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Civil Wars. Why Care?. Warning: Graphic images of mass death, including attacks in Iraq Graphic image-free version posted online. I. Defining Civil War. In order to demonstrate that civil wars are important/relevant must know what civil war is

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civil wars

Civil Wars

Why Care?

Warning: Graphic images of mass death, including attacks in Iraq

Graphic image-free version posted online

i defining civil war
I. Defining Civil War
  • In order to demonstrate that civil wars are important/relevant must know what civil war is
  • Definitions serve purposes – normative, hermeneutic, legal, and social-scientific. Leads to multiple definitions:
    • Normative/policy aspects of the problem
      • The narrative of the genocidaires – 800,000 victims as “casualties of war”
1994 genocide in rwanda
1994: Genocide in Rwanda
  • Assassination of Rwanda and Burundi presidents (probably by Hutu extremists)
  • Within hours: Hutu extremists kill moderate Hutu politicians, seize power, and systematically exterminate 80% of (unarmed, noncombatant) Tutsis in government-controlled area (about 800,000 people) over less than two months.
  • Western media accounts refer to “ethnic violence,” “civil war,” “ethnic war” – but genocide is one-sided and occurs away from front lines
i prologue defining civil war
I. Prologue: Defining Civil War
  • In order to demonstrate that civil wars are important relevant must know what civil war is
  • Definitions serve purposes – normativity, continuity, validity, and reliability. Leads to multiple definitions:
    • Normative/policy aspects of the problem
      • The narrative of the genocidaires – 800,000 victims as “casualties of war”
      • Policy implications – Bush Administration resistance to the term in Iraq
opposing views
Opposing Views:

…Bush administration officials have argued that there is no obvious political vision on the part of the Sunni-led insurgent groups, so “civil war” does not apply…. those who support the war believe there would be domestic political implications to declaring it a civil war. They fear that [it] would be seen as an admission of a failure [and] worry that the American people might not see a role for American troops in an Iraqi civil war…

– NYT 11/26/06

opposing views1
Opposing Views:

“You need to let the world know there’s a civil war here in Iraq,” said Adel Ibrahim, 44, a sheik in the Subiah tribe, which is mostly Shiite. “It’s a crushing civil war. Mortars kill children in our neighborhoods. We’re afraid to travel anywhere because we’ll be killed in buses. We don’t know who is our enemy and who is our friend.”

– NYT 11/26/06

i prologue defining civil war1
I. Prologue: Defining Civil War
  • In order to demonstrate that civil wars are important relevant must know what civil war is
  • Definitions serve purposes – normative, hermeneutic, legal, and social-scientific. Leads to multiple definitions:
    • Normative/policy aspects of the problem
      • The narrative of the genocidaires – 800,000 victims as “casualties of war”
      • Policy implications – Bush Administration resistance to the term in Iraq
      • Promotion of international law – legal definitions to fit international conventions (or change them)
the korean civil war or the korean war here s the dprk version
The “Korean Civil War” or the “Korean War?” Here’s the DPRK version:

“Imagine a small country… that only wanted to unite their country but got stopped from doing so because of external interventions. How many Americans among us would have liked if European countries intervened in the American Civil War on behalf of the South? ….this is precisely what happened during the Korean Civil war. The DPRK has withstood countless provocations, bullying, threats of war… They deserve respect from anyone that values independence and the right for their country to decide their own destiny. – DPRK supporter on Youtube. Song: No Motherland Without You

b purposes continued
B. Purposes (continued)
  • Continuity – Use of term based on previous usage
    • Historical continuity? Lots of conflicts called “civil wars,” while others named differently.
      • Greek Revolution, American Revolution, but Ethiopian Civil War and Lebanese Civil War
      • American Civil War vs. War of the Rebellion vs. Second American Revolution
    • Ordinary English usage:

“War between the citizens or inhabitants of a single country, state, or community; an instance of this; (also fig.); cf. sense civil…[Of warfare, conflict, etc.: occurring within a society or community; taking place between inhabitants of the same country or state, or between the populace and the ruling power; of or relating to such conflict.]” – Oxford English Dictionary [Online Resource] 10/25/11

b purposes continuity continued
B. Purposes – Continuity (continued)

c. Legal continuity – Arguments about the legality of intervention, non-recognition, etc. (1860s)

Key criterion = “belligerency,” permitting international recognition and aid. Criteria:

