You are on page 1of 7

Chloe Chen

Possible and Impossible Solutions to Ethnic Civil Wars


MAIN ARGUMENT: The only stable resolution to ethnic conflict is to separate the ethnic groups into defensible enclaves. Two insights restoring civil politics in multiethnic states shattered by war is impossible because the war destroys possibilities for ethnic cooperation o 1) In ethnic wars, both hypernationalist mobilization rhetoric and real atrocities harden ethnic identities to the point that cross-ethnic political appeals are unlikely to be made and heard. o 2) Intermingled population settlement patterns create real security dilemmas that intensify violence, motivate ethnic cleansing, and prevent de-escalation unless the groups are separated. Only stable resolution to ethnic conflict is to separate the ethnic groups into defensible enclaves, with or without sovereignty.

How Ethnic Civil Wars End Flexibility of individual loyalties determine the type of civil war they are quite fluid in ideological conflicts but not ethnic conflicts. o Ideological civil wars contests between factions within the same community over how that community should be governed. These are competitions between the government and the rebels for the loyalty of the people. Ideological loyalties are changeable and difficult to assess. The same population serves as the shared mobilization base for both sides winning hearts and minds of people is both possible and necessary. Most important instruments are political, economic, and social reforms that redress popular grievances control of access to population is important for recruitment and implementation of reforms. Population control requires more than physical control over territory; also depends on careful intelligence, persuasion, and coercion. Need to secure a political victory of the enemys support base, not just military victory. o Ethnic civil wars disputes between communities which see themselves as having distinct heritages over the power relationship between the communities. Individual loyalties are rigid and transparent each side can treat all co-ethnics as friends without risk of coddling an enemy agent and all members of the other group as enemies without risk of losing a recruit. Each sides mobilization base is limited to members of its own group in friendly-controlled territory. Ethnic conflicts are primarily military struggles in which victory depends on physical control over the disputed territory, not appeals to members of other group.

Chloe Chen History shows ethnic wars can only end in three ways: 1) complete victory by one side; 2) temporary suppression of conflict by third party military occupation; 3) self-governance of separate communities. Only #3 can preserve lasting peace because ethnic identities are hardened to the point where cross-ethnic appeals are futile and only the physical separation of ethnic groups can dampen the security dilemma. Identity in Ethnic Wars o Ethnic identities are hardest to change, since they depend on language, culture and religion, which are tough to change, as well as parentage, which no one can change. As a result, competition to sway individual loyalties does not play an important role in ethnic civil wars. o Ethnic identities are hardened further by intense conflict populations increasingly come to hold enemy caricatures of the other groups either because of manipulation by political elites or increasing real threats. o Even those who put little value on their ethnic identity are mobilized because 1) extremists within each community are likely to criticize and impose sanctions on those who do not contribute to the cause and 2) identity is often imposed by the opposing group through violence and systematic exterminations. Multi-ethnic towns untouched by war are swamped by radicalized refugees, undermining moderate leaders who preach tolerance. o Genocide can eliminate identity choice altogether. Hypernationalist rhetoric used for group mobilization images of the enemy group as a threat to the physical existence of the nation justifying unlimited violence against the ethnic enemy. Identifying Loyalties o Assessing individual loyalties is much easier than in ideological conflicts. Outward appearance Public/private records Local social knowledge Imposition of identity cards Language, accent, surname, ritual, diet, occupation, region, neighborhood The Decisiveness of Territory o Population control depends wholly on territorial control. A side cannot risk letting the other conquer and cleanse any settlement. o Since each side can recruit only from its own community and in friendlycontrolled territory, incentives to seize areas populated by co-ethnics are strong ethnic cleansing by relocation to de facto concentration camps, expulsion, or massacre. o Military strategy involves fighting for every piece of land. In ideological conflicts, insurgents evade rather than risk battle and wouldnt risk bombarding civilians because they could be potential recruits. Security Dilemmas in Ethnic Wars o Once violence reaches the point that ethnic communities cannot rely on the state for protection, each community must mobilize to take responsibility for its own security self-help world security dilemma.

