Repression and the Civil-War Life-Cycle: Explaining the Use and Effect of Repression Before, During, and After Civil War
AuthorRyckman, Kirssa Cline
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe central goal of this project is to better understand the relationship between civil war and repression at each phase of the "civil-war life-cycle," which is composed of the escalation and onset of civil war, the war itself, and the post-war period. The project then seeks to understand the role of repression in civil war onset, where repression is argued to be either a permissive condition or a direct cause of civil war, where the role of repression is tied to what type of civil war occurs. As a permissive condition, repression essentially provides the opportunity for a group to carry out an attack, invasion, mutiny, and the like. During other conflicts, repression may be a direct cause of the war. The repression of protest movements may lead those groups to view "normal," non-violent political channels as closed, while also increasing grievances and therefore their willingness to fight. This direct mechanism along with the escalation process that leads to civil war is explored in depth, using data from the 2011 Arab Spring. This project also seeks to explain when conflicts are likely to be accompanied by harsh repression and the targeting of civilians, and to address whether that strategy is effective. It is argued that insurgencies rely on civilian populations for material and non-material support; if the government targets this resource pool then it may be able to undercut that lifeline and thus the military effectiveness of the group. Yet, as repression is costly this is only a strategy likely to be employed when the rebels are gaining ground, when they are relatively strong and militarily effective. As such, governments that employ repression as a war-time strategy are likely beginning from a point of weakness or disadvantage. It is thus further argued that the "gamble" of repression is not likely to reverse the government's fortunes; rather, wars marked by high levels of repression are most likely to end in stalemate. Finally, the use of, or the restraint from using, repression in post-war periods is also explored. Little attention has thus far been paid to the use of repression in post-conflict states, despite the growing literature on the consequences of conflict and the importance of this time for rebuilding and establishing peace. Here, the transformation of the war-time threat, together with various constraints against using repression in the post-war period, are considered.
Degree ProgramGraduate College