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"New" and "Old" Civil Wars: A Valid Distinction?


Author(s): Stathis N. Kalyvas
Source: World Politics, Vol. 54, No. 1 (Oct., 2001), pp. 99-118
Published by: Cambridge University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25054175 .
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Research Note

"NEW" AND "OLD" CIVIL WARS


A Valid Distinction?
By STATHISN. KALYVAS*

decline of interstate armed conflict and perceived rise in the


THE

of civil wars

frequency

Europe2?have
interest focuses

contributed

since

the end of the cold war1?especially


in
of interest in civil wars.3 This

to a new wave

on ethnic

as a source of conflict and


competition
widely
war
era ("new" civil wars)
as funda
of
the
regards
post-cold
different
from their predecessors
("old" civil wars); "new" civil
mentally
wars are
as criminal,
rather
than
distinguished
political,
phenomena.
civil wars

Since the issue of ethnic competition has been effectively tackled by


recent

the distinction
between
research,4 this article instead challenges
to see funda
"new" and "old" civil wars by arguing
that the tendency
them is based on an uncritical
mental
differences
between
of
adoption
in a double mischaracterization.
and labels grounded
On the
categories
one hand, information
about recent or ongoing wars is typically
incom
on
on
wars
and
the
other
historical
research
earlier
biased;
hand,
plete

tends to be disregarded. This is compounded by the fact that the end of


the cold war

has

orderly,
ingly, the distinction

possible

maybe

predecessors
conceptual
*
The

that had made


analysts of the clear categories
wars.
civil
if ultimately
of
Accord
flawed,
coding
war conflicts
drawn between
and
their
post-cold

robbed

an

categories

attributable
than

more

to the demise

to the existence

of readily available
differences.

of profound

author thanks Pierre Hassner,


Sofia P?rez, Roger Petersen, Scott Straus, Libby Wood,
and
in the May 2000 CERl/lEP conference on "La guerre entre le local et le global," for their

participants
comments.
1
Recent

research shows that the prevalence of civil wars in the 1990s is attributable to a steady ac
cumulation of conflicts since the 1950s, not the end of the cold war. See James D. Fearon and David
at the
in Comparative
D. Laitin, "Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War"
(Paper presented
Laboratory
Ethnic Processes, Duke University,
2000).
2
Violence," Annual Review of Soci
Rogers Brubaker and David D. Laitin, "Ethnic and Nationalist

24 (1998).
ology
3

Steven R. David, "Internal War: Causes and Cures," World Politics 49 (July 1997).
4
Fearon and Laitin (fn. 1); Nicholas
Sambanis, "Partition as a Solution to Ethnic War:
Politics 52 (July 2000).
ical Critique of the Theoretical
Literature," World

WorldPolitics 54 (October 2001), 99-118

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An Empir

100

WORLD

POLITICS

This article traces the origins of this distinction and then disaggre
causes
and motivations,
use of recent,
the
ethno
through
mosdy
or biased
on
recent
information
civil
incomplete

it along
three
and
violence.
support,

related

gates

dimensions:

I show,

research, how
graphic
wars taints our
interpretation;

recent historical
research
by using mostly
at
I demonstrate
of
old
civil
how
number
wars,
inadequate
large
to this kind of research affects our
tention
of
civil
past
understanding
wars. This
on the
with methodological
article concludes
suggestions
on a

wars.
study of civil

Origins
versions

Most
or

of the Distinction

of the distinction

that new

imply
cized, private,

civil wars

and predatory;

between

old and new

civil wars

stress

are

criminal,
characteristically
depoliti
old civil wars are considered
ideological,

political, collective, and even noble. The dividing line between old and
new

civil wars

The
when

the end of the cold war.


roughly with
recent or
ongoing
denigrate
wars?particularly
to one s own?is
not new.
civil wars are compared

coincides

tendency
other nations'

to

Consider the argument put forth in 1949, by F.A. Voigt, a British jour
nalist covering the Greek CivilWar:
In the English and American civil wars, there were high-minded patriots on ei
ther side. In these conflicts, the people were so evenly divided and the issues
were of such depth, scope, and variety, that it is not
possible for the historian to
condemn

one

side

and

utterly

to attribute

exclusive

righteousness

to the other,

even if he may have the conviction that the triumph of one sidewas a national
calamity
tion which

or the

reverse

attained

the

...

Such

magnitude

considerations
but

not

do not
the nature

apply
of an

to the Greek
indigenous

Sedi
revolu

tionary civil war. The Sedition is not to be explained in terms of any popular
grievances or of any failure on the part of the State.5
war manifestation
can be
of this type of argument
post-cold
'
ac
in part to
authors
who
articulated
"lay
best-selling
graphic
counts of recent civil wars
in places
like Liberia,
and Sierra
Bosnia,
a number of scholars in
In addition,
Leone.6
studies
and inter
security
The

traced

national

relations

have

also

advanced

various

versions

of this

argu

5
F. A Voigt, The Greek Sedition (London: Hollis
and Carter, 1949), 68-69.
6
Civil Wars: From LA. to Bosnia (New York: The New Press,
See Hans Magnus
Enzensberger,
(New York Vintage,
1994); Robert D. Kaplan, Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History
1994); idem,
are
"The Coming Anarchy: How Scarcity, Crime, Overpopulation,
and Disease
Rapidly Destroying
44 (February 1994); Michael
the Social Fabric of our Planet," Atlantic Monthly
IgnatiefF, The Warriors
Honor: Ethnic War and theModern Conscience (New York: Henry Holt and Company,
1998).

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101

"NEW" & "OLD" CIVIL WARS


ment.7

Even

some

tinction?between
and

are

criminal
demic

economists

have

"justice-seeking"
models
based on

building

The

enterprise.8
exercise insofar

adoption
as itmotivates

a related
adopted
and "loot-seeking"

the assumption
of the distinction

dis
analytical
civil wars?

of rebellion

as a

is not a mere

aca

specific policy demands,


including
For example,
the 1999 agreement
the civil war in Sierra Leone met with
from many
ending
opposition
human
and
makers
believed
who
rights activists,
journalists,
opinion
that the rebels were violent
criminals
and not political
revolutionaries
"humanitarian

and

that

them

to

it was

law-enforcement."9

to grant
immoral
in the new
government.10

therefore

participate

Three

them

amnesty

and

invite

Dimensions

old and new civil wars vary along three


accounts,
are summarized
These
broadly
stylized categories
as follows:11
In most

mensions.

