International Relations

Conflict #2 Civil Wars

- Throughout our recent history, wars within states have been far more common that wars between states, this is a trend that has increased since the end of WWII, and especially over the past 10 years. Interesting in that many of the civil wars during the post war period were blamed on the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union with one state supporting the rebel group and the other supporting the status quo.(Vietnam and Afghanistan) Presumption that the great powers were to blame for these conflicts. While one can certainly make the case that they did not help matters, and that their participation increased the lethality of these conflicts, the fact that the number of civil wars increased markedly since the decline of the Soviet Union tends to question the validity of the premise that the great power rivalry was at the heart of these disputes.
- However, possible to argue that many of these wars are simply hangovers from the cold war and the decline of the Soviet empire. Civil wars tend to follow the collapse of empires as fighting occurs to shape the boundaries and direction of the new states.
- Between 1989 and 1997, 103 civil wars erupted, as opposed to only six wars between states. Illustrates that civil wars are more common than inter-state wars, also, when contrasted with any earlier time period (46-88, 60 civil wars) becomes clear that civil wars are becoming increasingly more frequent as well. Should also remember that the former period (1946-1980) coincides with the collapse of the British, French, Dutch, etc. empires and therefore questions the assertion that the wars of the 1990s are largely holdovers from the cold war.
- Civil Wars are generally waged around three main issues: (1) minority groups seeking enhanced autonomy or to create an independent state (Chechnya, Kurds in Turkey); (2) wars over the control of the state, usually waged between differing ethno-religious groups or between those with differing ideas concerning the future orientation of the state. (Rwanda, Algeria); (3) When the national government breaks down more or less completely and any distinction between political struggle and economic bandits is not really apparent (Somalia).
- Civil wars are usually very bloody (ethnic cleansing, genocide, atrocities), last for a long time ( rarely decisive victories, Sri Lanka, Angola), and negotiated settlements are normally very difficult to achieve (normally only successful when a third party decides to intervene.

Causes of Civil Wars

1. Secessionist Impulses – Belief that one group within society is not receiving its share of the wealth or status within the region. Mention the connection between this and the tribal wars of Africa or even the conflict in Northern Ireland. Rebels believe that they are suffering from relative deprivation, which may be defined as: “The inequality between the wealth and status of individuals and groups, and the outrage of those at the bottom about their perceived exploitation by those at the top.”
2. Nationalism – Where you have multinational states and a group within the state seeks to form its own little statelet. Think of the Biafrans in Nigeria, the Moros in the Phillipines, Residents of East Timor within Indonesia, Bosnians and Kosovars within former Yugoslavia etc. Leads to ethnic cleansing and massive numbers of Refugees.
Mention Huntington and the Clash of Civilizations.
3. Failed States – Those states that are especially in danger of losing the loyalty of their citizens, who rebelling against corruption and the failure of the local administrations end up tearing the countries into different political parts. State simply fails to meet the basic needs of the citizens and then comes under serious internal pressure and eventually ends up falling apart. Most likely to occur in states where there are high numbers of unemployed youth, high levels of infant mortality, low levels of international trade, which makes the international community less concerned about the events taking place within the country. Examples include the Congo, which is of intense concern to its neighbors but limited concern to the West.
4. Rise in the gap between expectations and reality. Meaning that conflict may also occur in areas that are undergoing economic modernization and development, but also have the expectations of the population increasing faster than the ability of the government to deliver the goods. Meaning that the population becomes increasingly restive at the low impacts that such change has had on their lives. Ex. Columbia
Problem with this is internal conflict is likely to retard economic development.
5. Changes in the International System – Dissolution of empires, world or regional powers may either become interested in an area (Congo) and fight proxy wars against their rivals or see their interest decline as their scope narrows. Result of these two phenomena is roughly the same, increased instability in the region and increased likilihood of violence as groups that are supported by the SP see their opportunity for enhanced status increase or groups that have been previously excluded see their opportunities increase through a withdrawal of support for their rivals.


“Premeditated politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombattant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.”
- Weapon of the weak, who believe that they have no other options in terms of getting their message across. Mention the rise in terrorist attacks following the outcomes of the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli Wars, when it became clear that the Palestinians were not going to be able to secure their desires through conventional warfare.
- Goals of the terrorists are to destabilize society, to convince the state, or the great power sponsoring the state that costs exceed the gains. Mention the efforts of the IRA to take the conflict to the British mainland in the early 1970s. Convince the civilian population that the authorities cannot protect them, and that they should demand that the concerns of the terrorists be met.
- Mention that one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter. Interesting distinction, and one that can cause severe disagreement (mention Trumbore, Duke, and the IRA)
- Imagine the possibilities for new terrorism. Computer viruses, sarin gas, nuclear weapons, etc.
- Is there a moral difference between dropping a bomb from a plane and bombing a school bus? Though, it should be pointed out that modern bombing is becoming increasingly more deliberate. Will get into that next week. However, the point remains, is there a moral difference? The terrorists would argue that there is not.
- Mention some of the former terrorists – Stalin, Begin, Arafat, Adams. Even take it back to some of the actions against loyalists during the American revolution.
- Terrorism is not a threat that is declining.

Guerilla War

- Not dissimilar to terrorism in the essential goals, the idea of increasing the costs of occupying a territory beyond what a country is willing to pay.
- Mention Mao and the idea of the guerillas as fish and the people as the ocean. Need the support of the population in order for a guerilla campaign to be succesful.
Case Study: The Vietnam War

Vietnam - The War Years

- Probably the most contentious issue in American society since the civil war, divided families, etc.
- Polarized American society.
- Issue is of continued relevance - MIAs, Gulf War, Bosnia, JFK, Clinton, Giap.
- Brought about a malaise in the United States that lasted into the 1980s.
- Question of how a poor nation with limited material resources could defeat the United States in a war.
- Term Defeat is a contentious one.
- Political rather than military.
- We will discuss this war in some detail as I believe that it continues to exercise a significant role in American society as well as American foreign policy.

A. History

- In may of 1941, after the Japanese offensive into the south of China. Ho Chi Minh founded the league for the independence of Vietnam - the Vietminh.

- Initially this was supported by the United States - they provided training to the Vietminh in exchange for help locating downed American pilots.
- Common objective to fight the Japanese.
- This war undermined the French position in Vietnam. The Vietminh did not conduct guerrilla operations against the Japanese in order that they might once again become a French colony. This also led to a rise in local nationalism. French had governed Vietnam since 1883.
- Following World War II a war occured between the Vietminh and the French (1946-53). Ho expected the support of the United States.
- The Vietminh fought this as a guerilla campaign - a people's war. Explain the relevance of this concept. This foreshadowed the war with the United States.
- The French were materially and spiritually exhausted by the conflict.
- Their efforts were largely subsidized by the United States. In 1952, the US paid over 40% of France's costs in the war. By 53-54, the US paid for 80% of France's war efforts.
- Eisenhower was not willing to directly involve American troops on the ground. Rather, the US subsidized the French war effort.
- Frustrated by the guerilla tactics of the Viet Minh, the French sought to lure them into a major set military engagement.
- Dien Bien Phu (53-54) - Valley surrounded by hills.
- Surrendered high ground
- Pounded
- US response

Geneva Accords (1954)

- Final French withdrawal
- 2 States 17th parallel
- Elections to be held in 1956, never held
- South refused to sign
- New leader in the south Ngo Dinh Diem. Johnson called him the Churchill of Asia. The US provided a $100 million in economic aid. Yet, government out of touch with the population.
- Between 900,000 and a million people fled to the south following the Geneva accords - Buddhists, Catholics, shopkeepers.
- The Saigon government and the cities never really gained the support of the peasants.
- Holdovers from colonialism.
- The north had a communist government led by Ho, there was still some support for the Viet Minh in the south, largely dormant until 1960, when its remnants became the National Liberation Front and began to conduct guerilla offensives against the government forces of the South.
- By 1962, the NLF had a presence in 80% of the villages in the South.

US Response
- In 1961, the US sent 7,000 soldiers to provide security for the bases. Military advisors had been training the South Vietnamese forces since 1956.
- Support for Diem
- However, there was the relectance to get directly involved in the war.
-Contrasting Advice - Problem throughout war.
- Aid to Vietnam was also increased.
55-65 - $200 million per year

65-75 - $435 million per year
- America was becoming invovled.
- Nov. 1, 1963 - There was a coup against Diem
- Authorized by Kennedy
- Lack of support by people for Diem - Buddhists
- Belief that a strong hand was necessary - succession of generals. Johnson - worst mistake.
- Three weeks later Kennedy was killed in Dallas. Would he have removed the troops?
- Johnson inherited the situation.
- 1964 - The USS Maddox allegedly came under fire in the Gulf of Tonkin.
- Outrage in the United States.
- Gulf of Tonkin Resolution - Only 2 Senators opposed. This essentially gave Johnson a blank cheque to pursue the war as he wished.
- Number of troops expanded rapidly.
82,000 by April of 1965
184,000 by end of 1965
385,000 by end of 1966
486,000 by end of 1967
536,000 by end of 1968
- In February of 1965, in response to NLF attacks on the barracks of the advisors, Johnson began bombing the North. Further troops were needed to protect the bases.
- By this time the United States was no longer an observor.

B. Why Get Involved?
1. Containment
(A) Kennedy - "Meet any price, Bear any Burden" in the defense of liberty.
- Goal since World War II.
- Monolithic Communism
Sino-Soviet Split
- Would contest Communism on all fronts
(B) Domino Theory
- Laos, Cambodia, Thailand
- Started with China
- Belief that if the United States did not intervene that communism would spread throughout Asia.
(c) Question of Prestige
- Having the will to contest Communism
- Soviets Swords - Steel/flesh
- Came up throughout war
- Johnson (1965) - "To leave Vietnam to its fate would shake confidence in the value of America's commitment and in the value of America's word. If we are driven from the field in Vietnam no nation can ever have the same confidence in American protection." - Relevance for American allies in the 3rd World.
- Similar situations - South Korea, Taiwan,
- Crisis of confidence - New nations of world following the fall of colonialism.

- Superpower Chess gone awry.

2. Domestic Forces

- Loss of China - McCarthyism
- Johnson and Kennedy were concerned about their images and being soft on Communism.
- Nixon - Anti-Communist - Voorhees, Hiss, Douglas

C. What Kind of War
- Limited in Scope
- No invasion of North
- Memories of Korea (China)
- War fought in South
- Free Fire Areas
- Villages evacuated
- Bombing of North
- Tried to avoid civilian casualties
- Downed Pilots - Hanoi Hilton
- Consequently, the war had limited objectives and was largely fought on the terms of the enemy. Maintenance of the gov't of South Vietnam was the objective. It became a guerilla war.
-Guerilla War
- Fought on enemy terms
- Fought at night
- Limited large scale engagements
- Mao

- War of Psychology
- Villages controlled by the US during the day, the NLF at night.
- Troops enter villages
- rice - locals or NLF
-Indeterminate enemy
- Hostility toward locals
- Massacres - My Lai (1969) 347 civilians
- How do you tell a member of the NLF from a garden variety peasant?
- By 1965, large number of troops were coming from the North - Ho Chi Minh Trail.
- Tunnell warfare.

Reaction in Vietnam

- Dissatisfaction with the Generals
- Corruption of Gov't
- Foreign Occupation
- Buddhists 1963, 1966
- Largely reluctant and mistrusted by the United States

Reaction in United States

- This war was lost in the United States. Only way to defeat the United States in a major conflict.
- Protests on College Campuses
- Vets presented as Baby Killers by the protest movment
- Attempts to evade the draft - Quayle, Clinton, and Gingrich - not uncommon for people of that era.

- No instance proved this more clearly than the Tet Offensive of January 30,1968.
- Massive assault
- US Embassy
- Hue
- Military Defeat but Political Victory
- New Hampshire Primary of March - McCarthy and Johnson
- Domestic unrest in United States

Nixon's War
- Vietnamization
- Withdrawals
- Yet conflict was expanded in scope
- Laos, Cambodia (Kent State), Mining Haiphon Habor
- Possible because of changed attitude of PRC.
- Negotiations from 1968 to 1975. US troops withdrawn in 1973.

- Everyone draws a different lesson from vietnam.
- Clear objectives
- Do not limit yourself
- Care in defining interests

Vietnam Since the War

After a strong offensive by the NVA, the South fell in April of 1975. The victory was a costly one for the North Vietnamese, according to statistics provided by the government of Vietnam 1.1 million died fighting for communism, 250,000 died fighting for the South and 2 million civilians were killed. On top of that, there are 300,000 Vietnamese who were listed as missing in action (1,615 Americans - about 50 are still under some dispute). Tremendous damage to the infrastrcuture of Vietnam, still has not recovered.
After assuming control of the South, the North brought about formal unification in July of 1976 as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Thousands of the former soldiers and employees of the South Vietnamese government were subject to re-education efforts. The early promises to retain the capitalist economy of the South were forgotten and officials were sent down from the North to govern Vietnam. Alienated the Southerners as well as those members of the NLF who were passed over for official positions.
- Alliance with the Soviet Union in 1978. Aid jumped from $1 billion per year in 1976-85 to over $3 billion per year afterward.
- Invasion of Cambodia on X-mas Day 1978, beginning of Vietnam’s Vietnam. Unable to completely defeat the Chinese supported Khmer Rouge. Problems with the Chinese (PRC invade in feb of 1979 - punish vietnam). Eventually, the Vietnamese withdrew their troops in 1991.
- While the conflict in Cambodia was taking its toll on the Vietnamese, they faced other problems: boat people (more than 2million people have fled Vietnam since the end of the war), American embargo, rebuilding a country destroyed by war, severe economic problems. Efforts were made to reduce the level of state subisidies in the sale of agricultural and consumer products - led to huge inflation (700% in 1985).