Click here for a copy of my CV
Rebel Power: Why National Movements Compete, Fight, and Win
(Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2017)
Many of the world's states—from Algeria to Ireland to the United States—are the result of robust national movements that achieved independence. Many other national movements have failed in their attempts to achieve statehood, including the Basques, the Kurds, and the Palestinians. In Rebel Power, Peter Krause offers a powerful new theory to explain this variation focusing on the internal balance of power among nationalist groups, who cooperate with each other to establish a new state while simultaneously competing to lead it. The most powerful groups push to achieve states while they are in position to rule them, whereas weaker groups unlikely to gain the spoils of office are likely to become spoilers, employing risky, escalatory violence to forestall victory while they improve their position in the movement hierarchy. Hegemonic movements with one dominant group are therefore more likely to achieve statehood than internally competitive, fragmented movements due to their greater pursuit of victory and lesser use of counterproductive violence.
Krause conducted years of fieldwork in government and nationalist group archives as well as more than 150 interviews with participants in the Palestinian, Zionist, Algerian, and Irish national movements. This research generated comparative longitudinal analyses of these four national movements involving 40 groups in 44 campaigns over a combined 140 years of struggle. Krause identifies new turning points in the history of these movements and provides fresh explanations for their use of violent and nonviolent strategies, as well as their numerous successes and failures. Rebel Power is essential reading for understanding not only the history of national movements but also the causes and consequences of contentious collective action today, from the Arab Spring to the civil wars and insurgencies in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and beyond.
Group Strength Appendices for Rebel Power: Palestinian, Zionist, Algerian, Irish
Coercion: The Power to Hurt in International Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), co-edited with Kelly Greenhill
From the rising significance of non-state actors to the increasing influence of regional powers, the nature and conduct of international politics has arguably changed dramatically since the height of the Cold War. Yet much of the literature on deterrence and compellence continues to draw (whether implicitly or explicitly) upon assumptions and precepts formulated in—and predicated upon—politics in a state-centric, bipolar world. This volume moves beyond these somewhat hidebound premises and examines the critical issue of coercion in the 21st century, with a particular focus on new actors, strategies and objectives in this very old bargaining game. The chapters in this volume examine intra-state, inter-state, and transnational coercion and deterrence as well as both military and non-military instruments of persuasion, thus expanding our understanding of coercion for conflict in the 21st century.
Scholars have analyzed the causes, dynamics, and effects of coercion for decades, but previous works have principally focused on a single state employing conventional military means to pressure another state to alter its behavior. In contrast, this volume captures fresh developments, both theoretical and policy relevant. The chapters in this volume focus on tools (e.g. terrorism, sanctions, drones, cyber warfare, intelligence, and forced migration), actors (e.g., insurgents, social movements, and NGOs) and mechanisms (e.g., trilateral coercion, diplomatic and economic isolation, foreign-imposed regime change, coercion of nuclear proliferators, and two-level games) that have become more prominent in recent years, but which have yet to be extensively or systematically addressed in either academic or policy literatures.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles
“It Comes with the Territory: Why States Negotiate with Ethno-political Organizations,” with Victor Asal and Daniel Gustafson, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Vol. 42, no. 4 (April 2019) pp. 363-382
Given that minority ethno-political organizations are generally weaker than states yet seek to change their policies or remove the ruling regime from power, why would negotiation occur? States prefer to ignore or repress such organizations, which generally have little to offer in return amidst negotiations that can legitimize them while delegitimizing the state. When a challenging organization establishes governing structures and controls movement in part of a state's territory, however, it can easily inflict significant economic and political costs on the state while also possessing a valuable asset to exchange for concessions. An organization with territorial control cannot be ignored, while the state will have a strong incentive to negotiate before the state loses more face, the group gains more legitimacy, neighboring states are more likely to invade, and the international community is more likely to formally recognize any facts on the ground as a new status quo. Our analysis of 118 organizations in the Middle East and North Africa from 1980-2004 reveals that territorial control is the most important determinant of intrastate negotiation. In regards to existing scholarship, this suggests that a certain type of successful violence works—not all violence and not only nonviolence—while certain types of strong organizations—those that control territory—are more likely to reach negotiations with the state than weak ones.
