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CIVIL WARS THROUGH HISTORY: THE LOGIC OF VIOLENCE Stathis N. Kalyvas Department of Political Science Yale University.

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Presentation on theme: "CIVIL WARS THROUGH HISTORY: THE LOGIC OF VIOLENCE Stathis N. Kalyvas Department of Political Science Yale University."— Presentation transcript:

1 CIVIL WARS THROUGH HISTORY: THE LOGIC OF VIOLENCE Stathis N. Kalyvas Department of Political Science Yale University

2 V IOLENCE IN C IVIL W AR A very long preoccupation with civil war One reason is their violence Two features Barbarity Arno Meyer: “If war is hell, then civil war belongs to hell’s deepest and most infernal regions” Intimacy Fratricide: Abel and Cain Montherlant: civil war is the war of neighbor against neighbor, rival against rival, friend against friend

3 T HE Q UESTION How to explain the barbarity and intimacy that characterize the violence of civil wars? Note that this is not the same as asking what causes civil wars What type of theoretical and empirical account succeeds in explaining both features at the same time?

4 OUTLINE Features of violence in civil war Four intellectual traditions A theoretical account Some empirics

5 B ARBARITY Excessive violence; cruelty; atrocity The term is culturally specific Bombs vs. knives Post 1945 armed conflicts have been primarily internal with noncombatants as the primary target Number of victims WWII; Chad 1970s Civil wars as residual category of warfare Identity of victims Combatants vs. noncombatants Intimacy between victimizers and victims

6 INTIMACY Not all victims of a civil war die from the action of “intimates,” but many do Yet the perception of barbarity is partly motivated by the occurrence of intimate violence

7 A H IGH S CHOOL C LASS IN N ORTHEAST B OSNIA

8 C ONVENTIONAL U NDERSTANDINGS OF V IOLENCE Many facts from journalistic reports, historical case studies, and human rights reports …yet, little systematic analysis Violence is typically characterized as Madness Hatred Evil No real explanations It is possible to reconstruct four intellectual traditions that have grappled with this question

9 F OUR INTELLECTUAL TRADITIONS Hobbesian tradition: violence in civil wars is barbarous because of anarchy Recent version: new wars Schmittian tradition: violence in civil wars is barbarous because of polarization/enmity Recent version: ethnic conflict Foucauldian tradition: violence in civil wars is barbarous because challenging the sovereign is transgressive Recent version: post September 11 US practices Clausewitzian tradition: violence in civil wars is barbarous because of specific technological features unique to civil wars Recent version: guerrilla war as “dirty war”

10 A LL APPROACHES HAVE MERITS, BUT ALSO PROBLEMS Hobbesian : most civil war contexts do not produce anarchy (understood as absence of authority) but proliferation of authorities Schmittian : Polarization often characterizes elites rather than masses; intellectuals rather than average individuals; it is often the product rather than simply the cause of civil war and violence Foucauldian : Violence against the sovereign can be as barbaric as violence by the sovereign Clausewitzian: It is not clear what the relation between warfare technology and violence is

11 Rather than discuss each of these traditions in detail, focus on one the and push it to its analytical and empirical limits The Clausewitzian one How much leverage do we get? The intuition in two pictures

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13 T AL A FAR, I RAQ (S EPTEMBER 2005) An Iraqi informant in Tall Afar uses a thumbs down to signal that a detainee should be released.

14 S OME F ACTS The majority of civil wars (but not all!) are guerrilla or irregular wars Frontlines aren’t clear; rebels blend into civilian populations In other words, there are informational asymmetries Civilians have information about who is who that armed actors lack but desire

15 T HE A RGUMENT Informational asymmetries are the causal link between civil war, on the one hand, and both the barbaric and intimate dimensions of its violence, on the other hand

16 R OADMAP A few definitions and concepts Civil war; irregular war; sovereignty and control; types of violence A theory of irregular war A theory of violence in irregular war An empirical demonstration

17 A M INIMAL D EFINITION OF C IVIL W AR Armed combat taking place within the boundaries of a recognized sovereign entity between parties subject to a common authority at the outset of the hostilities “Armed combat” implies a threshold of organization and violence “Sovereign units” are primarily states, but may include a multitude of historical units Compatible with any cause Includes wars of resistance against occupation and colonization A more precise term: internal or intrastate war

18 A THEORY OF IRREGULAR WAR Argument applies to irregular war contexts Where violence in bilateral and coercive e.g. Chechnya, Afghanistan Excludes cases of unilateral violence or violence used to expel or exterminate e.g. Bosnia, Rwanda, Stalin’s purges

