Last week, as part of Boston College’s recognition of International Education Week, the International Studies Program (ISP) put on a series of lunchtime lectures by BC faculty.
On Friday, Nov. 9, “(When) Does Non-State Violence Work?,” the last of the lunchtime talks, was presented by Peter Krause, the newest assistant professor in BC’s political science department. Hiroshi Nakazato, associate director of the ISP, introduced Krause, who will be teaching the introductory seminars for the ISP in the spring.
After a brief overview of the courses he teaches and his areas of interest, Krause launched into a rapid and enthusiastic presentation about when and why violence used by non-state actors can achieve political ends.
Krause began the talk by challenging a few commonly held perceptions about the definitions of non-state violence versus terrorism, and then acknowledging that historians tend to have much more information about state violence from the outside-events that pose the greatest threat to national security, such as the Cold War.
Looking historically at non-state versus instate conflicts, Krause said that the rate of instate conflict is actually going down, while the rate of civil wars and non-state violence is holding steady or increasing. Similarly, he pointed out that individual acts of non-state violence, like those of Timothy McVeigh and the underwear bomber, are in the minority.
“Violence is not employed by a bunch of random individuals,” Krause said. “Ninety to 95 percent of non-state violence comes from organizations, not individuals.”
Focusing on those organizations, Krause laid out four examples of movements that utilized non-state violence: the Zionist national movement that began in the 1800s and led to the founding of the state of Israel; the Irish national movement in the early 1900s that resurfaced with the Troubles later in the 20th century; the Algerian national movement that began in the 1800s and continued until independence from France in 1962; and, the example that Krause spent most of the time discussing, the ongoing conflict between the Palestinians, who seek an independent state, and the British and Israelis.
He then outlined three main types of non-state movements: hegemonic, united, and fragmented. United movements center around two main groups that garner the most popular and even international support, while in fragmented movements, groups have essentially the same amount of power and influence, and no obvious leader emerges. Krause’s theory, which he is working to turn into a book, submits that hegemonic movements, those with one group in power, are most successful in their use of violence. He supported his claim with both abstract reasoning and concrete examples, saying that hegemonic movements can use violence to pursue strategic goals, while in united and especially fragmented movements, groups participate in “outbidding”: trying to one-up the other groups in frequency and severity of attacks.
Any non-state movement can be comprised of multiple groups that are all technically part of the same movement, he said-that is, they all work toward a common goal, such as statehood. Beyond that common objective, however, the groups are all still battling for dominance-besides the opponent that they have in the established state, all non-state groups are competing with the other groups for the lead.
As an example, Krause cited the Palestinian national movement in the 1960s and 1970s, focusing on the loss of Jordanian support for the Palestinian Liberation Organization during Black September. “Its violence was ineffective because it was structured to help those individual groups instead of the larger movement,” he said of the Palestinian violence during that era.
For contrast, Krause also talked about the successful Zionist national movement that culminated in the establishment of Israel as a nation-state. In that case, the British allied with the Haganah, who were affiliated with the dominant left-wing Zionists, against competing groups.
“At the end of the day, the British worked with and trusted the left-wing Zionist movement to shut down the right-wing Zionists,” Krause said. “When the Zionists had to turn around and fight the Palestinians, they were much better prepared by virtue of being that dominant group.”
Krause moved on to discuss the Irish and, briefly, the Algerian national movements, and then spoke briefly about the implications for international relations. If outside countries want to prevent non-state attacks, he said, his theory implies that they should work to make the movement more hegemonic. If they want to stymie the ultimate goals of the movement, though, the groups should be split up-even though that would likely lead to more violence.
Before taking questions, Krause addressed the current situation in Palestine.
“The Palestinians are only really going to see success when one of the groups triumphs over the other,” he said, referring to the current competition between Fatah and Hamas. “Peace agreements between two competing groups don’t work, historically.”