“How Human Boundaries Become State Borders: Radical Flanks and Territorial Control in the Modern Era,” with Ehud Eiran, Comparative Politics, Vol. 50, No. 4 (July 2018) pp. 479-499
International territorial expansion faces three significant constraints: norms of “border fixity” that aim to preserve the status quo, norms of self-determination that seek to reverse foreign conquest, and the high costs of compelling territorial change. State-led attempts to expand their territory run directly into each of these constraints, which is why international conflict has rarely led to border changes since 1945. Radical flank groups—non-state organizations with extreme means and ends that are on the ideological and physical front lines of territorial disputes—turn each of these obstacles into advantages by quietly shifting the demographic status quo and manipulating the security dilemma to inspire supportive “defensive” intervention. By shifting collective action burdens and changing the situation from one of compellence to deterrence, radical flanks create new human boundaries that become new state borders. Longitudinal analysis of the Israeli settlement movement in the West Bank from 1967 to the present illustrates these powerful mechanisms and reveals the power of bottom-up territorial change across time and space. The bottom-up approach of Gush Emunim and the “hilltop youth” has ensured that Israeli control of territory began earlier, was less noticeable, circumvented numerous veto points, and, ultimately, spread Israel’s control of territory far beyond what it would have been otherwise. Using original datasets of political violence and settlement construction, we provide a nuanced understanding of the front lines of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a powerful new theory of radical flank effects for social movements and territorial control.
“Know Thy Enemy: Education About Terrorism Improves Social Attitudes Toward Terrorists,” with Jordan Theriault and Liane Young, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol. 146, No. 3 (March 2017) pp. 305-317
Hatred of terrorists is an obstacle to the implementation of effective counterterrorism policies—it invites indiscriminate retaliation, whereas many of the greatest successes in counterterrorism have come from understanding terrorists’ personal and political motivations. Drawing from psychological research, traditional prejudice reduction strategies are generally not well suited to the task of reducing hatred of terrorists. Instead, in two studies, we explore education’s potential ability to reduce extreme negative attitudes toward terrorists. Study 1 compared students in a college course on terrorism (treatment) with wait-listed students, measuring pro-social attitudes toward a hypothetical terrorist. Initially, all students reported extremely negative attitudes; however, at the end of the semester, treatment students’ attitudes were significantly improved. Study 2 replicated the effect within a sample of treatment and control classes drawn from universities across the United States. The present work was part of an ongoing research project, focusing on foreign policy and the perceived threat of terrorism; thus classes did not explicitly aim to reduce prejudice, making the effect of treatment somewhat surprising. One possibility is that learning about terrorists “crowds out” the initial pejorative associations—i.e. the label “terrorism” may ultimately call more information to mind, diluting its initial negative associative links. Alternatively, students may learn to challenge how the label “terrorist” is being applied. In either case, learning about terrorism can decrease the extreme negative reactions it evokes, which is desirable if one wishes to implement effective counterterrorism policies.
“Old (Molotov) Cocktails in New Bottles? 'Price-Tag' and Settler Violence in Israel and the West Bank,” with Ehud Eiran, Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 30, No. 4 (July 2018) pp. 637-657
In the early morning of July 31, 2015, masked attackers threw firebombs into two Palestinian homes in the West Bank village of Duma, south of Nablus, killing three Palestinian civilians. Contrary to claims by Israeli and Palestinian politicians, this attack was neither an isolated anomaly nor just another incident of settler violence. Instead, it was the latest attack in an important but largely unknown phenomenon called "price-tag," in which a loosely connected group of young Israelis called "hilltop youth" burn Palestinian mosques and destroy property in hundreds of attacks accompanied by threatening graffiti that references Israeli settlers, outposts, and anti-Arab slogans. Using an original dataset of price-tag incidents and interviews with key actors, we demonstrate that the perpetrators, targets, and strategies of price-tag are different than previous patterns of settler violence. Whereas previous settlers saw the Israeli state as legitimate and largely decided to cooperate with it, the hilltop youth have decided to confront it by using price-tag attacks to deter settlement withdrawals and chain-gang the state into a conflict with the Palestinians. This analysis of the strategic logic of price-tag reveals its potential to shift the political landscape within and between Israelis and Palestinians.
