Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Political Science


Political Science

First Advisor

Timothy Nordstrom

Second Advisor

Joseph P. Ward

Third Advisor

Jacob Kathman

Relational Format



Abstract: Justin M. Burnett: democratic paradox: the role of regime type in civil war intervention initiation and success. (Under the direction of Dr. Timothy Nordstrom) regime type is an important yet largely ignored factor in the likelihood of civil war intervention initiation and success. Most research related to intervention processes has analyzed these processes without questioning whether or not domestic political institutions and constraints affect the decision to intervene as well as the probability of success. Democracies have unique institutions and recognized norms that do not exist in non-democratic states. I argue that these differences matter and that domestic political audiences in democracies can more effectively drive foreign policy decisions than populations in non-democratic states. When democratic populations are exposed to media images of particularly violent conflict they have the opportunity to assess the need for intervention based on ingrained democratic norms. I believe that this leads to democratic policy makers being compelled to intervene in the most intractable conflicts in response to demands from domestic audiences. However, due to the difficulty of intervention in these conflicts i argue that the same type of political pressure that leads to intervention in these conflicts also serves to pressure policy makers to withdraw prior to successful completion of the mission. By drawing from a wide variety of literatures related to conflict i proposed two hypotheses to test the whether or not regime type influences the decision to intervene and the probable success of all intervention opportunities from 1945-2012. I found empirical evidence that supports my assertion that democracies are more likely than non-democracies to intervene in the most intractable conflicts. With regard to my theory on success i did not find strong evidence that indicates that democracies are less likely to be successful than their non-democratic counter parts. Rather, it appears that they are simply less successful than when they engage in interstate war.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.