(English captions & Hindi subtitles available)
About the Book:
In this book, Paul Staniland analyzes the interactions of governments, insurgents, militias, and armed political parties through a shared framework, arguing that governments' perception of the ideological threats posed by armed groups drive their responses and interactions. The project combines a unique new dataset of state-group armed orders in India, Pakistan, Burma/Myanmar, and Sri Lanka with detailed case studies from the region to explore when and how this model of threat perception provides insight into patterns of repression, collusion, and mutual neglect across nearly seven decades. Instead of straightforwardly responding to the material or organizational power of armed groups, Staniland finds regimes assess how a group's politics align with their own ideological projects. Explaining, for example, why governments often use extreme repression against weak groups even while working with or tolerating more powerful armed actors, Ordering Violence provides a comprehensive overview of South Asia's complex armed politics, embedded within an analytical framework that can also speak broadly beyond the subcontinent.
About the Author:
Paul Staniland is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, a Non-resident Scholar in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Faculty Chair of the Committee on International Relations MA program at UChicago. He has published two books: Networks of Rebellion: Explaining Insurgent Cohesion and Collapse (Cornell, 2014) and Ordering Violence: Explaining Armed Group-State Relations from Cooperation to Conflict (Cornell University Press, 2021) and scholarly and policy journal articles on civil conflict, international security, and South Asia.
Hello and welcome to CASI's spring seminar series. I'm Naveen Bharathi. I'm a post-doctoral researcher at CASI, along with my colleagues moderate this series. Today's talk is in partnership with South Asia Center. Before I introduce today's speaker, I just want to put a plug for our next seminar on March 24th, same time by Tania Sengupta from UCLA London, who will talk about marginal interiors, architecture, space and governance in colonial Indian Mufassal. Please register for this event at CASI's website.
Today, I'm delighted to welcome professor Paul Staniland, associate professor of political science University of Chicago. He's also a non-resident scholar in the South Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, faculty chair committee on international relations MA program at Chicago. His research focuses on political violence and international security with the regional focus on South and Southeast Asia.
He has published two books, both published by Carnegie University Press, Networks of Rebellion: Explaining Insurgent Cohesion and Collapse. And the current book which is going to speak about today, Ordering Violence: Explaining Armed Group-State Relations from Conflict to Cooperation. He has written many scholarly and policy general articles on civil conflict, international security, mostly on South Asia. He has received the 2022 Karl Deutsche award from International Studies Association, congratulations on that. In today's seminar, Paul will present his second book, Ordering Violence. In this book, Paul analyzes the interactions of government, insurgence, militia and arm political parties through a shared framework.
The book explains why governments use extreme repression against the groups even while working with or tolerating more powerful arm actors. More on that book in the talk. Paul will present for 30 minutes and we'll have questions from the audience for around 30 minutes. Please keep your questions brief to the point so that we can get to as many as possible. So if you have any questions, please enter directly to my chat box, Naveen Bharathi, and I will call on you to pose your questions to the presenter. Finally, please be mindful of muting your mics throughout the duration of the event, and thanks for making time and being here today. With that I'm going to hand over the mic to Paul.
Great. Thank you so much Naveen. I'm just setting a timer for myself. I'm not just texting. Okay. 30 minutes. We'll see how much I get through, but I'd rather save some time for Q&A than kind of endless me talking, which is not worth very much. Let me share my screen and we'll get going here. So, first of all, I wanted to thank all of you for coming today. I'm sure you're all very busy, the weather is getting good outside. So I'm grateful for your attendance today during your lunch hour. So what I want to do is give kind of an overview of some of the big picture kind of aspects of the book, as I was saying earlier to some of the people, when we were organizing this, I actually really don't like discussing my published research because there's not much I can do about it.
A lot of various problems you identify, so I'm hoping this can be as much about this, or as much about kind of future directions and implications, as it is about the claims I can no longer change and the mistakes I have irrevocably now made. So that's just kind of what I'd like to get out of this for us is kind of a broader discussion of where we might go next. Okay. So I want to start some [inaudible 00:03:41]. These are a couple photos from Nagaland, the Indian state. One is of the general headquarters of the self-identified Naga army, that's on the right. On the left is a photo I took years ago, a roadside kind of Memorial to the commander in chief of the Naga army, right? Which is publicly kind of on the side of the road headed to the village of Khonoma in Nagaland.
And this is an interesting case because it has seen multiple armed groups fighting the states since about 1955, 1956, and yet the most powerful of these factions has been on ceasefire since 1997. There's a peace process that's kind of chugging along hasn't really gone anywhere in the last few years, there are other factions wandering around, but they mostly haven't fought the state for the most part in 20 years now. There have been some ups and downs in recent years, but for the most part, there are groups, there are countered insurgent forces. There are ceasefires, there's not a peace deal, there's very little fighting, okay.
A somewhat different kind of case, but one that raises some similar questions is this profusion of both Shia and actually Kurdish as well, armed party militias in Iraq, right? They are not simple ponds of the state. They're not classic pro-state militias who do the bidding of the government, they're involved in mainstream politics. They also have been very involved in kind of conventional and militia warfare against groups like ISIS, the Islam states, sometimes fighting one another as well, right? So it's kind of, these are entities that seem to cross multiple categories of political actor. And we see other groups that reflect these ambiguities, the United Wa State Army, which is part of the United Wa State Party in Northern Myanmar, has up to, allegedly, 20,000 men under arms.
It's been on some kind of ceasefires with the Myanmar government, since the collapse, the communist party of Burma in 1989. It runs all kinds of economic operations across the Chinese border. It has its own governing structures. The Myanmar government doesn't really go in there unless it's invited and yet, right? Other than this one weird year, that for some reason the Uppsala Conflict Data Program has as a conflict year in 1997. We're not sure why, but whatever, even if we accept that, it's been almost, gosh, over 30 years now of neither war nor peace, right? And so I think this leads to this question of like, what are these cases of? How might we think about these kinds of politics, both on their own terms and in relation to our more classic categories like anti-state insurgent or pro-state militia.
So in the project, what I do more broadly is I look at this phenomenon that I call armed politics. Those broad range of political relations between governments and armed actors, that really kind of occupy a spectrum of extremes from very tight alliances between states and non-state armed groups to total intense warfare, your classic civil wars. As I've suggested, this is important to understand in the contemporary world, but also it has really very deep resonances, much farther back, right? Interwar Europe, that kind of rise of the free core and militia that are used by regimes against the left, to the rise of militias that then took over the state like the Nazis, right?