19 Two actors: incumbents and insurgents (same logic for multiple actors) No clear frontlines

20 E L S ALVADOR, 1984

21 K OREA, 1951

22 S OVEREIGNTY & CONTROL Sovereignty is divided; monopolies of violence are localized Two types of divided sovereignty Segmented : two or more distinct “states” within a state Fragmented : two or more rulers on the same piece of territory within a state Control: The ability of organizations to control access to the population and perform state-like functions; varies spatially and temporally

23 SUPPORT (“COLLABORATION”) Why and how people collaborate with armed actors? Preferences: class, ethnicity, ideology, etc. But also, the dynamics of the war itself As the war goes on, the will of armed actors increasingly shapes the behavior of the civilian population—through the use of violence Most people most of the time value survival over other considerations Violence is used by armed actors to induce civilians to collaborate with them and not with their rivals

24 T HE I DENTIFICATION P ROBLEM Armed actors can’t tell the enemy combatant (or the enemy noncombatant) from the “bystanding” (or even friendly) noncombatant Two “solutions” Collective profiling: target every member of a suspected group (i.e. select on visible ascriptive characteristic, location, etc.) Individualized: ascertain individual guilt

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27 Violence is indiscriminate when targeting is collective(i.e. every man in a village) selective when targeting is individualized (i.e. particular individuals) Choice is dictated by efficiency rather than morality considerations

28 S TRATEGIC I MPLICATIONS OF V IOLENCE IN CIVIL WAR Because there is more than one armed actor, they must take the consequences of their violence into account Indiscriminate violence tends to be counterproductive Α U.S. advisor in Vietnam (1960s): “This is a political war and it calls for discrimination in killing.” Selective violence is more effective but more difficult to achieve as it requires a high degree of information Under certain broad conditions, armed actors opt for selective over indiscriminate violence

29 J OINT PRODUCTION OF VIOLENCE Information is asymmetrically distributed between political actors and individual civilians Selective violence is the outcome of a transaction between organizations and civilians through denunciation

30 Selective violence is open to problems of “moral hazard” Denunciation is often malicious: denouncers use armed actors to achieve their own ends which often consist of nothing more than typically trivial local and private disputes A US officer, Iraq: “These people dime each other out like there’s no tomorrow; … out of a hundred tips we’ve gotten from Iraqi intelligence, one has worked out.

31 E AMON C OLLINS, IRA After a while, one aspect of my encounters with people and their complaints began to depress me. I realized that a lot of people, often not even republicans, would seek the help of Sinn Fein in order to draw on the threat of IRA muscle – so they hoped – in solving their disputes. At times I felt as if people were treating me as a Mafia godfather. One former work colleague asked me if I could sort out his son-in-law. Apparently the latter was beating up his wife, my former colleague’s daughter. I said that it was none of Sinn Fein’s business. Then my former colleague said: “Yes, it is. That man is never out of the police station. I am sure he’s an informer.” I said that he was making a very serious allegation. I said that if the IRA were to investigate it and find it to be groundless then they would come looking for the person who made the allegation. Unfortunately, the allegation that so-and-so was an informer (was ‘never out of the police station’) became one that I heard regularly from people who wanted extreme violence done to their neigbours.

32 S UPPLY OF DENUNCIATIONS ALWAYS EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS Germany, 1934 Bureaucrats expressed their surprise about the quantity of denunciations, especially false charges, noting that they had reached “altogether unacceptable proportions” The minister of the Interior asked local authorities to take steps to curb the rapid expansion of all denunciations, “too many of which were based merely on conflicts with neighbors” Arrest for political reasons could not be used as grounds for divorce Hitler complained: “We are living at present in a sea of denunciations and human meanness”

33 T HE W ALL S TREET J OURNAL, 21 N OVEMBER 2001

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35 Implication: intimate violence is often the result of the privatization of politics rather than the politicization of private life …But can we analyze the process of violence more systematically?

36 A N O PERATIONAL M EASURE OF C ONTROL Geographical space may be divided into five zones of control, from 1 (highest incumbent control) to 5 (highest insurgent control); zone 3 is a zone of equal control

37 C OLLABORATION Collaboration is a function of control Individuals collaborate with the stronger actor in zones 1 and 2 mainly with incumbents; in zones 4 and 5 mainly with insurgents. Zone 3 is the epicenter of conflict: collaboration with both sides

38 D ENUNCIATION … is a function of the likelihood of counter- denunciation (high in villages where everything is visible) This means that individuals will denounce only where one side has control and can deter retaliation: zones 1 & 2 for incumbents, 4 & 5 for insurgents Surprising prediction: no denunciations in zone 3

