Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2011

Document Type



Political Science

First Advisor

Prof. Scott Wolford


From 1945 to 1999, United States has used its military might to support an incumbent government in 16% of all civil wars. This paper seeks to understand what factors caue the United States to intervene militarily on behalf of the government in some civil conflicts but not in others. Understanding the causes for this armed response provides insight into the relationship between the hegemon and the client state. While there is an extensive literature looking at intervention in general, there is a dearth of information solely looking at United States military interventions. Moreover, the prevalent literature on intervention fails to address political proximity as a potential cause. This study assesses key elements that might affect the United States’ decision to intervene. In doing so, it adjusts prior measurement errors and fills the political proximity void. To foreshadow the results below, this study finds that political proximity, the measured difference in policy ideal points revealed through United Nations General Assembly voting trends, is a significant factor in the United States’ decision to provide military aid to an incumbent government.