Faculty Advisor

O'Neil, Patrick

Area of Study

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Publication Date

Summer 2013


My research seeks to explain the motivations for the United States’ foreign policy towards nations undergoing civil war. Specifically, I have looked at instances where the United States has committed to military intervention into the Lebanese Civil War and the Bosnian War, and have used the tools of political science and historical analysis to determine why the superpower intervened to the extent that it did. Different political crises demand different levels of attention from the United States, which are usually determined by both the political landscape during the time period of the civil war, as well as the specific characteristics of the war itself. By observing these facets of the two historical civil wars where the United States committed to military intervention, I have aided in my understanding of contemporary American foreign policy towards the Syrian civil war. The Syrian civil war represents one of the most challenging and demanding decisions for United States policymakers right now. Astute observation of the civil war reveals the myriad number of influences and obstacles that motivate the United States’ relationship with both the al-Assad regime and the opposition forces. By identifying the motivating factors determining American foreign policy towards the warring nation, I have sought to deepen the political science literature in both a specific understanding of the Syrian civil war, as well as the motivations to militarily intervene in all civil wars. I also pass judgment on the wisdom of the United States’ foreign policy, and suggest prudent political action.


University of Puget Sound