Noel Anderson

Assistant Professor Noel Anderson

Focus: international relations, intervention, limited war, and counterinsurgency

Assistant Professor Noel Anderson’s interest in civil war was sparked during his childhood when he was stopped at a British checkpoint while travelling to visit family in Ireland during the Troubles. This personal experience stuck with him as he entered undergrad, where he studied peace and conflict and international relations. Following stints in the Irish Department of Justice and the Independent Monitoring Commission, an independent body that monitored paramilitarism and security normalization in Northern Ireland, Professor Anderson entered graduate school. Joining MIT’s Security Studies Program, he turned his focus to intervention, limited war, and counterinsurgency. 

Currently, Professor Anderson is working on a book that explores how inter-state competition affects intra-state conflict through the mechanism of competitive intervention—two-sided, simultaneous military assistance from different third-party states to both government and rebel combatants. The book explains the distortionary effects competitive interventions have on domestic bargaining processes, describes the unique strategic dilemmas they entail for third-party interveners and links their varying prevalence to international systemic change. In doing so, it moves beyond popular anecdotes about "proxy wars" by deriving theoretically-grounded propositions about the strategic logic motivating competitive intervention in civil wars. It also uncovers an overlooked feature of this form of external meddling—that "not losing" is often more important than "winning" from the perspective of third-party interveners under the shadow of inadvertent escalation. 

You can find Professor Anderson’s work in leading journals and policy outlets, such as the British Journal of Political Science, International Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Strategic Studies, The National Interest, Political Science Research and Methods, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Survival, and War on the Rocks.