Foreign Intervention in Internal Wars: The Case of the Nigerian Civil War 1967-70

Ted Gogote Badom

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


Scholars of widely diverging persuasions have recognized the implications of the world constellation in which the discourse on foreign intervention with all its manifestations in a civil war has an explanatory value. How-ever, a number of long-standing theoretical, methodological and epistemological challenges still resist clearcut solution. This study analyzes the roles of the great powers and the OAU in the Nigerian civil war with the empirical ambition of identifying central tendencies relevant to this case.

Badom submits that periodization can serve an analytical purpose. Thus, the author treats as a unity the dynamics of great power politics in the period 1967-1970. A period that spans the so-called limited detente. In these years, the Sino-Soviet rivalry increased and led to a split of the al-lian--ce of the 1950s. These years witnessed a change in leadership in Mos-cow, Peking and in Washington. These years witnessed the opening of the American-Chinese relations, the Cultural Revolution in China, the Israeli airstrike on Egyptian and other Arab airbases, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, the importance of both China and Soviet Union to the US, the series of military take-overs in Africa, the crackdown on the IRA, and above all, the internal and international revulsion against the horrors of the war in Vietnam in the aftermath of the assassinations of both the Kennedy brothers and Dr. King. All over Western Europe, there were deep sources of discontent which overlapped and fused, urban squalor and overcrowded schools and universities but in France, it was bad enough to inflame a generation which had been attuned to political activism by the Algerian war. It led to the students uprising. These cases were not isolated. Thus, the author argues that the observed pattern of involvement in the Nigerian civil war finds its explanation in the very dynamics of great power politics suggesting that the distribution of power determines who is whose friend and whose enemy at a given time.

Badom argues that what constitutes intervention during an ongoing civil war might not even register as intervention otherwise in the light of global interdependence. Consequently, the study contributes to both our theoretical and empirical understandings of intervention as a compound phenomenon central to the study of international relations in a given context. The author argues that despite the fears whether Nigeria would be transformed into an arena for the Sino-Soviet conflict, the superpowers hegemonic rivalry between Washington and Moscow, the colonial competition between France and Britain over their former colonies, and the apprehensions as to whether the balkanization of Nigeria would be achieved through foreign intervention, the war did not escalate as feared. The rea-sons, he argues that the controlling mechanisms of great power politics, the recognition of the risks and limits of the war, the active role of the OAU and Prime Minster Harold Wilson’s diplomacy in sum, helped to control escalation. The conclusion serves as a step for further research.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Political Science
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date1997 May 15
ISBN (Print)91-88306-12-7
Publication statusPublished - 1997

Bibliographical note

Defence details
Date: 1997-05-15
Time: 10:15
Place: Edens hörsal, Paradisgatan 5H, Lund
External reviewer(s)
Name: Lartey, George
Title: Professor
Affiliation: Ghana

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Political Science


  • internal wars
  • Intervention
  • civil war
  • Statsvetenskap
  • Political and administrative sciences
  • Nigeria
  • förvaltningskunskap


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