Price-Tag Incident Dataset: Contact me
“Cuando el terrorismo es eficaz: éxitos y fracasos para objetivos distintos,” Afers Internacionals No. 112 (April 2016) pp. 69-97
¿Cuándo es eﬁcaz el terrorismo? El debate sobre la eﬁcacia del terrorismo se ha centrado casi exclusivamente en los cambios que este fenómeno produce en la política estatal; no obstante, ello rara vez es el principal objetivo o el impacto más signiﬁcativo de esta táctica. Este artículo presenta un marco analítico multinivel para examinar la eﬁcacia del terrorismo, el cual incluye los tres tipos de efec-tividad que forman parte explícita de su deﬁnición: el uso de la violencia y la generación de miedo (táctica) por parte de una organización que trata de sobrevivir y fortalecerse (organizativa) para conseguir ﬁnes políticos (estratégica). El análisis muestra las condiciones clave en las que el terrorismo puede eliminar o difundir ideas, polarizar sociedades, fortalecer o destruir organizaciones e infundir miedo, así como aquellas situaciones en las que los logros alcanzados en un área complementan o contradicen los éxitos en otra.
“The Structure of Success: How the Internal Distribution of Power Drives Armed Group Behavior and National Movement Effectiveness,” International Security, Vol. 38, No. 3 (Winter 2014), 72-116
When and why do national movements succeed? What explains variation in the use and effectiveness of political violence employed by nationalist groups? Groups pursue common strategic goals against external enemies, such as the founding of a new state, while they simultaneously engage in zero-sum competition for organizational dominance with internal rivals in their national movement. The distribution of power within a national movement provides its structure, which serves as the key variable for both the internal and external struggle. The hierarchical position of groups within the movement drives their actions, while the number of significant groups in the movement drives its effectiveness. Contrary to existing scholarship that treats nonstate coercers as unitary or suggests that united or fragmented movements perform best, hegemonic movements with one significant group are most likely to succeed. Hegemonic movement structure incentivizes the pursuit of shared strategic goals, reduces counterproductive violent mechanisms and foreign meddling, and improves the movement’s coherence in strategy, clarity in signaling, and credibility in threats and assurances to yield strategic success. Analysis of seventeen campaigns involving sixteen groups within the Palestinian and Algerian national movements reveals that the power distribution theory explains greater variation in the effectiveness of national movements than previous scholarship.
Interview with MIT Press discussing the article
“Review by Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl,” H-Diplo/International Security Studies Forum, Jan 2015
“The Political Effectiveness of Non-State Violence: A Two-Level Framework To Transform a Deceptive Debate,” Security Studies, Vol. 22, No. 2 (Summer 2013), 259-294
The most striking aspect of the current scholarly debate over the political effectiveness of non-state violence is that, upon careful examination, there is not much of a debate to be found. Despite seemingly irreconcilable positions claiming that terrorism and insurgency “work” or “do not work,” varying case selection and thresholds for success lie at the root of these debates, not disagreements over the empirical record. Although this previously unrecognized empirical consensus helps to resolve existing disputes, it relies on single-level strategic frameworks that fail to capture the effectiveness of violence from the perspective of those who employ it. This article presents an alternative concept of political effectiveness based on a two-level framework that accounts for the fact that insurgencies are not unitary actors, but are instead marked by armed groups that pursue strategic objectives that benefit their larger social movements (such as the overthrow of a regime or the withdrawal of enemy troops), while they simultaneously pursue organizational objectives that benefit the groups themselves (such as increasing membership or funding). Empirical analysis of eight paradigmatic campaigns common to studies of insurgency and terrorism across time and space reveals that the two-level framework better captures the political effectiveness of non-state violence than existing single-level models and primes the subfield for powerful new theories that explain greater variation in the use and effectiveness of non-state violence.
