Why Do Governments Use Militias?

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1 Why Do Governments Use Militias? From Syria to Sudan, informal armed groups and militias that fight on the side of government often feature in accounts of conflict. These groups are more common than a conventional Weberian understanding of the state or an association of these groups with failed states would lead us to expect. Using newly collected data on armed pro-government groups that are organized outside of the state-military hierarchy, we find that there have been over 300 of these groups active worldwide over the last three decades. These non-state armed groups are found in all regions of the world, operating outside of civil war contexts, and until recently have been increasing in magnitude over the last 25 years. Why do governments promote or align with these groups? What are the expected benefits of delegating in this way? If there are regular forces available within which to organize additional troops, and based on conventional notions of statecontrol of violence we would expect that a government would desire to continue their monopoly on violence. Drawing on the economic literature on fragmented production and outsourcing, we frame the incentives for governments to use informal armed groups as efficiency gains from flexibility and reduced liability for violence. We suggest that the choice of these groups belongs with organizational choices analyzed in other contexts and to a more general theory. Using a new global dataset on pro-government militias from , we find that governments that face an uncertain threat environment and can be held to account by domestic and international audiences are most likely to resort to informal armed groups. Using out-of-sample predictions we show that our outsourcing model outperforms a simple disorder model. Sabine C. Carey University of Mannheim & CSCW/PRIO Michael Colaresi Michigan State University Neil J. Mitchell Department of Political Science University College London This project has been funded by a grant from the UK Economic and Social Research Council, Accountability and Government Militias RES and by the Centre for the Study of Civil War (CSCW) at the International Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). We are particularly grateful to Christopher Butler for comments, to our research assistants, Jonathan Sullivan, Tim Veen, Bronia Flett, Catriona Webster, Damaris Veen, Martin Ottmann, Anke Roexe, Philip Hultquist, and Oraz Kichiyev and to Will Lowe for assistance with data management. This paper has previously been presented at the ECPR Joint Sessions in St. Gallen, April The data on pro-government militias is available at 1

2 During the Sudan civil war, reports alleged that government helicopter gunships dropped weapons, artillery, and provisions in remote places. They were not supplying uniformed government military personnel, but the armed gangs that made-up the Janjaweed militia (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/aug/01/sudan.jeevanvasagar). Government troops or trainers were not part of these arms-drops and no meaningful official government force was present in the area to ensure that these weapons were used against rebels and not against the government itself (see Janjaweed.pdf, pg ). The process of a government delivering significant quantities of weapons and artillery to groups outside the state security apparatus seems to contradict the conventional Weberian notion that a state strives to maintain a monopoly on violence. Yet, anecdotal evidence from around the globe suggests that pro-government militias (PGMs) and informal armed groups, like the Janjaweed in Sudan, operate in vague and informal concert with the state. Research on informal non-state armed groups suggests that they are a trait of weak or failing states (Bates 2008a; Kaldor 2007). Yet between roughly 50 different countries were reported to have PGMs and many of them do not fit the profile of failing states, such as Spain and Iran (Carey, Mitchell and Lowe 2012). The existence of pro-government militias is also not limited to episodes of civil war, as most observations of PGMs occur outside of armed conflict (ibid.). Why do governments create or align themselves with armed and unofficial groups, when they have regular forces at their disposal? Why would governments outsource the use of violence rather than preserve its monopoly? In this paper we provide a more general explanation for these informal armed groups that to this point has not been the subject of systematic global analysis. In line with existing literature (Bates 2008a) we expect an observable positive relationship between regime challenges and PGMs. However, we offer a different explanation for this correlation and suggest several new observable implications of our theory that can be tested. Our argument accounts for the unexpected and surprising presence of these groups outside of weak and failing states as well as within these states. We argue that there are general strategic incentives for governments to use such informal groups despite, and because of, the limited control they have over them. We draw on the economics literature on outsourcing and transaction costs. In this way we fit the analysis of pro-government militias under a more general and widely accepted explanation of organizations. It provides a parsimonious framework for understanding how the production of regime security is organized. We argue that the outsourcing of armed repression to a government-aligned non-state group can, under specific conditions, produce efficiency gains for a state and reduce liability. First, efficiency gains are most likely when repression is used in response to immediate regime threats. Training and incorporation into the existing security apparatus takes precious time while outsourcing to informal groups may offer additional low-cost temporary forces and detailed local knowledge. Resort to these groups under these conditions helps to explain why these groups have been linked to state weakness. We also argue that PGMs are a rational reaction to regimes facing potential future violent threats that may be difficult to directly confront for state security forces. For example, a large verticallyaligned, uniformed security apparatus that operates out of centralized bases is relatively easy for an opposition group to track and anticipate. If the scale economies of internalizing repression of the opposition within the state-apparatus are outstripped by the ability of the opposition to adapt to and avoid that repression, then outsourcing violence to less detectable, more autonomous units 2

