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Article

Civil War Spillover  

Tyler Pack

Civil wars are destabilizing and destructive not only for states experiencing conflict, but also for states and other actors nearby and around the world. Civil war spillover includes tangible flows of people and resources, including refugees, government and rebel soldiers crossing borders, and arms and military material. Intangible spillover includes economic effects, learning and emulation mechanisms to outside populations, and changes in incentive and priorities as a result of spillover effects. Different civil war dynamics, including guerilla warfare, irregular warfare, and conventional warfare, lead to variations in spillover type and severity, and externalities also persist in the post-conflict period. Tangible and intangible sources of spillover do not operate in isolation, and the interaction of spillover types can affect states and other actors in different ways, though domestic conditions within a recipient state can either exacerbate or mitigate the effects. Scholars have moved from treating neighbors and regional actors as passive recipients of spillover, and research considers both external and internal policy decisions made in response to civil war externalities. States and other actors suffering the consequences of civil war violence occurring outside their borders or region attempt to influence or mitigate the effects through direct and indirect means of intervention, as well as domestic measures meant to ensure stability and security against current and possible future threats. In both cases the ability of actors to insulate themselves from civil war spillover is contingent on factors related to the spillover as well as domestic factors that constrain or enable certain policy responses.

Article

Art and Peacebuilding  

Berit Bliesemann de Guevara and Lydia C. Cole

While the arts can be observed to play a role in both violence and peacemaking, they are often assumed to make positive contributions to postwar peacebuilding processes and have increasingly become attached to ideas of “positive peace” in different key (sub-)disciplines that contribute to the field of “art and peacebuilding” scholarship. Art forms that have been linked with peacebuilding include animation, curating and exhibiting, dance, drawing and painting, filmmaking, music, photography, poetry and fiction, sculpture, sound art, storytelling, street art, textile-making, and theater and performance, among others. The most common uses and potentials of art in and for peacebuilding concern artistic forms as peacebuilding tools; the power of peace aesthetics in changing sociopolitical imaginaries; and the community-building potentials of the arts. Research increasingly suggests that the particular value of the arts with regard to peacebuilding may lie in their capacity to bear and hold within them tensions, struggles, and differences, and thereby to contribute not to an idealized “harmonious” but a more real-type agonistic peace. There are, however, also important limits and challenges of art in and for peacebuilding, such as the risk of political and epistemic closure when arts are instrumentalized for predefined ends, questions of hierarchies regarding different artistic forms, and ethical questions arising from relationships involving large power differentials. These limits and challenges need to be addressed for the arts’ positive contribution to peacebuilding processes to unfold.

Article

Transnational Terrorist Attacks  

Seung-Whan Choi

Since the September 11 attacks, a great number of studies have explored the causes and effects of transnational terrorist attacks which are carried out by at least two different nationals. However, discussions of whether transnational terrorist attacks are more deadly than domestic terrorist attacks are scant in the current empirical literature. This paucity of research is unfortunate given that many people believe that transnational terrorists, due to their possession of greater organizational, financial, and logistical resources than domestic terrorists, tend to incur higher death tolls. The literature indeed reveals three deficiencies: (a) a discrepancy between popular belief and scholarly work exists regarding the superior lethality of transnational terrorism, (b) very few researchers have taken a serious step toward debunking the myths of international terrorist attacks, and (c) the findings of the published studies are inconsistent. These deficiencies call for an empirical investigation of whether popular belief aligns with empirical data. A series of regression analyses after compiling a sample of 209,706 terrorist incidents spanning from 1970 to 2020 shows robust evidence supporting the popular sentiment of the superior lethality of transnational terrorist attacks over domestic ones. This finding implies that the counterterrorism community should remain committed to the Global War on Terrorism to protect innocent lives. Since terrorist threats persist and even diversify with new tactics, the counterterrorism community must strive to finish the initiative that President George W. Bush set out about 20 years ago: “our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”

Article

Contemporary Trends in Militarization and Politics in Africa  

Godfrey Maringira

In the formative years of African independence, the assumption was that the military would desist from politics. Even though the military is expected to subordinate itself to a civilian government, the militaries in postcolonial Africa continue to meddle in politics. Hence, when the military acts in politics, it seeks to achieve its desired interests. Whether military intervention and coups in Africa are an alternative means to achieve and attain democracy remains a question for debate. There is no consensus on this issue, as military intervention in politics and coups leads to different and varied consequences. However, recent trends in military coups have been celebrated by ordinary citizens across African countries where authoritarian political elites have been overthrown from power.