“Review by Max Abrahms,” H-Diplo/International Security Studies Forum, June 2013
”Author’s Response,” H-Diplo/International Security Studies Forum, July 2013
“Public Diplomacy: Ideas for the War of Ideas,” with Stephen Van Evera, Middle East Policy, Vol.16, No. 3 (Fall 2009), 106-134
The United States cannot defeat al-Qaeda by strength of arms alone. U.S. failure in the broader “war of ideas” reflects a failure of strategy. Past U.S. emphasis on monologue over dialogue and advocacy over objective facts, combined with an insufficiently respectful tone, often made U.S. public diplomacy ineffective. For many years, both Congress and the Executive Branch have dismissed public diplomacy as unimportant, believing it deserved only a token amount of money and leadership talent. The U.S. government should now recognize that national security requires a capacity to effectively engage in debates abroad and move beyond a single-minded focus on military force.
“The Last Good Chance: A Reassessment of U.S. Operations at Tora Bora,” Security Studies, Vol.17, No. 4 (Winter 2008), 644-684
The inability of the United States to capture or kill Osama bin Laden and many of his top deputies at Tora Bora is widely recognized as one of the most significant missed opportunities of America's struggle with al Qaeda. However, the debate over U.S. actions at Tora Bora during Operation Enduring Freedom lacks in-depth analysis, especially concerning the commonly offered solution of more U.S. troops on the ground. This paper dissects the original operation against al Qaeda forces entrenched in the mountain complex in eastern Afghanistan in late 2001 and its impact on the debate over the Afghan model of warfare. An alternative plan involving U.S. conventional forces is presented that takes into account the considerable constraints of the scenario and analyzes the key make-or-break points of the operation. Although the challenges are far greater than most critics have allowed, the revised plan would likely have offered the best chance to capture or kill Bin Laden and a significant portion of the al Qaeda leadership.
“Tora Bora Revisited: How We Failed to Get Bin Laden and Why It Matters Today,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee (November 30, 2009), 16-17, 21, 23
Order the book from...
“A State, an Insurgency, and a Revolution: Understanding and Defeating the Three Faces of ISIS,” in The Future of ISIS: Regional and International Implications, Sumit Ganguly and Feisal A.R. al-Istrabadi (eds.) (Washington, D.C: Brookings Institution Press, 2018)
The U.S. has a number of core interests in the Middle East, including preventing the rise of a regional hegemon, nuclear proliferation, and significant terrorist attacks on the homeland, as well as ensuring access to oil and the security of regional allies. These interests provide a backdrop for one of the most prominent regional threats of recent years: ISIS. The good news is that ISIS poses little threat to the most crucial U.S. regional interests, such as preventing the rise of a regional hegemon and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The bad news is that ISIS still presents a significant threat to a number of other U.S. interests, such as the stability of regional allies and the prevention of terrorist attacks. Furthermore, the group’s unique structure makes it more difficult for the U.S. and its allies to defeat it, as ISIS is not simply a terrorist group. Rather, it is at once a state that has controlled and governed territory the size of Indiana, a transnational insurgency that seeks to spread chaos and overthrow numerous regimes across the region, and a revolutionary movement that works to reshape societies and spread an extreme ideology and apocalyptic vision. This chapter analyzes the threat ISIS poses to U.S. interests, as well as how to understand and defeat the group's three faces of state, insurgency, and revolutionary movement.
“When Terrorism Works: Explaining Success and Failure Across Varying Targets and Objectives,” in When Does Terrorism Work?, Diego Muro (ed.) (New York: Routledge, 2018)
When does terrorism work? The debate over terrorism’s effectiveness has narrowly focused on changes in state policy, but that is rarely the attacker’s main objective or the tactic’s most significant impact. This chapter presents a robust, multi-level framework for analyzing the effectiveness of terrorism that includes all three types of effectiveness explicit in its definition: the use of violence and creation of fear (tactical) by an organization seeking to survive and strengthen itself (organizational) for political ends (strategic). The analysis here presents key conditions under which terrorism can kill or spread ideas, polarize societies, strengthen or destroy organizations, and inspire fear in individuals, as well as when success in one area complements or contradicts success in another.
