Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 17 > Issue 2

Strategic Civil War Aims and the Resource Curse

Jack Paine, Department of Political Science, University of Rochester, USA, jackpaine@rochester.edu
 
Suggested Citation
Jack Paine (2022), "Strategic Civil War Aims and the Resource Curse", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 17: No. 2. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00020065

Forthcoming: 30 Apr 2022
© 2022 J. Paine
 
Subjects
 
Keywords
Civil warformal theoryoilresource curse
 

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In this article:
Contributions to Existing Research 
General Model of Strategic Civil War Aims 
Equilibrium Analysis 
Countervailing Effects of Oil Production 
Theoretical Implications for the Mixed Oil Curse 
Where Do We Find A Resource Curse? 
Conclusion 
References 

Abstract

Does oil wealth promote or inhibit prospects for civil war? Empirical evidence relating oil to civil war onset is mixed, and depends on the aims of the rebellion: although separatist civil wars (in which rebels aim to create an autonomous region or independent state) occur more frequently in oil-rich regions, oil-rich countries experience fewer center-seeking civil wars (in which rebels aim to capture the capital city). This article provides a new theoretical framework in which the challenger strategically chooses its civil war aims. I first incorporate strategic civil war aims into a formal bargaining model with commitment problems. Then, I derive two countervailing theoretical effects of economic activities, such as oil production, that provide an easy source of government revenues: a conflict-suppressing revenue effect (more money for the government) and a conflict-enhancing predation effect (more for the rebels to capture). Finally, I highlight two reasons that the magnitude of the oil predation effect is larger for separatist than for center-seeking challengers, which connects the theoretical implications to the motivating empirical pattern. First, a strategic selection effect for ethnic minorities: governments face more severe commitment problems toward small ethnic groups — who prefer separatist over center-seeking civil war. Second, a geography of rebellion effect: oil-funded repression more effectively deters center-seeking challenges than peripheral insurgencies.

DOI:10.1561/100.00020065