People, Power, and the State: The Effect of Patron Intervention on Unarmed Insurrections
Ritter, Zacchary Randolph
Unarmed insurrectionary (UI) campaigns demanding irregular regime change seem destined to failure, but such social movements surprisingly succeed more often than not. Explanations for campaign outcome tend to focus on movement skill or variation in domestic-level structural factors. Few studies shift attention to the potentially decisive role of external intervention during these domestic struggles. Despite some well-known exceptions like the Iranian Revolution, patron states have played an important role in determining the fate of several unarmed insurrections as intended. The outcome of UI campaigns rests not only on the domestic balance of forces and the decisions of key elite players, but also on the disposition of great powers and regional powers with a stake in the result.This dissertation addresses three interrelated questions to advance our understanding of the role patron states play during these domestic struggles over control for the state. First, do great powers and regional powers systematically alter the likelihood of UI campaign success? Using a novel measure for patron state intervention, quantitative analysis suggests that the probability of UI campaign success depends on how patron states react. Second, how do patron states transform latent leverage into actual influence aside from the explicit threat or actual use of military force? After reviewing all cases of patron intervention, I identify three generalizable causal mechanisms – isolate and unite, feast or famine, and decapitation – patron states employ to channel the dynamics of UI campaigns to a desirable outcome. Third, why do some external interventions fail? The deviant cases suggest that several factors limit the patron's ability to shape the outcome of UI campaigns. Nonetheless, domestic institutional configurations that intimately link the institutional interests of the security services to the current regime leadership and/or competing bureaucratic and business interests within the patron state that hinders the formulation of a coherent foreign policy appear most important. Ultimately, this dissertation seeks to advance the emerging research program in security studies on nonviolent resistance and irregular regime overthrow by capturing the role patron states play during UI campaigns.
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