The first part of the course mostly looks at the problems. We begin with an examination of Iraq (Case Study 1: Iraq) as an example of armed intervention and regime change. Themes include the politics of intervention, mass violence, constitution building and power-sharing, and the rise (and fall?) of Islamic State. More generally we will examine the micro foundations of nationalism, grievances and conflict. Since the end of the cold war, almost all wars are ‘civil wars’ so we will consider what causes civil wars, what sustains them, why some last much longer than others, and how do they end? We will examine civil wars both in a comparative manner and also by means of Case Study 2: Multiple Civil Wars in Sudan and South Sudan. There will also be a focus on the strategies of terrorism and suicide terrorism.
The second part of the course shifts the focus of attention to ‘solutions’ and policy responses to divided societies and failing states. Informed responses might include: intervention, mediation and peace agreements; power-sharing and constitutional design (including Case Study 3; Northern Ireland); territorial management of conflict; and transitional justice (including Case Study 4: South Africa and East Timor).
We look at which are the most appropriate electoral systems for divided places (and which should be avoided). The timing of ‘first elections’ after civil war might also be important because they are risky: should they be held early to legitimize the peace, or delayed until state institutions have been rebuilt? We also examine the growth in electoral and competitive authoritarianism: more and more regimes hold semi-competitive elections that are not truly democratic. Why do they do this?
We end the course by analyzing the ‘Arab Springs’ and the resilience of authoritarianism in the Middle East (including Case Study 5: compare Egypt and Tunisia).