Chloe Chen Nationalist rhetoric that accompanies mobilization often seems to indicate offensive threat. Military capability acquired for defense can be used for offense. Offense has advantage over defense in inter-community conflict because isolated pockets of ethnic groups are harder to hold than to take. o Severity of ethnic security dilemmas is greatest when demography is the most mixed. Both sides are vulnerable o attack not only by organized military forces, but also by local militias or gangs from adjacent towns or neighborhoods. Each side has a strong incentive to kill/drive out enemy populations before the enemy does, as well as to create homogenous enclaves that are more practical to defend. Defense has an advantage in relation to offense when groups are separate. Offensive and defensive mobilization measures are more distinguishable when populations are separated. Local organizations have defense value only. o Ethnic wars ethnic unmixing because of the security dilemma. Ex. Partition of India, 1948-9 Arab-Israeli War led to emigration or expulsion of most of the minority population on each side. o Ethnic separation is necessary but not sufficient for peace. Even if an international force or imperial conqueror were to impose peace, the conflict would resume as soon as it left. Even if a national government were to somehow re-create despite mutual suspicions, neither group could safely entrust its security to it. Once populations are separated, both cleansing and rescue imperatives disappear war is no longer mandatory conflict approaches conventional interstate war, to which deterrence principles apply. Ex. No war among Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey since their 1920s population exchange. Theories of Ethnic Peace o Humanitarian interventions to end ethnic civil wars should set lasting safety as their goal rather than perfect peace. Safety = freedom from threats of ethnic murder or expulsion for the majority of civilians. Lasting = the situation remains stable indefinitely after intervention forces leave. o Suppression = military victory of one side and forcible suppression of the other Remission of violence may only be temporary; defeated group usually rebels again at any opportunity. o Reconstruction of Ethnic Identities = reverse pernicious, exclusive ethnic identities created by hypernationalist myth-making through encouraging groups and individuals to adopt more benign, inclusive identities.

Chloe Chen Follows constructivist model of nationalism: individual and group identities are fluid, continually being made and remade in social discourse. Nationalists use the self-fulfilling nature of their arguments to escalate the conflict and justify their own power. But reconstructing conflicts back to ethnic harmony may be impossible Once ethnic groups are mobilized for war, they will have already produced and will continue reproducing social institutions and discourses that reinforce group identity. Virtually impossible to sustain political parties that have cross-ethnic appeal, as shown by Malaya in the 1940s. Recent history of intense violence personal experiences of fear, misery, loss that lock people into their group identity and views of the other group as enemies. Literacy preserves atrocity memories and enhances their use for political mobilization. Outside powers could enforce peace temporarily in the hope that reduced security threats would permit moderate leaders within each group to promote the reconstruction of more benign identities, but this still leaves both sides vulnerable to later revival of hypernationalism by radical political leaders. Power-Sharing or Consociational Democracy, proposed by Arend Lijphart = multiethnic civil politics can be maintained if ethnic elites adhere to a power-sharing bargain that equitably protects all groups. Key components: 1) joint exercise of governmental power; 2) proportional distribution of government funds and jobs; 3) autonomy on ethnic issues; 4) a minority veto on issues of vital importance to each group. Assumes that ethnicity is somewhat manipulable, but not as freely as constructivists say. Main criticism is that this model cannot bring peace under the conditions of intense violence and extreme ethnic mobilization that are necessary for motivating third-party intervention. Interventions are likely to be considered when a weaker side needs defense; balanced sides do not need defense. Demographic separation is unlikely, because if that were the case, there would already be reduced violence which renders interventions unnecessary. Civil war destroys loyalty to the state, so both sides are likely to distrust each other far too much to entrust any authority to a central government that could potentially be used against them. Only a balance of power can provide a hard veto that the majority must respect requires the credible threat of secession from the minority group. Power-sharing also requires voluntary cooperation from ethnic elites to avoid ethnic strife this is hard to secure in conditions of hypernationalist mobilization. Ex. British imposed power-sharing as a condition for Cypriot independence, but it broke down almost immediately because the

