One of the most challenging developments for students of international relations is the resurgence of ethnic strife. While it may be true that there have been few recent interstate wars, it would be incorrect to assume that ethnic turmoil will remain an isolated domestic problem. Recent interventions by individual states, either in support of, or opposition to, ethnic challenges, raise important questions about the validity of conventional perspectives on interstate conflict: Why do some states intervene in ethnic strife while others do not? Why do some third-party states rely on violence to support ethnic conflicts while others support norms of peaceful mediation? This investigation uses Putnam's two-level game to examine the impact of ethnicity on third-party intervention. Evidence from the Balkans war and Indo-Sri Lankan conflict show how heads of state must coordinate actions at two bargaining "tables," which correspond to domestic politics and international negotiation. By monitoring strategies and tactics at each, it becomes possible to understand superficially puzzling developments. More specifically, initiatives in one domain may be a function of constraints or opportunities imposed by the other. These insights appear as propositions related to commitment, autonomy, domestic costs and manipulation of perceptions.

Canadian Journal of Political Science
Norman Paterson School of International Affairs

Carment, D, & James, P. (Patrick). (1996). Two-level games and third-party intervention: Evidence from ethnic conflict in the Balkans and South Asia. Canadian Journal of Political Science, 29(3), 519–554.