Article

Jihadist Governance in Civil Wars  

Aisha Ahmad

Although many nonstate armed groups try to rule over citizens, of special concern are jihadist groups that take power in conflict-affected states. Not only do jihadists espouse an extreme political vision, but these religiously motivated rebels also have an uncanny ability to rout and even overthrow incumbent governments. Whenever possible, jihadists will try to seize control of the entire state and replace incumbents with a new regime. If decisive military victory is not possible, they will seek control over pockets of territory and will build rudimentary proto-states within official state boundaries. Jihadist insurgents are not only motivated to fight, but are also very keen to govern over territory and people. In their mission to build alternative forms of order, they therefore collect taxes, enforce laws, and even offer rudimentary public services. In many conflict zones, jihadists are able to build stronger social contracts with citizens than the official government. Because of this success, many scholars and practitioners have erroneously assumed that jihadists must be spreading their ideologies to local communities, and thus converting citizens to their extremist beliefs. This analysis fundamentally misdiagnoses why jihadists are able to establish parallel forms of order in civil wars. Jihadists do not succeed in areas where communities have converted to extremism; rather, they thrive in regions where the official government has catastrophically failed to provide citizens with security, order, justice, and other basic services. Evidence from multiple cases shows that government corruption, ineptitude, and abuse—not extremism or ideological radicalization—best explain the rise of jihadist governance in conflict zones. It is not that local communities are enamored with the idea of jihadist rule; rather, they are disgusted and outraged by their incumbent governments.

Article

International Relations, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence  

Ehud Udi Eiran

Scholars and practitioners of international relations (IR) are paying special attention to three significant ways in which artificial intelligence (AI) and big data (BD) are transforming IR, against a background of earlier debates among IR scholars about the effect of technology on the field. First, AI and BD have emerged as arenas of interstate, mostly great power competition. In this context, scholars suggest, AI and BD are important because an effective use of AI and BD adds significantly to military and economic power. The current competition in these fields, between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, brought scholars to highlight at least four ways in which AI and BD are important: (a) Automating decisions about the use of nuclear force could affect nuclear stability, but scholars still cannot agree in what direction; (b) The central role played by the private sector. This, as opposed to the Cold War era, when the state played the leading role in the development of technology ; (c) the gap between the current two great powers in these technologies is narrow, in contrast to the significant gap in favor of the United States during the Cold War; and (d) the wave of new technologies, including AI, makes weapons systems cheaper and more available for smaller powers and political entities, thus offering a possible curb on the dominance of great powers. Second, AI and BD are expected to affect national decision-making in the areas of foreign and security policies. Here, scholars highlight three possible transformations: (a) AI will allow states a path for better decision-making on security and foreign policy matters, through the optimization and speeding of existing policy processes; (b) the technology will omit some of the human shortcomings in decision-making, further optimizing the policy process; and (c) AI will be able to offer predictions about policies of other actors in the international system and create effective simulations to help manage crises. Finally, the inclusion of AI and BD in weapons systems, most notably the development of lethal autonomous weapons systems, brings the promise (or horror) of greater efficiency and lethality but also raises significant ethical questions. AI and BD are also affecting other arenas of interstate conflict including the cyber domain and information warfare.

