Occupation and Resistance in World Politics
Columbia University - Department of Political Science
APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper
There have been some 163 foreign occupations since 1900. In many cases, military occupations have led to bloody and protracted resistance. More than a mere byproduct of conflict, this resistance can be a decisive factor in interstate war. This article seeks to explain the puzzle: under what conditions do foreign occupations produce consequential resistance? Explanations in the existing literature have centered on nationalism, opportunity structures, or international context. However, states exhibit different levels of resistance to different occupiers, indicating that not only the nature of the occupied but also the nature and the policies of occupiers play a role. Specifically, I look at the role of political dislocation and trust. First, domestic groups that would have otherwise waited out the occupation may be driven to resistance when occupiers implement policies or establish institutions that permanently weaken their relative domestic position, what I call political dislocation. Second, resistance will be muted when occupiers can credibly commit to treating the population benignly and vacating occupied territory promptly. I argue that democracies, international organizations, and co-religionists are better able to make credible commitments and therefore more likely to elicit trust among occupied communities. Conversely, occupiers that victimize the occupied population will also face greater resistance. I test these hypotheses on an original dataset of occupier fatalities in every occupation since 1900. I find that political dislocation, in the form of forceful regime change, increases the likelihood of resistance. I also find that occupations led by democracies, international organizations, and co-religionists are less likely to face resistance. Thus, the nature and context of occupation are some of the most important predictors of resistance. Notably, measures of nationalism are found to be poor predictors of resistance to occupation.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 48
Keywords: Occupation, Resistance, Insurgency, Civil War, Nationalism
JEL Classification: H56working papers series
Date posted: August 1, 2011 ; Last revised: August 14, 2011
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