"The book is an excellent addition to the scholarly literature on subnational movements, both past and present, offering a range of insights to policymakers across the globe."—Ayesha Jalal, author of The Struggle for Pakistan
"With judicious use of empirical evidence and rich case studies, Ahsan I. Butt makes a compelling case that states’ responses to secessionist movements turn to a considerable degree on their external security environments."—S. Paul Kapur, author of Jihad as Grand Strategy
In Secession and Security, Ahsan I. Butt argues that states, rather than separatists, determine whether a secessionist struggle will be peaceful, violent, or genocidal. He investigates the strategies, ranging from negotiated concessions to large-scale repression, adopted by states in response to separatist movements. Variations in the external security environment, Butt argues, influenced the leaders of the Ottoman Empire to use peaceful concessions against Armenians in 1908 but escalated to genocide against the same community in 1915; caused Israel to reject a Palestinian state in the 1990s; and shaped peaceful splits in Czechoslovakia in 1993 and the Norway-Sweden union in 1905.
Using more than one hundred interviews and extensive archival data, Butt focuses on two main cases—Pakistani reactions to Bengali and Baloch demands for independence in the 1970s and India’s responses to secessionist movements in Kashmir, Punjab, and Assam in the 1980s and 1990s. Butt’s deep historical approach to his subject will appeal to policymakers and observers interested in the last five decades of geopolitics in South Asia, the contemporary Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and ethno-national conflict, separatism, and nationalism more generally.
"This thought-provoking and empirically well-grounded study makes an important conceptual intervention in assessing variations in state responses to subnational movements. Instead of only focusing on the internal causes of schism and strife, Ahsan I. Butt foregrounds the role of geostrategic politics in state responses to nationalist civil wars. He argues persuasively that external security concerns of secessionist movements determine why states opt to use violence against dissidents instead of taking the path of peaceful negotiation. He substantiates his hypothesis with various case studies, starting with Pakistan where a brutal military crackdown on Bengalis in 1971 led to the breakaway of the eastern wing following India’s military intervention. Two years later Pakistan’s response to an insurgency in Balochistan was relatively more restrained. Fears of shifts in the geostrategic balance have also led India to resort to indiscriminate violence in Kashmir but not to the same extent in Assam where New Delhi is also facing a secessionist movement. Butt’s theory has the merit of withstanding spatial and temporal variations as his case studies of the Ottoman treatment of Armenian nationalists and Indian handling of Sikh separatism in Punjab demonstrate. The book is an excellent addition to the scholarly literature on subnational movements, both past and present, offering a range of insights to policymakers across the globe."
Ayesha Jalal, author of The Struggle for Pakistan
"With judicious use of empirical evidence and rich case studies, Ahsan I. Butt makes a compelling case that states’ responses to secessionist movements turn to a considerable degree on their external security environments."
S. Paul Kapur, author of Jihad as Grand Strategy
"Examines secession movements chiefly since World War II, with a view to understanding why some states resort to violence, repression, and coercion to quell secessionism while others respond with negotiation and concession.... The book is compellingly and authoritatively researched. The research design - a case study approach - is exquisite. The case selections and criteria for comparison are academically sound. Butt also had access to scores of personal interviews as well as extensive archival data. The result is a significant and timely contribution to the scholarship on state decision-making in the international arena."