3 in the affected security-threatened location is preferable. This argument suggests the new observable implication that states free of immediate regime challenges, but likely to face robust deployment challenges in the future, for example from groups that have the advantage of mountainous terrain or non-contiguous territory, from rebels spilling over from a neighboring civil war, or support from a subgroup of the population, are also likely to have PGMs. Additionally, some, but by no means all, states are likely to be sensitive to the domestic and international consequences of repression and activities perpetrated by the state security apparatus. Outsourcing repression may be expected to reduce the liability of governments for violent repressive actions. Strong autocracies should be less responsive to this incentive and less likely to use PGMs as they are probably less concerned about domestic and international accountability. By definition, interest groups that provide fire alarm monitoring are unlikely to be active in strong autocracies (Banks and Weingast 1992) and these regimes cannot credibly claim that armed groups are allowed to operate without their approbation. However, mixed regimes and weak democracies are more open to monitoring and may be more likely to have PGMs because they provide a means for the government to attempt to repress an opposition group while avoiding domestic accountability. Similarly, some states have particularly strong incentives to be sensitive to international accountability. They can expect to attract monitoring and pressure from international institutions and NGOs (Landman 2005; Risse, Ropp, and Sikkink 1999; Simmons 2009) and may fear that democratic aid donors might impose tangible costs on the regime when they carry out repression and human rights violations. We argue that states that are more dependent on aid from democracies are more likely to utilize PGMs as opposed to their own formal security structures, because it allows the government to reduce the regime s liability for repression and therefore avoiding the costs attached to this. In the following, we present out theoretical argument drawing on the literature in economics on outsourcing and transaction costs. Despite transaction costs incurred by relying on outside organizations, there are also tangible benefits in the form of efficiency gains and limiting liability for violence. From this argument we draw a set of hypotheses that we test using newly available data on PGM presence around the world within a flexible generalized additive framework. Excepting Ahram s (2011) analysis of data from the 1970s, there has been no quantitative research on the use of these groups. In contrast, there is a rich case study literature for Latin America (Stanley 1996; Mazzei 2009), Indonesia (Cribb 2001, 233), Africa, and elsewhere (Reno 2002; Campbell and Brenner 2000; Mitchell 2004). Our empirical results are consistent with our supposition that PGMs are the result of strategic choices made by regimes to increase regime security and to reduce their liability. For governments, PGMs present the prospect of lowering the political and economic costs of repression. In conjunction with other work that shows that the presence of PGMs increase the chances of human rights violations and the stability of mixed regimes (Carey, Mitchell, and Butler 2012; Carey and Colaresi 2012), these results suggest the negative consequences of imprecise international monitoring of non-state armed groups. NON-STATE MILITIAS AND THE WEBERIAN STATE A state s monopoly of violence is commonly organized along functional lines and centrally controlled by the government. Functional distinctions include differentiation of the Navy from the Army, formal military from police forces, intelligence analysts from operations specialists 3

4 and low from high skilled labor. This organizational structure includes a range of identifying ranks, uniforms and insignias placing individuals within the larger state security apparatus. While there are differentiated parts within the state security apparatus, the organization of security capabilities is usually assumed to reside fully within the state chain-of-command. In fact, Weber defined the state, in part, as the organ that had a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence and this definition has guided recent research. Thomson (1994) suggests that when violence is wielded by a non-state actor it is a sign of a state that has yet to fully form. Bates (2008a) explicitly measures state failure with the existence of non-state militant actors. Kaldor (2007) also argues that nonstate armed groups diminish the capacity of the state, and involve the erosion of the autonomy of the state and in some extreme cases the disintegration of the state (pg. 5). In contrast to a Weberian conception of state security, our focus is on what influences a government s choices in the production of regime security. The Weberian emphasis neglects important empirical regularities as well as the potential benefits that exist for the state, in specific contexts, to outsource a portion of repressive tasks to progovernment non-state militias. 1 Alternatively, Ahram (2011) points to the role of contextual and path dependent historical forces that manifest themselves in presence of militias in a country. Analyzing these groups in late developing states, he says that deep-seated historical factors (2011a, 24) determine the degree of centralization in security forces and argues that militias developed where there was revolutionary decolonization and less threat of interstate war (numbers of interstate wars). In this paper, we also examine internal threats, and those from neighboring states experiencing civil violence, in our effort to understand PGMs as an option in the production of regime security. Some states actively promote and align with violent non-state actors. For example, Turkey in the late 1990s or the Philippines in the past two decades have had a variety of pro-government militias. Neither would fit the conventional profile of a failed state. Additionally, as we mentioned above, a majority of annual observations of pro-government militias occur outside of civil war. Thus, empirically, there does not appear to be a zero-sum relationship between PGMs and regime security. In fact, the presence of these groups outside of cases of state failure and civil war, presents a puzzle to Weberian representations of the state. REGIME SECURITY SERVICES: IN-HOUSE OR OUTSOURCED? To begin to account for these anomalies as well as predict new observable implications, we argue that policy makers may aim for a majority position rather than a monopoly position in the organization of violence, without bringing into question the viability of the state. We view the state security apparatus as a complex organization that includes meaningful differentiation in organization, tasks, and skill within but potentially also across the state/non-state divide. We frame the existence of pro-government militias as a decision of the government. Our choicebased perspective leads to several hypotheses that complement the broad linkage between disorder and PGMs. If PGMs are a choice by the government, then these organizations must have specific advantages. Drawing on the economics literature related to outsourcing production and components to 1 North, Wallis and Weingast argue that a single actor approach to the state... assumes away the fundamental problem of how the state achieves a monopoly of violence (2009, pg. 17). Our focus is on explaining the deviations from centralized Weberian control as opposed to the path towards centralization. 4

5 another firm 2, we extend the logic of Bhagwati s (1984) theory of splintering relationships. Bhagwati proposed that the centralized, vertically integrated model, where one firm produced all of the value-added to a finished product, did not always dominate more flexible inter-firm arrangements. He argued that there were times when one larger firm had an incentive to interact with another at least partially separate firm or organization to produce a good rather than that one firm produce the good itself. This is also known as fragmentation of production (Bhagwati, Panagariya, and Srinivasan 2004 pg. 95). Importantly, just as economists noticed that not all firms centralized production but often formed partnerships with autonomous firms, across time and space we can see that states have made different decisions on whether to organize state security in-house or partially outsource tasks to non-state actors. For example, North Korea s security apparatus includes everything from the People s Army (Inmin Gun), comprised of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Strategic Rocket Forces, and Special Operations, to the State Security Department to the Ministry of People s Security to the In-min-ban, which are organized neighborhood watch units. North Korea has achieved a monopoly of violence, where the organization is extremely centralized and operated by the state without ambiguity (Gause 2012). This follows the precepts of a vertically-integrated firm which revolve[s] around the logic of hierarchy, role specialization and control. (Herrigel and Zeitlin 2009, pg. 4) In comparison, the security forces of the Philippines over the last few decades have included a web of state-security organizations such as an army, navy, air force, and a variety of specialist units, including the Presidential Security Group, as well as murkier organizations such as the Alsa Masa in the 1980s, an anti-communist vigilante group. It was armed by the military, endorsed by President Aquino and supported by local governments (The New York Times, April 4, 1987). Whereas in the North Korean example the security apparatus is centralized and vertically-integrated, in the Philippines it is fragmented with sometimes loose linkages to the government and with less hierarchy and control from the top. THE BENEFITS OF OUTSOURCING REPRESSION: INCREASED EFFICIENCY AND REDUCED LIABILITY Both cases, North Korea and the Philippines have a range of specialized units, including lower skilled police and repressive forces that complement higher skilled special operations, military and intelligence personnel. What differs is whether some of the labor is outsourced to a private group. For example, in the Philippines the use of informal armed groups, as opposed to increasing the scale of the military, was a deliberate choice by the military, as an element of their counterinsurgency tactics (The New York Times, April 4, 1987). This suggests that while there are significant economies of scope in the production of regime security, and hence differentiation within the security apparatus, simply increasing the scale of specific units within the state security forces may not always be the most efficient use of resources. This is akin to the logic that many manufacturing firms have followed in fragmenting the production of parts and services across several different firms rather than centralizing production. 2 Outsourcing is not necessarily to an organization in another country, as is sometimes suggested. We use the definition proffered by Lankford and Parsa (1999, pg. 310): Outsourcing is defined as the procurement of products or services from sources that are external to the organization. 5