Article

Africa and the International Criminal Court  

Westen K. Shilaho

A diplomatic row between Africa, specifically the African Union (AU), and the International Criminal Court (ICC), regarding accountability for mass atrocities exists. Critics accuse the ICC of bias on account of its African caseload, while the ICC counters that it has a mandate to afford justice to victims of heinous crimes—war crimes, crimes against humanity, war of aggression, and genocide—whenever domestic courts cannot do so. This article problematizes the relationship between the AU and the ICC, which was initially cordial until the indictment of former Sudanese autocrat, Omar Al-Bashir. The indictment of six Kenyan suspects, the “Ocampo Six,” among them, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, who subsequently ascended to power, worsened the Africa–ICC relationship. The article contends that, although flawed, the ICC is significant in addressing impunity. However, the ICC stands accused of favoritism, imperialism, erosion of the sovereignty of already weak African states, and escalation of conflicts. Historically, international criminal justice is steeped in controversy. Africa has suffered humiliation by the West, which evokes suspicion toward the ICC, perceived to be a stooge of Western powers. The ICC as a court of last resort, ought to afford justice to victims of mass atrocities whenever national judiciaries fail them. Crucially, however, domestic courts in Africa need capacity and political will to hold to account masterminds and perpetrators of mass atrocities. Thus, the choice between justice and peace or retributive and restorative justice preponderant among ICC critics in Africa is false. There cannot be peace and reconciliation in Africa without justice. Truth telling and retribution are complementary processes in combating impunity and realizing justice, stability, and prosperity.

Article

Civilian Victimization During Conflict  

Alexander B. Downes and Stephen Rangazas

Since the end of the Cold War, scholars have increasingly sought to explain the causes of civilian victimization—the intentional use of violence against noncombatants—during armed conflict. The question of the effects and effectiveness of violence against civilians, in contrast, has received less scholarly attention. One strand of research examines the impact of wartime civilian victimization on postconflict political behavior and outcomes. A second strand investigates the effectiveness of violence during the war itself. The principal question this literature asks is: Does civilian victimization “work”? Put more precisely, can intentionally targeting noncombatants help belligerents achieve their wartime objectives, whatever those might be? Civilian victimization takes different forms and serves different purposes in different kinds of conflicts; scholarship on its effectiveness is thus divided into work on irregular (predominantly intrastate) wars versus conventional (predominantly, but not exclusively, interstate) wars. No matter what its particular form or in which type of conflict it is used, however, civilian victimization tends to follow two broad logics: coercive and eliminationist. Most scholarship on irregular wars examines the effectiveness of coercive victimization, whereas studies of conventional war look at the efficacy of both. For example, a key debate in the literature on civilian victimization in irregular wars concerns whether selective or indiscriminate violence is more effective at deterring civilians from shifting their allegiances to the adversary. A broad consensus holds that violence is effective only when selective, but new studies have found that indiscriminate violence can also work under certain circumstances. Similarly, there is broad agreement (with some notable exceptions) in the literature on conventional war that coercive civilian victimization—which is almost by definition indiscriminate—is ineffective. In contrast, scholars have yet to assess systematically the effectiveness of eliminationist victimization in conventional war.

Article

Conflict Management and Peacebuilding in Asia  

Monalisa Adhikari and Yuji Uesugi

While Asian states do not have a coherently delineated international peacebuilding policy, their increased role and leverage in conflict management are being recognized both in scholarship and praxis. This article underlines how the geopolitical context of Asia, defined by competing regional hegemons, a weakly institutionalized regional organization, and a role of the United States as a security guarantor, has defined the conflict-management approaches of different states. “Asian” conflict-management approaches are situated within the burgeoning literature on “alternative” forms of peacebuilding and the emerging body of work on authoritarian, and illiberal forms of peacebuilding. The normative priorities of the primary Asian states of India, China, and Japan in their conflict management, including stability and development, are teased out, and the forms or modalities through which these are executed are unpacked. What such norms and practices mean for conflict-affected states in Asia are discussed in the end.

Article

Peacekeeping Economies  

Kathleen M. Jennings

“Peacekeeping economy” designates the political economy of a peacekeeping operation. It broadly encompasses economic activity that either would not occur, or would occur at a much lower scale and pay rate, without the international peacekeeping (or peacebuilding) presence. Peacekeeping economies are, to a significant degree, inextricable from peacekeeping missions: While they are not under the purview or direct control of the mission, the formal and informal economic activity that they include is important to peacekeeping missions’ ability to function in the host society. Of course, behind this simple formulation is a significantly more complex phenomenon. Moreover, the peacekeeping economy is not just an interesting empirical reality. It is also a useful analytical framework for examining and better understanding how peacekeeping is designed, regulated, and done; its socioeconomic, gendered, and racialized dimensions; and its (intended and unintended) consequences.