Date of Award

Fall 12-8-2017

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Chair

Joseph Weinberg

Committee Chair Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Member 2

Sarah Cate

Committee Member 2 Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Member 3

Troy Gibson

Committee Member 3 Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Abstract

Civil War is a term often used to classify a type of conflict which arises within states. This being so, the exact criteria upon which such a classification of conflict is arrived remains unclear. Additionally, political, dispensational and ideological currents have influenced the classification of conflicts within states by different scholars, so that the determination of conflicts as being civil wars rather than some other kind of intra-state conflict can seem arbitrary. Beyond just the academic implications of this arbitrariness are policy impacts as well. This is because the term civil war carries with it certain implications about the nature of the conflict, and as such, mandates sets of domestic, regional and international approaches for resolving it.

The idea of a civil war as a conflict which emphasizes civil processes as accompanying dimensions of military objectives is proposed to distinguish civil wars from other intra-state conflicts. The argument proposes that military forces aim to engender wider civil processes aimed at undermining the authority of a state, so as to realize specific political goals in domains controlled by that state. Domains controlled by the state, challenged during civil wars, include demographic (population based uprisings), politico-economic (balkanization of economic sectors and the establishment of political structures), geographic (captured state territory as well as natural resources), and international (establishing anti-state diplomatic linkages with outside actors). The Syrian conflict – in a limited case study – is used as an illustration of how this classification of can be undertaken

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