6 Increased Efficiency: Vertically Integrated vs. Fragmented Production Economists have analyzed the conditions under which fragmented production, occurring across several units, is more efficient and less risky than vertically integrated production (Bhagwati s 1984, Bhagwati, Panagariya, and Srinivasan 2004 pg. 95, Womak, et al 1990, and Herrigel and Zeitlin 2009). Vertically integrated organizations are preferred when stable standard operating procedures and rules can effectively be applied from the top down and when intra-unit specializations produce economies of scope and scale. On the other hand, fragmented production is more likely to produce competitive advantages when flexibility and quick innovations through experimentation are particularly valued. Womack et al. (1990) contrast these two models of organization by highlighting the difference between Ford s manufacturing process with Toyota s in the 1980s. While Ford s mass production model included labor from a range of wages and skill levels, it centralized productive inputs within the company. In contrast, Toyota was part of a fragmented manufacturing process where they played the role of final assemblers...collaborating with extended chains of suppliers in the development and manufacture of their final products. (Herrigel and Zeitlin 2009 pg. 7). The competitive advantage for Ford was producing more of already planned designs and its weakness was adaptation. Toyota, on the other hand, faced higher transaction costs in production but with the benefit of greater means for adaption and learning (Womack, et al. 1990). The production of regime security can follow a similar logic. When threats to a regime are predictable and can be combatted through centralized control, there is little efficiency gain in arming non-state actors. Under these conditions there might be significant delegation costs as these arms could be used against the regime or for private benefit. This type of context is illustrated by North Korea. In this case, regime threats are deterred by the sheer scale of the repressive apparatus, which is integrated vertically. Further, the regime believes that the threats it faces come from detectable outside influences, particularly from the South (Gause 2012), as opposed to some deep-seeded inter-ethnic or religious resentments. In more fluid environments, however, the benefits of fragmented production of security may outweigh its transaction costs. Green (2011, pg. 10) notes that, [r]aising conventional security forces is fairly straight forward but takes a long time and often fails to produce forces able to gather intelligence critical in counterinsurgency operations. This echoes the costs of verticallyintegrated organizations generally: they are slow to adapt and learn. Green (2011) quotes a retired British Army officer as saying An army can defeat an army. An army can t defeat a people (pg. 99). Fragmented security groups in Iraq, such as the Sons of Iraq militias, while not resembling the vertically-integrated structure of an army, proved effective and efficient at fighting decentralized but potentially lethal regime threats. Outsourcing provides flexibility, information advantages, and readily available additional forces at low cost. In an uncertain threat environment, the flexibility of fragmented production becomes more salient. In contrast to the North Korean example, in Colombia, the Philippines, and Iraq, the state faced security threats from rebels who could escape detection by regular security forces. Under these circumstances, more agile adaptation to local circumstances was beneficial. In Columbia, loosely organized public-private paramilitary groups, such as the Muerte a Secuestradores, and others like it, were formed in the wake of difficult to predict kidnappings and robberies by rebel groups. Each paramilitary group was relatively small compared to the uniformed state and could make autonomous operational decisions locally. This allowed them to move more swiftly in response to local alerts than the regular military, without having to 6

