Socializing Militants: How States End Asymmetric Conflict with Non-State Militants

by Jeremiah Rozman (Association of the United States Army)

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In this important book, Dr. Jeremiah Rozman advances a rationalist framework for countering violent non-state opponents. The study proceeds from the observation that there has been considerable variation in different governments’ responses to violent, non-state actors even when such factors as the relative balance of power, the ideological makeup of the government, and the nature of both the domestic and international political climates are taken into account. In this subtle, comparative work, Dr. Rozman advances the argument that the effectiveness of bargaining-based approaches on the part of governments depends especially on the ‘type’ of violent non-state actor that is opposed to it. That is: How intense is the ideological mission of the violent non-state actor? Has the violent non-state actor been making a serious effort at governing territory? How targetable is the leadership of the violent non-state actor? Different kinds of violent, non-state opponents require different kinds of governmental policies in response. In order to assess the applicability of his analytical approach, Mr. Rozman executes a series of intensive case investigations, reinforced by interviews with many of the principals involved, of three major sets of cases: (1) the United States against al-Qaeda and the Taliban; (2) Israel against the PLO, Hezbollah, and Hamas; and (3) Russia in the two wars of Chechen secession (1994-96, 1999-2001). In the final substantive chapter, Dr. Rozman engages in a stimulating and wide-ranging discussion that applies his findings to a wider universe of instances, from the British in Palestine and against the IRA, respectively; the United States against the Vietcong, Turkey against the Kurdistan Workers Party, post-1992 Algeria, etc. Dr. Rozman’s book is as valuable to the students and scholars of international security affairs as it is to policymakers of democratic and non-democratic states alike.

Dr. Allen Lynch
Professor, College of Arts and Sciences
Department:Department of Politics
University of Virginia

The twentieth and twenty-first centuries have seen states engaged in long-term conflicts with asymmetrically weaker non-state actors (NSA). States aim to end these conflicts as quickly as possible by combining force and diplomacy to socialize these militants—meaning give them the characteristics of states—in order to make a credible bargain achievable. The militant’s characteristics determine the state’s optimal strategy.

In times of conflict, politicians and pundits often march out an oft-cited phrase in support of negotiations: “if you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.” This is only possible when the opponent is willing to make peace under acceptable terms and able to enforce abidance.

Some opponents have an ideologically driven fundamental purpose that precludes renouncing violence under terms that a state could accept. Others have reasonable demands and are structured in a way that allows productive negotiations. In other cases, the non-state militant is not yet the type that can be bargained with but can be socialized into this type through a state’s correct application of force and diplomacy. I call this “socialization logic.” I argue that optimally, states tailor their strategy to socialize with their opponent, to make it possible to successfully negotiate peace. In practice, the state’s strategy is often distorted by its internal and external constraints.

Socialization logic provides a novel typology of non-state militants based on how well interstate conflict bargaining concepts can be applied to them. It looks beyond tactics, to systematize a framework for understanding how leaders tailor strategy towards non-state opponents based on their characteristics. Socialization logic examines the NSA type as endogenous to the strategy that the state employs and provides a framework for leaders to design a strategy to end the conflict. Finally, socialization logic synthesizes critical NSA attributes (ideology, leadership structure, and governance function) and the state’s strategy (distorted by constraints) into in an interactive model.

Through 41 interviews, primary and secondary source data, I analyze the United States’, Russia’s and Israel’s asymmetric conflicts with militants and demonstrate that socialization logic most comprehensively explains their strategies throughout those conflicts.