Chloe Chen Greek Cypriots thought the Turkish minority was abusing their minority veto, so it simply overrode the veto and operated in violation of the constitution. o State-Building (Gerald Herman and Steven Ratner) = failed states can be rescued by international conservatorship to administer critical government functions until the country can govern itself following a free and fair election. Requires occupying the country, coercing all sides to accept a democratic constitution, enforcing peace until elections can be held, and administering the economy and elections. Conservatorship therefore requires more finesse and military risks than power-sharing. Nothing would be gained unless the electoral outcome protected all parties interests and safety. Ex. 1992-3 UN intervention in Cambodia created a safe environment for free elections, but this was an ideological war. o Ethnic Separation = separating ethnic groups into distinct territories. Lessens the security dilemma and makes removal of it possible. Once a majority of either ethnic group comes to believe that the killing of noncombatants of their own group is not considered a crime by the other, they cannot accept any shared governing arrangement. o How ethnic wars have ended [since 1946] 19 were ended by military victory of one side 16 by de jure or de facto partition 2 by military occupation by a third party 9 by negotiated agreement without partition Every case in which the state was preserved by agreement involved a regionally concentrated minority, and in every case but one the solution reinforced the ethnic role in politics by giving minorities autonomy over a region ethnic separation works. Intervention to Resolve Ethnic Civil Wars o Principle #1: Settlements must aim at physically separating the warring communities and establishing a balance of relative strength that makes it unprofitable for either side to attempt to revise the territorial settlement. o Principle #2: Although economic or military assistance may sometimes suffice, direct military intervention will be necessary when aid to the weaker side would create a window of opportunity for the stronger or when there is an immediate need to stop genocide. o Inter-ethnic security dilemmas can be nearly eliminated without partition if: There is enough demographic separation that the ethnic regions do not contain militarily significant minorities. There is enough regional self-defense capability that denying autonomy of any region would be more costly than any motive for doing so.

Chloe Chen There is complete enough local autonomy such that minority groups can protect their key interests even lacking national influence. o Remaining minority populations must be small enough that the host group does not fear them as either a potential military threat or possible target for irredentist rescue operations. o Concentrated groups of minorities near disputed borders constitute both a military vulnerability and an irredentist opportunity conflict. Ex. Indias portion of Kashmir, with its Muslim majority, has been at the center of three interstate wars and an ongoing insurgency, while there has been no international conflict over the hundred million Muslims who live dispersed throughout the rest of India. Intervention Strategy o Interventions should almost always be on behalf of the weaker side; the stronger side needs no defense. o Unless the international community can establish a clear aggressor/victim, there is no moral or political case for intervention. Objections and Rebuttals to Ethnic Separation/Partition o Partition encourages splintering of states in other areas around the globe. Secession attempts are extremely costly due to government use of force; only groups that see no viable alternative try. Intervention reduces loss of life where states are breaking up anyway. o Population transfers cause suffering Planned population transfers are much safer and reduce vulnerability to hardship by preparing refugee relief and security operations in advance. Even though transfers require placing people into de facto concentration camps, this is safer than the alternatives of implementation by the local ally or allowing the war to continue. o Separation merely substitutes international for civil wars Post-separation wars are possible, but have much lower frequency and human cost. Ex. Partition of Ireland has produced no interstate violence; the two wars since India/Pakistan partition have been much less dangerous to civilians than the political and possible physical extinction that Muslims feared otherwise. o Partitioned states will not be economically or militarily viable History records no examples of ethnic partitions which failed for economic reasons. Interveners have substantial influence over economic outcomes by determining partition lines, guaranteeing trade access, and if necessary, providing economic aid. Interveners may have to provide military aid and possibly a security guarantee, but this is still easier.

Chloe Chen Any large-scale conventional attack is likely to fail because interveners will have drawn the borders for maximum defensibility and ensured client is better armed. Second, guerilla infiltration doesnt work after ethnic separation because any infiltrators would be in a completely hostile region where no one will house or hide them. Partition does not resolve ethnic hatreds Very little can resolve ethnic hatreds once there has been largescale violence. In the long-run, separation reduces inter-ethnic antagonism by removing real security threats and thus the plausibility of hypernationalist rhetoric. Ethnic hostility cannot be reduced without separation.