7 coordinate centralized action if an attack was taking place (Hristov 2009). In the Philippines, the appeal of the anti-communist vigilante group Alsa Masa was described as being able to do the dirty work of counterinsurgency for a military that is ill-prepared to launch effective operations (The New York Times, April 17, 1987). Likewise, the Sunni Awakening movement in Iraq was spawned during tribal fighting in Anbar Province where shifting allegiances and threats from foreign fighters and other tribes were fluid. These tribal militia groups, whose patrol might only be recognizable because they wore headlamps or the same colored T-shirts, were only weakly linked to coalition forces and the Iraqi police. Often cash payments or weapons were simply delivered by the coalition forces with minimal monitoring. While this led to reports of some abuse and corruption associated with the Awakening movement (Wilbanks and Karsh 2010), efficiency gains appear to have outweighed the costs. The Awakening movement has been praised not only for its adaptation to local circumstances but also for its ability to utilize local knowledge. This highlights an additional benefit of PGMs. In contrast to regular forces, PGMs may offer specific information advantages about local conditions and alignments. As one report noted, the Awakening militia groups proved particularly efficient in the fight against the al-qaeda jihadists and their local allies. The Sunnis knew where al-qaeda fighters lived and worked because they had harbored them initially, and they had no qualms about using the same brutal methods in fighting back (Wilbanks and Karsh 2010). With reference to the civil patrols in Guatemala, Kalyvas points out that While the individual militia members may be focused on defending their villages or families, the fact that they are permanently present in their villages and are operating in places they know well allows incumbents to tap into private information (2006, 107). This knowledge incentive to recruit and align with informal groups might be particularly strong in countries with dispersed and ethnically diverse populations, such as Indonesia or Sudan. Regular forces might not be sufficiently familiar with regional specific traditions, historical legacies, or even language to effectively gather information in remote areas. Finally, informal armed groups offer additional forces at low-cost. In 2007, when American forces were thinly stretched, the Awakening movement contributed over 70,000 personnel to the surge and at $300 a month were paid considerably less than police officers or soldiers (The New York Times December 23, 2007). In Kenya in the 1950s government forces included a Home Guard, which made a significant contribution to the defeat of the insurgency. Branch estimates that allies recruited from among the indigenous population of Central Kenya were then critical to the counterinsurgency campaign, inflicting 50 percent of Mau Mau casualties by the end of By providing a numerically significant, temporary, irregular force financed by non-military sources, the militia known as the Home Guard swiftly and cheaply made up a shortfall in military manpower (2009, 5). In short, outsourcing can offer tangible benefits in the production of regime security. In testimony in 2008 before the US Congress, General Petraeus gave significant credit to the Awakening movement for the increasing security in Iraq (Congressional Quarterly 2008). The fragmentation of the security apparatus that is associated with fluid regime threats suggests a reason why pro-government militias are considered to be a signal of state weakness. In line with existing literature we expect an observable positive correlation between regime challenges and PGMs but we differ with respect to intentionality. For example, Kaldor views the privatization of armed forces as less of a distinct choice by governments and more as a result of declining state revenues and growing corruption (2007, 6). The question is, do states choose PGMs in response to disorder or are PGMs merely an indicator of a state s loss of control over 7

8 repressive tools? Militias may deliver more readily expendable personnel at lower financial cost than regular forces. They may supply local knowledge and intelligence not possessed by regular forces but complementary to the effectiveness of regular forces. 3 We argue that beyond adaptability, local knowledge, and reduced costs, outsourcing the production of regime security to informal armed groups offers further benefits to governments. Transaction benefit: Reduced International and Domestic Liability There are also specific benefits to outsourcing, as opposed to integrating, security tasks in that it removes governments from direct responsibility. 4 A policy of violence and repression has political as well as economic costs. A government may arm PGMs in order to reduce their domestic and international liability for repressive acts. The loose linkages between the state and non-state pro-government militia make it more difficult for the public or international community to punish the state for misdeeds. Outsourcing in order to reduce liability is not limited to regime security. For example, in a study of an electrical wire producer Lankford and Parsa (1999) found that the company decided to contract out their delivery and trucking fleet to another firm. The company believed that the negative press in having an accident with the company s name on the side of the truck involved was a cost that could be avoided with an outsourced fleet (Lankford and Parsa 1999, p ). Similarly, outsourcing the delivery of repression to groups that do not wear state-uniforms is one form of limiting responsibility. An Alsa Masa leader said his organization was useful to the military as a means of avoiding investigations of human rights abuses. We in the Alsa Masa don't give a damn about a review from the top he said (The New York Times, April 4, 1987). While highly centralized security forces have clearly delineated lines of control within the hierarchy, the same is not true in fragmented production systems. Thus, one unique element of the use of state-sponsored groups is the potential to avoid negative repercussions for the repression of regime opposition. The same local autonomy that allows for quick adaptations to local circumstance reduces the channels of accountability to the top. In the event of casualties, outsourcing violence to PGMs minimizes the potential political cost to the government in the form of losing domestic support. This incentive to use PGMs is likely to be stronger in non-autocratic states where public responsiveness is institutionally facilitated, as opposed to strong autocratic states that lack domestic public accountability. Leaders may also be concerned about losing international support. Democratic states around the world and several international organizations have made the promotion of human rights and democratic freedoms a central tenet of their foreign policy. For example, beginning in 1976/1977 the United States began compiling annual human rights records of foreign governments and identified respect for human rights as a goal of its foreign policy (http://www.state.gov/j/drl/hr/index.htm). Other countries have similar policy agendas and the European Union monitors human rights and repression and threatens to adjust aid, and offers of cooperation away from states that fail to respect these rights. 5 Several scholars argue that some repressive states are indeed sensitive to the international repercussions of their domestic repressive actions. Kaldor notes that informal armed groups are 3 In rare circumstances, militias may also be seen as a solution to the trust problem at the heart of conventional principal-agent analysis and provide a substitute for regular forces, as in post-1979 Iran. 4 In the principal-agent literature, Fiorina developed a shifting responsibility model. This model describes the political benefit that legislators expect from delegating controversial policy to agencies (Fiorina 1985, 187). 5 The empirical record on the impact of human rights on aid flows is mixed. See, for example, Poe (1992), Berthelemy (2006), Lai (2003), Dunning (2004), and Carey (2007). 8

