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Civil Wars. PLSC 370 Lecture 9. Why Study Civil Wars?. Civil wars are widespread 70% of wars since WWII have been internal Becoming more common (although not increasing in frequency. How is that possible?) Generates suffering 1 million dead in the Chinese civil war

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civil wars

Civil Wars

PLSC 370

Lecture 9

why study civil wars
Why Study Civil Wars?
  • Civil wars are widespread
    • 70% of wars since WWII have been internal
    • Becoming more common (although not increasing in frequency. How is that possible?)
  • Generates suffering
    • 1 million dead in the Chinese civil war
    • Maybe as many as 500,000 in a short time in Rwanda
    • Famine
    • Blocks economic development
  • Often spreads to other states and can undermine regional stability
  • Engages the interest of distant powers and international organizations
  • Policy decisions for how states and organizations should deal with civil wars are being reassessed
what is a civil war
What is a Civil War?
  • Armed conflict
  • At least 1,000 deaths
  • Challenges the sovereignty of an internationally recognized state
  • Occurs within the borders of a state
  • The state is an actor
  • Rebels are an actor
  • 127 events matching this definition occurred between 1945 and 2000
a few trends
A Few Trends
  • Civil war is primarily the problem of developing nations
  • The most common region for civil wars is Sub-Saharan Africa, followed by Asia (especially South-east Asia) and the Middle East (which includes North Africa)
  • Civil wars tend to last quite a bit longer than international wars
  • Explanations for the causes of civil wars have tended to fall into one of four categories: economic, rational choice, IR theory, and constructivism
  • Modernization: rapid economic growth leads to greater competition for resources
    • But …
  • Greed: sometimes the costs of fighting (and opportunity costs) can be outweighed by the economic gain that civil war can bring. War as a business
  • Opportunity: does the government have the resources to stop a civil war?
rational choice
Rational Choice
  • Expected utility. Consider 2 cases:
    • A strong (rich) state. The likelihood you could defeat the state is low, but the reward would be very high.
    • A weak (poor) state. The likelihood you could defeat the state is higher, but the reward is lower.
  • Expected utility balances out the likelihood you could win and the rewards that would bring, with the likelihood you would lose and the costs that would bring.
  • In case you forgot:
    • u(WIN) * p(WIN) + u(LOSE) * p(LOSE) - costs
ir theory
IR Theory
  • Neorealism might argue that the distribution of power in the system affects civil war (for example, you might expect less civil war in a bipolar system). Not much evidence here
  • Civil war occurs when internal anarchy develops
  • The security dilemma
  • Liberal theory explains how government institutions provide legitimacy
  • A democratic civil peace?
  • Ethnicity: primordial or constructed?
  • Ethnic entrepreneurs and mobilization
new and old civil wars kalyvas
New and Old Civil Wars (Kalyvas)
  • Old wars:
    • Cause: collective grievances
    • Support: broad/popular
    • Violence: controlled
  • New Wars
    • Cause: Private loot
    • Support: limited support
    • Violence: Rambo-style
civil war termination
Civil War Termination
  • Civil Wars last much longer than interstate wars
  • Mason and Fett
    • E(U)fight < E(U)settlement
    • For all involved parties
    • BUT … civil wars seem to persist in a state of “mutual hurting stalemate”
  • Walter
    • Prisoner’s dilemma
    • No total disarming
    • Third parties
intervention and peacekeeping
Intervention and Peacekeeping
  • We are not very good at this… (yet?)
  • Somalia → Rwanda → Kosovo
  • Liberal approach (politics and economics)
    • Paris
    • Liberal politics and economics are based in conflict, and may be a bad idea for post-civil war states
  • How would realists think about intervention? Can you come up with a realist argument FOR intervention?