Conflict in the shatter zones to the former kind of Austria-Hungarian and Russian and German empires in the 1920s. 19th century America, we have all kinds of armed actors. Pinkertons, Six Shooters, Percys, right? Wandering all over the place. Jonathan Obert, O-B-E-R-T has written a great book on this recently called the Six Shooter State, about private violence and its links to the state in 19th century America. Going back even further, the rise of the modern state is all about the relations between kings and nobles and various armed actors. And in which they fight bargain sometimes are incorporated into one another. And then of course, more broadly in post-colonial Asia, these fundamental questions of political order, whether in 1960s Indonesia, or 1950s South Korea, or 1970s Laos and Cambodia are really fundamental to understanding broad trajectories of political development over time.
So what the book tries to do is try to figure out, well, what explains this variation, or at least some part of this variation. This is an incredibly complicated topic, even if you don't buy my argument, I hope you still buy my dependent variable, but even the argument that it's putting it's best foot forward can only account for some of this, right? I'm looking to try to get a sense of broad patterns, divergent trajectories. And I focus here on how governments think about the tactical overlap between... I'm sorry, how governments think about armed groups, which is a function of primarily regime ideological projects on the one hand, and then these kind of tactical operational dynamics on the other. The ways in which armed groups post political threats is going to be the main focus of this presenting. I think these tactical and operational dynamics are important, but other people have done a better job of exploring them. So I just kind of plugged them in as a secondary part of my argument.
And I look at a variety of kinds of evidence from South and Southeast Asia. The book is primarily focused on South Asia though I toss in examples from Southeast Asia. So today I want to suggest that there's a case for rethinking how we study conflict. I'm going to introduce this framework of armed orders and talk a little bit about research design. If we have time, then I'll also give a sketch of evidence, right? But I think there are these big picture questions that maybe of interest broadly, both in South and Southeast Asia and hopefully kind of potentially well beyond that as well. And I'll conclude with just some thoughts if we have time. Sorry, let me get myself going. Okay.
So I think there's a lot to like about the political violence literature, let me just start there, but there's some limits, right? A lot of the time there's this binary of states concede or they repress armed groups, but a lot of the action is in the middle, right? So for instance, has the American state conceded to, or repressed right wing armed actors in America? Well, it's kind of in between and varies a lot by time and place, right? Second, I think we often assume in the literature that there is something like state interests that we can identify that are similar across governments and across time space. And I think there are some kind of very thin functional interests that are shared, right? So at a certain point, it's 1975 Cambodia [inaudible 00:09:47] is across the river. The world looks pretty similar regardless what regime you plot in, right? However, most armed groups... I'm sorry, most governments, most of the time have a lot more discretion and how they think about what they're interested in pursuing and what they're afraid of, right? So there's actually space for decision making. And I'm going to argue that a lot of the time that space or the variation within that space is best understood by kind of big picture of political considerations, right?
More briefly, I think there's sometimes an over emphasis on violence. So we study the ones in our data sets, but we spend a lot less time on the zeros. And in the case of both Myanmar and Northeast India, Nagaland within Northeast India, those are zeros. Those particular diads in our data sets are just, there's no civil war there, so it must be something else. And so one thing I'm going to do here is argue that state capacity on its own tells us some important things, but kind of how you use state capacity is as important as kind of the raw strength of the state, right? And so I'm going to argue that one way to think about this is first of all, having a more broad spectrum of outcomes and second having a more politicized understanding of what states want to do and what they're afraid of.
So this leads us into this world of what I called armed orders that I introduced earlier. And so here I identify several types of armed orders. That's a relationship between a state and an armed group. This can involve close coordination, right? Alliances, mutual efforts, kind of toward a shared goal between states and armed groups. A world with more limited cooperation, which is kind more passive, live and let live deals, ceasefires, spheres of influence. And then fighting but here I distinguish between a couple of kinds. Relatively low intensity wars of what I call violence management of containment versus those of kind of total war, more high intensity efforts and monopolizing violence, destroying challenges to the state.
And then we can think of some ways in which armed orders end. Collapse generally when groups are unable to function. Occasionally states themselves collapse. I call this victory. It's very rare in my part of the world, but it does occasionally happen. And then incorporation, which can have several variants. This is when a group demobilizes and kind of comes to an end as an armed actor. This could be formally through a peace deal or informally through kind of parts of the state or the mainstream political system absorbing non-state armed actors. So why might this be useful? Well, this is like the world's worst graphic for which I apologize, but there's an armed political party in Karachi, the MQM, that's being kicking around at various forms since the mid 1980s. And here, I just kind of show the different orders. I consolidate hostilities here into just one category for ease of looking at it, but there's variation within hostilities as well. Sometimes there's containment, sometimes there's total war. And the relations between the MQM and whatever we think of as a Pakistani government at whatever moment in time, civilian or military, or both, very dramatically.
Alliances, the late '80s, then a crackdown, then another year of alliances and then a period of really intense conflict in the mid 1990s. But then a [inaudible 00:12:45] then another breakdown, and then they become in the early 2000s, kind of the right hand man of Pervez Musharraf's military dictatorship in Karachi, but then Musharraf falls from power and things break down again. And by 2013, and especially into 2014, we see actually then a return to even more conflict. So huge variation.
This is just similar kind of operation in Nagaland, the case I introduced the project with. This is on an annual basis, the relations between the central government and in various Naga arm groups, right? There are various factions and splinter groups. And what we can see here is a huge amount of variation, right? Both in their relationships and to some extent, also in how these groups are. Some fall apart, others are incorporated. There are a couple other outcomes we see in the data that I can talk about if people are interested of absorption and disarmament that I didn't actually expect to see, but there are multiple ways in which these orders act.
So, how might we think about this theoretically? As I mentioned here, this is a radically simplified framework. So the world is vastly more complicated and I agree, right? But this is an effort to try to put some structure on this variation, to try to give a sense of kind of what trajectories can emerge and how to think about the relationship between government threat perception and different kinds of armed orders and different kinds of armed groups, I should say. And how those produce variation in armed orders. So there are some scope conditions that are pretty important here. I'm interested in context in which there's some basic degree of regime coherence. I think there's a whole world of failed, I don't know if I want to call them failed states, but people might call them failed states, very weak states factionalized regimes in which there are multiple types of state coercion that are controlled by different actors, right?
Think of a classic like Will Reno war lord politics kind of environment. I don't think I have a lot to say about that. Maybe something, but I think this is a world... What I'm interested as a world, we're kind of relatively coherent, what's called the medium to strong capacity governments, right? I'm particularly focused on central governments and their interactions with armed groups. In my book, I also am able to do a little bit of work on state level, like sub national state level dynamics in India. It's kind of tentative data and only from a few states, but I'd be happy to talk about that. And then here, I'm interested in armed actors. Though maybe some aspects of this story could apply to trade unions or dissidents or opposition movements. I don't know... There are obviously some differences that would emerge, but here I'm focused primarily on armed actors themselves, okay.