9 often established by governments in order to distance themselves from the more extreme manifestations of violence... probably the case for Arkan s Tigers (2007, 98). Similarly, Thomson (1994) argued that mercenaries and privateers have offered governments a low cost force and the political benefit of lower accountability for the actions that these groups committed. Using such groups the ruler could claim it was a private operation for which s/he could not be held responsible (Thomson, 1994, 21). Campbell (2002) and Wolpin (1994) stress the role that deniability plays in the choice states make to utilize PGMs instead of state-uniformed troops for repression. Campbell (2002) states that as the international community has focused on promoting human rights norms, potential recipient states have looked to militias, gangs, and death squads to continue to repress the opposition and stay in power, while avoiding the international costs of such actions. 6 With the political, strategic, and tactical advantages of outsourcing regime security, why would a government choose not to use militias? While outsourcing offers diminished responsibility for violence, along with flexibility, local knowledge advantages, and cheap and expendable human assets, it comes with transaction costs. Being able to deny accountability can only be achieved by yielding some control and by risking opportunistic behavior of the agents. Therefore, seeking the transaction benefits necessarily comes with transaction costs. Issues of trust and opportunism characterize transactions between units (Williamson 1981, pp ). Williamson argues that opportunism is a central concept in the study of transaction costs (Williamson 1979, p. 234). These issues, identified in the principal-agent literature more generally (e.g., Mitnick 1980), highlight the uncertainty of whether the task, in this case regime security, will be delivered. In contrast, integration of tasks within a unit is a response to managing uncertainty and the likelihood of opportunism. As Williamson points out it is costly to try to distinguish opportunistic from non-opportunistic behavior (1981, p. 554). When outsourcing the provision of security to militias, these groups are likely to have their own agendas and members of these groups are unlikely to have the discipline, training, and compensation available to regular forces and are more difficult to monitor. Governments have to consider the damage to reputation and the longerterm reliability of informal groups, including the prospect of betrayal. Again illustrated by the case of the Philippines, [o]pponents of the vigilante groups [Alsa Masa] warn that they provide the makings of private armies for a new generation of the warlords who have exercised local power in the Philippines (The New York Times, April 4, 1987). Full democracies that are characterized by effective internal monitoring have a higher reputation to risk in using these groups and are likely to be most sensitive to the consequence of opportunism in the delivery of regime security - more privately motivated violence. Governments need to decide where the efficiency boundaries (Williamson 1981) for regular forces lie in the delivery of regime security. In this case, the boundaries are dependent on the fluidity and immediacy of the threats, the difficulty of obtaining local knowledge, and the mechanisms of domestic and international accountability, as described above. From the theoretical argument we draw two sets of testable hypotheses concerning the flexibility and reduced liability that PGMs can offer. First, we expect that an uncertain threat environment increases the importance of flexibility that is provided by fragmented production. Outsourcing offers information advantages, speed of response, and more autonomous decision-making by the forces dealing with the threat. In the empirical model, we capture both immediate threats and the 6 The use of militias may offer increased legitimacy to the use of force. Where governments face ethnic or secessionist rebellion, they may seek to recruit from among the rebellious populations in order to legitimize their use of violence. Outsourcing to local groups allows the government to claim to represent the interests of the local population without taking responsibility for their violence. 9

10 potential threat environment in the near future. Immediate threats range from demonstrations to armed conflict. The potential threat environment, which influences the probability of future disorder, is captured with mountainous terrain, neighboring civil wars, ethnically diverse populations, non-contiguous territory, as well as large populations (e.g., Buhaug and Gates 2002; Fearon and Laitin 2003; Gleditsch 2007). We draw the following two hypotheses from the flexibility argument: H 1 : Outsourcing security provision to pro-government militias is more likely where the government faces an immediate threat of disorder. H 2 : Outsourcing security provision to pro-government militias is more likely where disorder is more likely to break out in the future. Second, through outsourcing governments may expect to reduce their liability for the violence committed by these groups. Autocracies will be less sensitive to the fear of domestic liability, while aid recipients and those located in a democratic neighborhood will be more sensitive to international liability. We draw the following two hypotheses from the liability argument: H 3 : Outsourcing security provision to pro-government militias is less likely where governments are insensitive to domestic mechanisms of accountability. H 4 : Outsourcing security provision to pro-government militias is more likely where governments are sensitive to international mechanisms of accountability. MEASUREMENT We test our arguments on a cross-national dataset for the period (Mitchell, Carey & Butler, 2012). The unit of analysis is the country-year, and the dependent variable captures the presence of PGMs. A pro-government militia is defined as a group that is identified by sources as pro-government or sponsored by the government (national or sub-national), that is not part of the regular security forces, is armed, and has some level of organization. The dataset was constructed by applying a uniform coding scheme to a wide range of publicly available news sources, including major news services (e.g., Agence France Presse, Xinhua General News Service, Deutsche Presse Agentur), newspapers, as well as BBC Monitoring of local sources, extending to transcripts of local news outlets in various languages translated into English. 7 The presence of PGMs is captured with a dummy variable where all country-years with at least one pro-government militia are coded as one and zero otherwise. One issue in coding PGMs is the difficulty of identifying the termination of these groups. Where there is no clear end date, we use the last date of PGM activity as a substitute. To test our argument on adaptability, local knowledge advantages, and deniability, we collect information on conditions that make a fragmented security apparatus and PGMs more attractive to governments. First, we measure fluid operational threat environments where domestic unrest and civil violence is present. We use the Banks Cross-national Times Series data (Banks 2008) to code the presence of any strikes, demonstrations, guerrilla attacks, or civil violence into a set of dichotomous variables. We also measure the presence of civil war using the UCDP/PRIO Armed 7 For more information on the definition of PGMs and the coding procedure, see the codebook at 10

