Richard Morgan – University of Gothenburg

The Politics of Security: When Counterinsurgency Works and When It Doesn’t — Evidence From India

How and under what conditions do counterinsurgency security operations — presence patrols, in particular — influence noncombatant support preferences? I argue that in revolutionary insurgencies, security operations can help the government reestablish law and order and secure the population. However, in ethno-separatist insurgencies, security operations can fuel ethnic group provocation, triggering an ethnic security dilemma. Therefore, I posit that security operations will decrease the likelihood that noncombatants will express support the government in ethno-separatist insurgencies relative to revolutionary insurgencies. I find support for this proposition using data from two village-level surveys that measure the presence of counter-insurgents patrols around and the support preferences of 71 villages in the Bodoland ethno-separatist conflict areas of Assam, India and 124 villages in the districts of Bihar, India, affected by a revolutionary insurgent group ― the Communist Party of India – Maoist. These data suggest that security operations can have heterogeneous effects on noncombatant support.

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