related
in Table

di
1

7
Edward N. Lutwack,
"Great-powerless
Days," Times Literary Supplement, June 16,1995; Kalevi J.
The State, War, and the State ofWar, (Cambridge: Cambridge
Holsti,
Press, 1996); Chris
University
War: The New Politics of Conflicts
Hables Gray, Post-Modern
1997); Mark
(London: Routledge,
States and Private Protection," Civil Wars
"Post-modern Conflict: Warlords,
Duffield,
Post-adjustment
in Civil Wars,"
Functions of Violence
1, no. 1 (1998); David Keen, "The Economic
Adelphi Paper 320
(1998); Mary Kaldor, New and Old Wars: Organized Violence in a Global Era (Stanford, Calif: Stanford
eds, Greed and Grievance: Economic Agen
Press, 1999); Mats Berdal and David M. Malone,
University
das in Civil Wars (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2000).
8
no. 2
Herschel
I. Grossman,
and Revolution,"
(April
"Kleptocracy
Oxford Economic Papers 51,
44, no. 6
1999); Paul Collier, "Rebellion as a Quasi-Criminal
Activity," Journal of Conflict Resolution
for Policy," in Chester
and their Implications
(2000); Paul Collier, "Economic Causes of Civil Conflict
A. Crocker, Fen Osier Hampson,
and Pamela Aall, eds., Managing
Global Chaos (Washington D.C.:
Paul Azam and Anke Hoeffler,
U.S. Institute of Peace, forthcoming);
"Looting and Conflict between
Bank
inAfrica" (Paper presented at theWorld
Ethno-Regional
Groups: Lessons for State Formation
on "The Economics
Center for International
of Civil War," Princeton University,
Studies Workshop
in Civil
March
and Anke Hoeffler,
and Loot-Seeking
18-19, 2000); Paul Collier
"Justice-Seeking
in Civil War," World Bank
War," Manuscript, World
Bank, 1999); idem, "Greed and Grievance
Policy
Research Paper 2355 (Washington, D.C.: World
Bank, 2000).
9
Kaldor (fn. 7), 66.
10
A United Nations
desire for amnesty in exchange for peace as
official described the populations
of justice. See Remy Ourdan,
"Le Prix de la Paix," Le
representing a peculiarly African understanding
the publication
of this article coincided with the announce
Monde, December
2,1999.
Interestingly,
ment of a peace agreement
in Northern
Ireland. Critics of the Irish agreement were in turn criticized
same media that condemned
the Sierra Leone deal, on the exact opposite grounds. For example,
by the
in
the amnesty agreement
the French newspaper Le Monde
condemned
(December 4, 1999), which
in the new
Sierra Leone praised the British journalist Hugo Young, who supported the participation
since without him, "there would be no
of a former IRA commander
government
suspected of murders,
on pragmatic grounds.
in Sierra Leone was also condemned
peace agreement." The peace agreement
it is the absence of law
It was pointed out that "from the rebels' point of view, why have peace when
the peace
In fact the rebels never had any intention of honoring
and order that enables one to loot?...
Reno, "When Peace
accord; they were only interested inwaging war and looting the country." William
IsWorse
thanWar," New York Times, May 11,2000. Yet could not the same argument be made about
the peace agreement
inMozambique,
which has since been widely hailed as a success story?
11
some dimen
into one, while others emphasize
Some scholars collapse many of these dimensions
sions at the expense of others. Kaldor (fn. 7) seems to compare new civil wars with old conventional

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102 WORLD POLITICS


1
Table
and New Wars

Old

New Civil Wars

Old Civil Wars


Causes

&, motivation

collective

loot

private

grievances

lack of popular
support
violence
gratuitous

broad

support
Support
popular
violence
Violence controlled

1.Old civilwars were political and fought over collectively articulated, broad,
even

noble

trast,

new

as social

such

causes,
civil wars

are criminal

to as
referred
change?often
"justice".
and are motivated
private
by simple

By

con

gain?

greed and loot.


2. At least one side in old civil wars enjoyed popular support; political actors
in new civil wars lack any popular basis.
3. In old civil wars acts of violence were controlled and disciplined, especially
when

committed

by rebels;

in new

civil wars

gratuitous

and

senseless

violence

is

meted out by undisciplined militias, private armies, and independent warlords


for whom

winning

Collective

not

may

even

be

an

objective.

versus Private Causes and Motivations

into account
the broad causes of civil wars and the individual
Taking
motivations
of their combatants,
scholars implicitly hold that old
many
civil wars were motivated
clearly articulated,
by broad, well-defined,
new
civil wars tend
of
social
universalistic,
ideologies
change,12 whereas,
to be motivated

by

concerns
Recent

gain.
simple private
distinction
dichotomous

that often

boil

work

economists

by

down

to little more
is premised

than
on

are
and greed?rebels
grievance
or are
actors
either bandits motivated
seeking
political
by private greed
to ameliorate
Kofi
Annan
collective
UN
Secretary-General
grievance.13
out that "the
of diamonds,
timber,
drugs,
pursuit
recently
pointed
between

wars. Keen (fn. 7) argues that


looting generates "rational" rather than gratuitous violence. The claim
to their
that new civil wars are motivated
by looting is sometimes made in contradistinction
purported
and looting are merged. For the former view
sometimes ethnic motivations
ethnic motivation?while
a
see Kofi Annan,
Culture of Prevention,"
UNDPl(New
"Facing the Humanitarian
Challenge: Towards
"The Banality of'Ethnic War,'" International Security
York, 1999); for the latter view see John Mueller,
25, no. 1 (2000).
12Kaldor (fn. 7), 6.
a
13Collier and Hoeffler,
2000 (fn. 8), 2-3; Collier
(fn. 8); Collier and Collier and Hoeffler
produce
inwhich rebellion begins as a collective grievance and is sus
number of mixed greed-grievance
models
to aWorld
distinction. According
tained by greed. All models, however, presuppose
this dichotomous
Bank Press Release: "New World
Bank research suggests that civil wars are more often fueled by rebel
for control of diamonds,
coffee, and other valuable pri
groups competing with national governments
wars are far more
rather than by political, ethnic, or religious differences...'Civil
mary commodities,
and therefore certain rebel groups
than by grievance,
likely to be caused by economic
opportunities
benefit from the conflict and have a very strong interest in initiating and sustaining it,' says [Paul] Col
lier."World
and Other
'Lootable' Commodities
Bank, "Greed for Diamonds
Release 2000/419/S,
http://wbln0018.worldbank.org/news/pressrelease.nsf,

Fuels Civil Wars"


(News
accessed April 20,2001).

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"NEW"

6c "OLD" CIVIL WARS

103

drives a number of today s


the capacity
of the State to extract
resources
to be
from society
and to allocate
is the prize
patronage
over.14
The
takes
criminal
forms.
For
Enzens
many
fought
metaphor
in new civil wars are "warrior
factions
berger, competing
gangs."15 Ka
wars
as
in Africa
civil
actions by bandits
criminal
and
plan describes
on
disenfranchised
child-soldiers
and
soldiers,
teenage
hooligans,
concessions

and other valuable

internal

wars.

drugs.16
Some

even

In some

commodities

countries

that new

civil wars

lack purpose
entirely. As En
s
wars
a
new
civil
and terrifying
argues: "What gives today
zensberger
slant is the fact that they are waged without
stakes on either side, that
are wars about
at all."17 Further,
"there is no longer any
they
nothing
to
need
has been freed from ideology,"
your actions. Violence
legitimize
argue

and the combatants

have

an innate

inability

to think

and act in terms of

and future.18

past
Such

are often based on


or biased
however,
arguments,
incomplete
evidence
derived
from journalistic
reports that tend to quote uncriti
of
and
members
cally city-dwellers
organizations.
progovernmental
Fieldworkers
have described
such views as paying
"scant regard to the
. .
own claims
the purpose
of their movement.
concerning
insurgents'
a view
and [preferring]
instead to endorse
among
widespread
capital
city elites
denying

and in diplomatic
circles."19 Gourevitch
points
are
the particularity
of the peoples who
making

out

that "by
and
history,

the possibility that they might have history, [such arguments] mistake
[their]
these

More
because

failure

to

recognize

what

is at stake

in events

for the nature

of

events."20

generally,
it is unclear

is analytically
the concept
of looting
it refers to the causes of war
whether

problematic
or the moti

vations of the combatants (or both). The first problem is the direction

14
Annan
(fn. 11).
15
(fn. 6), 22.
Enzensberger
16
Kaplan (fn. 6).
17
in original.
(fn. 6), 30. Emphasis
Enzensberger
18
Ibid., 20-1,29.
19
Paul Richards, Fighting for the Rain Forest: War, Youth, and Resources in Sierra Leone (Oxford:
Christian Geffray
James Currey, 1996), xvii. In his study of the war inMozambique,
anthropologist
[the war] on the ground," and international media that
castigates "journalists who cannot investigate
and analyses" reflecting the views of "urban elites, national intellectuals, and
reproduce "information
cause des armes au
d'une guerre civile
foreigners." Christian Geffray, La
Mozambique:
Anthropologie
(Paris: Karthala, 1990), 19.
20
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will beKilled with Our Families: Sto
Philip Gourevitch,
riesfrom Rwanda
1998), 182.
(New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux,