So the story then goes, well, governments need to figure out what to do with non-state armed groups, right? Who are their friends, who are their enemies, who's in between. And I'm going to suggest that we can think about this as a process of categorization, right? But these categorizations, these perceptions are often, not always, but often neither obvious nor natural, right? There are certainly extreme cases of incredibly intense military conflicts in which there's very little ambiguity. There's very little discretion, right? So this goes back to my example of, 1975 Cambodia. [inaudible 00:15:50] Camaro Rouge are about to take the capital city. From the government's perspective, it's pretty unambiguous what's going on.
So there are these extreme cases where I think a kind of more functionalist and military logic kicks in. That's fine, right? But in a lot of cases, there's a lot more ambiguity. Again, think of the American case, right? How big of a threat is right-wing political violence today? Your answer to that probably depends a lot on how you think about politics, your party affiliation, right? What you view as the real threats to the real America, whatever those may be. Okay. So what this suggests is that what one government may see as a kind of a nuisance group, another may see is like a close politically unproblematic ally, and yet another as an existential threat. And these are going to depend a lot on what I call these regime ideological projects.
Boundaries of the polity and hierarchies within them. Usually empirically, this is about nationalism. Though there are some exceptions to that and kind of your classic communist cases, maybe we think about this differently. In theocracies we may think about this differently, but usually this is about kind of the aspirational nation, who's in, who's out. And then among those who are in, are their hierarchies? First class citizens, second class citizens, real authentic citizens versus guests. These kinds of things.
I bring in some then more kind of operational or tactical dynamics to explain kind more fine grain variation, but I'm not going to focus on that today. So this generates, my love language is typology, and this generates a typology here, of different kinds of political categories that I'm going to argue are broadly associated with different kinds of orders. This is a pretty state centric argument. In chapter two of my book, I talk a lot about how armed groups might try to resist, push back, negotiate, shift their positioning, kind of to deal with the context in which they're stuck. I'm happy to talk about that in Q&A but kind of the big picture argument is about how regimes go out into the world, try to make and remake politics, right? And the armed orders that flow from that. So that's what I'm going to focus on today.
And so we could think of a world of which there's kind of a ideological fit vertically, and then this kind of tactical or operational overlap horizontally, right? And that basically means, are there some shared kind of discreet, functional interests, winning elections, winning counterinsurgency campaigns, projecting power across borders in which the regime and in armed group kind of share interests, right. And can tactically cooperate around those. And that's fine, that's interesting, but I think more important for my purpose is the ideological fit. What kind of political claims are being made? What kind of symbols are being levied by these armed actors? What kind of cleavages are they mobilizing or being seen to mobilize.
And how do governments then perceive them and what threat they pose, right? So we can get very simple armed group political roles, like armed allies that kind of look like your classic paramilitaries or militias. Or pro-regime armed political parties, right? That kind of are wings of the state or wings of the ruling party, right? These armed allies. We can also get your classic mortal enemies that are locked in a total struggle for control of political order, control of the state, okay? But then there's a lot of murkiness in between, right? We have ideologically aligned groups that are not tactically very useful. So they may be actually kind of superfluous and maybe absorbed into the state or kind of just kept around in the background. We can have a few cases, I think, rare but important of what I call strange bedfellow political roles, where an ideologically opposed group may still have some kind of tactical overlap or mutual tactical interest with the government. And there could be periods of very limited cooperation between them.
I would say, this is the world of Fotini Christus book on Alliance formation and civil wars. And they're going to have a lot of actors that live in kind of what I call here borrowing from so sociologists, the Graza, right? That are mobilizing, sorry, mobilizing political claims that are potentially acceptable but kind of unsavory, right? They're mobilizing cleavages, they're mobilizing demands. They could be accommodated within mainstream politics, but are generally staking out more extreme positions. And so these then are kind of this murky world of armed actors. When there's high tactical overlap, I view them as kind of business partners that can do business at a very limited level with governments.
I would say, this is the case, the Naga armed groups in Northeast India. This is the case of the United Wa State Army in Northern Myanmar, or when there aren't these kind of tactical interests that lead to cooperation, we get this world of what I call undesirables, with a containment order. Kind of low level efforts to keep a lid things by the government, okay. But groups that are not seen as so threatening that they're worth the hassle of trying to engage in violence and monopolization.
Now there's an obvious question here, which is like, well, where do these perceptions come from? And so I focus on, in the book, the ideological projects of what I call carrier movements, prior to coming to power, these could be Praetorian militaries. They could be revolutionary or insurgent groups. They could be anti-colonial or democratizing movements. But they have a certain set of ideas about politics, right? About who's in, who's out and hierarchies within that poli, that then give us kind of an X anti sense of their projects before they come to power.
What I also do in the book is I look at projects that didn't immediately come to power. Kind of the dogs that didn't bark or the roads not taken at least for some period of time. And kind of how they thought about these. So we can see that a lot of the time there's huge dissension within a political system about how to think about ideological projects, how to think about goals. And sometimes these alternatives end up taking power, years or decades later. So think about the Sailenese Buddhist Nationalist movement, which comes to power in 1956, but was not the kind of successor regime of the British colonial structure in Sailen, right?
Or think about the Hindu Nationalist Movement in India, which has taken an extremely long time to come to power, but was kind of a road not taken in the colonial period. I have some thoughts on the formation of different kinds of projects that I don't want to delve into because I'm running low on time, but happy to talk about later. And so I've already talked about this, right? The ideological projects boundaries and hierarchies, those are kind of the two ways I think about how nations or whatever polity we're talking about are understood. And what is so-called legitimate? What are so-called legitimate claims, symbols and repertoires of action kind of within that project, right? And so I think this is obviously a simplification. It's missing a ton of stuff, but it gives us a really useful analytical map, right? Of how regimes are thinking about threats, how they're thinking about friends and how they're thinking about politics, they're kind of in between those extremes. Okay.
This is like the world's second worst graphic is we've got preference formation by a carrier movement. For some reason that carrier movement becomes a regime other carrier movements kind of live on, but are not government, at least not yet. There are these questions about tactical and kind of operational overlap that are very context specific, but they're combined with these projects and the claims of armed groups to generate these political roles that then broadly translate into kind of general patterns of armed order. Okay. I've talked about ideological fit already, basically this kind of spectrum. Here I tracheotomize it, but that's just for the sake of presentation. Obviously it's kind of a much more continuous spectrum. And then I've talked a little bit about tactical overlap. I'll just give it a second here.
Basically governments vary in their usefulness. I'm sorry, groups vary in their usefulness to a government and vice versa, right? And so what this gives us is the ideological sympathies I think broadly related to, but very much not identical with tactical utility or tactical overlap. So you can have these curious cases. Think about sick religious militant to the late 1970s, early 1980s, and their relationship with parts of the India National Congress, right? Which is basically using them or hoping to use them to break or divide a regional party that has posed a persistent challenge to the Congress. This ends up spiraling wildly out of control. But as one of these cases of a strange bedfellow relationship, I can mention a couple others that people are interested in Q&A, but so these are about tangible tactical tasks that groups can help the government achieve and vice versa, right?
