Security Studies Student Wins Best Paper Award

Sandor Fabian, a first-year Ph.D. student in the Security Studies program, is the winner of the March 2018 Florida Political Science Association’s (FPSA) Best Graduate Paper Award. His paper was titled “Why does David sometimes defeat Goliath? The effects of military culture on the outcome of asymmetric wars,” and examines why the weak can sometimes defeat the strong in an asymmetric war.

An asymmetric war is one in which the two sides are vastly different in terms of power or strategy, but other than that, the concept is yet to be defined fully. Existing research generally aims to define asymmetric war and explain its outcomes; however, these studies fail to provide convincing explanations. Recently, this subject has been enjoying much attention from both scholars and policy makers. Sandor provides several contributions to the ongoing discussion with his research.

He argues that the best definition of asymmetric war is an armed conflict waged within the borders of a given state, where one of the actors is the government and the other is one or a number of non-state actors. Simply put, intrastate civil war. By utilizing this definition, Sandor introduces an explanation for the outcome of rebel victory in asymmetric wars. Through the employment of several logistic regressions models, this research analyzes intrastate conflicts from 1944 to 1997 and finds that the more military knowledge is institutionalized in a country, the lower the probability of a weak actor’s victory during an intrastate war. In addition, contrary to the findings of previous research, the models suggest that conflict duration, democracy and army size do not have significant effects on the outcome of intrastate wars. Furthermore, heavy forest cover decreases the chance that weak actors emerge victoriously, as does outside intervention on the government’s side.

Sandor would like to extend a special thank you to Andrew Boutton, Ph.D., Nikola Mirilovic, Ph.D., Jonathan Powell, Ph.D., and Barbara Kinsey, Ph.D., for their assistance in developing this project. Sandor also would like to thank to his fellow Ph.D. students in the Security Studies program for the engaging and challenging discussions that are helping him to improve his theory building and reasoning.

The FPSA is a professional association of scholars and students from public and private institutions in the state of Florida who serve to encourage political science research and education. The FPSA also publishes the Florida Political Chronicle, an academic journal.

Comments are closed.