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104

WORLD

POLITICS

to be
war in order to loot or do
of causality?do
they loot
people wage
able to wage war?21 If the latter is the case, then looting may be no dif
taxation'.
of "revolutionary
ferent from the widely
practice
accepted
au
not
the
it
is
is
clear
who
Second,
looting?elites,
always
doing
tonomous
loot
the linkages between
armed peasants? Third,
militias,
are

and fluid.22 Can we seriously reduce the


complex
even
riots to a phenomenon
of "looting"
though
take
other
many
Finally,
things?did
place?
looting?among
are serious
in
of empirical
significance
empirical
problems. The

ing and grievances


1992 Los Angeles
much
there

dicators

for "lootable"

proxying

resources

raises

of
important
questions
of
To
causality.
problems
is mainly
Leone
about dia

to address

internal

validity?beyond
failing
in Sierra
say, in short, that the civil war
a
to
monds
be
gross oversimplification.23
appears
and Sudan are even less amenable
bia, Somalia,
Researchers

who

ernment

officials?provide

the grievance/looting
verse

and

include

Richards

have

and-file

members

matized

studied

zones?as

in war

fieldwork

have

new

Civil wars

civil wars
to

opposed
very nuanced

in Colom

to such
simplification.24

by conducting
victims
interviewing
accounts

lengthy
and gov
that fail to support

dichotomy. They find rebel motivations

are di

concerns

that go beyond mere banditry.25 Peters and


for example,
Sierra Leone,
that many
rank
rebel movements
that have been stig
of the African

shown

about

as lacking any ideology

appear in fact to have had a

of their own
Their
political understanding
participation.26
are
not
to observers
motivations
visible
look
ideological
simply
always
'
for
"Western
of
and
discourse.
make
the
patterns
ing
allegiance
They
that organizations
idioms and local
flawed assumption
using religious
sophisticated

21
the direction of causality may be irrelevant for predicting
the likelihood of civil wars, it
Although
matters when deriving
about civil wars.
theoretical, and normative
empirical,
implications
22
Collier
and Hoeffler
the complexity
of the possible connections
between
(fn. 8) acknowledge
"greed" and "grievance."
23
Richards
(fn. 19).
24
Mauricio
Romero,
"Changing Identities and Contested
Settings: Regional Elites and the Para
in Colombia,"
International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society 14, no. 1 (2000); Isabelle
militaries
or
Duyvesteyn,
"Contemporary War: Ethnic Conflict, Resource Conflict
Something Else?" Civil Wars
"Violent Politics and the Politics of Violence: The Dissolution
of
3, no. 1 (2000); Catherine Besteman,
American Ethnologist 23, no. 3 (1996).
the Somali Nation-State,"
25
A psychologist who treated hundreds of fighters in the Liberian Civil War drew the following
someone
16 and 35 years of age, who may have decided to become a
usually between
profile: "He is
combatant for several reasons: to get food for survival, to stop other fighters from killing his family and
friends, was forced to become a combatant or be killed, sheer adventurism etc." E. S. Grant, quoted in
an
ofLiberia and the Religious Dimension
Stephen Ellis, The Mask ofAnarchy: The Destruction
of African
Civil War (New York: New York University
Press, 1999), 127.
26
in Sierra Leone,"
Krijn Peters and Paul Richards, "'Why We Fight': Voices of Youth Combatants
no. 2 (1998).
Africa 68,

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"new"

& "old"

to mobilize
cultural practices
universalistic
appeals?lack

wars

civil

105

than easily recognizable


use of traditional

people27?rather

The

any ideology.
is central inAfrican
of initiation,
for example,
rebel organiza
processes
s
tions.28 Chingono
of
argues that Re
study
Mozambique
emphatically
and
oudooks
of the world,
namo, "by resuscitating
peasant
defending
.
.
.
was
which
had been suppressed
peasant
articulating
by Frelimo
ideologies."29
To understand
as warlords30?a
ature

modern
useful

on warlordism

feature

of warlordism

rebel

leaders?often

source

of insight
on China),
(focusing
is rule rather than

mere

referred

is the relevant

to

pejoratively
historical
liter

which

argues that the key


are never
Warlords
looting.
area
virtue
of
their
capac
by

are lords of a
bandits;
they
particular
to wage war.31 Whereas
bandits?in
and elsewhere?must
China
hit
ity
and run in order to survive, warlords
administer
taxes,
levy
justice,
some
assume
maintain
the burdens
of
degree of order, and generally
areas
are
state
in
the
control.32
builders.
Saint
government
they
They
Augustine

observed

this very phenomenon:

"If by accessions

of desper

ate men this evil [brigandage] grows to such proportions that it holds

seizes upon states and subjugates


settlements,
it assumes
the name of a kingdom."33
in
Rebel
peoples,
organizations
as
mere
a
often
dismissed
criminal
Africa,
gangs, develop
ap
complex
areas
is less visible but not
paratus of rule in the
they control?which
lands,

establishes

very different
rebels.34 These

fixed

from

the

order

oriented"
implemented
by "justice
in
also
and
engage
organizations
systematic,
organized,
raw
interactions with foreign firms, which
economic
buy

sophisticated
materials
and sell weapons,35
mentation
implied by many

an

activity
views.

at odds with

the extreme

frag

27
theWar
inMozambique,"
in Paul B. Rich and
Tom Young, "AVictim of Modernity?
Explaining
State: Guerrilla Warfare and State-Building
in the Twenti
Stubbs, eds., The Counter-Insurgent
eth Century (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997), 136-37; Stephen L.Weigert,
Religion and Guerrilla
Warfare inModern Africa (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996); Ellis (fn. 25); Thomas H. Henriksen,
sWar
Revolution
and Counterrevolution: Mozambique
(Westport, Conn.:
of Independence, 1964-1974
Richard

Greenwood
Press, 1983), 76.
28
Richards
(fn. 19), xix.
29
Mark F. Chingono,
The State, Violence, and Development: The Political Economy ofWar inMozam
1975-1992
(Aldershot: Avebury,
1996), 55.
bique,
30
See, for example, Reno (fn. 10).
31
James E. Sheridan, Chinese Warlord: The Career ofFeng Yu-hsiang (Stanford, Calif: Stanford Uni
versity Press, 1966), 1.
32
Ibid., 19.
33
Saint Augustine,
The City of God, trans. John Healey
(London: J.M. Dent; New York: E. P. Dut
ton, 1931), IV:iv.
34Stephen Ellis, "Liberia 1989-1994: A Study of Ethnic and Spiritual Violence," African Affairs
no. 375 (1995), 165-197; Duffield
(fn. 7); Geffray
(fn. 19).
35
William
Reno, Warlord Politics and African States (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1998).

