Proxy War by African States, 1950-2010
Degree awarded: Ph.D. School of International Service. American University
The low number of recognized interstate wars in Africa since 1950 suggests three interlinked (but false) conclusions i.e., that African states are uniquely pacifistic, that they are particularly constrained against waging interstate war, and that whatever wars do take place are of necessity occasioned by the failure to restrain violent internal challengers such as warlords, secessionists, or dissident political factions. In contrast to these positions, my extensive analyses of primary and secondary data on African wars clearly indicate that African states frequently deploy violent means against one another, albeit through armed intermediaries in multi-actor wars. African `multi-actor wars' are thus overwhelmingly proxy wars; and this, given the predominance of multi-actor wars in the African war record, merits the selection of proxy wars as the phenomenon of interest in the study of African wars from 1950 to 2010. In order to examine the nature of this form of war, and explain when, where and why the use of proxies by states against one another constitutes a compelling explanation of empirical reality, I constructed an original dataset of major African conflicts using conventional (i.e., theory-neutral) indicators of war during the period under examination. This `Events List' contains 27 unique conflicts featuring 101 partnerships between a sponsoring state and one or more intermediaries. For each of these conflicts and partnerships (i.e., levels of analysis for multi-actor war) I added data on relevant variables and deployed a two-stage mixed-methods design to test particular rival hypothesis against my own theoretical propositions about proxy war.
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