This is where most of the literature has gone on questions outsourcing and on questions of state armed group relations, I think it's important, but I think it's always embedded within this much broader political context, that's going to kind of shape how these tactical dynamics play out. And the depth of these operational forms of cooperation. Okay. One thing I'll mention, but is starting to get deep in the weeds at this point is we can see change here. Governments, operational or tactical incentives can change a lot and armed groups can shift what they want to do as well, right? Especially groups that are quite powerful, they may be able to bargain with the government. They may be able to move themselves around, sometimes agree to cooperate with a state, sometimes be willing not to and suffer repression.
Similarly, we can have groups change their broader political positioning, these are major changes, or governments can change how they think about politics, right? Often by a kind of large scale regime change, sometimes involving a more incremental adaptation over time. So what I do in the book and there's a lot more I can talk about here is looking at India, Pakistan, Burma, and Sri Lanka from independent onward. For kind of research design reasons and Nepal is not in here, I can talk a little bit about Nepal if people are interested and also Bangladesh, which emerges out of one of these armed orders, out of the emergence of kind of conflict, obviously between the Pakistani military and the kind of Bengali, what becomes the Bangladesh Nationalist Movement. And so it's kind of an outcome rather than a starting point that I'm happy to talk about a little bit kind of, dynamics of nationalism and religion in Bangladesh since 1971. And how that's affected broadly some relations with non-state armed groups.
So what I do here is I try to generate some new quantitative data based on qualitative evidence. There's so many caveats with the quantitative data here. The book is just shot through with like, "Don't take this too seriously, but maybe take it a little bit seriously," kind of caveats. But what we try to do is represent on an annual basis for armed group state diets within this content X, roughly what the armed order we see was. And this includes classical insurgent groups. So the kind of groups you would see in the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, but also militias, war lord groups, for instance in Myanmar, and sometimes armed political parties or kind of armed social movements, that may even be, we don't even have a great word for it. Others. And try to look at this full range of armed actors and their relationships with the central government. Plus in the Indian case, some sub national kind of state level dynamics.
So one big takeaway. This is honestly the main reason to do the data set was just descriptively, how often do we see different kinds of orders, right? With all the caveats that come along with this. And across the full data set, we see that actually containment and limited cooperation, these kind of in between outcomes are the most common. There's plenty of total war, plenty of alliance, a little bit of this in between category we just call hostilities, when we can't figure out the difference between containment and limited war, but mostly the world is kind of murky and gray, limited war, limited cooperation.
Great. We also, however, see some pretty dramatic changes over time. So this is from Myanmar. This is of all the armed orders in a year, what percentage of those orders fall into these different categories over time? And this is nice because it shows there's variation.
Some of which my theory can help us with some of which it can't. But it also kind of aligns with kind of our big picture qualitative understanding of some of these cases. So for instance, we see a huge, a substantial uptick in the 1960s and 1970s here in conflict, whether total war containment. And that aligns with the rise of [inaudible 00:27:19] as a military dictator, who basically does business with almost no non-state armed groups. Then he dies... Or I'm sorry, he's removed from power in 1988, 1989 and we see the rise of a new kind of ceasefire politics across various types of groups in Myanmar that then kind of sticks, right? We don't see much incorporation. We mostly see limited containment, I'm sorry, limited cooperation. Which lays the basis for then in the last year or so, the breakdown of all of almost all of these limited cooperation orders and the resurgence of a much more intense form of civil war in there.
We can look across countries. This doesn't tell us much interesting, but it shows we can kind of do that kind of work. And here's the stuff I was mentioning with sub national disaggregation. So this is pulling apart diads that are focused on the central government in India with a much smaller and kind of rougher number that are focused only within states. And here the state is primarily West Bengal, [inaudible 00:28:11] car and Bihar and Maharashtra as well. Sorry, I'm trying to remember if that's right. I believe it is. And well, this is just really rough data, but what we see, I think makes sense. Which is that armed groups... Sorry, armed orders involved in the central government are more likely to be conflictual, armed orders involving state governments are more likely to be cooperative. This makes sense for two reasons. One, often the central government only gets involved once conflict is escalated beyond a certain point.
And two, a lot of the election related violence broadly understood in India is kind of being carried out in these state level contests, where ruling parties may have youth wings or student wings, often of like 38 year olds that are engaging in kind of low level, but often very violent conflict with support implicit or formal from the state level political and police apparatus, right? So we can see things that at least make some sense into quantitative data. Okay. I'm now running pretty low on time here. So I'm just going to give a rough sketch of some India, Pakistan variation. First though it's worth noting, and here I said under the [inaudible 00:29:11], which is not quite right, because after 1935, '36 Burma breaks away, Sailen is ruled differently, but let's just say South Asia under the British. You got a whole bunch of different competing nationalist projects, right? Including some people who probably haven't heard of, right? So we know about this [inaudible 00:29:25] Buddhist Movement, Nationalist Movement in Sailen, but also there's this thing called the Sailen National Congress, which was trying.... Actually it was the incumbent regime in 1948, was trying to create a kind of like Sailenese nationalism. It did not work.
But basically there are these various movements that are trying to articulate visions of future politics. What is the nation, right? Who's in, who's out? Who should kind of be on top, who should be on the bottom, right? And so we can see these ahead of time. They're often vague, they're never fully coherent, they're shifted, but I think at 30,000 feet up, right? Or regionally appropriate 30,000 meters up, we can at least see some substantial differences in how polities are being imagined, right? That then generate different kinds of regime politics once new elites come to power. And so this is a real simplification in the book.
There are all kinds of caveats and footnotes and exceptions, but I think it's worth suggesting that in Indian case, especially in the Congress, becomes acceptance of linguistic and to some extent, tribal or cast based political demands, a limited acceptance of leftist redistribution, though limited, right? But a very deep resistance, including in Congress, and this is very clear both in public and private correspondence to kind of a replay of what they see as a replay of partition. Around especially Muslim and sick religious separatism, right? As understood by the regime, right? With is then deep and enduring ambiguity about the relationship of Hinduism and Hindus, which are themselves very open and fluid categories in certain ways to the Indian nation, as a key contested strand both within Congress, the one strand of that emerges as dominant and then over time, right? Obviously as we've seen.
In Pakistan, we see something of an opposite in which the kind of real threat to the Muslim league or one of the major threats was linguistic and regional. And that kind of deep fear of [inaudible 00:31:10] linguistic politics from below and regionalism, right? As opposed to kind of a subcontinent spanning Muslim political identity, whatever exactly that needs, carries over into the new Pakistani regimes, both among West Pakistani civilian elites and Pakistani military elites. And there's a lot of overlap there obviously, but this is going to set up a project that is recurrently in opposition to regionalism, right? Whereas in India, regionalism can be managed in a whole variety of ways, right? Built into the constitution and in terms of post constitutional practices.
