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Working paper

The Strategy of Perception in Third Party Interventions

Hassanpour N.
To attract support or to deter intervention, factions involved in an ongoing civil conflict have strategic incentives for strategizing on their image in the eyes of a potential intervening party. While the importance of perception in triadic conflicts is well understood, there is little scholarship on the strategy of images on the side of the conflictual dyad and the pursuing perception among the foreign public as well as the elite. We outline the mechanism, emphasize the importance of ideational considerations in foreign interventions, and finally single out an equilibrium in which warring parties aim at creating ambiguous images of their political identities. In addition to proposing a simple stylization, we provide empirical evidence from the Russian and Iranian Revolutions, as well as other interventions during the Cold War and after.