Good Article Review On Quantitative Methods
The article by Denny and Walter (2014) on ethnicity and civil war represents a thorough research based on the author’s understanding of the correlation of these important notions throughout the history. In particular, the authors state that any civil war can be initiated by some ethnic group of people, as they are likely to have more grievances against the country they are living in. This results in the fact that they can organize the movement, as well as support it, and at the same time there is a high possibility of their arising difficult bargaining issues. In relation to the ethnicity, Denny and Walter (2014) distinguish 3 common patterns.
In the first case, in the state there can be a division by some ethnic groups, and the one that is ruling can treat the others unfairly. As a result, there arise grievances and other negative consequences in the other ethnical groups. There can also be another case, when different ethnic groups live together in some specific areas. They share the same traditions and language. In case they are aggrieved, they can easily mobilize and support one another, demanding what they want. According to the last, third, pattern, identity of ethnic character is less elastic, than the other identity types, which means that people will have more reasons to fight and mobilize than the groups not based on ethnicity.
Thus, they should be both aggrieved and able to coordinate activities of their group and mobilize a sufficient number of people. There is also another important factor that should be present in order for a civil war to start – two sides of the conflict should be unable to solve their dispute. Along the ethnical lines, it is easier for people to start the war, as they have more opportunities, common grievances and bargaining problems. In addition, such ethnical groups often live in some concentrated area, which is located in the peripheral areas.
Article by Balcells and Kalyvas (2014) is also dedicated to the civil wars, and in particular, to their duration, severity and outcomes. The rebellion technologies are considered in terms of their influence on the duration, severity and outcomes of the wars. In particular, the authors discovered that the conflicts that are irregular tend to last for a longer time, than the other types of conflict. At the same time, the conventional conflicts usually more severe. Conflicts that are not regular also result in great civilian victimization and incumbents usually win them, while conventional conflicts and wars are usually won by the rebels.
This research makes several important contributions to the civil wars studying. In particular, there is emphasized the role of rebellion technologies, which is often omitted in different studies as important criterion of the civil wars study. The authors also conceptualize civil war as the military contest, and in this way show how rebellion technology improves understanding of a number of dependent variables in the civil wars – severity, duration, victimization of civilians and the outcomes of the war. There are situations when this technology plays a significant role along with the other variables, and in other cases, they allow researchers to see how to interpret these data and additional factors.
Another important contribution of this study is that the rebellion technologies offer researchers a framework for anticipating the evolution of civil conflicts in the nearest future. The study shows the general trend in the civil wars change, which was already presented above, and the authors state that if governments and international organizations take this trend into account, they are likely to act against the rebellions in a more effective manner. Such change in the character of wars means that governments are losing the advantage they had in the past, and today they are often weaker in the conflict. At the same time, the rise of conventional wars results in a greater number of draws between the governments and the rebels. Based on the findings of Balcells and Kalyvas (2014), it is possible to explain and dismiss the perception popular among people as to the irregular wars being an effective rebel weapon. In particular, the authors call the irregular wars quagmires by their duration. They also mark the fact that in such wars, there are rarely the victories of rebels.
Analysis of the authors also provides a deeper understanding of the effect of civil wars on the state and society. Thus, war may challenge the states. Depending on the state of the country before the war, such a challenge can either help the country prosper, or decline completely and degrade. Thus, the authors in this work have done a lot to understand the civil wars better and reduce the number of victims in them.
The article by Pilster and Bohmelt (2014) is dedicated to predicting the Syrian insurgency duration. The authors begin by stating that the conflict in Syria has already evolved into a full-scale civil war, while the uprisings in the Middle East and Northern Africa were relatively short. The conflict duration is predicted using a technique that has three stages. At the first stage, they assess the predictive capacity of 69 explanatory variables with the use of out-of-sample techniques. Second, Syria is categorized to the variables in the final model based on the model with the highest predictive power discovered beforehand. Further, three different scenarios are developed for the Syrian uprising based on the in-sample approaches. The result that the authors received is 5.12 years from the time it all started, which means that the end can be between the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017.
Owing to the methods chosen by the authors of the study, namely in-sample and out-of-sample prediction techniques, they could identify the most important predictors of durations of rebels and insurgencies, as well as assess the power of prediction of the model using these variables. In addition to these contributions, the article develops further the method of Bennett and Stam so as it could enable out-of-sample assessment of the given model capacity. Owing to this approach, the resulting model outperforms the previous work on prediction of duration of insurgencies.
It is necessary to understand what authors of the article understand under the term of rebellion technologies. They unite those variables that describe relative capabilities of combatants, their type of interaction, which are central in the issue of understanding civil wars and insurgencies. Among the limitations of the research, there is the fact that the variables in the considered scenarios were different, which could have influenced the results. Another important aspect is that conflict begets conflict and there are many conflicts that are recurring.
In terms of Syrian conflict, there were analyzed three possible scenarios based on the versions of the scholars: conventional insurgency deprived of economic support of the government; insurgency that is irregularly fought with support to the government from a third party; it can also become conventional insurgency, in which regime gets economic support from some third-party state. The first and second scenarios have a probability level of 0.25, while the third – of 0.5, which make it the most possible variant.
The article by Shelton, Stojek and Sullivan (2013) is dedicated to the study of outcomes of civil wars. To understand the way specific outcomes are reached, the authors carefully considered the existing research database in the matter of political science fighting against the insurgencies and whether this discipline should deal with this issue at all. In particular, the authors state that it is really so and that political science has to study counterinsurgency strategies and enter the debate on military strategy and doctrine.