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94,

106

WORLD

POLITICS

The typical picture of "ideologically oriented" actors in old civilwars,


for

as well.
Such actors have often
misrepresented
activities,
large-scale
looting, and the pronounced
to represent.
of the populations
whose
grievances
they claimed
a
is recurring element
of civil wars,
the most
looting
including

its part, is often


in criminal
engaged
coercion
Indeed,

ones

ideological
anticolonial
Even

such

as the Russian
such

Lenin

and Chinese

as the one

rebellions,
into agreements
entered

Revolutions36

in Indonesia

with

"criminal

and

in the

1940s.37

elements"

during

the Russian Civil War. The behavior of the Red Army in Kharkov and
Kiev in 1919, as it emerges from Soviet records, led the historian
Vladimir N. Brovkin to assert that "in plain English, the Bolshevik
rulers were

and rapists."38 "Taxation" is a key rebel activity in all


civil wars,
and incumbents
do not shy away from outright
looting.
one
Vietnam
the
could find among
South Vietnamese
War,
During
thieves

former criminals "who preferred fighting to sitting in jail,"

militiamen
while

American

advisers

Provincial

often

allowed

Reconnaissance

Units

the members

of

the

CIA

to

sponsored
"keep money
captured
their operations."39
The
during
paradigmatic
ideological
political
were
the members
of the French
de
actors,
armies,
Revolutionary
as
scribed by their contemporaries
"highwaymen,"
"vagrants," "robbers,"
and "vicious, bloodthirsty
Nor
should one
"vagabonds,"
hooligans."40
to
their
that
the counterrevolutionaries,
resorted
adversaries,
forget
as well.41
banditry
the importance
Furthermore,
wars has been
greatly overstated.
stemic bias

in old civil
motivations
of ideological
To begin with,
there is a clear epi
in favor of the
that old civil wars (as well as most
assumption

individuals participating in them) were motivated by grand ideological


concerns.

Because

intellectuals

tend

to be
primarily

ogy, they tend to assign overwhelmingly

motivated

ideological motives

by ideol

to both

36
Lincoln Li, The Japanese Army inNorth China, 1937-1941:
Problems ofPolitical and Economic Con
trol (Tokyo: Oxford University
theMasses: Building
Press, 1975), 229; Odoric Y.K. Wou, Mobilizing
Revolution
inHenan
Press, 1994), 154; Orlando Figes, A Peoples
(Stanford, Calif: Stanford University
1891-1924
The Russian Revolution,
(New York: Penguin,
1997), 666-67.
Tragedy:
37
Robert Cribb, Gangsters and Revolutionaries:
The Jakarta Peoples Militia
and the Indonesian Revo
of Hawaii Press, 1991), 54.
lution, 1945-1949
(Honolulu: University
38
in Russia, 1918-1922
Vladimir M. Brovkin, Political Parties and Social Movements
(Princeton:
Princeton University
Press, 1994), 121.
39
Mark Moyar, Phoenix and the Birds of Prey: The CIAs Secret Campaign toDestroy the Viet Cong (An
Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1997), 168.
napolis,
40
Richard Cobb, The People sArmies (New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1987), 5.
41
Charles Tilly, The Vend?e (Cambridge: Harvard University
Press, 1964), 6.

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"NEW" & "OLD" CIVIL WARS


participants

107

in civil wars.42 Moreover,


or local claims, universalistic

and civilians
ethnic

when

not

crudely

ideological
"disguising"
appeals
were
means
of traditional
cultural idioms often not un
by
propagated
in new civil wars. For example, Lan has
like those used by movements
shown how the "progressive" Zimbabwean
rebels who
against
fought
racist regime used traditional
the country's
(and its practition
religion
to infer the
In addition,
it is a grave mistake
ers) to mobilize
peasants.43
motivations

of rank-and-file

members

tion of its ideological messages.44


Microlevel
historical
studies

from

consistently

their

leadership's

demonstrate

how

articula

super

ficial was the adoption of ideological claims (typically expressed in


across

a range of civil wars. A common


of old civil wars
is that at the mass

baffling
acronyms)
numerous
studies

ones. Dallin
ideological
Soviet Union,
where
about German-occupied
point
or the
was
to side with
decision
the Germans
partisans
considerations

tended

to trump

in
finding
local
level,
et al. make
this

an individual's
not determined

and evaluations
of the merits
and demerits
by "abstract considerations
nor
even
or
two
of the
under
regimes,
by likes and dislikes
experiences
the Soviet regime before the occupation."45
subtle
Swedenburg's
analy

sis of Palestinian collaboration with the British during the 1936-39


Palestinian

rebellion

makes

of the ideological

influences

the

same

McKenna's
Likewise,
focus
narratives"
rebels and supporters
in the Southern
reveals
"that
Muslims'
ordinary
perceptions
Philippines
of the war were often conspicuously
and representations
independent
on the "unauthorized

point.46
of Muslim

of any separatist

leaders

or, for that matter,

42

is not directiy caused by individual, radical ideologies even in


It turns out that political violence
as Delia Porta shows in her
terrorist organizations.
study of Italian and German
Political Violence, and the State: A Comparative Analysis of
Porta, Social Movements,
Press, 1995), 196. As Barrington Moore
puts it:
Italy and Germany (Cambridge: Cambridge University
"The discontented
intellectual with his soul searchings has attracted attention wholly out of proportion
to his political importance,
records and also
partiy because these searchings leave behind them written
because those who write history are themselves
intellectuals." Barrington Moore,
Social Origins ofDic
of theModern World (Boston: Beacon Press,
tatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in theMaking
urban environments,
See Donatella Delia

480
1966),
43

in Zimbabwe
David Lan, Guns and Rain: Guerrillas and Spirit Mediums
(London: James Currey,
1985). See also Henriksen
(fn. 27), 76, forMozambique.
44
1919-1944
Paul Jankowski, Communism and Collaboration: Simon Sabiani and Politics inMarseille,
(New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1989), ix, xii.
45
and
andWilhelm
Alexander Dallin, Ralph Mavrogordato,
"Partisan Psychological Warfare
Moll,
of
in John A. Armstrong,
ed., Soviet Partisans inWorld War II (Madison: University
Popular Attitudes,"
Wisconsin
46
Ted

Press, 1964), 336.


Rebellion
Swedenburg, Memories
ofRevolt: The 1936-1939
of Minnesota
Press, 1995), 169-70.
(Minneapolis: University

and the Palestinian National

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Past

108

WORLD

POLITICS

in
of any elite
effective
insurgent
group."47 Observing
performance
that rebels are highly
combat has often led to the erroneous
inference
cause. However,
numerous
to an
studies have
ideological
in combat are usually motivated
that men
by group pressures

dedicated
concluded

and processes involving: (1) regard for their comrades, (2) respect for
their leaders, (3) concern for their own reputation with both, and (4) an
to their success of the
urge to contribute
group.48 Recent
sociological
a
even more amenable
on
to ide
research
"choice"
conversion,
religious
considerations
than politics,
shows that doctrinal
ological
appeal does
not

lie at the heart

become
their

process: most people do not


to the doctrines
of their new faith until

of the conversion

attached

very
conversion.49

processes

Usually,

dynamics.

Stark, Wickham-Crowley,

of joining

a movement.50

are rooted
of joining
and Petersen
argue

really
after

in network
that

social

network ties (especially friendship and kin ties) are the best predictors
As Hart

out

points

about

the Irish Revolu

tion and Civil War:


The most important bonds holding Volunteers together were those of family
and neighborhood. Indeed, IRA companies were very often founded upon such
.
. . Twelve

networks

of

side. None

republican
a clue";
hadn't

"It was

very

their

ranks.

their decisions

"The

veterans

remember

confusing

Cork veterans, the Treaty


within

thirteen

the
could

I interviewed

making

altogether."

had
choice

specific

Judging

by

the

fought
to do

on

the

so. "I

recollections

of

itself and republican ideology were rarely discussed

politics

of

it was

second

place

at times." Most

couched

in the same collective terms they used to describe their joining

the organization.51

In short,
the familiar

the handy

of coherent
presence
conceptual
categories
along
to the com
which
blinded
casual observers
axis,

left-right
of civil wars, appears to have led to a significant
plexity and messiness
overstatement
content
of old civil wars via unwar
of the ideological

47
Thomas M. McKenna, Muslim Rulers and Rebels: Everyday Politics and Armed Separatism in the
Southern Philippines
of California
Press, 1998), 194-95. Collective
grievances
(Berkeley: University
tend to be expressed only under restrictive conditions.
"Pride in Rebellion:
In
See Elisabeth Wood,
Collective
in
El
New
York
Action
Salvador" (Manuscript,
University,
surrectionary
Spring 2001).
48
Dave Grossman,
On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning toKill inWar and Society (Boston:
and Criti
Little, Brown, and Company,
1995), 89-90; Walter
Laqueur, Guerilla Warfare: A Historical
cal Study (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction,
this does not answer the question
1998), 272. Obviously,
of how and why an organization
capable of providing such training and leadership emerges.
49
Became the
the Obscure, Marginal
Stark, The Rise of Christianity: How
Jesus Movement
Rodney
a
Dominant
1997),
Religious Force in the Western World in Few Centuries (New York: Harper Collins,
14-17.
50
on Latin American
Ibid.; Timothy Wickham-Crowley,
Insurgency and
Exploring Revolution: Essays
M. E. Sharpe, 1991), 152; Roger Petersen, Resistance and Rebel
Revolutionary
Theory (Armonk, N.Y.:
lion: Lessons from Eastern Europe (New York: Cambridge University
Press, 2001).
51
Peter Hart, The LR.A. and Its Enemies: Violence and Community
in Cork, 1916-1923
(New York:
Clarendon Press, 1999), 209,264.

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109

"NEW" & "OLD" CIVIL WARS


ranted

inferences

the elite to the mass

from

of the cold war

seems

to have

caused

level. In this regard, the end


cat
of the
conceptual

the demise

wars rather than a decline


in the
egories used to interpret civil
ideolog
at the mass
ical motivations
of civil wars
level. Ironically,
detailed
research

about

analysts
pictions

conducted
years later tends to be ignored by
civil wars who keep relying on the flawed de
the old civil wars were ongoing.

Support versus Lack of Support

Popular
Since

these wars

of contemporary
produced when

old civil wars were

grievances,
port?at

to grow out of accumulated


supposed
popular
to be based on considerable
assumed
popular sup

were
they
least for the rebels.

By

fought by political actors who

contrast,

new

civil wars

appear

to be

to

lack any such support. According

as articulated
at least in
"Whereas
guerrilla warfare,
theory
by
or Che Guevara,
to capture 'hearts and minds,'
aims
the
Tse-tung
new warfare
borrows
from counterinsurgency
of destabi
techniques
lization aimed at sowing Tear and hatred.'"52 Similarly, Nordstrom
de

Kaldor:
Mao

as "a
rebels of the Renamo
lethal
particularly
no
or
that has virtually
ideology
popular
support,"
formed by foreign powers
intent on destabilizing
the country, and re
for "over 90 percent
of all atrocities
Likewise
committed."53
sponsible
a
war
war
not
in
P?caut
the
is
civil
that
Colombia
because
the
argues
scribed

the Mozambican

rebel movement

does not support any side at all.54


population
are often based upon
Such statements
incomplete
mation.

Nordstrom's

views with
government

refugees
forces"

or biased

infor

on inter
for example,
relies exclusively
account,
in areas
from
liberated
Renamo
control
"recently
by
or
and information
provided
by progovernmental

of Mozambican
(such as the Organization
Women),
ganizations
relay
the
view
of
the
rebels.
that "in
She
ing
government's
reported
is generally
referred to as bandidos armados
[the Renamo]
Mozambique,
in all civil wars use such
that incumbents
(armed bandits),"
ignoring
terms

to describe

insurgents.55

Recent

studies

based

on evidence

that

52
Kaldor (fn. 7), 8.
53
and JoAnn Martin,
"The Backyard Front," in Carolyn Nordstrom
eds., The
Carolyn Nordstrom,
Paths toDomination,
of California Press, 1992), 271-72.
Resistance, and Terror (Berkeley: University
54
une guerre contre la soci?t?," Le Monde, October
Daniel P?caut, "En Colombie,
Simi
10,1999.
lar statements are commonly made about Sierra Leone. See, for example, Reno (fn. 35).
55
a more nuanced
In a subsequent
in
account, Nordstrom
provided
portrayal of the situation
"War on the Front Lines," in Carolyn Nordstrom
and Antonius
Mozambique.
Carolyn Nordstrom,
C. G. M. Robben,
eds., Fieldwork under Fire: Contemporary Studies of Violence and Survival(Berkeley:
of California Press, 1995), 142.
University

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110

WORLD

POLITICS

was hard (if not impossible) to collect while the civil war was ongoing
a considerable
level of popular
enjoyed
support.56
areas
was
in
This
rural
controlled
where
support
present
by Renamo,
in
than
researchers
and journalists
the
cities
rather
rarely traveled,
under governmental
control.57
indicate

that Renamo

Conversely,

the perception

that

in old

rebellions

civil wars

were

based on widespread popular support has been repeatedly called into


the view
that leftist
rebellions,
begin with,
were
on
and elsewhere,
based mostly
and
widespread
sual popular
has
been
careful
participation
by
questioned
research.58 Likewise,
the Vietcong
oriented
relied on extensive
to what Kaldor
the civilian population.59
against
Contrary

question.
America

To

mass

new?as
is nothing
population
displacement
suggested
classic wars as the Russian,
and
Civil wars.
Chinese
Spanish,

Furthermore,
are often
wars,

individual
informed

in old
loyalties
less by impersonal

civil wars,
discourses

fluid, shifting, and often locally based cleavages.Many

in Latin
consen
micro
coercion
argues,60
by such

as in new

civil

and more

by

studies describe

a
often characterized
between
processes,
disjunction
by
underly
on the one hand, and violent conflict and identities on the
ing cleavages
in Ireland from
other. For
Hart's
of Cork County
analysis
example,

messy

1916 to 1923 unearths a high level of variation in political attitudes at

an
the microlevel,
"array of?often
loyalties
conflicting?local
turned every part of Cork into a political patchwork."61 When,
a civil war, the decision
Irish nationalists
about which
fought
was
join
divisions

as
always, by group loyalties
"shaped,
became political
battle lines."62

and rivalries.

[which]
in 1923,
side to
Factional

56
also points out that "while Renamo would not have
(fn. 29). Chingono
Young (fn. 27); Chingono
survived without
external support, exclusive focus on external factors equally distorts the reality and
own
are reduced to mere
denies theMozambicans'
and
passive victims of manipulations
history; they
machinations
of powerful external forces."
57
Similar observations have been made about Liberia

and Sierra Leone. See Ellis (fn. 34); Richards


(fn. 19).
58
and the Story ofAll Poor Guatemalans
See, for example, David Stoll, Rigoberta Mench?
(Boulder:
Iv?n Degregori,
Storms: Peasant Rondas and the Defeat
of
Westview,
1999); Carlos
"Harvesting
in Ayacucho,"
in Steven J. Stern, ed., Shining and Other Paths: War and Society in
Sendero Luminoso
Peru, 1980-1995
(Durham and London: Duke University
Press, 1998), 128-57. The same is true for
anticolonial wars in Africa. See Norma Kriger, Zimbabwe's Guerrilla War: Peasant Voices (Cambridge:
Press, 1992).
University
Cambridge
59
and Techniques of theNational Liberation Front of South
Douglas Pike, Viet Cong: The Organization
Vietnam (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1966).
60
Kaldor (fn. 7), 8.
61
Hart (fn. 51), 220.
62
Ibid., 265-66.

