Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-7ccbd9845f-4v6tc Total loading time: 0.491 Render date: 2023-01-30T12:48:55.402Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Genocidal Consolidation: Final Solutions to Elite Rivalry

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 September 2020

Get access


Under conditions of guerrilla conflict, mass indiscriminate violence has been shown to effectively starve a guerrilla of its support. Consequently, counter-guerrilla mass violence is concentrated within territories where a guerrilla is dominant. However, in roughly 40 percent of mass violence episodes (e.g., Rwanda and Cambodia), the violence was aimed at populations within areas of secure territorial control. These episodes have therefore been explained by attributing ideological preferences to leaders or as unique cases only. I argue that leaders adopt mass indiscriminate violence against outgroups to consolidate power under conditions of elite rivalry. The violence serves two main goals. First, it helps build coalitions with constituencies that gain from violence; and second, it targets rival factions indirectly by forcing local security officials to facilitate or oppose the violence. The violence thereby provides rival supporters with an exit option, provides the regime with information on rival supporters’ private loyalties, and undermines rivals’ abilities to mount an effective resistance. These rivals can ultimately be purged from the regime. Based on newly collected original data on elite purges and on the type of mass indiscriminate violence for the years 1950 to 2004, I show that this type of mass violence, which I call “genocidal consolidation,” is intimately connected to authoritarian consolidation.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press, 2020