Shelton, Stojek and Sullivan (2013) defined three dimensions of civil wars, which affect the outcomes – capacity of the state, influence of violence on civilians, as well as foreign intervention. In the domestic conflicts, there are not only the military struggles that are important, but also the legitimacy contests between rebel and incumbent visions of the state. The analysis conducted by the authors identifies those points of consensus, which highlight the gaps in our knowledge, which currently require our attention.
In terms of the state capacity, there are several key applications that can be identified in the literature. It has a crucial effect on the result of the conflict, but the existing empirical models do not cover this aspect completely. There are varied conclusions provided by different authors, but there can be identified two general conclusions – government material capacity relevance to the outcomes of the conflict reduces along with its duration. In addition, stronger rebels are more likely to achieve the negotiated settlement or victory. The authors also mark the interaction between the COIN strategy and the state capacity. In particular, if the COIN forces adopt insurgent-centered, destroy and search tactics, military capacity may become more relevant.
The lack of knowledge in the field of relation between the civil war outcomes and the COIN strategies is one of the most serious challenges identified by the literature. There is still in progress the debate over the best strategy in this field. The last important factor analyzed within the framework of the research is the foreign interventions. They have critical effect on the civil conflicts outcomes. In case there is extensive foreign assistance in the civil conflict to the insurgents, it becomes the strongest predictor of their success. No matter, in what form this help comes – direct military intervention or just an economic assistance, the result and influence will be the same.
Government-based interventions can lead to different outcomes. For instance, they can reduce the likelihood of the rebel victory. Still, there are studies that mark no actual effect of the external assistance on the rebel victory, having marginal effect on prevailing government. One of the important factors that defined success and influence of the external intervention is its timing. In the case of government-biased interventions, their positive effect dissipates along with the course of time. The existing literature also lacks distinction between different types of the interventions, as well as the well-developed indicators of multidimensional interventions. The COIN strategy is also very often disregarded in this relation.
The article written by Hosli and Hoekstra (2013) discussed what fosters enduring peace and those factors that influence the civil war resolution. In the existing literature, there already were identified several important factors that influence the process of reaching peace. In this paper, there are analyzed several datasets in the search of reasons that exist for negotiations initiation and for shortening of conflict duration. The basis for the analysis is the data obtained from 82 civil wars what took place between 1944 and 1997.
The results of the research showed that in case there is a mutual hurting stalemate and partial intervention, there increases the probability of successful negotiations taking place. In addition, a larger number of parties that engaged in the conflict enhance higher possibility of successful negotiations. It can be partly due to the fact that in case the number of parties is over 2, the participants are afraid that they will be excluded from the negotiation, which is why they are more likely to accept different variants and reach agreement.
In case there is some military stalemate involved in the conflict, the duration of the war significantly becomes shorter. When there is partial intervention in support of the weaker party, there can be created mutual hurting stalemates, which is why the civil war can end sooner. The study confirms that conflict ripeness and mutual hurting stalemate critically affects conflict resolution prospects, but at the same time provides new insights in these spheres.
In different research articles, there were considered the variables affecting parties’ willingness to engage in negotiations. It is still very important to take into account the factors that reduce duration of the war. Based on the results of the research by Hosli and Hoekstra (2013), it is possible to say that third parties in the civil wars can definitely influence the parties’ willingness to engage in negotiations. One of their interesting discoveries is that the neutral intervention tends to have a negative effect on the war outcomes. In the case of partial intervention, there are much more cases with negotiations that started after its occurrence. Third parties can also monitor the civil war progress and provide security guarantees, which are usually very topical after the end of the war.
Military stalemate presence in a violent conflict shortens duration of the war. Negotiations do not necessarily mean that the civil war will end at once or more easily, but it definitely can be considered as the first decisive step in moving towards a potential peace agreement and direct success in the deal implemented. It is important for mediators to influence perceptions of the parties so that they feel the third party could create a power balance, which is a mutual hurting stalemate indeed. Intervention by a third party is often enhancing the weaker party’s position. Negotiations become almost inevitable in case there is involved pressure from the international community on the parties involved in the conflict.
At each stage of the peace process, there can be applied specific strategies, which can be followed by the third parties so as to encourage the rapid resolution of the civil war. In the first stage, when parties decide whether to engage in negotiations or not, a third party can facilitate creation of a stalemate. At this stage, it may be better to use not neutral type of intervention. With this intervention in case of supporting the weaker party, there can be created a balance of power, which makes the parties more inclined to start negotiations. It is necessary to understand that neutral intervention may result in extending the conflict further.
Based on this research, it becomes clear that civil wars and their study have many variables that influence the duration, severity and outcomes of the civil wars around the world. In case these variables are properly studied and effective measures are taken to spread the knowledge among people in different parts of the world, the conflicts will be easier to control and all the parties of the conflict will have an opportunity to benefit from it. The pieces of research presented above have provided a valuable insight into different aspects of civil conflicts, which is definitely beneficial for the study in this area.
Balcells, L., & Kalyvas, S. N. (2014). Does warfare matter? Severity, duration, and outcomes of civil wars. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 58(8), 1390-1418.
Denny, E. K., & Walter, B. F. (2014). Ethnicity and civil war. Journal of Peace Research, 51(2), 199-212.
Hosli, M. O., & Hoekstra, A. (2013). What Fosters Enduring Peace? An Analysis of Factors Influencing Civil War Resolution. Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy, 19(2), 123-155.
Pilster, U., & Böhmelt, T. (2014). Predicting the duration of the Syrian insurgency. Research & Politics, 1(2), 1-10.
Shelton, A. M., Stojek, S. M., & Sullivan, P. L. (2013). What Do We Know about Civil War Outcomes?. International Studies Review, 15(4), 515-538.
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