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"new"

& "old"

civil

111

wars

Family and faction dictated the course of the IRA split in units all over Ireland,
often in highly predictable fashion. Once again, itwas the Brennans against the
in east Limerick,
Barretts in Clare, the Hanniganites against theManahanites
inDonegal as all the old feuds were
and the Sweeneys versus the O'Donnells
reignited.63

Similar

are observable

dynamics

in most

old civil wars.

For example,

the South Vietnamese village of Binh Nghia displayed a "lukewarm at


titude
had

the Viet

toward

across

originated

the local communist


Cong" because
the river, in the Phu Long hamlets,

movement
with

which

they had a long-standing and hostile feud over fishing rights.64

whom

As Manrique

describes,

in the central

Peruvian

of Canipaco

valley

the

population enjoyed a "kind of honeymoon" with Shining Path, which


a
two communities
dispute
erupted between
of lands previously
usurped by haciendas.65
is often articulated
of rebellions
Because
the meaning

ended when

over

the dis

tribution

of national

observers

language
cleavages, many
as
support along
actually mobilizing
popular
In his analysis of the Cultural
workers
disagree.
nese

by elites in the
code them
erroneously

those

Field
cleavages.
one
in
Revolution
Chi

factions used the language of


reports that warring
each
faction
that the other represented
struggle,
claiming
landlords
and counterrevolutionary
elements. Hinton,
found
however,
village,

Hinton

class

with

that the conflict


which

dominated

Shen

was

family, which played


same
lage.66 The
discovery

1927 Haifeng

clans: the Lu family,


competing
and larger section of the village, and the
a
major role in the southern section of the vil

polarized
the northern

around

was made

by the writer

of a report

on the

uprising in South China, a region polarized into com

63
Ibid., 266.
64
"The hostility between the Phu Longs and Binh Nghia was generations
old, focused on a feud
over
was natural that the Phu
as well as
Longs assumed economic
fishing rights. It
political power
when the Viet Cong were on the rise and this was done at the direct expense of fishermen
from Binh
the Viet Cong came across the river to spread the gospel, there were many in
So later when
Nghia.
Binh Nghia who resented them and any cause they represented. The police chiefs had fed this resent
ment with money and had built a spy network." See F. J.West,
of
Jr., The Village (Madison: University
Wisconsin
Press, 1985), 146-47.
65
of armed Shining Path cadres on the side of one of the communities
in a
"The participation
a confederation
a rupture with the latter,
of rival communities
massive confrontation
against
provoked
in
who decided to turn over two senderista cadres they had captured in the scuffle to the authorities
in the execution of thirteen
Huancayo. This action provoked Shining Path reprisals, which culminated
in the central
from their communities
and assassinated
peasant leaders. The victims were kidnapped
"TheWar for the Central Sierra," in Stern (fn. 58), 204-5.
plaza of Chongos Alto." Nelson Manrique,
66
in a Chinese
William
Hinton,
Shenfan: The Continuing Revolution
Village (New York: Vintage
Books,

1984),

527.

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WORLD POLITICS

112

peting alliances of villages known as Red Flag and Black Flag, which
had grown out of lineage struggles: "When the Red Army arrived fly
ing red banners,

the troops were

greeted

and peasants

by landowners

alike from Red Flag villages who thought theywere allies in the strug
gle against
Moreover,

the common

ways?wealthy
and its rival

locally

enemy,

segmented

peasants may
in a
neighboring

the Black

Flag

villages."67

in misleading
cleavages often aggregate
one
one
actor
in
support
political
region
can be
merchants
region;68 wealthy

in an otherwise
death
by poor right-wing
squad members
or
sets
of
diverse
not) regional
conflict;69
class-polarized
(overlapping
and local cleavages,
such as socio-economic,
factional,
clan,
lineage,
to
combine
mislead
tribal, gender, or generational
cleavages,
produce
targeted

aggregate
ingly uniform
cleavages; vertical relationships
(patron-client)
ties (communities,
and vertical
townlands,
neighborhoods,
parishes,
or kin) often
horizontal
factions,
clans,
trump
corporations,
cleavages.70
are often "localistic
interests
and region-specific;"71
individual
Group
are not
motivations
informed
by impersonal
cleavage
necessarily
even
related grievances,
but often by local and personal
conflicts,72
by
common
crime.73 As Tilly has observed
about the Vend?e:
"The most
we have on communal
in southern
information
microscopic
politics
Anjou

resists

forcing

into categories

of class and locality

alone,

and calls

for hunches about kinship, family friendships, the residues of old feuds,
same
societies
that are sharply polarized
applies for
of class75 and ethnicity.76
Social relations and the connections
a matter
of "constant
formed
identities
before
the war become

and the like."74 The


in terms
that

67
Robert Marks, Rural Revolution
in South China: Peasants and theMaking
inHaifeng
ofHistory
ofWisconsin
1570-1930
(Madison: University
Press, 1984), 263.
County,
68
David H. Close, "Introduction,"
inDavid H. Close, ed., The Greek Civil War, 1943-1950:
Studies
in Polarization
(London and New York: Roudedge,
(fn. 19).
1993), 1-31; Geffray
69
of a Death
"The Operation
J. Demarest,
Benjamin D. Paul andWilliam
Squad in San Pedro la
Laguna," in Robert M. Carmack, ed., Harvest
of Violence: The Maya Indians and the Guatemalan Crisis
of Oklahoma
(Norman: University
Press, 1988), 128,150.
70
Hart
(fn.
(fn. 51), 177; McKenna
(fn. 66), 527; Marks
(fn. 47), 162; Kriger (fn. 58), 8; Hinton
67), 264.
71
(fn. 46), 131-33; Wickham-Crowley
(fn. 29), 16; Swedenburg
Young (fn. 27), 138-42; Chingono
(fn. 50), 131.
72
(fn. 69).
See, for example, McKenna
(fn. 47); Swedenburg
(fn. 46); Paul and Demarest
73
Mueller
When Colombia Bled: A His
(fn. 11); Paul and Demarest
(fn. 69); James D. Henderson,
of Alabama Press, 1985).
tory of the Violencia in Tolima (University, Ala.: University
74
(fn. 41), 191.
75Tilly
Stoll (fn. 58).
76
Et ils sont devenus Harkis
Richards
(Paris: Fayard, 1993); Jan T.
(fn. 19), 6;Mohand
Hamoumou,
Gross, Revolution from Abroad: The Soviet Conquest of Poland sWestern Ukraine and Western Belorussia
(Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University
Press, 1988).

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113

"NEW" & "OLD" CIVIL WARS

a medium
In many ways,
civil wars provide
for a
to be realized within
of grievances
the space of the great
variety
er conflict and
use of violence. As Lucas argues about the
the
through
reformulation."77

in southern

Revolution
a

for

language

other

France,
conflicts

"the revolutionary
struggle provided
a social,
or
communal,
personal

of

nature."78

In short, micro-oriented
studies of old civil wars offer a ground-level
wars
as
of civil
"welters of complex
rather than as
struggles,"79
sup
simple binary conflicts between
organizations
crystallizing
popular
In old civil
port and collective
grievances
along well-defined
cleavages.

view

was
and lost during the war, often
wars, popular
support
shaped, won,
means
of
coercion
and
and
violence
and local
by
along lines of kinship
was not
it
and
ideo
fixed,
immutable,
ity;
purely consensual,
primarily
as
wars
are
new
not
In
this
old
civil
different
from
civil
respect,
logical.
wars as
to be.
they appear

versus Gratuitous

Controlled

in new

Violence

civil wars

as both horrific and


is consistently
described
out
mercenar
and paramilitaries,
senseless, meted
by assorted militia
war
and
warlords
for
whom
the
ies,
may not even
independent
winning
be an objective.80 Human
the
and
press described
rights organizations