  • Magnitude of fighting
  • War-like measures on the high seas (blockades)
  • De facto government by rebels
    • Must exercise command authority over uniformed

armed forces

    • Must respect laws of war
  • Formal warlike measures by government (taking

POWs, use of flags of truce, etc)

b purposes continuity continued1
B. Purposes – Continuity (continued)

c. Legal continuity – Arguments about the legality of intervention, non-recognition, etc. (1758)

-- Stefan Oeter. “Civil War, Humanitarian Law, and the United Nations.” p. 195

b purposes continuity continued2
B. Purposes – Continuity (continued)
  • Legal continuity – Arguments about the legality of intervention, non-recognition, etc. (1949 – slightly modified in 1977, but = modern criteria)

Third Geneva Convention of 1949:

  • No definition of civil war
  • But defines “armed conflict not of an international character”
    • Rebels must control part of state’s territory
    • Rebels have civil authority which has de facto authority within this territory
    • Rebels recognized as belligerents in some form
    • Government has to use “regular military forces against insurgents organized as military."
b purposes continued1
B. Purposes (continued)
  • Validity – To capture all that is civil war and to exclude all that is not civil war
validity initial meaning
Validity: Initial Meaning
  • “The Latin term bellum civile was first used of the Roman civil wars of the 1st century BC. The term civilishere had the very specific meaning of "Roman citizen". The English term civil war was first used in 1651 to refer to the English Civil War.” – Wikipedia 10/25/11
validity english examples from oed
Validity: English examples (from OED)

[?a1439 Lydgate tr. Fall of Princes (Bodl. 263) vi. l. 2332 Theswerris that callidwercyuile.]

1651 T. Hobbes Leviathan 390 Sidney Godolphin, who‥was unfortunately slain in the‥lateCivillwarre.

1941 W. J. Cash Mind of South ii. i. 103 The Civil War and Reconstruction represent‥an attempt on the part of the Yankee to achieve by force what he had failed to achieve by political means.

validity core or essence of concept
Validity: “Core” or “essence” of concept
  • War (must be defined) that is civil (conducted within a people)
  • What qualifies? Are the following valid instances of civil war?
    • “European Civil War” – increasingly common
    • “Austrian Civil War” – few hundred killed
    • “Kenyan Civil War” – fought between tribes
    • “Rwandan Civil War” – contemporaneous with genocide
    • “American Civil War” – Possibly two nations?
    • “Russian Civil War” of 1917-1922 – dozens of armed groups and more than a dozen state intervenors
    • “Vietnam War” – ARVN vs. NLF  US & ARVN vs. NLF  US & ARVN vs. NLF and DRV  US & ARVN vs. DRV  ARVN vs. DRV
    • “American Revolution” – rebels not equal citizens, seek independence
b purposes continued2
B. Purposes (continued)
  • Validity – To capture all that is civil war and to exclude all that is not civil war
  • Reliability – To define the term in a precise (but sometimes arbitrary) way that other scholars can use to reproduce results
correlates of war project handout
Correlates of War Project (Handout)
  • Singer describes it as “arbitrary, but not capricious”  not always valid, but reliable
  • Strictly behavioral:
    • Onset/Termination dates based on fighting, not declarations or treaties
    • Types distinguished by observed demand, not true preferences
  • Major issues:
    • Armed Personnel vs. Civilians hard to distinguish in insurgencies
    • Unclear whether rebellion by multiple groups = multiple civil wars. Solution: another coding rule (coordination)
    • Mutually-exclusive war types  Need to say when other wars “go civil” (post-occupation Peru) or “cease to be civil” (Vietnam, Greek Revolution). Solution: another coding rule (bulk of the fighting)
other approaches
Other approaches
  • Uppsala Conflict Data Project (used by PRIO):
    • Uses 1000 battle-deaths, but in a calendar year and defined as “direct” victims of fighting (includes some civilians, excludes deaths from noncombat causes)
    • Requires “incompatibily” – forms limited to “territory” and “government”
  • Others alter threshold of battle-deaths, allow it to be reached cumulatively, etc.
  • Others add “civil conflicts” to the list (below civil war threshold)
b purposes continued3
B. Purposes (continued)
  • Validity – To capture all that is civil war and to exclude all that is not civil war
  • Reliability – To define the term in a precise (but sometimes arbitrary) way that other scholars can use to reproduce results

Conclusion: The “best” criteria depend on how the definition will be used (problem, theory, data collection).

