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Abstract

States that sponsor non-state armed actors as a central pillar of their foreign policy have long had an out-sized impact on global affairs, but academic research has rarely studied this distinct pattern of state sponsorship. This dissertation asks the question, “Under what conditions do states adopt a policy of high-intensity sponsorship of armed non-state actors (HISS)?” The project identifies HISS states as those that have sponsored a) numerous foreign groups b) groups outside the state’s region and c) highly terroristic groups in particular. I argue that HISS constitutes a unique pattern of state sponsorship that is associated with a distinct set of causal factors and mechanisms which are, as yet, not well understood in the academic literature. This dissertation offers a novel account of HISS adoption, the Revolutionary Realities theory. Drawing from the international relations literature on individual state-group linkages and the comparative politics literature on political revolutions, I contend that three, jointly necessary and mutually-reinforcing causal factors lead to state adoption of HISS. These are: non-institutionalized regime entry to power, the espousal of an international revolutionary ideology, and high structural barriers to conventional military operations abroad against rivals. ,This research then takes a multi-method approach to testing this theory against the empirical record. I present new quantitative evidence from an original dataset constructed for this research on the State Patterns of Foreign Sponsorship. Using random effects, general estimating equations, and survival models on these novel data, the dissertation tests hypotheses from the literature against my own theory. In statistical analysis, I find support for correlations between my theory’s variables and HISS outcomes and less consistent support for alternative accounts. Seven case studies are then employed to test for congruency of the theory’s factors and outcomes and to present process tracing evidence that the theorized causal mechanisms are operative. In each chapter, I demonstrate the mutually-reinforcing nature of all three factors in leading to a state’s adoption of HISS. The case studies also advance claims of joint necessity by focusing more heavily on one individual factor in each comparison case. One case-comparison chapter study is Iran 1979 and Sudan 1989, and the second compares China post-1949 and the Democratic Kampuchea/Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. I then have a within-case study chapter on revolutionary Cuba, which changed its sponsorship pattern over time, relying more heavily on its conventional military apparatus to conduct its internationalist foreign policy after initially adopting HISS in the early 1960s. Finally, a single case study on non-adoption of HISS in Sandinista’s Nicaragua, mispredicted by the Revolutionary Realities account, probes the limitations and extensions of theory. Overall, I find that my theory of high-intensity state sponsorship in the post-WWII era even offers insight into the outlier case of US HISS adoption and is broadly consistent with the evidence from a number of cases across time and space., ,Supplementary Files Available: ,State Patterns of Foreign Sponsorship Dataset (Leader-Year) ,State Patterns of Foreign Sponsorship Dataset (Country-Year)

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