State Security Policy and Proxy Wars in Africa; Strategic Insights, v. 9, issue 1 (Spring-Summer 2010) ; pp. 3-29.
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In this article, I am concerned with wartime alliances between states and armed nonstate actors, particularly in Africa. Heterogeneous military partnerships of this kind occur throughout the historical record. Louis XIV of France, whose aphorism about war and the state provides the title of this article, was an enthusiastic user of his enemies' enemies; (2) but so was Medieval England with its Viking honor guard of 'Thingmen'(3) and so are the U.S. armed forces, whose Tribal Engagement Strategy in Afghanistan involves harnessing sub-state tribal actors to state-level reconstruction and security goals. (4) Amidst this long history of states using nonstates in war, the practice seems to have found its fullest expression in independent Africa. 70 percent of all conflicts producing more than 25 annual battlefield deaths in Africa since 1946, and 100 percent of the conflicts producing more than 1,000 deaths, involved an alliance including one or more nonstate combatant factions. (5) These numbers have generated media outcries (such as those aimed at the Sudanese governmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s use of the Janjaweed), and a variety of tight-focus studies of particular partnerships at specific points of time,(6) but little in the way of synthetic work aimed at theorizing the phenomenon as a category of war in itself. Why is this? Part of the blame must be attributed to our scholarly and professional inability to think our way out of the state-centered corner into which our understandings of war have painted us. By this, I mean that although we know very well how war came to be dominated by states, (7) we are less sure of what direction the reversal of this monopoly will take, or is taking. A broad class of literature has grown up around the question, Ã¢â‚¬Å“What will the wars of the future look like, once states are no longer the only ones fighting?Ã¢â‚¬ï† Mary KaldorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“New WarÃ¢â‚¬ï† thesis (8)is a well-known member of the class, as are the cluster of works dealing with the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Revolution in Military AffairsÃ¢â‚¬ï† (RMA). However; as I have discussed elsewhere, (9) while these models are fine as far as they go, they tend either to focus entirely on powerful, legally constituted evolving-state-at-war (in the case of RMA), or dispense with it entirely by focusing on wars in which the state is a blown-out shell inhabited by violent scavengers and warlords (New War).
This article appeared in Strategic Insights, v.9, issue 1 (Spring-Summer 2010) ; pp. 3-29.
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