And so in an interesting way, and I don't want to push this too far. You see these kind of mirror image, internal security postures emerge. Despite all kinds of structural similarities and just where the militaries and political parties are coming from, you see these historically constructed and quite contingent threat perceptions that lead to different kinds of strategies for managing order, right? In India we see Kashmir and Punjab become wars of very high levels of intensity when they break out. Very limited efforts, especially in Kashmir toward the kind of accommodationist or at least ceasefire politics. We see in places like the Northeast, where there are all kinds of mechanisms both formally and in terms of what's going to be seen as acceptable politically, for managing conflict. From these endless ceasefires in places like Naga land, to all kinds of peace deals, district council, forms of autonomy, just kind of almost layer cake of institutional arrangements in the Northeast.
Pakistan... Oops, there goes my timer. We see there's a lot of variation, generally containment or total war against ethno-linguistic separatism in places like Balochistan in East Pakistan, and then a much more complex set of relations with self-identified Islamist armed groups. Part of the book then delves into, well, how do you sort between different of self-identified Islamists? Ranging from those that regime does bus... The military, I should say, does business with, to those that come to be seen as real threats to the state, that start to articulate a radically alternative vision of political order. That's like in a sense kind of deeply against the military's nationalism. I can talk about that and kind of the ambiguities that occurred. But we could see some of... Oh, sorry. We can see some of this variation, just looking at some crude armed orders data between Islamist groups and non Islamist groups and their relation with the state. The darker is more conflictual the lighter is more cooperative. I'd look at the variation, especially in alliances, right? And this I think is intuitive. It aligns with our standard understandings of kind of the relationship between the Pakistan and security establishment and various kinds of self-identified Islamist groups. But it's also nice that we can see it in the data as well as some other things.
Okay. Let me conclude now with some implications. First, it's not like we've... The world is not one of either Hobbesian and war of all against all or kind of a Max Weberian legitimate monopoly violence. There's a lot in between. And that both in kind of the developing world, but also I would argue in large parts of the developed world, including very much the United States. The political interests of regimes really matter and I think they're often, often not always and not exclusively so I'm not trying to make any kind of radical claims here, but at least to some extent enough of the time that we need to pay attention to them, we're seeing the historic construction of what we understand is kind of mainstream politics within a political system, right?
And then dissidents anti-systemic ideologies kind of emerge in relation to that. A third research implication is there's a case here for integrated study of political violence beyond civil war people, state building people, election violence people, right? IR people, whatever that means exactly, right? Instead we can think of different kinds of armed groups operating often very similar ways with regard to the government, even if we label them as insurgent groups or militias or armed parties or whatever. And I think this leads, and I'll just conclude with some very loose policy implications. The first is there may a lot of pathways to something like a sustainable political order that are not necessarily the same as kind of building an armed Leviathan. Sometimes limited cooperation is a lot better than full pitched wars of violence monopolization, for instance.
Second, we need to take seriously government's threat perceptions. I think there's a fine line here where you don't then want to just excuse them or rationalize them away and say, "Well, of course they're doing this because they think this thing and that's fine." I think there's a real danger there, but I think intellectually, and in terms of policy, it's really important to understand kind of how these actors are thinking about politics, often in very cruel and repressive and exclusionary ways, right? So for instance, Myanmar military, as a classic case. And we can't assume that they're going to align with kind of outsiders views.
And then a final point here, I'll just conclude with this, is the way we often think about the state as strong or weak. And that obviously tells us some important things. But a lot of times relatively strong states are making choices. And I argue in a book that those are often deeply political choices about where and how to apply their capacity, right? Who to repress, who to leave alone, who to kind of keep a lid on but not try to destroy. And I think that can tell us some important broader things about how politics work in these political systems. Okay. So I'm going to end here. I'm going to stop screen sharing. I think if I can do it properly. And I really appreciate it again and look forward to whatever questions or feedback you might ask. Thank you.
Thanks a lot, Paul. It was very interesting. I don't really work on these things, but I kind of really, it was very thoughtful working. And I had a one [inaudible 00:36:28] question before I go on to the questions. Do you think this framework can be applied to anticolonial moments and militias before 1947 in the subcontinent or any other... There were lot of armed conflict with the colonial powers and there were also peaceful negotiation, like the Congress party in India. There was some sort of a violence. What do you think? Can you use this framework to kind of understand precolonial colonial?
I mean, so let me both say yes and I don't know, right? And I don't know in the sense that I think often these are contextual calls that you need to justify and properly provide evidence for, but I don't see a reason why not, right? If you think about what the British are up to in a particular time and place, right? There's both going to be a set of kind of functional concerns about order and stability. But then also broader set of goals about, well, what do we want politics here to look like. Now often that's for the purposes of extraction and domination, to be super clear. But I think historians and political theorists have shown there's variation over time, even in how the British are thinking about how to achieve those goals. That could help us, right? I don't want to push this too far, but I think that loose framework you fill in different kind of context, and maybe it tells a little bit of something or at least it helps you think about the variation in a useful way.
Thanks. Thanks, Paul. Shivaji do you want to go next? Can you unmute yourself and ask the question?
Paul, can you hear me?
Yes. It's a little choppy, but go ahead.
It's a little choppy. Can you hear me better if I'm closer?
Yeah, that's great.
Okay. Paul, thanks so much for your awesome talk. And I think I'm seeing the presentation. I think I've read a little bit off the book and so it's great to see the presentation. And I really like the theoretical framework, obviously, because as you know, I believe that threat perceptions have been ignored and it's fascinating that you're bringing in, in various ways, building on your previous work in other articles and combining it all together in this book. Showing how in South Asia and Southeast Asia the different kinds of political orders. So I just had a couple of questions. And also, thanks. I think you stated one of my civil war, the civil war articles which I was thinking of. So I want to build on... I have a couple of questions, I'm mostly sympathetic to this, one is like, if you could expand a bit more about the variation over time, you were showing those cases in Myanmar and in Nagaland and maybe you can think of other cases within India and Pakistan or abroad. Why is there variation over time?
It's not a criticism it's just like to figure out why is it... What is changing between Naveen's military government and then 1980s in Myanmar [inaudible 00:39:07]. Even in the Northeast, you see that initially actually there was another bombing, right? And later on, [inaudible 00:39:15] even from the [inaudible 00:39:16] then later on, they've moved towards containment. So why is there overtime variation? Even in the case of the [inaudible 00:39:22] which I've studied, you see that mostly in the 1980s, '90s, there was... I don't know if you call it containment or limited cooperation. And it's awesome that you bring this out and you can actually apply this to the [inaudible 00:39:32] also. But then when [inaudible 00:39:34] was a Home minister in the Congress, the previous Home minister, and I'm trying to remember who the minister was before [inaudible 00:39:40], he was more pacifist and let them live and let live the typical. And then [inaudible 00:39:44] comes and there's operation [inaudible 00:39:45], et cetera. Why is there overtime variation?