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Ahram, Ariel I. 2014. The Role of State-Sponsored Militias in Genocide. Terrorism and Political Violence 26 (3):116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ball, Patrick, Betts, Wendy, Scheuren, Fritz, Dudukovich, Jana, and Asher, Jana. 2002. Killings and Refugee Flow in Kosovo March–June 1999. American Association for the Advancement of Science.Google Scholar
Banks, Arthur S. 2012. Cross-National Time-Series Data Archive, 1815–[2012]. Databanks International.Google Scholar
Barrington, Lowell. 2006. After Independence: Making and Protecting the Nation in Postcolonial and Postcommunist States. University of Michigan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bellamy, Alex J. 2014. The Other Asian Miracle? The Decline of Mass Atrocities in East Asia. Global Change, Peace and Security 26 (1):119.Google Scholar
Bieber, Florian. 2008. The Army Without a State. In State Collapse in South-Eastern Europe: New Perspectives on Yugoslavia's Disintegration, edited by Cohen, Lenard J. and Dragović-Soso, Jasna, 301–32. Purdue University Press.Google Scholar
Byman, Daniel L., and Pollack, Kenneth M.. 2001. Let Us Now Praise Great Men: Bringing the Statesman Back In. International Security 25 (4):107–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carey, Sabine C., Mitchell, Neil J., and Lowe, Will. 2013. States, the Security Sector, and the Monopoly of Violence: A New Database on Pro-Government Militias. Journal of Peace Research 50 (2):249–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cederman, Lars-Erik, Hug, Simon, and Krebs, Lutz F.. 2010. Democratization and Civil War: Empirical Evidence. Journal of Peace Research 47 (4):377–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chiozza, Giacomo, and Goemans, Hein. 2003. Peace Through Insecurity. Journal of Conflict Resolution 47 (4):443–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chiozza, Giacomo, and Goemans, Hein. 2011. Leaders and International Conflict. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Cockett, Richard. 2010. Sudan: Darfur, Islamism and the World. Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Dake, Antonie C.A. 2006. The Sukarno File, 1965–1967: Chronology of a Defeat. Brill Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
De Waal, Alex. 2007. Sudan: What Kind of State? What Kind of Crisis? Occasional Paper.Google Scholar
DeMeritt, Jacqueline H.R. 2015. Delegating Death: Military Intervention and Government Killing. Journal of Conflict Resolution 59 (3):428–54.Google Scholar
Des Forges, Alison. 1999. “Leave None to Tell the Story”: Genocide in Rwanda. Human Rights Watch.Google Scholar
Dittmer, Lowell. 1978. Bases of Power in Chinese Politics: A Theory and an Analysis of the Fall of the Gang of Four. World Politics 31 (1):2660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dittmer, Lowell. 1987. China's Continuous Revolution: The Post-Liberation Epoch, 1949–1981. University of California Press.Google Scholar
Driscoll, Jesse. 2015. Warlords and Coalition Politics in Post-Soviet States. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Easterly, William, Gatti, Roberta, and Kurlat, Sergio. 2006. Development, Democracy, and Mass Killings. Journal of Economic Growth 11 (2):129–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fearon, James D. 1995. Rationalist Explanations for War. International Organization 49 (3):379–14.Google Scholar
Fearon, James D., and Laitin, David D.. 2003. Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War. The American Political Science Review 97 (1):7590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fujii, Lee Ann. 2009. Killing Neighbors: Webs of Violence in Rwanda. Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Gagnon, Valère P. 2006. The Myth of Ethnic War: Serbia and Croatia in the 1990s. Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede. 2002. Expanded Trade and GDP Data. Journal of Conflict Resolution 46 (5):712–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Goemans, Hein, Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede, and Chiozza, Giacomo. 2009. Introducing Archigos: A Dataset of Political Leaders. Journal of Peace Research 46 (2):269–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Goldhagen, Daniel Jonah. 1996. Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. Alfred A Knopf.Google Scholar
Harff, Barbara. 2003. No Lessons Learned from the Holocaust? Assessing Risks of Genocide and Political Mass Murder Since 1955. American Political Science Review 97 (1):5773.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hinton, Alexander Laban. 2005. Why Did They Kill: Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide. University of California Press.Google Scholar
Kalyvas, Stathis N. 2006. The Logic of Violence in Civil War. Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kaplan, Robert D. 2005. Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History. Picador.Google Scholar
Kiernan, Ben. 2008. The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1975–79. Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Kuperman, Alan J. 2008. The Moral Hazard of Humanitarian Intervention: Lessons from the Balkans. International Studies Quarterly 52 (1):4980.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lanotte, Olivier. 2007. La France au Rwanda (1990–1994): Entre Abstention Impossible et Engagement Ambivalent. Peter Lang.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lemarchand, René. 1975. Ethnic Genocide. Society 12 (2):5060.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lemarchand, René. 2009. The Burundi Genocide. In A Century of Genocide: Essays and Eyewitness Accounts, 3rd ed., edited by Totten, Samuel and Parsons, William S., 406–27. Routledge.Google Scholar