List of Figures, Tables and Charts
List of Abbreviations

Chapter 1 Introduction
a. Socialization logic
b. Theory in brief
c. Interpreting the data
d. The book’s layout

Chapter 2 Theory
a. Definitions
b. NSA types
c. Assumptions
d. A state will not be bargaining to end conflict without deterrence
e. Optimal strategies for each NSA type
f. The theoretical importance of the three NSA characteristics
g. The state’s constraints
h. State strategies and likely outcomes
i. Scope, methods, and case selection

Chapter 3 Israel versus the Palestinian Liberation Organization: The Rational Oslo Mistake and Status Quo Management
a. Overview
b. Decisive victory: 1964 until Oslo (1993)
c. Concessions and bargaining: Oslo (1993) until Defensive Shield (2002)
d. From the pursuit of victory to offensive and defensive denial: Defensive Shield (2002) until the Disengagement (2005)
e. 2005 - present: Management and potential decisive political victory
f. Discussion
Chapter 4 Short-Term Deterrence, Long-Term Denial, Pursuing Periods of Calm: Israel’s Hamas Strategy
a. Overview
b. 1987-1995: Hamas gains Israel’s attention
c. 1995-2002: Building the architecture for effective denial
d. 2002-2008: Operation Defensive Shield and decisive victory
e. 2008 – present: Operation Cast Lead and a shift to management
f. Discussion

Chapter 5 The United States versus the Taliban: Misperception and Missed Opportunity
a. Overview
b. 1979-1996: Soviet invasion, proxy wars, Soviet withdrawal and civil war
c. 1996-September 2001: Fruitless negotiation
d. 2001-2003: U.S. led military campaign towards decisive victory
e. 2003-2008: management
f. 2008-2011: Tempered decisive victory, COIN surge and drawdown
g. 2011-2017: Return to management
h. 2017-2021: Negotiations
i. Discussion

Chapter 6 The United States versus al-Qaeda: Knocking out Central, Choking out Affiliates
a. Overview
b. Pre-September 11, 2001
c. 2001-2011: Decisive victory
d. 2011-present: Keeping al-Qaeda central down, slowly strangling affiliates
e. Discussion

Chapter 7 Russia versus the Chechens: Low Constraints, Optimal Strategy, Resolved Conflict
a. Overview
b. Pre-1991-1994: A brief history
c. 1991-1994: Why Russia did not concede
d. Yeltsin’s Russia: Weaker, more democratic, more constrained
e. 1996-1999: Management
f. 1999: Decisive victory through authoritarian (enemy-centric) COIN
g. 2009-present: Maintaining stability
h. Discussion

Chapter 8 Socialization logic applied to eight twentieth-century case studies
a. The British versus Jewish insurgents in Palestine: 1944-1947
b. The British versus Irish separatists: the Irish War of Independence 1919-1921 and “the Troubles” 1969-1998
c. South Africa versus the African National Congress: the ANC uprising 1950-1993
d. The United States versus the Vietcong: The Vietnam War 1960-1975
e. Algeria versus the Armed Islamic Group: Algerian Civil War 1992-2002
f. Peru vs Shining Path: Communist guerilla insurgency 1980-2000
g. Turkey versus the Kurdistan Workers' Party: Separatist insurgency 1984-1999
h. France and the G5 Sahel Force versus al-Qaeda and ISIS in the Islamic Maghreb: 2017-ongoing

Chapter 9 Implications
a. Assessment: Cases where socialization logic did and did not fit
b. Contributions to international relations theory
c. General principles
d. Implications for ending long-standing conflicts
e. Policy recommendations
f. Avenues for further research


Jeremiah Rozman has a PhD in International Relations from the University of Virginia with a focus on strategic/security studies and conflict resolution. His dissertation introduces socialization logic, a novel framework by which states can categorize and work to end asymmetric conflict with non-state opponents. It examines case studies including Israel, the United States, and Russia. His regional expertise is in the Middle East and Russia. He designed and taught an undergraduate course on the Arab-Israeli conflict. He worked as a National Security Analyst for the Association of the US Army from 2018-2021 and is currently a First Lieutenant in the US Army.

International Relations, Realism, Asymmetric Warfare, Conflict Resolution, Peacemaking, Counterterrorism, Counterinsurgency, Non-State Actor, Interviews, Process tracing, Historical Analysis, National Security, Military, Diplomacy, Bargaining

Bibliographic Information

Book Title
Socializing Militants: How States End Asymmetric Conflict with Non-State Militants
Number of pages
Physical size
Publication date
May 2023