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Contracting War in West Africa: Cohesion and the business of war in Charles Taylor's Liberia
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Peace and Conflict Research.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In the existing literature, compensation is often understood to be an inferior source of cohesion in military organizations. At the same time, African conflicts have especially been described as being driven by material factors. Through an investigation of the militia forces that fought for Charles Taylor’s Government of Liberia, this paper seeks to nuance these views. More specifically, it makes three claims. Firstly, the organization of these forces was looser than is often claimed in previous literature, which assumes tight and often coercive military patrimonialism. Resultantly, the militias did not enjoy the interpersonal bonds of solidarity that has dominated cohesion literature since the Second World War. Secondly, since Taylor chose to suppress attempts to build cohesion around ethnicity, it played a subordinate role in unifying the militias. Thirdly, Taylor instead relied on compensation, which allowed for the broad mobilization of forces. The combination of militias’ hopes of inclusion into the state patrimony and insufficient resources to realize this, left the cohesion of the militias fragile. Ultimately, this paper questions both whether Taylor had any choice but to resort to compensation in a context with weak state and fragmented social organization, but also whether the strategy is as inefficient as often thought.

Keyword [en]
Civil war, cohesion, compensation, Liberia, militia, strategy
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research; Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-283196OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-283196DiVA: diva2:918764
Available from: 2016-04-11 Created: 2016-04-11 Last updated: 2016-04-11

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