Lemarchand, René. 2011. Forgotten Genocides: Oblivion, Denial, and Memory. University of Pennsylvania Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Licklider, Roy. 1995. The Consequences of Negotiated Settlements in Civil Wars, 1945–1993. American Political Science Review 89 (3):681–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lyall, Jason. 2009. Does Indiscriminate Violence Incite Insurgent Attacks? Journal of Conflict Resolution 53 (3):331–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lyall, Jason, and Wilson, Isaiah. 2009. Rage Against the Machines: Explaining Outcomes in Counterinsurgency Wars. International Organization 63 (1):67106.Google Scholar
Mahoney, James, and Goertz, Gary. 2004. The Possibility Principle: Choosing Negative Cases in Comparative Research. American Political Science Review 98 (4):653–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Marshall, Monty G., and Marshall, Donna R.. 2009. Coup D’État Events 1946–2008. Center for Systemic Peace.Google Scholar
Maynard, Jonathan Leader. 2019. Ideology and Armed Conflict. Journal of Peace Research 56 (5):635–49.Google Scholar
McKelvey, Richard D., and Zavoina, William. 1975. A Statistical Model for the Analysis of Ordinal Level Dependent Variables. Journal of Mathematical Sociology 4 (1):103–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mitchell, Neil J. 2004. Agents of Atrocity: Leaders, Followers, and the Violation of Human Rights in Civil War. Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mueller, John. 2004. The Remnants of War. Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Oberschall, Anthony. 2000. The Manipulation of Ethnicity: From Ethnic Cooperation to Violence and War in Yugoslavia. Ethnic and Racial Studies 23 (6):9821001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Powell, Jonathan M., and Thyne, Clayton L.. 2011. Global Instances of Coups from 1950 to 2010: A New Dataset. Journal of Peace Research 48 (2):249–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Power, Samantha. 2002. A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. Basic Books.Google Scholar
Prunier, Gerard. 1995. The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide. Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
Roessler, Philip G. 2011. The Enemy Within: Personal Rule, Coups, and Civil War in Africa. World Politics 63 (2):300–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rosenbaum, Paul R. 2002. Observational Studies. Springer.Google Scholar
Rummel, Rudolph J. 1994. Power, Genocide and Mass Murder. Journal of Peace Research 31 (1):110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sekhon, Jasjeet S. 2009. Opiates for the Matches: Matching Methods for Causal Inference. Annual Review of Political Science 12:487508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Siollun, Max. 2009. Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria's Military Coup Culture (1966–1976). Algora.Google Scholar
Sørbø, Gunnar M., and Ahmed, Abdel Ghaffar M.. 2013. Sudan Divided: Continuing Conflict in a Contested State. Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
Storey, Andy. 2012. Structural Violence and the Struggle for State Power in Rwanda: What Arusha got Wrong. African Journal on Conflict Resolution 12 (3):732.Google Scholar
Straus, Scott. 2006. The Order of Genocide: Race, Power, and War in Rwanda. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Straus, Scott. 2015. Making and Unmaking Nations: War, Leadership, and Genocide in Modern Africa. Cornell University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sudduth, Jun Koga. 2017a. Coup Risk, Coup-proofing and Leader Survival. Journal of Peace Research 54 (1):315.Google Scholar
Sudduth, Jun Koga. 2017b. Strategic Logic of Elite Purges in Dictatorships. Comparative Political Studies 50 (13):1768–801.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Svolik, Milan W. 2012. The Politics of Authoritarian Rule. Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Uzonyi, Gary. 2015. Civil War Victory and the Onset of Genocide and Politicide. International Interactions 41 (2):365–91.Google Scholar
Valentino, Benjamin A. 2004. Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the Twentieth Century. Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Valentino, Benjamin, Huth, Paul, and Balch-Lindsay, Dylan. 2004. Draining the Sea: Mass Killing and Guerrilla Warfare. International Organization 58 (2):375407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Van der Maat, Eelco. 2018. Simplified Complexity: Analytical Strategies for Conflict Event Research. Conflict Management and Peace Science <>.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Verwimp, Philip. 2006. Machetes and Firearms: The Organization of Massacres in Rwanda. Journal of Peace Research 43 (1):522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Verwimp, Philip. 2013. Peasants in Power: The Political Economy of Development and Genocide in Rwanda. Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vickery, Michael. 1983. Democratic Kampuchea: Themes and Variations. In Revolution and Its Aftermath in Kampuchea: Eight Essays, edited by Chandler, David P. and Kiernan, Ben, 99135. Yale University Southeast Asia Studies.Google Scholar
Walter, Barbara F. 2017. The Extremist's Advantage in Civil Wars. International security 42 (2):739.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Weinstein, Jeremy M. 2003. Inside Rebellion: The Political Economy of Rebel Organization. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Weinstein, Warren. 1972. Conflict and Confrontation in Central Africa: The Revolt in Burundi, 1972. Africa Today 19 (4):1737.Google Scholar
Wilson, Richard. 1995. Between Two Armies in the Ixil Towns of Guatemala. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 1 (1):217–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Supplementary material: PDF

van der Maat supplementary material

van der Maat supplementary material

Download van der Maat  supplementary material(PDF)
PDF 395 KB
Supplementary material: Link

van der Maat Dataset

Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Genocidal Consolidation: Final Solutions to Elite Rivalry
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Genocidal Consolidation: Final Solutions to Elite Rivalry
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Genocidal Consolidation: Final Solutions to Elite Rivalry
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *