Global Governance Institute


Quagmire in Civil War

16 February 2021, 6:00 pm–7:15 pm

Destroyed House in Aleppo, Syria

Join us for a virtual keynote lecture with Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl who will talk about his new book "Quagmire in Civil War."

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Julia Kreienkamp

Quagmire in Civil War (Book Cover)
Our understanding of civil war is shot through with the spectre of quagmire, a situation that traps belligerents, compounding and entrenching war's dangers. Despite the subject's importance, its causes are obscure. A pervasive 'folk' notion that quagmire is intrinsic to certain countries or wars has foreclosed inquiry, and scholarship has failed to identify quagmire as an object of study in its own right. Schulhofer-Wohl provides the first treatment of quagmire in civil war. In a rigorous but accessible analysis, he explains how quagmire can emerge from domestic-international interactions and strategic choices. To support the argument, Schulhofer-Wohl draws upon field research on Lebanon's sixteen-year civil war, structured comparisons with civil wars in Chad and Yemen, and rigorous statistical analyses of all civil wars worldwide fought between 1944 and 2006. The results make clear that the 'folk' notion misdiagnoses quagmire and demand that we revisit policies that rest upon it. Schulhofer-Wohl demonstrates that quagmire is made, not found.

About the Speaker

Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl

Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Leiden University. His research agenda, on the conduct of civil wars, includes an empirical focus on the Middle East, but addresses questions about civil wars as a general matter, and draws on comparisons across diverse countries.

Schulhofer-Wohl’s core research projects study the interaction between civil war belligerents at three levels of analysis: quamire as the macro-level result of the interaction between the warring parties; warfighting choices, focusing on alliance behavior and the operational goals of fighting, both meso-level behaviors; and, at the micro-level, the behavioral determinants of individual actions in situations of group conflict. Schulhofer-Wohl’s work has been published in International Security, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, and Science. His book, Quagmire in Civil War, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

Before joining the faculty at Leiden, Schulhofer-Wohl taught at the University of Virginia and as a visiting assistant professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has held fellowships in the Kennedy School’s Middle East Initiative and International Security Program and in the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University.