International Security – Spring 2010

Ending Civil War: A Case for Rebel Victory? – Monica Duffy Toft

Contrary to advocates of both negotiated settlements and “give war a chance”, Toft reveals that a combination of carrots and sticks may be the best way to end civil wars and prevent them from reoccurring. Statistically, civil wars that end in negotiated settlements are twice as likely to reignite as those that end in victory. Furthermore, rebel victories are more stable than government victories. While negotiated settlements may save lives in the short term, the recurrence of hostilities will negate this. Civil wars that reignite are also significantly more deadly, further reducing the potential benefit of negotiated settlements.

Negotiated settlements do not result in more democratic regimes either. Even though negotiated settlements do produce more democratic regimes than other resolutions, these same regimes descend dramatically into authoritarianism over a 20 year period. Rebel victories, on the other hand, offer the best hope for a consolidation of democratic norms.

Lastly, economic growth and prosperity is unrelated to the type of civil war termination.

Toft reasons that rebel victories produce a larger degree of stability and instill stronger democratic institutions because insurgencies must gain the support of the populace if they are to succeed. In order for a rebel movement to obtain victory, it must become highly efficient at responding to the public’s grievances while engaging the government in hostilities. By the time that any given rebel movement succeeds, it will have developed a high degree of institutional capacity and have become adept at providing public goods. Toft uses these findings to analyze the conflict in Uganda and to produce several policy recommendations.

  • Negotiated settlements should not be abandoned but modified to account for these findings.
  • Most prominently, focus should be given to security-sector reform (SSR) to provide the ruling coalition with the ability to properly monopolize violence. Most negotiated settlements neglect building a competent police force to support the new government.
  • More broadly, strengthening institutions must be the primary goal.

Sex and the Saheed: Insights from the Life Sciences on Islamic Suicide Terrorism – Bradley A. Thayer and Valerie M. Hudson

Using theoretical models from the life sciences, Thayer and Hudson conclude that much of the driving force behind suicide terrorism within Islamic extremism is the persistence of reproductive failure for non-alpha males. Several aspects of Islamic societies contribute to a lack of suitable mates:

  • High levels of gender differentiation encourages males to be hyper vigilant about their masculinity and express it in radical acts such as suicide terrorism.
  • Religious support for polygyny severely reduces the available number of marriageable women.
  • Expensive marriage dowers obstruct marriage markets. The rising prices of marriage dowers frequently delays marriage until a man’s thirties and further increases the chances of reproductive failure.

As a result of the difficulties in securing mates, Islamic suicide terrorism can be considered an alternative mating strategy. Not only do Islamic extremist students believe they will be given 72 virgins, but the act of suicide terrorism also increases the prestige of the family as well as marriage prospects for siblings. The promotion of suicide terrorism seems obvious in this context because it encourages the established alpha male order, giving non-alpha males an outlet instead of challenging the established hierarchy. This theoretical analysis produces four policy recommendations:

  1. Promote women’s rights in the Muslim World.
  2. Control dower costs such as government assistance in housing for newly-weds or a dower subsidy.
  3. Build and promote liberal democracies in the Middle East.
  4. Counter Islamic fundamentalism messages by promoting the conception that terrorism seduces males from their family obligation which is un-Islamic in addition to actively calling into question the masculinity of males that commit suicide. Governments should also pressure media outlets to avoid glorifying suicide terrorists.

Status Seekers: Chinese and Russian Response to U.S. Primacy – Deborah Welch Larson and Alexei Shevchenko

Larson and Shevchenko analyze the recent relations between China, Russia, and the international community, concluding that neither realism nor liberalism adequately explains their actions. To fulfill this theoretical shortcoming, they apply social identity theory (SIT) to the case studies of China and Russia. SIT explains that all groups seek a positively distinctive identity and when that identity becomes tarnished, it may seek to reassert itself in three ways:

  1. Social Mobility – adopting the values and practices of higher-status groups in an attempt to gain admission in those elite clubs.
  2. Social Competition – attempting to surpass the dominant group in areas which it claims dominance.
  3. Social Creativity – seeking to establish prominence in another domain or with other attributes in which the dominant group does not control.

Since China and Russia desire “great power” status, initial rejection by Western institutions encouraged both China and Russia to adopt competitive strategies. In response to a lack of success, China and Russia then turned to creative strategies to achieve their great power identity. Evidence suggests that China and Russia seek approval from the West and do not directly challenge the hegemonic order of the United States. Instead, they aim to assert themselves within the global stage and their respective spheres of influence in order to obtain recognition as global powers. To that end, the U.S. can avoid conflict with either of these powers by:

  • Admission into international institutions.
  • Informal coalitions
  • Formal summits
  • Strategic dialogues
  • Strategic partnerships
  • Overall emphasis on status-enhancing actions.

Because neither China nor Russia are pursuing competitive strategies, the U.S. has nothing to fear from accommodating these rising powers and allowing them to consolidate their distinctive identities.

