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Understanding Divergent Civil War Outcomes in Resource Rich Countries: Malaysia and Cambodia Compared Andrew Rosser.

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding Divergent Civil War Outcomes in Resource Rich Countries: Malaysia and Cambodia Compared Andrew Rosser."— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding Divergent Civil War Outcomes in Resource Rich Countries: Malaysia and Cambodia Compared Andrew Rosser

2 Introduction Just as there is considerable divergence in the economic records of individual resource rich countries, so there is considerable divergence in their experiences vis-à-vis civil war. This session examines why some resource rich countries have descended into civil war, while others have avoided it.

3 In this session, I will focus on the cases of Cambodia and Malaysia. These are good cases for examining this issue because: – both are rich in ‘lootable’ resources (namely tropical timber), the most pernicious type of natural resources – both were sites of Cold War struggle – both have experienced authoritarian government – both have similar populations – BUT one (Cambodia) has been wracked by civil war, while the other (Malaysia) has been peaceful

4 In examining this issue, I will: – examine the analytical framework developed by Snyder (2006) – suggest some revisions/modifications to this framework; and then – illustrate how this revised framework can helps us to understand civil war outcomes in Malaysia and Cambodia.

5 Snyder’s Framework Snyder (2006) suggests that the incidence of civil war reflects rulers’ ability to construct institutions of extraction that give them joint control over the revenues generated by lootable resources. – public extraction of lootable resources is impossible – private extraction makes civil war very likely – joint extraction is conducive to order/peace because it requires cooperation between rival elites/groups

6 Whether rulers can create institutions of joint extraction in turn depends on: – their capacity to wield ‘sticks’—coercion, blocking extraction – their capacity to offer carrots—e.g. protection from competition, legalisation.

7 Once established, institutions of joint extraction can collapse as a result of: – shifts in the balance of power between rulers and private actors – decreasing value of lootable resources – bequeathability problems – emergence of grievances among included and excluded groups

8 Revisions/Amendements Snyder’s framework is basically a good one but it doesn’t really explore the factors that shape rulers capacities to wield ‘sticks’ and offer ‘carrots.’ I would argue that these capacities are at least in part a function of: – the strength of pro-capitalist political and social elites To the extent that this influences economic growth, it affects the resources at the rulers’ disposal and their ability to offer carrots

9 – The nature of a country’s geo-political and geo-economic environment shapes access to economic opportunities—affects capacity to offer carrots shapes military capacity and capacity to restrict trade—affects capacity to wield sticks

10 Cambodia vs. Malaysia Cambodia has been wracked by civil war since at least the late 1970s following Vietnam’s invasion of the country and installation of the CPP in power The civil war had strong Cold War dimensions with the two main parties receiving backing (including financial backing) from different parts of the communist bloc: – Khmer Rouge was backed by China – CPP was backed by Vietnam

11 Forestry resources played little role in the civil war for much of its life: the main parties to the conflict relied on foreign financial backers Indeed, Cambodia’s forests by and large survived the Cold War.

12 However, forest resources played a key role in prolonging the civil war beyond the end of the Cold War – illegal logging enabled Khmer Rouge to continue funding itself and to make territorial gains following Vietnamese troop withdrawals in late 1980s. – illegal logging also provided source of revenue for CPP. It was only in the late 1990s that the civil war in Cambodia effectively came to an end

13 Malaysia, by contrast, has been relatively peaceful in recent decades. At the same time, to the extent it has experienced violent conflict, this has had little to do with forest resources. Malaysia suffered a prolonged communist insurrection between 1948 and This was revived briefly in the late 1970s. But this had little to do with forest resources. It also suffered race riots in 1969 but again these had little to do with forest resources.

14 How can these countries’ different experiences be explained? Cambodia: – Sticks: CPP unable to impose credible threat of no extraction because of (i) Thai resistance and (ii) own self- interest in illegal logging It was only when US placed pressure on Thailand to stop involvement in illegal logging in the 1996 that no extraction threat became credible. – Carrots: Country’s poverty meant that the state had very little to offer the Khmer Rouge leadership, certainly nothing better than forests.

15 Malaysia: – Carrots: The country’s economic strength (including oil wealth and growth of manufacturing) meant that Malaysian federal government could offer forest-rich regions (e.g. Sarawak and Sabah) a good financial deal in relation to exploitation of forest resources; and significant state investment in non-forest sectors. – Sticks: in early 1960s, when main deal struck between Sarawak and Sabah and the Malaysian government, there was a reasonable fear of British reprisals; also fear of Indonesian incorporation

16 Conclusion Overcoming the civil dimension of the resource curse requires: – fundamental domestic political and social change and/or – the emergence of geo-political and geo-economic conditions conducive to peace. No easy technocratic fix – Need to focus on encouraging long-term processes of change

17 References Snyder R. (2006) ‘Does Lootable Wealth Breed Disorder? A Political Economy of Extraction Framework’, Comparative Political Studies, 39 (8), pp


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