The Military You Can't Control: How Organizational Rivalry Fosters Repression in Counterinsurgency Wars
Anti-insurgent operations in Colombia or India demonstrate that democracies sometimes use counterinsurgency measures that are as repressive as those by autocracies. I argue that such repression occurs because democratic leaders have difficulties in controlling their military organizations. Fierce competition for resources and influence within the military apparatus--a common yet often overlooked phenomenon--incites military organizations to use repression to get ahead of internal rivals even if such violence hurts larger political goals. Although tight political control can suppress this violent effect of internal rivalry, democracies lack invasive monitoring and punishment instruments to enforce measures that spare civilians. I test this argument with data on state repression and the internal structures of militaries during counterinsurgency wars between 1976 and 2005. Statistical results support the theoretical claims and are robust to a variety of different specifications.