When the weak roar: Understanding protracted intrastate conflict

Manus I. Midlarsky, Elizabeth R. Midlarsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Much research on protracted intrastate conflict has either centered on internal conditions characterizing an important protagonist (e.g., motivated by grievance and/or greed), or on dyadic interactions between them that frequently employ game theory. Cross-sectional methodologies often are used in empirical testing. Here, we propose to use the dyad as the principal unit of analysis, but examine each of the actor's diachronically as they interact with each other. Specifically, the ephemeral gain, a theory integral to Origins of Political Extremism (Cambridge 2011), has been employed in this analysis. We hypothesize that whether as rebel or government, when an actor engaged in intrastate conflict experiences an ephemeral gain, it is more likely to prolong the conflict. If both actors have experienced this phenomenon, then the conflict is even more likely to continue. Important here is the risk acceptance by rebels resulting from the anger attendant upon an ephemeral gain. Research in social psychology strongly supports this variable sequence. The case of the Kurds in the Ottoman Empire, the Republic of Turkey, Iraq, and Iran is offered as an illustration. Ephemeral gains experienced both by the Kurds and by the Republic of Turkey acted to prolong this conflict to the present day.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-331
Number of pages11
JournalPeace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


  • Kurds
  • Turkey
  • civil war
  • ephemeral gain
  • protracted conflict


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