Teaching the military and revolutions: simulating civil-military relations during mass uprisings

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Abstract

During revolutions, strategic interactions between civilian policymakers, armed forces, and opposition groups shape political outcomes, most importantly whether a regime stands or falls. Students from advanced industrial democracies frequently find such dynamics counterintuitive, even after completing readings and engaging in traditional instruction methods. We therefore sought to improve pedagogical outcomes by designing a simulation based on the scenarios akin to those witnessed during the Arab Spring (2011) and Ukraine’s Euromaidan (2013) Revolution. To this end, we divided students into four teams, representing: the regime, the armed forces, and two distinct groups of anti-regime dissidents. Rule sets were designed to incorporate the best recent scholarship on each category of actors’ behavior, such as military units’ probability of defecting to protestors and riot polices’ ability to repress urban uprisings. By forcing student teams to make decisions under time pressure we obliged them to wrestle with the uncertainties and fears of betrayal inherent in complex civil-military emergencies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315 - 320
Number of pages6
JournalPS: Political Science & Politics
Volume54
Issue number2
Early online date26 Aug 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

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