Creating Order Amidst Civil War

Bargains, deals, and tacit understandings between states and insurgents are common in civil wars. This fascinating mix of conflict and cooperation shapes patterns of politics, governance, and violence. Building on recent findings about state formation, this article offers a conceptual typology of political orders amidst civil war. Wartime political orders vary according to the distribution of territorial control and the level of cooperation between states and insurgents. Orders range from collusion and shared sovereignty to spheres of influence and tacit coexistence to clashing monopolies and guerrilla disorder. Examples from contemporary South Asian conflicts illustrate these concepts, which are scalable and portable across contexts. Scholars need to think more creatively about the political-military arrangements that emerge and evolve during war. A key policy implication is that there are many ways of forging stability without creating a counterinsurgent Leviathan.

From a new article (ungated) by former Monkey Cage guest-blogger Paul Staniland.  See also his post at Foreign Policy and his posts for us on counterinsurgency.  Paul tells me that the article grew out his blogging.  Which is a good reason that more political scientists should blog.

One Response to Creating Order Amidst Civil War

  1. Brian Schmidt May 27, 2012 at 1:43 am #

    Interesting that the article starts with Burma. I did volunteer work in the Karen rebel-held area of Burma in the early 90s. There was at least one area where government school teachers ran the schools while Karen National Union forces fully controlled the town. The KNU told me that they even sent messages that higher officials in the Education Dept would be allowed to visit if they came without guns (they never responded).

    Another comment: I read Ulysses Grant’s memoirs a while back, and I found fascinating the number of times that low level soldiers created their own informal truce zones where they talked to each other and wouldn’t fight. Grant himself accidentally wandered alone on horseback one time into one of those areas, started talking to a soldier and then realized the soldier was Confederate. Grant didn’t break the truce, he just left.

    I suspect these incidents and the famous soccer game between trench lines in World War I might be more common than we realize.