the causes and consequences of intervention. However, more work is still needed to explore important dynamics of intervention that remain black-boxed and under-analysed in existing research.

War and strategy

In particular, strategy – understood as the pragmatic, flexible, and dynamic use of force for the purpose of achieving a clear set of important objectives – remains largely absent from empirical studies of military intervention. By drawing on insights from the broader study of war and strategy, I complement existing knowledge about military intervention by unpacking and analysing important components of causal mechanisms – many of which concern the nature of war and strategy – that link intervention to various political-level outcomes.

The overarching theoretical framework of the dissertation project rests on three central propositions.

First, empirical analysis of intervention should not only study correlations between intervention – or different means of intervention – and political-level outcomes. Empirical analyses should explicitly study how intervention affects the ability of the primary conflict actors to reach their intermediary goals, which are within-conflict outcomes that link means to political ends.

Second, strategy should not be perceived as a static and dichotomous category of action, but as a flexible and dynamic process that changes over time and space in response to the adversary’s behavior. Lastly, and relatedly, it is crucial to account for the strategy and agency of the actor targeted by the intervention, as the actions and decisions of the intervener and the target constantly interact to shape the conflict process.

Case studies of NATO interventions in Kosovo and Libya and Russias interference in Georgia

The dissertation is based on four independent essays where a combined-methods approach is used to analyze three different cases. First, the 1999 NATO intervention in Kosovo illustrates a novel framework that outline and order the various categories of intervention strategies an actor can employ. The framework shifts analytical focus towards the intermediary goals that link means to political ends, and describes two logics – commitment and intent – which drives strategic change.

Second, the changing character of the Russian Federation’s interference in Georgia’s South Ossetia region 2004-2008 is analysed. In this essay the focus is on why an actor targeted by external intervention – such as the Georgian government – sometimes fights back against a much stronger intervener that has decided to interfere in an ongoing conflict, while sometimes it does not. The Georgian case also illustrates the importance of seeing intervention as a dynamic process that evolves over time, since the 2008 Russian invasion was the culmination of a protracted intervention process.

Lastly, the two final essay explores the different ways in which the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya affected the Libyan government’s ability to take and hold territory during its civil war against the National Transitional Council (NTC) rebel coalition. Airpower is a potentially potent mean of intervention, and the essay analyzes how – if at all – it can affect the ability of a civil war actor to reach its intermediary goals on the battlefield.

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Institutionen för krigsvetenskap






Publicerad 2023-05-30 Uppdaterad 2023-08-30