Selective leviathans : explaining state strategies of counterinsurgency and consolidation
Author(s)Lalwani, Sameer Prem
Explaining state strategies of counterinsurgency and consolidation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Political Science.
Roger D. Petersen.
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States respond to rebellion differently, often shaping the intensity, duration, and outcome of the conflict as well as prospects for stability and state consolidation. Puzzling cross-national variation in counterinsurgency-sometimes brutal, sometimes minimalist-has drawn some inquiry, but sub-national variation by the same state incumbent has largely been neglected. This study develops a core-periphery theory to explain why states choose different strategies to fight rebellions based on what is at stake and who is rebelling. The theory identifies the variation in state strategy along two dimensions of effort and violence and contends the sub-national variation can best be explained by the value of the contested territory and the identity of the rebelling group. First, the contested territory's value, in economic, strategic, and ideational terms, will shape the strategy of effort the state is willing to deploy. When a rebellion, regardless of its size, threatens core territory, the state is likely to employ a strategy involving significant effort to decisively defeat the rebellion and regain control. Peripheral territory offers comparatively lower incentives resulting in minimalist containment strategies. Second, the positional status of the identity group composing the rebel base will shape the state's incentives and constraints for the strategic use of violence. Core social identity groups with high group worth and embeddedness within the state will motivate greater restraint as co-identity serves to limit state violence through affective mechanisms of empathy and trust and strategic mechanisms of vulnerability and information. Peripheral rebel groups are less likely to trigger such restraint and are therefore met with strategies of greater violence. The theory is tested with 29 cases of rebellion from India and Pakistan to leverage within-country variation with macro-structures of state capacity and institutions fairly constant. The study draws on extensive fieldwork, including over 150 interviews, as well as primary and secondary sources to examine state counterinsurgency through a medium-N analysis for each country's set of campaigns, as well as structured, focused comparisons of a select number of cases along specific dimensions of these conflicts and strategies. The two approaches provide strong support for the theory relative to competing explanations.
Thesis: Ph. D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Political Science, 2014.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 622-679).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Political Science.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology