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Governing for Revolution - SOC

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Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs

Sovereignty, Order and Conflict


Governing for Revolution

by Megan A. Stewart, Assistant Professor of School of International Service at American University

Why do some rebel groups undertake costly, intensive governance projects that trigger resistance and violence, undermine their legitimacy, strengthen rival rebel groups, and even put their own combatants and civilians at risk, while other rebel groups do not? I argue that the nature of rebel groups’ long-term goals determines the nature of rebel governance strategies. Rebels with revolutionary goals believe in the necessity and appropriateness of undertaking intensive and maximal governance during war, even though these burdensome governance schemes could be saved until after rebels secure military victory.  By contrast, rebel groups with non-revolutionary goals limit their governance interventions to prioritize their military endeavors. 

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