11 Conflict Data (Gleditsch et al., 2002), using the variable Civil Violence measure armed conflict that passes the threshold of 25 battle-related deaths within one year and the variable Civil war to capture civil wars that have crossed the 1,000 battle-related deaths threshold. Measuring both civil violence and civil wars allows us to capture the effects of varying levels of violence within the disorder framework. If we were to exclude one of the variables, we would either be constraining the effect of all non-civil war year on PGM presence to be equal or assuming that civil violence and civil war had the same effect on PGMs on average. Additionally, fragmented security organizations are not only useful as security deteriorates, but also to stave off future regime threats. Research suggests that such factors as poor economies, mountainous terrain, larger populations, non-contiguous territory and civil war in neighboring countries influence the likelihood of civil war (Fearon and Laitin 2003, and Hegre and Sambanis, 2006) and we include these in our analysis. We measure poor economies with the log of real GDP per capita from the Penn World Tables. The mountainous terrain variable is taken from Fearon and Laitin (2003). Neighboring civil war measures whether any directly land-contiguous neighbor experiences a civil war above the 1,000 battle death threshold. Non-contiguous territory is measured using the GIS data included in the C-Shapes package (Weidmann and Gleditsch 2010). Population is coded using the Correlates of War data. We also control for ethnic heterogeneity, using data from Fearon and Laitin (2003) to capture the importance of the adaptability and local knowledge for the security forces. Under these conditions, we expect the vector of regime threats to be more serious and opaque, thus making PGMs more attractive for their speed and ease of mobilization, stealthy operations, and ability to adapt to changing insurgency tactics. We measure the incentives and ability to avoid domestic accountability using political institutions. Strong autocracies, without the need to avoid accountability by using PGMs, are coded as countries that score -8, -9, or -10 on the Polity2 scale (Marshall, Jaggers and Gurr, 2010). We also measure strong democracies with a dichotomous variable for states that score the reciprocal 8, 9, or 10 on the same scale. This means that in the models that follow, the omitted category are mixed regimes. Similarly, PGMs are likely to reduce international liability for repression. First, regimes that rely on democracies for international aid are vulnerable to losing that aid if violent repression of the opposition is detected by those democratic donors. In this context, PGMs are likely to be attractive since they will help avoid responsibility for violence. We utilize the AID 2.0 database to measure aid transactions. We code the purchasing-price parity adjusted value of aid sent from democracies, measured as states that score a 8, 9, or 10 on the polity scale, to any recipient, regardless of their domestic political institutions. We then compute our variable Democratic aid dependency as the sum total of aid received from democracies as a proportion of the recipient country s GDP. Additionally, to measure the probability of political violence being detected by the international community we measure the distance (in kilometers) between each country and the nearest democracy. This variable is coded as zero if the state is a democracy or a neighbor is a democracy. The distance data comes from the C-Shapes data (Weidmann and Gleditsch 2010). We also explore whether the proximity to a democracy and democratic aid interact to jointly make PGMs more likely. For example, if a regime is confident that violence will not be detected, even if perpetuated with uniformed state security forces, then the international community has little leverage, regardless of the importance of aid. It could also be the case that aid and distance have independent additive effects. In contrast, autocratic states are unlikely to be concerned about repression abroad. If our argument about international accountability is correct, then receiving aid from an autocratic 11

12 government will not encourage recipient countries to outsource the use of violence to PGMs. We include Autocratic aid dependency in our specification. The higher the dependency on aid given by autocratic states, the lower the incentives for reducing international liability that PGMs offer. This variable also provides a key test of our theory. If democratic aid makes PGMs more likely, as expected, but autocratic aid does as well, then this would suggest that it is simply aid, and not international monitoring by democracies that explains PGMs. If, however, aid from democracies increases the presence of PGMs, while autocratic aid decreases the probability of observing a PGM, then this is evidence in favor of the fragmented security production incentives that we identify. We also control for the time since the last presence of a PGM using cubic splines in several specifications. This allows us to measure potential non-linear deterministic trends in PGM presence. MODEL SPECIFICATION AND TESTING To systematically explore the empirical usefulness of our hypothesized incentives for PGMs, we estimate a series of models. First, we construct a baseline logit model that predicts PGM presence during times of domestic disorder, including strikes, demonstrations, guerrilla attacks, civil violence, and civil war. This model reflects the intuition that PGMs are manifestations of growing state frailty. We refer to this as the disorder model. Second, we estimate a logit model that includes measures for the potential benefits of fragmented security production using PGMs. We add democratic aid dependency, the distance from the nearest democracy, autocratic aid dependency, democracy or autocracy status, as well as variables that measure the likelihood of future civil disorder. These latter variables include ethnic fractionalization, mountainous terrain, GDP per capita, population, the presence of non-contiguous territory, and whether a neighbor is experiencing a civil war. We refer to this alternative specification as the outsourcing model. Third, we make two further potential improvements. We have no reason to expect that the potential effect of democratic aid or distance from democracies have a linear effect on the log odds of a PGM being present. Therefore, as a third model we estimate a generalized additive model (GAM), utilizing a logit link function. This allows for potentially non-linear relationships between these variables and the latent tendency towards PGM presence. We refer to this model as the outsourcing (smooth) representation. In the final model, we allow for democratic aid and distance to interact. Instead of fitting an additive model, where the effect of democratic aid and democratic distance on PGM presence do not vary with each other, we allow a flexible functional form where the effect of democratic aid can vary with distance from the nearest democracy. This models the possibility that governments might expect to get caught for using PGMs, due to geographic proximity and other linkages to nearby democracies, but have nothing to lose because they are not dependent on democratic aid. In this case, despite the proximity to a democracy that might detect outsourced repression, there is little democracies can do about it. Similarly, countries that receive large amounts of aid and are near to democracies may fear that the links to PGMs will be detected through media reports emanating from those proximate neighbors or trans-border information and migrant flows. We expect that the highest probability of PGMs is in countries that both receive large amounts of democratic aid and are a long way from other democracies. In this case, states have both a will (avoiding the loss of aid) and a way (low probability of state-pgm linkages being detected) to utilize PGMs to avoid international liability for repression. We refer to this final model as the outsourcing (2-D smooth) model since it represents a two-dimension smooth relationship rather than a one-dimensional additive model. 12

