Asymmetry, Parity, and (Civil) War: Can International Theories of Power Help Us Understand Civil War?

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Butler, Christopher K.; & Gates, Scott (2009) Asymmetry, Parity, and (Civil) War: Can International Theories of Power Help Us Understand Civil War? , International Interactions 35(3): 330 – 340.

The concept of relative power is ubiquitous and long-held in understanding conflict. As a ratio of the weaker side’s capabilities compared to the stronger side’s capabilities, relative power ranges from extreme asymmetry (where the weaker side has almost no capabilities) to parity (where the capabilities of the two sides are equal). Power theories link relative power to international outcomes, especially armed conflict. In this essay, we examine the applicability of power theories to civil armed conflicts, involving a government and a rebel group.

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Authors

Christopher K. Butler

Christopher K. Butler

Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of New Mexico

Scott Gates

Scott Gates

Research Professor. Editor, International Area Studies Review