39 P REDICTIONS A BOUT V IOLENCE Indiscriminate violence will be likely where information and control are minimal Zone 5 for incumbents Zone 1 for insurgents Selective violence will be likely where control is hegemonic but not total Zone 2 for incumbents Zone 4 for insurgents No violence in zone 3

40 A N E MPIRICAL T EST The Argolid region in Southern Greece 62 villages; population: 45,086 (1940) Civil war during German occupation, “Ideological” war; pro- communist resistance vs. right-wing collaborationist militia No ethnic, religious, or class cleavage (5,360 families; 5,090 farms)

41 C ONTROL AND V IOLENCE, J UNE 1944

42 I NDISCRIMINATE V IOLENCE

43 S ELECTIVE V IOLENCE

44 D ISTRIBUTION OF S ELECTIVE V IOLENCE BY Z ONE OF C ONTROL

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46 A W AR W ITH N O F RONTS M EKONG D ELTA, 1969

47 V IETCONG V IOLENCE, 1969 ( N =61,701 VILLAGES / BIMONTHLY )

48 COLOMBIA WOULD YOU SAY THAT WHEN A GROUP WAS THE STRONGEST IN A ZONE, OR HAD MORE CONTROL THAN OTHERS, WERE THERE MORE DEATHS OR FEWER DEATHS?

49 D ENUNCIATION IN C ONTEMPORARY C OLOMBIA ACUSO A UN VECINO DE SER MILICIANO DE LA GUERRILLA PERO NO ERA CIERTO PARECIA QUE TENIAN PROBLEMAS PERSONALES LAS MUJERES SE ACONSTUMBRABAN A DENUNCIAR A LOS HOMBRES QUE LES PONIAN CACHOS Y VISEVERSA INFORMACION QUE UN MUCHACHO ERA PARAMILITAR, Y LA INFORMACION ERA FALSA. LAS FARC, LOS MATARAN Y LUEGO SUPIERAN QUE ERA UN ERROR. EL QUE ODIO LA INFORMACION LE TENIA BRONCA AL MUCHACHO PROBLEMAS POR UNOS ANIMALES QUE DAÑARON UN CULTIVO PRO PASARSE DE UNA FINCA A OTRA SE PRESENTABAN MUCHOS CASOS A DIARIO, QUE POR ROBOS, GANADO, ETC 2 HERMANOS, UNO GUERRILLERO Y OTRO CIVIL, EL GUERRILLERO ACUSO AL HERMANO CIVIL DE SER GUERRILLERO Y LO MATARON UN TIO DENUNCIÓ A UN PRIMO ALGUNAS VECES OCURRIA POR BRONCAS ENTRE VECINOS POR COSAS COMO VIOLENCIA DOMESTICA, PRESTAMOS DE PLATA RIÑAS PERSONALES, DINERO, ENVIDIA POR PELEAS ENTRE CIVILES O CHISMES DE LAS MUJERES, DENUNCIABAN A LA PERSONA Y SI LA ENCONTRABAN CULPABLE LA CASTIGABAN POR ALGUN PROBLEMA PÈRSONAL, SOBRE TODO POR PELEAS CUANDO ESTABAN BORRACHOS CASOS EN QUE CIVILES DENUNCIABAN PORQUE OTROS SE METIERON CON LAS HIJAS RIÑAS PERSONALES, CELOS, PROBLEMAS AMOROSOS

50 W HAT H AVE I S HOWN ? “There is method in madness” It is possible to analyze micro-level patterns of violence systematically These patterns conform to a logic that is primarily strategic and corresponds to a context of incentives and constraints generated by irregular wars Though the logic is instrumental, the outcomes are not optimal for the actors involved Armed actors tend not to use violence where they need it most (zone 3) Civilians fail to settle their accounts where it is safest to denounce (zones 1 and 5)

51 MORE… This context explains a great deal of the barbarity of civil wars Dynamics caused by informational asymmetries Large case atrocities (i.e. indiscriminate violence) emerge when and where there is lack of information (“cheap counterinsurgency”) The interplay of selective and indiscriminate violence is consistent with the varying patterns of violence in most civil wars This context also helps make sense of the intimate character of violence in civil wars It is not just killers who are involved in killing

52 FINALLY… A“ Clausewitzian” perspective helps make sense of both the barbarity and intimacy of violence in civil war The game on the ground is not a simple reflection of the game at the top—the local is not the national writ small but is qualitatively different Key implication: ideology/identity could be epiphenomenal to the violence in civil war in the sense that violence that looks purely ideological or identity-based may aggregate a variety of other processes Strategies of intervention ought to be designed accordingly


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