Our focus: Validity and Reliability (strive for both, accepting that trade-off exists)

ii civil wars are the present scourge
II. Civil Wars are the Present Scourge

A. Frequency – multiple datasets, multiple measures

  • See handout for COW data 4.0 – civil always dominant
    • 5.0 in progress – likely to remove a handful of post-1945 civil wars and add a few dozen pre-1900 civil wars
  • Wimmer and Minn (2009): Expands COW 3.0 spatially, provides a new typology
ii civil wars are the present scourge1
II. Civil Wars are the Present Scourge

A. Frequency – multiple datasets, multiple measures

  • See handout for COW data 4.0 – civil always dominant
    • 5.0 in progress – likely to remove a handful of post-1945 civil wars and add a few dozen pre-1900 civil wars
  • Wimmer and Minn (2009): Expands COW 3.0 spatially, provides a new typology – civil always dominant
  • Peace and Conflict Studies Research Unit (FreieUniversitätBerlin) “Consolidated List of Wars”
ii civil wars are the present scourge2
II. Civil Wars are the Present Scourge

A. Frequency – multiple datasets, multiple measures

  • See handout for COW data 4.0 – civil always dominant
    • 5.0 in progress – likely to remove a handful of post-1945 civil wars and add a few dozen pre-1900 civil wars
  • Wimmer and Minn (2009): Expands COW 3.0 spatially, provides a new typology – civil always dominant
  • Peace and Conflict Studies Research Unit (FreieUniversitätBerlin) “Consolidated List of Wars” – civil dominant over last 50 years
  • Uppsala Armed Conflict Data Project – 25 battle-deaths or more
ii civil wars are the present scourge3
II. Civil Wars are the Present Scourge

A. Frequency – multiple datasets, multiple measures

  • See handout for COW data 4.0 – civil always dominant
    • 5.0 in progress – likely to remove a handful of post-1945 civil wars and add a few dozen pre-1900 civil wars
  • Wimmer and Minn (2009): Expands COW 3.0 spatially, provides a new typology – civil always dominant
  • Peace and Conflict Studies Research Unit (FreieUniversitätBerlin) “Consolidated List of Wars” – civil dominant over last 50 years
  • Uppsala Armed Conflict Data Project – 25 battle-deaths or more  Some recent years with nothing but civil conflict
  • Center for Systemic Peace
ii civil wars are the present scourge4
II. Civil Wars are the Present Scourge

A. Frequency – multiple datasets, multiple measures

  • See handout for COW data 4.0 – civil always dominant
    • 5.0 in progress – likely to remove a handful of post-1945 civil wars and add a few dozen pre-1900 civil wars
  • Wimmer and Minn (2009): Expands COW 3.0 spatially, provides a new typology – civil always dominant
  • Peace and Conflict Studies Research Unit (FreieUniversitätBerlin) “Consolidated List of Wars” – civil dominant over last 50 years
  • Uppsala Armed Conflict Data Project – 25 battle-deaths or more  Some recent years with nothing but civil conflict
  • Center for Systemic Peace – Civil wars dominant
iii deadliness
III. Deadliness
  • Fearon & Laitin (2002): Between 1945 and 1999…
    • 3.33 million battle deaths in the 25 interstate wars that killed at least 1000 and had at least 100 dead on each side.
    • These wars involved just 25 states that suffered casualties of at least 1000, and had a median duration of not quite 3 months.
    • There were roughly 122 civil wars that killed at least 1000.
    • A conservative estimate of the total dead as a direct result of these conflicts is 16.2 million, five times the interstate toll.
    • These civil wars occurred in 73 states – more than a third of the United Nations system – and had a median duration of roughly six year
10 deadliest civil wars based on cow battle deaths alone but see drc war
10 Deadliest Civil Wars(Based on COW Battle-Deaths alone – but see DRC War…)
  • Greek Independence (180,000)
  • Mexican Caste War/Maya Revolt (200,000)
  • Spanish Civil War (200,000)
  • Afghanistan 1978-1992 (200,000)
  • US Civil War (650,000)
  • Russian Civil War (775,000)
  • Chinese Civil War 1930-1936 (838,000)
  • Vietnam War (985,000)
  • Chinese Civil War 1946-1950 (1,250,000)
  • Chinese Rebellions 1860* to 1873 (2,450,000)
    • Would be even deadlier if battle-deaths prior to China’s entry into the world-system in 1860 were included.
iv consequences
IV. Consequences
  • See Handout

We should care about civil wars because

  • They are the primary type of armed conflict today
  • They have higher average durations and (recently) higher battle-deaths
  • They are harder to end with negotiation
  • Their consequences are deadly for the state, its region, and the rest of the world