Added: March 4, 2017 – Last updated: March 4, 2017


Author: Amelia Hoover Green

Title: The commander’s dilemma

Subtitle: Creating and controlling armed group violence

Journal: Journal of Peace Research

Volume: 53

Issue: 5

Year: 2016

Pages: 619-632

ISSN: 0022-3433 – Find a Library: WordCat | eISSN: 1460-3578 – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century, 21st Century | Types: Wartime Sexual Violence


Link: SAGE Publications (Restricted Access)


Author: Amelia Hoover Green, Department of Politics, Drexel UniversityAuthor's Personal Website

Abstract: »This article proposes a framework for understanding variation in armed groups’ abilities to control wartime violence, including violence against civilians. I argue that patterns (both levels and forms) of violence are shaped by armed group leaders’ attempts to meet two conflicting imperatives. To succeed, commanders must build a fighting force capable of swift, unhesitating violence; they must also maintain some control over the level, form(s), and targeting of violence. I refer to this situation as the Commander’s Dilemma. Drawing on literatures from psychology and sociology, I argue that effective behavioral control cannot be achieved via extrinsic incentives (i.e. pecuniary or non-pecuniary rewards and punishments) alone. Rather, effective control of combatant violence depends upon armed group institutions intended to align combatants’ preferences with those of commanders. I therefore focus analytically on political education, the armed group institution most likely to operate in this way. In particular, I hypothesize that armed groups with strong and consistent institutions for political education should display, on average, narrower repertoires of violence than those without. This argument finds preliminary support in a crossnational analysis of reported rape by rebel forces, as well as a qualitative investigation of armed groups during civil war in El Salvador. More broadly, this approach suggests that the creation of restraint is at least as important to our understandings of wartime violence as the production of violence.« (Source: Journal of Peace Research)


  Abstract (p. 619)
  Introduction (p. 619)
  From theories of violence to a theory of restraint (p. 620)
  Understanding combatant predispositions to violence (p. 621)
  Institutions for the creation and control of violence (p. 623)
  Evidence (p. 625)
    Quantitative evidence (p. 626)
    Qualitative evidence (p. 627)
  Discussion (p. 628)
  Replication data (p. 630)
  Acknowledgements (p. 630)
  References (p. 630)

Wikipedia: Sex and the law: Wartime sexual violence