And the second question I have is like, this is just to push you. I think I agree with you that the true perception in India and Pakistan is based on the ideologies, maybe based on the nationalist movements or perceptions they face. And they will think that religion is a complete no, no. Paul [inaudible 00:40:02] used to have these arguments. If even when [inaudible 00:40:05] was negotiating in the 1960s, he was willing to give linguistic states as long as he did not perceive that it was based on religion, right? So it's the same kind of idea, indirectly you're drawing on. But could it be also geo strategic considerations? So you see like in this slide you had on just focusing on India, the Indian state tends to fight wars, all out wars against the Sikhs and the Muslim rebels in Kashmir and Punjab, but they're also on the border, right? The Pakistan.
And while they tell to have, okay, let's live and let live because the [inaudible 00:40:41] are our own people after all they're fighting for lower cast and tribes, but then you see some escalation against them but could there be other cases? I think the way to test it could be to have a case where the Indian state is feeding a religious outfit, but they're not at the border, but somewhere inside, I don't know if there are such cases maybe in [inaudible 00:41:00] and other cases would be tribal kind of incisions or internal insecurity issues, but they are on the border. So these are two questions I thought of. Thanks.
Great. Thank you so much. Great to see you know, even if just virtually. People should check out Shivaji's work as well on all of these topics. Okay. So briefly, change over time. So I've got, in chapter two I talk about this in the book for those who are interested. Some of it is, I can't explain it's just stuff that happens, contingent noise. But I try to pull out a couple of mechanisms that I think do matter that are kind of more consistent across cases. One is regime shifts, shifts in who's in charge, right? So often this is, it's going to be most dramatic when you get major changes between different kinds of regimes. So [inaudible 00:41:45] taking power in 1977 in Pakistan is going to kind of push in a more systemizing direction, right?
In the case of Myanmar, the rise of the military government in 1962 is of enormous importance. It kind of takes a very high variance set of strategies and shifts them into almost exclusively coercion of some flavor, right? So I think that's going to be up kind of the big picture mover with a lot of these more dramatic changes. And then when [inaudible 00:42:11] is removed from power in the late '80s, all of a sudden space is opened up, even for other kind of fairly [inaudible 00:42:16] ethno-nationalist majoritarian in Myanmar, military officers to pursue a little bit more of a relaxed strategy. Not peace deals, not settlements, but at least like some live and let live dynamics out in these areas. There's also dynamics of shifting on the armed group sides that I talk a little bit about. I don't end as much time on it, but often what happens in this particular context, that's not going to be true in others, is you have a government that's much stronger than the armed groups.
And over time you see often a process of kind of ideological change as they start. Groups are kind of forced to shift their positioning more toward the government to kind of make themselves more acceptable because often the alternative is just decades more time in the wilderness. That's going to vary a lot by context. One thing I did notice, and this is kind of a misfire of the book, which is fine, right? It's actually, I think, helpful to have lots of, or not too many, but a good number of misfires to show, it's not all just like totology and cherry picky is, and this is true in India. I notice often you get early cracked outs, even in environments that I would suggest should be one of kind of containment or limited cooperation. Then very quickly within a couple of years, there's a shift to kind of more laid back containment or limited cooperation dynamics, but there is something going on, maybe this is Barbara Walter's argument about kind of building reputation or just we need to get, we want containment but it needs to be contained to a certain level. That we have to get violence down there first.
So this stuff, there's definitely this kind of variation over time, even in cases that I think should be fairly static, but theory's hard and is often going to be wrong. So I think the general trajectories end up looking like they shouldn't in a lot of these cases, but with some early kind of variation, that's important. What about geopolitics? Certainly really important S and buts 2017 books to session and security is all about this. So, go check that out. I guess I would say two things. The first is I think these external dynamics are often accelerants of preexisting kind of perceptions of threat. So they add a lot and they're very important. So I agree external politics matter a lot full stop.
The second cautionary know what I would offer though is that this, relationship is not as obvious as it seems. And I look at some very tentative quantitative data that shows some effect in the book, just like comparison of means it's not fancy stuff at all, there's certainly some effect. But there are also kind of outlier cases where there is external support and yet you don't see the same kind of response. So just to go back to the Naga groups, they're getting Chinese support by the late 1960s, both them and the Mesos at various points have some kind of relationship with East Pakistan, with the Pakistani government, by East Pakistan. And yet it doesn't really seem to change much, if anything it's kind of... It's interest in the '60s Chinese support, and this is cultural revolution China, is seen as like, "Yeah, yeah, they're just doing it to try to get some guns and support. It doesn't fundamentally change the underlying political context."
Actually, the Nagas are also blowing up civilian trades in Assam in the late '60s. They're doing all kinds of stuff and yet they're politically pretty peripheral. There's a lot of political space for central governments to do whatever. In ways that I think are really hard to imagine in a place like Kashmir. I mean, imagine 25 years of ceasefire with [inaudible 00:45:21] one of these groups and kind of how that would be understood, right? By opponents or even supporters of an Indian prime minister. So yes, it matters number one, but number two, I think it's certainly not a silver bullet. Just like nothing else is a silver bullet in this world. Okay. Thank you. I'll take the next question.
Thanks. Alex. Do you want to go next?
Sure. So hi Paul, congratulations in the book. It's good to see you. My question actually is going to overlap with some of the latter part of the previous one. I was just going to ask about the role of neighboring countries, especially of rivals in this story, kind of noting, for example, with the India Pakistan case, that there's a lot more accommodation of places that seem to be farther from the order between the two than of the ones that are right up against it. And one of the things I'm curious about here is to what extent you think these kind of legitimating ideologies are partly influenced by that external threat. And so, if you didn't have the rivalry with Pakistan at independence, then maybe you would be in a position to build a legitimating ideology that could accommodate some degree of [inaudible 00:46:43] in Kashmir rather than direct opposition.
And so, I mean, I recognize that makes for a very complicated story, but it just... As I was listening to this, especially as an IR person, I was sort of like where are the rivals that we know will get involved in this and the preemptive actions of the state in response to that? How is that story influencing things here? So I think a lot of what you said previously probably does address this, but that was the direction I was going to go with the question.
Yeah. So I think like I'm not here to say the IR stuff is unimportant, but let me talk about how it is important. One is, I think you could definitely be part of foundational narratives, right? Partition has this fundamental effect on how the Indian National Congress thinks about or continues, accelerates a certain set of care concerns the Indian National Congress has, it also really further heightens or accelerates those among the Hindu Nationalist Movement. That will come back to power, right? This whole sense of kind of a nation divided, mutilated, loss of land, loss of people, has this very deep effect. So international context certainly matters. And we can also see this in transnational leftist movements, exporting the revolution or... So I think these are often transnational processes, number one, so they can affect origins. Number two, then there's this question about kind of borders and the relationship with neighboring rivals?
