P050


A bottom-up perspective on military intervention in fragile states 
Convenors:
William Reno (Northwestern University)
Nicholas Marsh (Peace Research Institute Oslo)
Øystein H. Rolandsen (Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO))
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Format:
Panels
Location:
KH119
Start time:
30 June, 2017 at 14:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:
2

Short Abstract:

This panel presents contributions on intended and unintended impacts of military interventions in Africa from the perspective of African states and societies.

Long Abstract

Military intervention remains a much used option for African and non-African actors when they address what they perceive to be significant security threats. This intervention ranges from the provision of training and equipment to air strikes and direct deployment of ground forces. Military intervention is used to address a diverse set of issues - from migration to statebuilding to large-scale civil war.

Academic research tends to concentrate upon the motivations of the intervenor (i.e., a state, coalition or international organization). There is much less attention to the full range of impacts of interventions within the societies where these occur. The proliferation of interventions and their significant and diverse impacts have sparked an interest in conducting in-depth case studies where the main analytical focus is upon contextual factors and national actors. These studies ask important questions: How do military interventions affect the career mobility of officers in intervening and in local forces? How does intervention shape state capacities to monitor populations? How do interventions influence the organization and political roles of ancillary groups such as militias and vigilantes? How does intervention impact civil-military and state-society relations in areas of operation? Addressing these questions in different African contexts, contributions to this panel will take part in shaping this new research agenda.

This panel is inspired by a workshop held at the Peace Research Institute Oslo in August 2016 on military interventions in Africa and is also a CRG Violent Conflict sponsored panel.

Accepted papers:

Author:

Maggie Dwyer (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation examines Sierra Leone’s first major involvement in peacekeeping since the end of its own civil war. Using interviews with soldiers, military leadership and advisors, the research explores the impacts of peacekeeping, both on individuals and on the broader development of militaries.

Paper long abstract:

In 2013, the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) deployed to Somalia as part of AMISOM. The mission was highly significant for Sierra Leone as it was the first large-scale deployment the country had conducted since the end of its own civil war in 2002. While the RSLAF's involvement in AMISOM has been praised as successful, both within Sierra Leone and internationally, there were also major challenges with the mission. In particular, the protracted Ebola crisis caused the battalion to extend their time in Somalia by almost a year, leading to increased stress and disciplinary issues.

Using interviews with the Sierra Leonean peacekeepers, the presentation provides the rank and file perspective. This view from the lower ranks is often neglected but vital to comprehending the ground level tensions that can challenge peacekeeping efforts. Although new to peacekeeping, most of the soldiers were not new to combat. The research shows the ways that the peacekeepers often contextualized their time in Somalia against the backdrop of their experiences in the Sierra Leone civil war. The findings extend beyond the battlefield and will also look at how peacekeeping affected soldiers' lives upon their return home.

The ground level perspective will be supplemented with the view from military leadership, including interviews with officers, international advisors, and top commanders in the RSLAF. Through these multiple vantage points, the research explores the various impacts of peacekeeping on the troop contributing countries, both on individual soldiers and on the broader development of militaries in Africa.

Author:

Ibrahim Haruna Hassan (University of Jos)

Paper short abstract:

This is an ethnographic study of Nigerian Muslims’ perceptions of military intervention in the war against Boko Haram aimed at informing strategies for counter-radicalization and building public trust in government. Reference to conspiracy theory is general with some mention of Western imperialism.

Paper long abstract:

The 1991 Iraq-Kuwait conflict stirred northern Nigerian Muslims' polemics against one another and against the West. When the Nigerian military appeared incapable of handling the war against Boko Haram and foreign military intervention appeared inevitable the opinions coalesced into Christian conspiracy theories. Some opinions were as adverse as that the fight against the home grown terrorists is a consolidation of Western imperialism. While high scale misappropriation of military funds are widely reported, personal losses and harm among the popular classes sometimes occasioned by bribery demands by the lower cadre of the security forces are under reported. Both exacerbating grievances against a state that ignores public livelihood needs.Understanding people's perceptions of military intervention inform strategies for counter-radicalization and building public trust in law enforcement and eventually in government. This study employs ethnography to provide insight into Nigerian Muslims' perceptions of military intervention in the war against Boko Haram. The findings suggest that though military intervention is inevitable foreign (especially Western) intervention should be as minimally visible as possible while 'soft' approaches to counter radicalism should be pursued more vigorously.

Authors:

Anouk Rigterink (University of Oxford)
Mareike Schomerus (Overseas Development Institute)

Paper short abstract:

Using longitudinal multi-method research from two counties in South Sudan, this paper exploits whether permanent exposure to military intervention changes how people think about violence and react to conflict.

Paper long abstract:

For civilians in the south-western part of South Sudan, military intervention through the presence of foreign armies, such as Ugandan, US or other AU forces, has been part of life for the past ten years. The experience has been mixed: The military presence was both reassuring and threatening—yet how it influenced civilians' choices towards violent or peaceful behaviour is unclear.

This paper asks: Does permanent exposure to military intervention change how people think about violence and react to conflict? Do military interventions contribute to a militarisation of civilians, in the sense that it supports a belief in a conflict society that an improvement of the conflict situation will come only through force?

This paper uses longitudinal multi-method research to answer these questions. Exploiting a difference-in-difference design using panel data gathered in 2013 and 2015 in two counties in South Sudan including village-fixed effects, the paper investigates whether a decrease in visible presence of external armed forces is related to a decrease in militarization and/or an increase in everyday security. The former is measured by support for violence as a means to solve conflict, the latter by individual exposure to violence and perceived safety during every-day activities. Qualitative longitudinal data is used to examine how civilians over years are describing their attitudes and reactions to the military presence.

Author:

Riina Turtio (Sciences Po Paris )

Paper short abstract:

The paper analyzes how foreign military aid affected the development of national armed forces and postcolonial political structures in francophone Africa, and describes how the Cold War environment and the ambitions of the former colonial power influenced Ivorian, Guinean and Voltaic defense decisions.

Paper long abstract:

The purpose of this paper is to analyze how foreign military aid affected the development of national armed forces and postcolonial political structures in francophone Africa. It describes how the Cold War environment and the ambitions of the former colonial power influenced Ivorian, Guinean and Voltaic defense decisions from 1958 to 1974. The case studies reflect the importance foreign actors had in providing equipment, training and expertise to newly-established national armed forces. This bought foreign actors considerable influence vis-à-vis to local political and military elites. Nevertheless, foreign military assistance also affected local social dynamics - forging relations between the soldiers, citizens and politicians. Military aid contributed to political systems where decision-making was extremely centralized to few individuals, and where state coercive power amply exceeded its revenue collecting capacity or the strength of its political institutions. Personal control over the means of coercion was further reinforced by purposeful fragmentation and subsequent competition between different agencies. Soldiers' advancement depended on their access to training courses overseas, which soon became a source of patronage. However, often the training received abroad did not correspond with officers' functions and service conditions back home. This led to increasing dissatisfaction among the ranks. Consequently, the case studies demonstrate that often even the most well-intentioned initiatives of outsiders caused inadvertent and reverse results. The paper concludes that assessing the impact of foreign interventions is difficult, and often poor results can be connected to misconceptions of local social structures or the failure to engage local actors to shared objectives.

Author:

Paul Thissen (University of California, Berkeley)

Paper short abstract:

Why was Chad's army able to win short-term battlefield victories against tough opponents in Mali and Nigeria? And why was it unable to coordinate with other institutions to hold the peace? This paper argues that the Chadian military's unwritten institutional structure can help explain both outcomes.

Paper long abstract:

Chad's participation in international military coalitions in Mali and Nigeria presents two puzzles: Why was Chad's army able to win short-term battlefield victories against insurgents that other countries' militaries were unable to defeat? And why did the Chadian military then struggle to coordinate with other governments, militaries, and international institutions to consolidate security in the areas where it defeated insurgents? I argue that both outcomes can be partly explained by the unwritten institutional structure of the Chadian military. This structure is based on indigenous institutions which have organized life for many members of the region's semi-nomadic populations since before the colonial period. These institutions transfer their historical legitimacy, and thus the ability for leaders to command compliance from their subordinates, to the military hierarchy. This paper first outlines the political process by which these institutions became the organizational backbone of Chad's military, then argues that this institutional structure helped shape the outcomes of its participation in conflicts in Mali and Nigeria.

Author:

Kristof Titeca (University of Antwerp)

Paper short abstract:

How do local populations look at peacekeepers, and how do they make sense of their actions? By looking at the MONUSCO peacekeepers in DRC, in the area affected by the LRA, this paper shows how rumors are used to give meaning and express discontent.

Paper long abstract:

From 2008 onwards, the Ugandan rebel group the Lord's Resistance Army started committing large-scale atrocities on Congolese territory. For the population, the LRA is a fundamentally foreign phenomenon, which is difficult to understand. Equally hard for the population to understand is the lack of protection: while UN peacekeepers have been established in the area, they largely fail to offer a level of basic protection. This paper shows how rumors about the peacekeepers (and their links with the rebels) are being used by the affected population to re-establish a degree of control over their lives, while at the same time allowing to express discontent over the peacekeepers' (lack of) actions. The paper shows how 'leakage of meaning' (Douglas 1986) takes place from already existing narratives and frameworks of interpretation to more specific LRA narratives: the LRA is understood through the frames of a weak and exploitative Congolese state, incompetent MONUSCO peacekeepers, and an exploitative neighbor (Uganda). Lastly, while these narratives are a manifestation of agency, they paradoxically reproduce and magnify broader power structures and feelings of marginalization. In demonstrating these issues, the paper more generally analyses to the production of knowledge of military interventions on a grassroots level, and shows how these have a powerful impact on how local populations interact with the various actors.

Author:

Charles Gimba (Coventry University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper attempts to shed the light on the protracted mineral-led conflict and the need for severing the artisanal mining-combatant-recruitment relationship in the East-DR Congo.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines the bottom-up approach to the protracted mineral-led conflicts in the conflict cycle in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The analysis of the severing the artisanal mining-combatant-recruitment relationship in the East-DR Congo, using a bottom-up approach revealed not only the convoluted multi-layered nature of the conflicts in the country and their intricate causalities, but also the contentious nature of the ongoing geopolitical interests regarding the carving up of rich-mineral territories inside the DRC such as the Kivus. Therefore, the paper contributes to knowledge in two broad areas; firstly, it contributes to ongoing academic debates on conflict analyses, the political economy of armed conflicts vis-à-vis mining sector as well as the mining sector in the DRC. Secondly, it offers empirical analysis and data on the bottom-up approach to the conflict cycle in the eastern DRC.