13 In comparing these models we are sensitive to the fact that increasingly complicated specifications with greater flexibility are more likely to fit the idiosyncrasies of the data. Therefore, instead of simply selecting models that minimize the deviance residuals, we compare fits using AIC, since this statistic includes a penalty for models with greater flexibility. To have a lower (thus better) AIC score, the added explanatory payoff must be greater than the added complexity penalty. Additionally, we investigate both the in-sample and out-of-sample fits between several models. A model that is fitting idiosyncrasies in the data, rather than systematic patters will fit well in-sample, but not out-of-sample. We use separation plots (Greenhill, Ward, and Bakke 2010) to present these in-sample and out-of-sample fits. RESULTS Table I presents the logit results for the baseline disorder model and the outsourcing model. 8 In the disorder model, as expected from both theoretical perspectives, strikes, riots, guerrilla attacks, civil violence, and civil war increase the probability of seeing a PGM within a country. While strikes have a small coefficient and a larger standard error, this appears to be a product of covariance, as there is a comparable bivariate relationship between strikes and PGMs when compared to the bivariate relationship between riots and PGMs. In the outsourcing model (Model 2) we see that several variables beyond those associated with disorder, are useful predictors of PGMs. Democratic aid is estimated to increase the presence of PGMs, while autocratic aid is estimated to decrease aid. Furthermore, strong autocracies are less likely to have PGMs as compared to democracies and mixed regimes. Poor states, mountainous terrain, and having neighbors with civil war also increase the likelihood of PGMs. Our results also tell us that PGMs are more likely in more populace countries, as predicted. Comparing the two models, despite having several additional parameters, the AIC for the outsourcing model is much lower than for the disorder model. This outsourcing model assumes that the variables such as democratic aid have a linear effect on the log-odds of PGM presence. We can relax this assumption by estimating a generalized additive model that allows a smooth but non-linear relationship between democracy aid and distance. 9 While this outsourcing (smooth) model does not alter our inferences from the other coefficients, it does improve the fit of the model, as shown in Table II. The AIC value is again lowered and the approximate p-value for the smooth functions is far less than.05. Figures 1 and 2 plot the fitted non-linear relationships for democratic aid and distance. We see that democratic aid dependency at first only slowly increases the probability of PGMs, but at high values of democratic aid dependency, PGMs become more likely. Distance to the nearest democracy has a more ambiguous relationship to PGMs with wider uncertainty. 8 We replicated these models with splines, these results are presented in Table A in the Appendix. The addition of the splines for the time since the last active PGM group alter the interpretations of these disorder coefficients to an extent, with greater uncertain around the positive coefficients estimated. However, several disorder variables remain positive and significant in these models, as predicted. 9 We also explored whether autocratic aid had a non-linear relationship with PGMs, but there was no evidence for this in the data. We also explored the non-linear relationship between the underlying polity index and PGMs. However, this did not provide a superior fit to the data as compared to our cut-points used here based on AIC. 13

14 Table I. Baseline Logit Models Model 1 Disorder/ No Splines Model 2 Outsourcing/ No Splines Strikes 0.07 (0.17) 0.08 (0.18) Riots 0.76*** (0.15) 0.50** (0.16) Demonstrations 0.39*** (0.13) 0.33* (0.14) Guerrilla attacks 0.70*** (0.15) 0.66*** (0.15) Civil war 1.02*** (0.18) 0.75*** (0.20) Civil violence 1.55*** (0.13) 1.14*** (0.14) Ethnic fractionalization 0.25 (0.22) ln(mountainous Terrain) 0.17*** (0.04) Neighbor. civil war 0.32** (0.12) Dem. aid dependence 0.10*** (0.02) Autoc. aid dependence -0.04** (0.02) High democracy (0.29) High autocracy -0.64*** (0.15) Distance to democracy (0.11) ln(gdp per capita) -0.39*** (0.09) ln(population) 0.29*** (0.05) Non-contiguous 0.48*** (0.13) Constant -2.57*** (0.08) -2.48* (1.07) N AIC Standard errors in parentheses. * p <.1, ** p <.01, *** p <.001 (two-tailed test) 14

15 Table II. GAM Outsourcing (smooth) Model Model 3 Outsourcing Smooth/No Splines Model 4 Outsourcing Smooth/With Splines Strikes 0.06 (0.18) 0.31 (0.29) Riots 0.54*** (0.16) 0.26 (0.25) Demonstrations 0.32* (0.15) 0.51* (0.23) Guerrilla attacks 0.67*** (0.16) 0.29 (0.25) Civil war 0.87*** (0.20) 0.43 (0.32) Civil violence 1.19*** (0.15) 1.14*** (0.22) Ethnic fract (0.23) (0.34) ln(mountainous terr.) 0.15*** (0.05) 0.02 (0.07) Neighbor Civil War 0.38** (0.13) 0.38* (0.19) Aut. aid dependence 0.04* (0.02) 0.09*** (0.03) High democracy 2.99 (3.90) 1.06 (1.42) High autocracy 0.62*** (0.16) -0.60** (0.21) ln(gdp per capita) 0.43*** (0.09) -0.32* (0.14) ln(population) 0.26*** (0.06) 0.27*** (0.08) Non-contiguous 0.53*** (0.13) 0.14 (0.19) Constant 3.79* (1.73) 5.33*** (1.36) N AIC EDF Chi-sq EDF Chi-sq Dem. aid dependence 5.68*** (27.82) 1.00*** (12.85) Distance to democ. 6.90*** (39.33) 2.66 (6.50) Standard errors in parentheses. * p <.1, ** p <.01, *** p <.001 (two-tailed test) 15

16 Figure 1. Plot of estimated effect of log democratic aid (as a proportion of GDP) on the latent proclivity for a state to have a PGM. Figure 2: Plot of estimated effect of log distance (km) to nearest democracy on the latent proclivity for a state to have a PGM. 16

17 As noted above, it could also be the case that the distance to a democracy and democratic aid are related concepts that jointly, rather than additively, increase the probability of PGMs. We test for this by including a two-dimensional smooth in the generalized additive model. This allows the effect of democratic aid dependency to vary with distance to a democracy, and vice versa. The results from this outsourcing (2D-Smooth) model are reported in Table III. The perspective plot of predicted probabilities of this model is shown in Figure 3. Again, despite increasing the complexity of the model and thus the penalty term, the AIC falls, denoting a better penalized fit to the data. Importantly, the perspective plot illustrates that, as expected, it is states that both receive large amounts of democratic aid and are distant from other democracies that are most likely to have PGMs, all else being equal. These are the states that have the most to lose if they are caught by the international community mistreating their populations, and are also the states that are most likely to get away with substituting PGMs for vertically-integrated security forces. In this best-fitting model, countries with high values on the Polity IV scale (values 8 to 10) are more likely to have PGMs. From a failed state perspective, this is a surprising finding. But interpreting it as evidence of PGMs reducing liability, it is in line with our theoretical argument. The countries that drive this result include Colombia during the 1980s and early 1990s, Spain during the early to mid-1980s and Pakistan during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Colombia was fighting FARC, Spain was fighting ETA, and Pakistan was facing ethnic tensions and violence notably in Sind province. During these years, the leaders dealt with severe threats of disorder under the constraints of democratic institutions. They were subjected to mechanisms of domestic accountability and therefore likely to value the plausible deniability these groups offered when their regimes were under severe threat. Figure 3: Wireframe of conditional non-linear relationship of log distance to a democracy (km) and log democratic aid as a proportion of GDP on the predicted probability of a PGM being present. The z-axis is scaled from 0-1. The other axes are scaled from the min to max. 17