Violence

the gruesome

massacres

that took place


and
less," "wanton,"
"incomprehensible"
often come with
ery."81 Such descriptions

in

Algeria
instances

a culturalist

in 1997

as "sense

of "random
shade.

butch

In the last

Serb soldiers massacred


1998, when
days of September
twenty-one
and elderly people near the village of Gornje Obrinje
women,
children,
a detailed
in Kosovo,
account concluded
itwas an instance
journalistic
a
of "the
tra
of
is
violent
time-honored
revenge [which]
practice
taking
are often
in the Balkans."82 These
dition
descriptions
by
complemented
to
acts of violence
that attempt
arguments
explain
by simply
their effects. A psychologist
victims
who
treated the maimed

stating
of the

77
of California Press,
Mary Elizabeth Berry, The Culture of Civil War inKyoto (Berkeley: University
1994), xxi.
78
Colin Lucas, "Themes
in Southern Violence
in Gwynne
Lewis and Colin
after 9 Thermidor,"
1794-1815
Lucas, eds., Beyond the Terror: Essays in French Regional and Social History,
(Cambridge:
Press, 1983), 152-94.
University
Cambridge
79
Susan F. Harding, Remaking Ibieca: Rural Life in
of
Aragon under Franco (Chapel Hill: University
North Carolina Press, 1984), 59.
80
Kaldor (fn. 7), 93.
81
Stathis N. Kalyvas, "Wanton and Senseless? The Logic ofMassacres
and
in Algeria," Rationality
11, no. 3 (1999), 243-85.
Society
82
Stands as Gruesome
of Serb Revenge," Interna
Evidence
Jean Perlez, "Kosovo Clans Massacre
tional Herald Tribune, November
16,1998.

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114

POLITICS

WORLD

Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone pointed out that "it
was

the goal of the rebels to take away their role as men,


fathers and
states that "Renamo, with
its tactics of sever
husbands/'83
Nordstrom
ears of civilians,
seems to reclaim the
ing the noses,
original
lips, and
sense of the absurd."84
to "the autistic nature of
points
Enzensberger

perpetrators, and their inability to distinguish between destruction and


A book

self-destruction."85
ofDarkness.u
Such senseless

violence

ad nauseam

quoted
just

was

is Joseph

as

not

prevalent
that
argues
Enzensberger,
were
and
Civil
Wars
"there
Russian,
Spanish
regular
structures
to carry
the central command
attempted
in a
strict control of
objectives
planned way through

we

are to believe

who

Conrads

Heart

in old civil wars

if

in the American,
armies and fronts;
out

their

their

strategic
troops. As a

rule there was political aswell asmilitary leadership, following clearly


defined

goals,

and ready and able to negotiate

when

necessary."87

Yet

quick perusal of the evidence from old civilwars conveys a quite differ
ent

image.

the perception
that civil wars are particularly
cruel
begin with,
new civil wars?it
one of the most
is
consistent
and
predates
enduring
stressed by observers
and participants
observations,88
alike, ever since
war in
of
the
civil
Thucydides'
depiction
Corcyra.89
To

While

the violence

of ethnic

conflicts

has

received

sustained

atten

tion

is in fact the central component


of all kinds of civil
lately, violence
a
ethnic
and
non-ethnic
alike.
For
war,
example,
nineteenth-century
French
leader remarked
that "excesses are insepa
counterrevolutionary
rable from wars of opinion."90
Madame
de Sta?l observed
Likewise,
that "all civil wars
heaval

in which

are more
they

or less similar

throw men

and

in their

in the influence

in the up
to vio
they give

atrocity,

83
Norimitsu
Terror in Severed Limbs," New York Times, August
"Sierra Leone Measures
Onishi,
22,1999.
84
Nordstrom
(fn. 55), 142.
85
(fn. 6), 20.
Enzensberger
86
See, for example, Ignatieff (fn. 6), 5.
87
(fn. 6), 15.
88Enzensberger
Nico H. Frijda, "The Lex Talionis: On Vengeance,"
in Stephanie H.M. Van Goozen, Nanne E.
Van de Poll, and Joseph Sergeant, eds., Emotions: Essays on Emotion Theory (Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates,
1994), 267.
89
war there as a situation in which
"there was death in every shape
Thucydides
depicted the civil
and form. And, as usually happens
in such situations, people went to every extreme and beyond it."
trans. Rex Warner
N.Y.: Penguin
(Harmondsworth,
Thucydides,
History
of the Peloponnesian War,
the inherent
literature sentiments
Books, 1977), 241. One easily finds in the historical
emphasizing
war. See Claude Petitfr?re, La Vend?e et les Vend?ens (Paris: Galli
cruelty and ravaging nature of civil
1981), 50; and John G?nther, Behind the Curtain (New York: Harper,
1949), 129.
mard/fulliard,
90
1997), 237.
Roger Dupuy, Les Chouans (Paris: Hachette,

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"NEW" & "OLD" CIVIL WARS

115

Latin America
has been a privileged
tyrannical
passions."91
of
civil
violent
but
non-ethnic
wars.92 Descriptions
very
setting
mostly
in such old civil wars as the Russian
of extreme violence
and Spanish
are abound.93 The
militia
is
of using
local semi-independent
practice
actors.94
the
oriented
Likewise,
among many "ideologically"
widespread
in order to turn them into fighters may be asso
abduction
of children
lent and

ciated with new civil wars inAfrica but itwas consistently practiced in
many

motivated"

"ideologically

rebellions,

such

as the
Afghan

insur

gency following the Soviet invasion95 and the Shining Path insurgency
in Peru.96
Many
and Nicaragua.97

children

became

During
the most

the

fighters

in Guatemala,

El

Salvador,
Chinese
Cul

"ideological")
(supremely
of young
violent groups were composed
to
in
from
fifteen.98
Guards,
age
ranging
eight
to new civil wars,
to
it is important
Turning
begin by pointing
tural Revolution,

Red
out

that our understanding of violence is culturally defined.99 Killings by


knife

and machete

tend

to

horrify

us more

than the often

incomparably

more massive killings by aerial and field artillery bombings. As Crozier


put
high
nate
make

of the strong may express itself in


ago: "The violence
are no less discrimi
These
bombs.
weapons
explosives
napalm
than a hand-grenade
tossed from a roof-top;
indeed,
they will
more
innocent
victims. Yet they arouse less moral
indignation

it forty years

or

the "senseless" violence


of new
firesides."100 Moreover,
as it appears. The massacres
not as
in Al
gratuitous
as
was
the violence
often highly
and strategic,101
selective

around Western
civil wars
geria

were

is often

91
Madame

de Sta?l, Des circonstances actuelles qui peuvent terminer la r?volution et des principes qui
doivent fonder la r?publique en France, ?d. Lucia Omacini
1979), 10.
(1798; Geneva: Librairie Droz,
92
Tina Rosenberg,
Children of Cain: Violence and the Violent in Latin America (New York: Penguin,
1991), 7.
93
and Revolu
Tradition,
See, for example, Julio de la Cueva, "Religious Persecution, Anticlerical
tion: On Atrocities
against the Clergy during the Spanish Civil War," Journal of 'Contemporary History
33, no. 3 (1998); Figes (fn. 36); Brovkin (fn. 38).
94
(fn. 58).
(fn. 69); Degregori
Kalyvas (fn. 81), 265-77; Paul and Demarest
95
sAccount
Artyom Borovik, The Hidden War: A Russian Journalist
of the Soviet War inAfghanistan
(London: Faber and Faber, 1991), 25.
96
Ponciano Del Pino H., "Family, Culture, and 'Revolution: Everyday Life with Sendero Lumi
(Durham and
noso," in Steve J. Stern, ed. Shining and Other Paths: War and Society in Peru, 1980-1995
London: Duke University
Press, 1998), 171.
97
llene Cohn and Guy S. Goodwin-Gill,
Child Soldiers: The Role of Children inArmed Conflict (Ox
in Thomas W. Walker,
ford: Clarendon
"The Former Contras,"
ed.,
Press, 1994); Ariel C. Armony,
207.
without Illusions (Wilmington,
Del.: Scholarly Resources),
Nicaragua
98
Causes of Violence in Chinas Cultural Rev
III, Policies of Chaos: The Organizational
Lynn T. White
olution (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University
Press, 1989), 280-81.
99
of
and Sacrament (Reno and Las Vegas: University
Joseba Zulaika, Basque Violence: Metaphor
Nevada Press, 1988).
100
Brian Crozier, The Rebels: A Study of Postwar Insurrections (Boston: Beacon Press, 1960), 158.
101
Kalyvas (fn. 81).