“Coercion by Movement: How Power Drove the Success of the Eritrean Insurgency, 1960-1993,” in Coercion: The Power to Hurt in International Politics, Kelly Greenhill and Peter Krause (eds.) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), 138-159.
This chapter tests Movement Structure Theory and its competitors using a longitudinal analysis of the Eritrean national movement from 1960-1993. The Eritrean case had no impact on the creation and initial analysis of Movement Structure Theory, and its position as Africa’s first successful post-colonial national movement provides external validity for the theory outside of the Middle East. An Eritrean national movement with the same actors, same foreign supporters, same demands, and same strategies failed in the 1960s and 1970s, yet succeeded in the 1980s and 1990s, because the movement balance of power shifted from fragmented and united to hegemonic. The conclusions offered help to explain when and why insurgencies are more likely to successfully coerce more capable state enemies, as well as when and why insurgent groups will focus their efforts on coercing such external foes in the first place, as opposed to expending their energy on brute force struggles with internal rivals.
“Intervention in Syria: Reconciling Moral Premises and Realistic Outcomes,” with Eva Bellin, Middle East Brief, No. 64, Crown Center for Middle East Studies (June 2012)
The systematic savagery leveled by the Assad regime in Syria against its own citizens has sparked moral outrage and fueled calls for international intervention to stop the slaughter. For an increasing number of analysts this means indirect intervention by providing military and non-military assistance to opposition forces. In this Brief, Prof. Bellin and Prof. Krause argue that a distillation of the historical experience with insurgencies and civil wars, as well as a sober reckoning of conditions on the ground in Syria, make clear that this type of intervention would likely exacerbate the harm that it seeks to eliminate by prolonging the current bloody stalemate. Instead, the authors consider two alternative forms of intervention: choking the regime’s capacity for battle and restructuring the incentives to encourage regime elites to step down.
“Many Roads to Palestine? The Potential and Peril of Multiple Strategies within a Divided Palestinian National Movement,” Middle East Brief, No. 60, Crown Center for Middle East Studies (March 2012)
In recent months, news of Palestinian internal politics has been dominated by the Fatah-Hamas unity deal and the possibilities for its success or failure. In this Brief, I assesses both the unity deal and also a number of other options available to the Palestinian movement. Given that no one group is likely to dominate the movement in the short term, multiple strategies amidst division are not necessarily destined for failure.
“Troop Levels and Stability Operations: What We Don’t Know,” Audits of the Conventional Wisdom Series, MIT Center for International Studies (February 2007)
Troop levels in Iraq and elsewhere have been one of the most hotly contested issues in American foreign policy. The Bush administration faced significant criticism for ignoring the conventional wisdom regarding the number of soldiers required to secure Iraq. Specifically, the Pentagon’s deployment of only 120,000 American troops for the invasion and the decision by Paul Bremer, U.S. Administrator in Iraq, to disband the Iraqi army and police kept the ratio of security forces to Iraqi civilians well below the 20 per 1,000 seen as the basic ante required to play the high stakes stabilization game. Many supporters of higher troop levels blame these missteps for the emergence of a robust insurgency and the coalition’s failure to defeat it. But where exactly does the 20 per 1,000 figure come from, how strong is the evidence supporting it, and what steps are being taken to assess and improve the conventional wisdom in this area? While the answer to the first part of the question is relatively accessible, the latter are more difficult. They address a daunting problem, but unveil a disconnect between the objectives and methods of policy and social science.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Blogs
“Review of Talibanistan: Negotiating the Borders Between Terror, Politics, and Religion and Apocalyptic Realm: Jihadists in South Asia,” Terrorism and Political Violence (published online September 2019)