Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kuperman on Libya

In a USAToday column (h/t T. Wilkinson), Alan Kuperman argues that the Libyan rebels started the uprising knowing they could not win on their own and hoping to provoke civilian casualties that would draw in outside intervention. This seems to be based on an analogy with what Kuperman argued happened in Kosovo, where for instance a KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) official admitted that the more civilians killed, the more likely the prospects for outside intervention. But on a quick reading of the USAToday column, I see no direct evidence presented for his assertion that the Libyan rebels were following the same modus operandi. Moreover, didn't the anti-Gaddafi movement start out as peaceful protests and then become an armed uprising once the protesters were violently attacked? Or am I just imagining that?
Kuperman's 'moral hazard' theory of intervention (i.e., that the possibility of outside intervention gives rebels an incentive to provoke atrocities in order to bring on an intervention) has generated academic debate. See e.g. A. Grigoryan, "Third-Party Intervention and the Escalation of State-Minority Conflicts," Int'l Studies Quarterly 54:4 (December 2010). Abstract.
P.s. For discussion and other links, follow the Wilkinson link (above) to the CT post and comment thread.
Also - Marc Lynch on Fresh Air this afternoon.

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