I think I wouldn't go so far as to say armed groups that are near borders are necessarily seen as more problematic, right? For a couple of reasons. One, is there a lot of cleavages in a country. So for instance, in Pakistan Punjab, which is along the border, many of the main armed groups are explicitly mobilizing Islamist kind of political claims, ideologies, symbols. Of a variety of sorts and whether they're truly Islamist or not is a different issue, right? But in terms of kind of.... And that has a lot to do with India sometimes, but it has everything to do then with parts of the state, than looking upon them favorably, right? Not as threats but as kind of tools or allies. And in similar ways we see some of this on the Afghan border as well.
So it cuts in a lot of different directions. I don't think it's certainly not a simple story. A third thing I would say is often, I think rivals, external rivals poke and prod are the most sensitive political cleavages, right? Both strategically and kind of for their own ideological reasons, right? Which is like what... Think about Ukraine, right? These kind of regional cleavages, language cleavages, all these ways in which Russia has tried to muck around in Ukraine's internal politics, right? And then of course this blown up dramatically in recent months, but even before that. So I think there's both a strategic and kind of more ideological component. I think you'd see the same with Iran and the US and how they muck around in other people's politics.
I'm reading a book about the Americans in 1950s Indonesia, some of which is all about them misreading what communism is in Indonesia, misreading what anti-communism was up to responding, the Dallas brothers responding to this very kind of communist free world versus free world ideological framing. And some of it's all about, where can we get guns? Who do we think is going to be able to take down [inaudible 00:49:42]? This is all about this [inaudible 00:49:44] PRI rebellion in the '50s. So it's kind of this combination of the two that, I don't think it's worth pulling apart because they're often moving the same direction or [inaudible 00:49:53] with each other. So I would love IR people to think about this stuff. I think there's a big IR component to it, but I also don't want to reduce it to like, if you have external support, you're a big threat, if you don't, you're not. Right. I don't think that also is kind what the empirical pattern suggest.
Jason first and Rochna both of you can, after Jason, Rochna can [inaudible 00:50:15]. Jason
Thanks Paul for really sharing this fascinating project. My question is with the particular types of armed orders, you're outlying, which you would expect to sort of be the most stable. So, the sort of normative plan that you're making, that some forms of coexistence may be better than a monopolization of violence. And then I'm also curious thinking within a strategic framework, how the shadow of the future is potentially going to color perceptions, the stability particular orders between both armed groups and the government.
That's a great question. I don't really have an off the top of my head answer to it. I mean, obviously in some ways the most stable is going to be incorporation or collapse, right? Beyond that I guess I would think that the most stable are probably going to be ideologically aligned groups. And either they're going to be an alliance with the regime or they're going to be kind of sucked up into the mainstream politics as long as the government doesn't change. So that I think is not super controversial. And then the rest of it is pretty contextual. So you can imagine long lasting limited cooperation orders as we've seen in parts of Myanmar, parts of Northeast India, but those are kind of like almost like cooperation under [inaudible 00:51:31] in the international system. So some things break down, expectations about the future change and all of a sudden you're back in containment or even kind of further spirals into these total war dynamics.
Honestly, I think it's, I don't have a great kind of general answer to that. I think it really depends a lot on kind of what the specifics of the situation are and kind of how stable these perceptions of the future actually are, and kind of what's driving those. In some cases could be decades of stability and others it's up and down. I showed you the MQM case in Karachi, which is like, year on year things are bouncing around as part Pakistani politics are changing and as Karachi's politics are shifting. As party factions are breaking away, so it can be very dynamic or it can be very, very sticky. I don't honestly have a great answer for what I would expect one or the other kind of as a general [inaudible 00:52:22].
[inaudible 00:52:24], do you want to go next?
Thanks Naveen. Thanks, Paul. That was great work really interesting. And it isn't an area I work on at all, but I do teach in the area and I'm really interested in the ideas explanation as a political theorist and coming to it from that discipline. The version of it that... So, I wanted to push you a bit more on the, how ideas matter. And are you saying that they matter for explanations of whether the state adopts a particular kind of approach to dealing with an armed group? So the intuitive version of it that I teach, which could be wrong, but I would love to know if there's support for it in your data would be that because India had this foundational, whatever, of trauma of partition of religious dismemberment, the Indian state has dealt with greater violence in relation to religion based demands compared to non-religion based demands.
That's one sort of way in which one could do that. Is that where you sort of the area where you're going with ideas matter that state ideologies, especially at their formation, et cetera, can help us explain the stance of the state? Why is the Indian state more accommodationist towards the Nagas, or why does it have a more sophisticated repertoire of a negotiation in relation to Nagas, relative to Kashmir or others? And my second question was very quickly, and these are both sort of, as I said, relatively ignorant questions, pushing you for more information. So Hindu nationalist, where do you place them as... Do you see them sort of as any? Because I mean, they've had a relationship with violence and vigilantism of course, in relation to that. And I missed the beginnings so apologies if you address this.
No, these both great questions. That is intuitively you're first framing is how I think about this. I actually traced this back earlier as well, though, to kind of how Congress is trying to build itself, the 1910s, but especially the '20s and '30s. How the Muslim league is trying to respond. So even before partition itself, kind of, what are the big challenges to these? What are basically elite, not exclusively... Sorry, let me back that up a little bit, but what in substantial part are top down projects by kind of [inaudible 00:54:52] elites. What challenges are they running into? And how do those then kind of carry over accelerated by partition? We see variants of this in both Burma and Sailen as well, right? That don't have partition but that do have kind of different projects emerging and battling for [inaudible 00:55:06] before independence and then after independence as well.
So I think my understanding is broadly similar to what you're talking about. I think about this, not as against what political scientists might talk about rational choice, but instead as where preferences coming from, right? And that's how I think about this, which is one way of thinking about ideas as causes. There are a bunch of others that are equally valid, but I'm kind of a simple minded quasi positive. So, that's how I've thought about it. The second point is about Hindu nationalist, which I mentioned, but is actually not a major preoccupation of the book for a couple of reasons. One is its rise is relatively recent. Two, some aspects of it were already embedded within Congress, at least parts of Congress. And three, I actually think there's been a lot of continuity in certain parts of Indian internal security strategy since the rise of the BJP though, not others.