Biosecurity Reconsidered: Calibrating Biological threats and Responses – Gregory D. Koblentz

Reexamining the field of biosecurity, Koblentz develops a taxonomy for describing the various domains that have been incorporated into an expanding definition of biosecurity. For a figure of the taxonomy, see page 111. Koblentz has segmented biosecurity by differentiating between the sources of the threat (state, nonstate, or nature) and the at-risk group (the state or individuals, communities, and societies). Potential sources of threats within the framework of biosecurity include:

  • Biological warfare between states – an extremely rare event due to normative, operational, and strategic restraints.
  • Biological warfare within states – far more likely as states attempt to suppress insurgencies or dissidence.
  • Biological terrorism – also extremely rare. While several terrorist groups have indicated a desire to procure biological weapons, the expertise and knowledge required to successfully employ such weapons makes them incredibly difficult to utilize. Bioterrorism is far more likely to result from domestic biologists. For example, the FBI has stated that Bruce Ivins, a biologist for the United States Army Medical research Institute for Infectious Diseases, was the sole perpetrator in the 2001 anthrax attacks. Ivins committed suicide before he could be indicted.
  • Dual-use research – facilities used for peaceful biological research could also be used for hostile endeavors such as bioterrorism or biological weapon development. Once again, terrorists would require a wealth of knowledge built on a lifetime of biological networking and study to use such facilities.
  • Biocrimes – the use of diseases for murder or extortion by individuals.
  • Laboratory accidents – the release of an infectious disease from a government or private research facility. Several high profile accidents have occurred that have infected individuals outside of research facilities. As biological research globalizes and expands, these accidents may occur more frequently.
  • Pandemics – diseases that occur over a vast geographic area, notably HIV/AIDS and influenza. While HIV/AIDS has not proved nearly as disastrous as initially thought, the prospect for a highly destructive influenza pandemic remains. However, the medical advancement of global health surveillance systems, and a lack of a global conflict like WWI will likely prevent an influenza outbreak from being nearly as deadly as the 1918 pandemic.
  • Endemic and epidemic diseases – death and suffering as the result of infectious diseases. Largely the responsibility of health care sectors and not the responsibility of national security.

Koblentz produces seven policy implications from his taxonomy of biosecurity:

  1. Estimating probabilities and impacts of biological threats is incredibly difficult.
  2. Any adequate assessment of risks requires a multidisciplinary approach.
  3. Regardless of the actual risk, disproportionate perceptions will continue to influence policy and result in highly inefficient resource allocation that attempts accommodate worst-case scenarios.
  4. Given the uncertainty of biosecurity assessment, the most effective approach is to develop policy that will have the greatest impact across the largest number of biosecurity domains. For example, increased efficacy in global disease surveillance will impact nearly every domain and deserves priority in any biosecurity policy.
  5. Since there is a degree of overlap between these threats, there will likely be unintentional trade-offs from policy. With the expansion of bioterrorism research programs, the likelihood of laboratory accidents will increase if facility containment measures are not also strengthened.
  6. A well-designed biosecurity strategy will produce positive externalities which will complicate efforts to allocate resources. Enhancing disease surveillance in facilities to reduce laboratory accidents can also help detect an emerging pandemic.
  7. There are costs and benefits to linking public health to national security. Using national security to mobilize efforts against diseases can be either a self-fulfilling or self-denying prophecy. The national security rhetoric in response to HIV/AIDS likely reduced its impact but there is evidence to suggest that similar biosecurity rhetoric gave al-Qaeda the idea to pursue biological terrorism.

The Deception Dividend: FDR’s Undeclared War – John M. Schuessler

By merging realism and liberalism, Schuessler develops a theory for when democracies may go to war without first gaining the public’s approval. Specifically, Schuessler incorporates realism into “democratic victory” framework. Democratic victory states that democracies win a high percentage of wars as a result of governments having to obtain public approval. Since the public will only support wars that offer easy victories, this “selection effect” encourages democracies to avoid costly or overly ambitious wars. Schuessler breaks from this theoretical framework by also incorporating realism and argues that there are two cases when democratic leaders may be forced into wars that do not offer easy victory:

  1. Under power shifts in the international order, democracies may be faced with a shrinking window of opportunity to resist the will of an emerging hegemon.
  2. Offshore balancing also entices democracies to intervene against a regional hegemon when local states are not sufficiently powerful to balance that hegemon on their own.

When democratic leaders face such challenges, they must resort to manufacturing consent since the public does not support potential threats, only imminent ones. Leaders must accomplish two objectives. First, they must obscure their war planning from the public. Second, they must seek to provoke or exploit a diplomatic crisis that will likely produce hostilities and allow blame to be shifted to the adversary. Leaders turn to deception to convince a public to support a war it would not otherwise support for two reasons:

  1. The selection affect can sometimes breakdown and force leaders into wars where victory is not assured.
  2. To avoid debate about the merits of war and shift the blame for hostilities to the adversary.

With these theoretical frameworks in mind, Schuessler argues that while FDR may not have deliberately exposed the Pacific fleet to an attack by Japan, he was actively looking for a crisis to exploit and spur public approval for war with Germany. FDR’s initial attempts at provocation were in the Atlantic by intentionally pursuing hostilities with German submarines. When these efforts did not increase the public approval for war, FDR allowed Japanese relations to deteriorate. The official doctrine towards Japan sought to contain its expansionism without provocation in order to avoid diverting precious resources from the Atlantic front. The oil embargo against Japan and subsequent refusals to work towards a diplomatic consensus when Japanese officials were willing to concede completely contradicted this doctrine. These actions can be considered as FDR’s search for a crisis that would consolidate public opinion and allow America to engage in a conflict with Germany.

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