War and the Process of State-making

As we discussed in class on Thursday, there is a close relationship between the war, the state, and state-making.  Thus, violence is at the root of the idea of the modern state, as Weber’s famous definition of the state aptly demonstrates.  Norbert Elias suggested that the state-formation process in Europe was “an elimination contest.”  In addition, Charles Tilly famously wrote* “war made the state and the state made war.”  In a much-read paper** on the topic, Tilly wrote:

What distinguished the violence produced by states from the violence delivered by anyone else? In the long run, enough to make the division between “legitimate” and “illegitimate” force credible. Eventually, the personnel of states purveyed violence on a larger scale, more effectively, more efficiently, with wider assent from their subject populations, and with readier collaboration from neighboring authorities than did the personnel of other organizations.  But it took a long time for that series of distinctions to become established. Early in the state-making process, many parties shared the right to use violence, the practice of using it routinely to accomplish their ends, or both at once. The continuum ran from bandits and pirates to kings via tax collectors, regional power holders, and professional soldiers.

The uncertain, elastic line between “legitimate” and “illegitimate” violence appeared in the upper reaches of power. Early in the state-making process, many parties shared the right to use violence, its actual employment, or both at once. The long love-hate affair between aspiring state makers and pirates or bandits illustrates the division. “Behind piracy on the seas acted cities and city-states,” writes Fernand Braudel of the sixteenth century. “Behind banditry, that terrestrial piracy, appeared the continual aid of lords.”‘ In times of war, indeed, the managers of full-fledged states often commissioned privateers, hired sometime bandits to raid their enemies, and encouraged their regular troops to take booty. In royal service, soldiers and sailors were often expected to provide for themselves by preying on the civilian population: commandeering, raping, looting, taking prizes. When demobilized, they commonly continued the same practices, but without the same royal protection; demobilized ships became pirate vessels, demobilized troops bandits.

It also worked the other way: A king’s best source of armed supporters was sometimes the world of outlaws. Robin Hood’s conversion to royal archer may be a myth, but the myth records a practice. The distinctions between “legitimate” and “illegitimate” users of violence came clear only very slowly, in the process during which the state’s armed forces became relatively unified and permanent.

The process of legitimation of state violence came, as Tilly argues above, slowly.  What, according to Weber, are the different types of legitimacy that attended to this process?

*Charles Tilly, “Reflections on the History of European State-Making,” in Charles Tilly, ed.,  The Formation of National States in Western Europe (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 1975), p. 42.

**Tilly, Charles. “War Making and State Making as Organized Crime, ” in Evans, Rueschemeyer and Skocpol, ed., Brining the State Back in (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), p.172-173.

***Elias, Norbert. The Civilizing Process  (Oxford: Blackwell), 1993.

Kenya, ethnic diversity, and fractionalization scores

Had you taken my Introduction to Comparative Politics class in the fall of 2007, you would have been faced with writing a paper in response to this:

There is much debate regarding the determinants of, and obstacles to, democratization. Are states that rely on natural resources for a large share of their GDP less likely to become and remain democratic? Does ethnic diversity present an obstacle to the democratization and democratic consolidation of a regime? Your term paper will answer one of these two questions either in the affirmative or the negative.

In addition to making the theoretical argument, students were asked to use Iraq and one other state to illustrate and support their argument(s). A few students chose to write on Kenya. I hope they go back and read their papers in light of the current situation in that multi-ethnic state.

Is Kenya ethnically diverse? How can we measure ethnic (or religious, or linguistic) diversity? There is a formula called the fractionalization index, which essentially gives us an idea of how diverse a state is. You can find a table–in Appendix A (which I have excerpted here) of over 100 states around the world with their corresponding fractionalization scores (in three categories), in this National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) paper by Alesina et al. here The higher the value the higher the level of diversity. Notice the relatively low diversity of states like Poland and Norway and the high amount of diversity of almost all African states. Which is the best way to measure “diversity”? Ethnically? Linguistically? By religion?


Country
Date (Ethnicity Data)
Ethnic
Language
Religion
Afghanistan
1995
0.7693
0.6141
0.2717
Canada
1991
0.7124
0.5772
0.6958
China
1990
0.1538
0.1327
0.6643
Croatia
1991
0.3690
0.0763
0.4447
Kenya
2001
0.8588
0.8860
0.7765
Malawi
1998
0.6744
0.6023
0.8192
Mozambique
1983
0.6932
0.8125
0.6759
Nigeria
1983
0.8505
0.8503
0.7421
Norway
1998
0.0586
0.0673
0.2048
Portugal
1998
0.0468
0.0198
0.1438
USA
2000
0.4901
0.2514
0.8241

Crisis Group Named in Top Ten Global Think Tanks

The Crisis Group is a non-governmental Organization (NGO) that does great work on conflict around the world. From the group’s website, we find out:

The International Crisis Group has been listed as one of the “Top 10 Think Tanks in the World” in a new survey, based on peer review, conducted over 18 months by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the Philadelphia-based Foreign Policy Research Institute.

The Crisis Group have archived the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s report here.

From the group’s “about” page, we learn about the Crisis Group’s purpose:

The International Crisis Group (Crisis Group) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation, with some 145 staff members on five continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict.

Crisis Group’s approach is grounded in field research. Teams of political analysts are located within or close by countries at risk of outbreak, escalation or recurrence of violent conflict. Based on information and assessments from the field, it produces analytical reports containing practical recommendations targeted at key international decision-takers. Crisis Group also publishes CrisisWatch, a twelve-page monthly bulletin, providing a succinct regular update on the state of play in all the most significant situations of conflict or potential conflict around the world.

Hope for a united Iraq?

Apropos of one of the paper topics I assigned my class this past semester, here is an article that addresses the potential for a shared sense of community and destiny in Iraq. Based on this article, however, it seems that the basis for unity in Iraq is, in fact, the presence of the US military in that country. If this is true, then it leaves the Bush administration–and any future US president–caught between a rock and a hard place. Here are some snippets:

“raqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of “occupying forces” as the key to national reconciliation, according to focus groups conducted for the U.S. military last month.

That is good news, according to a military analysis of the results. At the very least, analysts optimistically concluded, the findings indicate that Iraqis hold some “shared beliefs” that may eventually allow them to surmount the divisions that have led to a civil war.”

Ethnic Cleansing and Violence in Baghdad

The Washington Post carries a story on the front page of its Sunday edition, which describes the changing nature of residential segregation in Baghdad, from the perspective of returning refugees and displaced persons. Included is a compelling map [click the link on the left for a larger view] of Baghdad showing the dynamics of the process of ethnic cleansing (and ethnic consolidation) of Baghdad’s map_ethnic_cleansing_baghdad.gifneighborhoods between April 2006 and November 2007.

This could have something to do with the decreasing levels of violence in Baghdad over the last six months or so. (Of course, the increased US troop presence helps, but a more compelling argument comes out of work by many political scientists on the rational, or strategic, nature of inter-ethnic violence. The violence that is perpetrated by the respective sides during episodes of inter-ethnic conflict is rarely random.

In my own work in Croatia, there was a compelling strategic logic to the violence perpetrated by both sides. Territory–towns, regions, cities, etc.,–that was deemed strategically important was targeted, while territory that was not strategically important was left alone. A similar dynamic may be occurring in Baghdad. With the task of segregation of Baghdad’s neighborhoods a fait accompli, the need and desire, on the part of the sectarian militias, to use violence has diminished considerably.