So the way I think about this, which is I think the BJP's rise is most relevant for kind of the Hindu Muslim cleavage and what we might think of as, what people in the Northeast might call mainland or Heartland Indian, right? So these dynamics of vigilantism, state dominance, first class versus second class citizens, who's in, who's out, right? That's how I think about these ideological projects as applied to those but that's a world of political violence that is very different than counterinsurgency in these kind of border zones, which have not changed dramatically under the BJP. I think the Northeast is a political place apart where the BJP has actually been very willing to kind of move and bob and weave and come to all kinds of accommodations, both in electoral politics and in armed politics. [inaudible 00:56:35] is cutting ceasefires left and right with great, glean and wild abandoned in the Northeast. In ways that look radically different than how we think about the BJP's posture and UP or kind of the Heartland of the BJP.
So I think in terms of linguistic politics, in terms of kind of Northeast politics, I don't think the BJP represents as fundamental a break with the past. I do think the Hindu Muslim cleavage obviously has shifted substantially. What can I say about that in my book? Well, I actually say I am not as well equipped as a lot of other people, because the way I think about this is there's some non-state organization and there's the state. And they're doing stuff to each other over time. But that requires seeing that organization and it having some coherence and kind of sticking power, right? The NSCN in Nagaland. I can see that. I know what that is. A lot of the vigilante violence is more localized, it's linked to parties. It's linked to mainstream political actors. It kind of rises, falls, disappears, hides itself, jumps back out, pretends not to be there.
And so I think some of these ideological dynamics I'm talking about could be very relevant, but I can't see them very well in my data, to be really blunt with you. And so I think that's a different kind of much more localized research agenda that is able to count for very kind of fine grained variation. But certainly I think that the rise of Hindu nationalism matters a lot from the Hindu Muslim cleavage and kind of the acceptability of certain kinds of non-state violence. But also I think it matters a lot for how the state itself operates, right? And I think that's been the police in particular, has been a really important dynamic of what we've seen in the last eight years. Kind of who controls the police and to some extent the judiciary as well. And that's not stuff I get into the book, but I think is related to the broader approach.
And Nero has a question related to Hinduism. Do you want to go very quickly Nero?
Yes. Thank you, professor Staniland for this great talk. My question, actually, builds on the prior question. I just wanted to know, how do you think the government is treating Hindu extremist groups that might be loosely coordinating with the RSS and BJP? Particularly, I mean, using them as a counter to say a Pakistan-backed insurgency.
So I think there are two parts of this. One is kind of vigilantism, lynchy, party activists. I mean, my expectation, which is not in any way controversial or against the [inaudible 00:58:52] conventionalism, is there's going to be much more laxity and I think we've seen that. As a counterweight to Pakistani backed insurgents, I don't see as much of that. I mean, there's some of this [inaudible 00:59:04] village defense committee type stuff, but parts of [inaudible 00:59:10] you see that and kind of these more religiously mixed areas. Thus far I don't think there have been dramatic shifts in Indian counter insurgence policy in places like Kashmir.
I mean, 2019, obviously there was a change, but Indian counter insurgency policy in JNK since 1988, '89 has not actually varied all that dramatically, which may be a popular or unpopular thing to say depending on the audience. But I think that's my read on it. So I think there's a lot of vari... I think there's huge implications for kind of these kinds of lynching vigilante violence. I'm not sure there's this much relevance for kind of counter insurgent and classically understood, if that distinction makes sense.
We have one question for [inaudible 00:59:51] and there's another question which I've just as you [inaudible 00:59:55]. So what happens when the [inaudible 01:00:00] cooperated for political reasons when they get mainstream for political reasons, what will happen to those groups? So the second question is [inaudible 01:00:10], do you want to go. And this is last question.
Hi Paul. Thanks. Just a quick question, out of curiosity actually, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about the sort of failed ideological projects you talk about. And are there any cases where... I mean, does failure mean that [inaudible 01:00:28] extinguished or are there cases where those failed [inaudible 01:00:30] projects become another armed group board?
Great, thank you for both of these. So if I understood the first is, what happens to groups that are co-opted into the mainstream. I think that was the first question, right? Non-state actor that in some way are kind of brought into mainstream politics. Boy, that's a great question. It's not what I.... And I think that's a different book. That's a great fascinating book. Off the top of my head, I mean there are multiple trajectories. One is basically they just get co-opted and they're just part of the system now. I think that's probably the predominant one in most places, right? Often these are smaller groups, they get thought of, they get brought in, they get some goodies, they play ball, right? There are cases that where we can see kind of hollowing out of the state or takeover is a better word, capture from within.
So the state could kind of reworked in the interest of these non-state armed groups that now are the state. So a way of thinking about this might be kind of the influence of sheer and militias in the Iraqi state at present. Where it's kind of like, it's not like the state is an autonomous thing that sits above society, but instead it's kind of interwoven with various kinds of social actors, some of whom have arms, some of whom are political parties, some of whom are both, right? And then there may be cases in which mainstreaming basically breaks the state. I would need to think more about that. I think that's getting more into the world of... what's the word I'm looking for? War lord politics state failure, stuff like this. So I don't know what to say about that, but those are three trajectories that come to mind.
I think in the world I study it's mostly the first, co-optation mostly [inaudible 01:01:59] groups, but there are certainly exceptions to that. Failed projects. Yes. Well certainly at different points, if you're looking at the Hindu Nationalist project in India, you would say, failed, it's done. And it comes back, right? Or reimagines itself and articulates new strategies and new organizational forms and new messages. And it's back in a big way, right? And now the question is, are the alternatives now failed, right? And can they come back? So certainly there's dynamism. What are other failed projects? Well, depending how you think about it under colonialism there were regionalist articulations within the Muslim league or even an opposition to the Muslim league. And the creation of Bangladesh is in some ways kind of a project that wasn't able to carve out a regionalist solution to the question of Pakistan in their late '40s, into early '50s, that then kind of emerges again or continues to emerge and eventually creates a separate state.
In the Myanmar case it's interesting because [inaudible 01:02:55] national league for democracy represents a strand beyond Myanmar politics that in some ways actually has some overlap with parts of the military. Tends to be kind of a more ethno-majoritarian to some extent. But also very different around questions of military rule. And for at least a while, it was back. In the mid, late 2010s, before the military tried to get rid of it, right? But it may be that the military will be unable in Myanmar to get rid of that project that failed when it launched its coup, right? And that's something, some alternative will persist, right?
In this case now kind of carried forward in an increasingly intensive civil war. So certainly there are plenty of other projects that have fallen by the wayside, right? Communism in a lot of countries, just is no longer really seen as a viable alternative, but there are others that look like they're down and out and then they pop back up, right? And I don't have a grade of kind of why that is, but that's also another great book project. So, that's all I've got on that one. It's a great question.
We have run out of time. Sorry, for not kind of able to answer a couple of more questions. But thanks a lot, Paul, we really enjoyed the presentation and it was very thoughtful thing. And all of you please visit our website for next talks, to get more details on our next talks. And thanks a lot. Have a nice day.
Thank you everybody. I really appreciate it. Have a great afternoon.