Weapons of Mass Migration

Weapons of Mass Migration: Forced Displacement, Coercion, and Foreign Policy

Kelly M. Greenhill
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    Weapons of Mass Migration
    Book Description:

    At first glance, the U.S. decision to escalate the war in Vietnam in the mid-1960s, China's position on North Korea's nuclear program in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and the EU resolution to lift what remained of the arms embargo against Libya in the mid-2000s would appear to share little in common. Yet each of these seemingly unconnected and far-reaching foreign policy decisions resulted at least in part from the exercise of a unique kind of coercion, one predicated on the intentional creation, manipulation, and exploitation of real or threatened mass population movements.

    In Weapons of Mass Migration, Kelly M. Greenhill offers the first systematic examination of this widely deployed but largely unrecognized instrument of state influence. She shows both how often this unorthodox brand of coercion has been attempted (more than fifty times in the last half century) and how successful it has been (well over half the time). She also tackles the questions of who employs this policy tool, to what ends, and how and why it ever works. Coercers aim to affect target states' behavior by exploiting the existence of competing political interests and groups, Greenhill argues, and by manipulating the costs or risks imposed on target state populations.

    This "coercion by punishment" strategy can be effected in two ways: the first relies on straightforward threats to overwhelm a target's capacity to accommodate a refugee or migrant influx; the second, on a kind of norms-enhanced political blackmail that exploits the existence of legal and normative commitments to those fleeing violence, persecution, or privation. The theory is further illustrated and tested in a variety of case studies from Europe, East Asia, and North America. To help potential targets better respond to-and protect themselves against-this kind of unconventional predation, Weapons of Mass Migration also offers practicable policy recommendations for scholars, government officials, and anyone concerned about the true victims of this kind of coercion-the displaced themselves.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-5866-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-11)

    On October 11, 2004, the foreign ministers of the European Union met and agreed to lift all remaining sanctions on one-time international pariah state, Libya. This broad array of sanctions, which included a comprehensive arms embargo, had been in place since the 1980s following several high-profile Libyan-sponsored terrorist attacks within Western Europe. What catalyzed this dramatic shift in EU policy? Although relations between Libya and the European Union had been improving for some time, it was neither the Libyan decision to disband its weapons of mass destruction program nor its public repudiation of terrorism nor even its acceptance of responsibility...

  5. 1 Understanding the Coercive Power of Mass Migrations
    (pp. 12-74)

    Coercion is generally understood to refer to the practice of inducing or preventing changes in political behavior through the use of threats, intimidation, or some other form of pressure—most commonly, military force. This book focuses on a very particular nonmilitary method of applying coercive pressure—the use of migration and refugee crises as instruments of persuasion. Conventional wisdom suggests this kind of coercion is rare at best.¹ Traditional international relations theory avers that it should rarely succeed. In fact, given the asymmetry in capabilities that tends to exist between would-be coercers and their generally more powerful targets, it should...

  6. 2 The 1994 Cuban Balseros Crisis and Its Historical Antecedents
    (pp. 75-130)

    In August 1994, in the wake of some of the worst civil unrest Cuba had witnessed in decades, President Fidel Castro reversed his long-standing policy of arresting anyone who tried to escape the island by sea. Castro laid the blame for Cubaʹs domestic turmoil on the United States, claiming the riots were caused by rumors of a U.S.-sponsored boatlift to Miami. Castro then demanded that ʺeither the US take serious measures to guard their coasts, or we will stop putting obstacles in the way of people who want to leave the country, and we will stop putting obstacles in the...

  7. 3 “Now the Refugees Are the War”: NATO and the Kosovo Conflict
    (pp. 131-179)

    On March 24, 1999, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) commenced the first military campaign in its fifty-year history—a bombing war over the tiny Yugoslav province of Kosovo.¹ Although NATO had been conceived as a defensive alliance, its first mission turned out to be an offensive one whose stated objectives were three: ʺto demonstrate the seriousness of NATOʹs purpose so that the Serbian leaders understand the imperative of reversing course,ʺ ʺto deter an even bloodier offensive against innocent civilians in Kosovo,ʺ and ʺif necessary to seriously damage the Serbian military’s capacity to harm the people of Kosovo.ʺ² It was...

  8. 4 An Invasion to Stop the Invasion: The United States and the Haitian Boatpeople Crises
    (pp. 180-226)

    Even before being sworn in for his first term as U.S. president—and leader of the worldʹs sole remaining superpower—William Jefferson Clinton made the first foreign policy decision of his administration. Remarkably, perhaps, Clintonʹs initial foreign policy decision was not about the future of Russian nuclear weapons, the Iraqi no-fly zone, or even the future of the NATO alliance. Instead, it was a decision about how to deal with would-be asylum seekers from the tiny island nation of Haiti.¹

    Responding to the George H. W. Bush administrationʹs treatment of those fleeing the repressive rule of the junta that had...

  9. 5 North Korean Migrants, Nongovernmental Organizations, and Nuclear Weapons
    (pp. 227-261)

    The 1990s were a tough decade for the North Koreans. In 1991, they lost their superpower patron with the fall of the Soviet Union, and in 1994, they lost their patron saint with the death of the Great Leader Kim Il Sung, who had ruled North Korea since its founding shortly after World War II. For not wholly unrelated reasons, the 1990s were also marked by a series of devastating famines, which resulted in the deaths of between several hundred thousand and several million North Koreans¹ and the flight of several hundred thousand more across the Tumen River and into...

  10. 6 Conclusions and Policy Implications
    (pp. 262-284)

    After the 1999 Kosovo conflict, it was widely argued that a new and different armament—the refugee as weapon—had entered the arsenals of the world. One scholar even went so far as to declare, ʺthe nature of war [itself] has changed; now the refugees are the war.ʺ¹ As I have demonstrated, however, the instrumental exploitation of engineered cross-border migrations is neither a new nor a particularly unusual phenomenon. Rather, such exploitation has a long and influential history that includes both war and peacetime use. Indeed, in this book I have identified at least fifty-six attempted cases of migration-driven coercion...

  11. Appendix: Coding Cases of Coercive Engineered Migration
    (pp. 285-332)
  12. Index
    (pp. 333-342)