Abstract for: Towards a Dynamic Theory of Serial Insurgencies

When a government falls to an insurgency, the establishment of the new government is not the end of the story. Often, perhaps even most of the time, the new government will also be faced by an insurgency and quite likely overthrown. Thus begins a domino-like chain of serial insurgencies and overthrown governments, which typically create more harm than the original insurgency. While much has been written on why traditional governments fall to insurgencies in the first place, this paper examines why a series of rapid, successful insurgencies occurs after the initial government has been overthrown. We also examine how various factors, such as connectivity, relative deprivation (the gap between popular expectations for a government and its actual performance), extra troops (e.g. international peacekeepers) and other factors either promote or suppress serial insurgencies. Some findings that stand out are: (1) increased connectivity (such as seen in the Arab Spring) not only destabilizes incumbent traditional governments, but also promotes serial insurgencies; (2) extra troops from abroad can be counterproductive; and (3) often the final stable government in a serial insurgency is not as popular among the citizenry as the initial government that was overthrown.