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Security Hierarchies at War: Great Power Side Taking in Revolutionary Civil Wars

Academic & Research
Erin K. Jenne
Friday, December 3, 2021, 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Prof. Jenne will present a chapter from her forthcoming book, co-authored with Milos Popovic and David S. Siroky.

The chapter maps the defensive treaties and arms transfers from great powers to other states since World War II, elaborating the security ties between great powers, allied powers and client states that form global security hierarchies. The chapter argues that security hierarchies and their attendant great power roles have strongly conditioned great power interventions into regime conflicts. Our analysis reveals that a vast (and increasing) majority of great power interventions in regime conflicts are defensive—they support the incumbent government of the conflict country. Where symmetrical proxy interventions do occur, they tend take place in the ambiguous gaps between competing security hierarchies. This chapter also addresses endogeneity concerns, showing that arms networks are to a great extent exogenous to the interventions—great powers acquire military client states for a number of reasons—ranging from obtaining markets for their arms industries to procuring hard currency reserves. Finally, security hierarchies are surprisingly stable, predating both regime conflicts and the interventions that follow.

The event will take place online. Zoom link available upon request (please e-mail