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WORLD POLITICS

116

RENAMO.
extreme
found that the most
Young
by
a
of
drawn?and
part
carefully
largely successful?plan

used

were

atrocities
to battle

harden

young, mostly forcibly conscripted young guerrillas. Likewise, atrocities


committed
ern

against

Mozambique,

were concentrated
at
in south
the population
large
where
the FRELIMO government
had a strong base.102

Paul Richards, an anthropologist who


a nuanced

Leone,
provides
in this country:
violence

studied the civil war in Sierra

of the strategically

analysis

motivated

rebel

Take, for instance, a spate of incidents in villages between Bo andMoyamba, in


1995 inwhich rebels cut off the hands of village women.
September-October
What clearer instance could there be of a reversion to primitive barbarity? Im
ages flood into the mind of hands cut off*for the manufacture of magic potions.
But behind this savage series lay, in fact, a set of simple strategic calculations.
The insurgent movement spreads by capturing young people. Short of food in
the
pre-harvest
the movement

period,
and return

commence. How
harvest.
(the

When

rice granary

some

captives,
irrespective
to their
the
villages where

of

the
early

risks, sought
harvest was

to
about

defy
to

could the rebels prevent such defections? By stopping the


news

the
of

the

of

rebel

affected

in central
Sierra Leone
amputations
spread
were
to venture
few women
prepared

region)

out in the fields. The harvest ceased ... Having decided not to take part in the
1996
February
away would-be

the

elections

voters?cutting

rebels

then
off

the

started

to use

hands

that

the

same

might

tactic

otherwise

to scare
cast

vote.103

commissioner
the European
for humanitarian
Indeed,
as
in Sierra Leone
the atrocities
committed
carefully
tralized rather than gratuitous
and random.104
To

summarize,

the perception
or understandable

both

limited,
disciplined,
new civil wars
is senseless,
gratuitous,
in
the
available
evidence.
support

that violence
and

affairs described
planned

and cen

in old civil wars

is

that violence

in

the view

and uncontrolled

102
?By virtue

fails

to find

of its supporters could not be achieved by


0f the numbers involved, the elimination
a handful of local party officials. Such violence was less evident in areas where
off
simply picking
FRELiMO influence and presence had been eliminated and renamo was
In
relatively well established.
the Gorongosa
coexistence with the civilian popu
region there was reasonably good and co-operative
seems to have been less brutal
lation and little apparent fear. The renamo
presence in the Zambezia
and better organised from its first arrival in the area." Young (fn. 27), 132-33.
103
Richards
(fn. 18), xx.
104
in Africa. They are the result of an orches
"Such atrocities are not part of traditional warfare
trated strategy to terrorize civilians, carried out by troops trained in such barbarous techniques. The
systematic pattern of these crimes, as well as the scale of the terror, do not support claims that the
rebels are retreating, isolated and beyond control. Field reports indicate that rebel movements
could
not take
control and supplies from the outside. Crimes on this scale are
communication,
place without
usually orchestrated." Emma Bonino, "No Court to Deter the Barbarity in Sierra Leone," International
HeraldTribune,
July 8,1998.

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117

"NEW" & "OLD" CIVIL WARS

Conclusion
The

parallel

of emerging

reading

research

on new

civil wars

and over

looked historical research on old civilwars suggests that the distinction


between them should be strongly qualified. Civil wars undoubtedly dif
fer from
idence
argued
mously

in a number

of respects. However,
the available ev
to
tend
be less pronounced
than usually
suggests that differences
and that they may not array themselves
and
dichoto
neatly
around the end of the cold war.
each other

The demise of the cold war potentially affected the way inwhich
civil wars were

fought,

if not

their

frequency.

the disappearance

Clearly,

of external sources of legitimation and funding provided by competing


on local resources. Yet, the exact mechan
superpowers
puts a premium
to lootable resources?
isms that link funding and war?from
diasporas
are
in which
remain
and how they affect the ways
civil wars
fought
inadequately
specified.
At the same time, it is often

that the end of the cold war

overlooked

has decisively affected how civilwars are interpreted and coded by both
and observers.

participants

By

if flawed,

coherent,

removing

political

categories and classificatory devices, the end of the cold war has led to
an

of the criminal

exaggeration

of recent

aspects

civil wars

and a con

comitant neglect of theirmanifold political aspects. It ishighly possible


of recent

that

interpretations
and criminalization
tual categories
war

per

civil wars

are attributable

generated

that stress

more

their depoliticization
of the concep

to the demise

war
by the cold

to the end of the cold

than

se.

the demise of the conceptual


categories
engendered
by
an
a
us to
is
it
rather
than
allows
opportunity
handicap;
core of civil wars unhindered
of externally
probe the
by the constraints
con
to
would
be
lenses.
The
research
wrong
again coin
imposed
path
events
current
in
rather than good theory.
ceptual categories
grounded
Nonetheless,
the cold war

in this respect. As
is particularly
The
vulnerable
study of violence
reac
it
Horowitz
"has
been
characterized
points out,
by considerable
to the occurrence
events of various classes.
has
of
violent
tivity
Theory
to events and the
twisted and turned in response
changing
identity of
the protagonists."105
Flawed
and
the
derived
categories
assumptions
from

them undermine

In turn, good

105
Donald

2001), 33.

theory

Horowitz,

even

the most

requires

The Deadly

Ethnic

sound

Riot

sophisticated
conceptual

(Berkeley:

modeling
categories

University

exercises.
and reli

of California

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Press,

118

WORLD

POLITICS
a
by
only be generated
research. For example,
pat
levels of war centralization,
or levels of violence. We

can

able empirical
indicators.
Such categories
and empirical
of
process
parallel analytical
or
terns of
not
may
covary with
looting may
ethnic

commitment,
polarization,
ideological
em
to
the
mechanisms
key
identify the relevant
specify
carefully,
accurate
and
collect
and
data.
Further
indicators,
pirical
appropriate
the importance
of historical
research cannot be overemphasized.
more,
on civil wars must be
in sustained,
research
system
Clearly,
grounded
need

or
at the
observation
reconstruction
atic, and long-term
ethnographic
mass
level coupled with archival research. Such research is essential be
cause civil wars are
to the trade-off between
vis
vulnerable
particularly

ibility and significance. Highly


discourses

or

advertised

visible

information,

such as elite

can be
outwardly misleading
evidence
about crucial but

atrocities,
widely
is less
than
hard-to-collect
significant
undertheorized
and underresearched
such as the
aspects of civil wars,
resource
of
warfare
and
the
forms
of
and the
actors,
extraction,
type
and

patterns of violence. By illustrating the potential pitfalls of failing to do


so, this article
must embrace

argues that a research


such approaches.

program

for the study of civil wars

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