18 Table III. GAM Outsourcing (2-D Smooth) Model Model 5: Outsourcing 2-D Smooth/No spline Model 6: Outsourcing 2-D Smooth/with Spline Strikes 0.08 (0.18) 0.28 (0.29) Riots 0.52** (0.16) 0.27 (0.25) Demonstrations 0.26 (0.15) 0.51* (0.23) Guerrilla attacks 0.78*** (0.16) 0.35 (0.25) Civil war 0.86*** (0.20) 0.41 (0.33) Civil violence 1.05*** ((0.15) 1.05*** (0.23) Ethnic Fractionalization 0.11 (0.23) (0.35) ln(mountainous terrain) 0.13** (0.05) 0.01 (0.07) Neighbor. civil war 0.31* (0.12) 0.35 (0.19) Aut. aid depdendence 0.04* (0.02) -0.08** (0.03) High Democracy 3.49*** (0.98) 1.75 (1.03) High Autocracy 0.64*** (0.15) -0.63** (0.22) ln(gdp per capita) 0.41*** (0.09) -0.38* (0.15) ln(population) 0.29*** (0.06) 0.32*** (0.09) Non-contiguous 0.04* (0.02) 0.17 (0.19) Constant 4.23*** (0.89) -5.46*** (1.34) N AIC EDF Chi-sq EDF Chi-sq Distance, dem aid dep *** *** Standard errors in parentheses. * p <.1, ** p <.01, *** p <.001 (two-tailed test) We also explore whether adding time since the last PGM observation, fitting the models to only pre and post Cold War contexts, or whether dropping full democracies from the analysis led to different inferences. In no case did this change the relative importance of the disorder model versus the flexible outsourcing models. The relative in-sample fits of the baseline disorder model and the best fitting model, which was the two-dimensional smooth model including a time-sinceevent counter is included in Figure 4. These are separation plots which order the predicted probabilities from a given model from low to high, as one moves from left to right. Then, for each prediction, a line is drawn, it is colored red if a PGM was actually present, and white if not. If the model separated the observations of PGMs perfectly from the observations where PGMs were absent, then the right side of the plot would be red and left side white. A poor fitting model will have red lines towards the left of the panel, which represent low predicted probabilities from the model (since they are sorted on the left) but actual values where PGMs were in fact present. The separation plot for the baseline disorder model is poor. There are red lines to the left of the plot area, although there is an increasing pattern of red as one moves towards the higher predicted probabilities (on the right). In comparison, the separation plot for the outsourcing model is visibly improved. A white space emerges on the left, showing that no PGM observations were present at very low predicted probability values and the pattern of increasing red (positive values of PGM presence) as we move to the right grows stronger. We include a third panel that also controls for 18

19 the time since the last PGM observation as well as the 2-D smooth in the outsourcing model, which provided the best fit to the in-sample data. Here the patterns are even more pronounced. Figure 4: Separation plot of base disorder model (top), GAM outsourcing model with 2-D smooth for distance to a democracy and democratic aid (middle), and GAM outsourcing model with 2 smooth and a deterministic trend for time since last PGM presence. Figure 5: Out of sample separation plots for base disorder model and GAM outsourcing model with 2-D smooths. Both models include deterministic trends. 19

20 Another possibility is that the flexible models used here might be over-fitting idiosyncrasies in the data. To explore this, we use out-of-sample validation. First, we refit each model only to the sample of data from 1981 to We then take these estimated coefficients and calculate predicted probabilities for the 2002 to 2006 data. If we are overfitting the sample data, the out-ofsample fit for the flexible models should be relatively poor. Figure 5 presents these out-of-sample separation plots. Again, the baseline disorder model mis-apportions positive values at low predicted probabilities. On the other hand, the best fitting model in-sample, the outsourcing model with the 2-dimensional smooth, continues it superior performance in this out-of-sample test. There is considerable white space on the left, representing no PGMs in the areas where the model does not expect PGMs to be and red on the first, where the model predicts a higher density of PGMs. This is helpful evidence that our inclusion of additional variables and flexible functional forms did not over-fit the sample data. We also ran several robustness tests. We reran each model using only lagged independent variables and found that the same inference held. Additionally, we attempted to control for the distance from the capital to the farthest border, as well as the Cold War period and found no meaningful differences for either concept. This leaves us with a picture of where PGMs are likely to be. It is not simply that PGMs exist during civil disorder, but they appear in places where flexibility, adaptation, and reduced liability are useful. Figure 6 presents a cartogram of PGM presence during the period 1981 to The size of the countries represent the amount of democratic aid they have received as a proportion of GDP. The colors represent whether they have had a PGM (red) or not (green). We see that the larger areas are more likely to be red. Further, states that are farther from Europe appear to be more likely to have had PGMs, as the GAM analysis suggested. Figure 6: Democratic Aid Dependence and PGMs CONCLUSION The Weberian account of pro-government militias pointed to the link between the weakness of a state, conditions of disorder, and these informal armed groups. Yet it was surprising to find these groups in circumstances that did not fit the profile of a failing or failed state. As indicated by our findings, even democracies are not systematically less likely than other regimes to use these groups across most model specifications. The challenge was to develop a theoretical argument that would account for the link between state failure and pro-government militias, but also explain why states still capable of choice have these groups. Instead of seeing them as an involuntary outgrowth of state weakness and disorder, we asked why a government might choose 20

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