This paper examines the degree to which an insurgency’s ability to establish and extract financing from a tax base impacts prospects for achieving the movement’s objectives. How important is a tax base to the success or failure of an insurgency? And to what extent is the ability of an insurgent movement to tax a given population indicative of its level of legitimacy? The literature in this specific area is underdeveloped, and what literature does exist does not take on these questions directly. Additionally, taxation is often used synonymously with extortion and other criminal activities in insurgent movements, which diminishes the ability to assess the role of taxation objectively. This paper, however, takes an alternative approach by assessing insurgent taxation as an indicator of legitimacy, as well as a means to sustain and solidify insurgent successes. It draws on research from the cases of the FARC insurgency in Colombia and the Afghan Taliban to spur discussion of insurgent tax bases and to illustrate the importance of economic factors in revolutionary warfare. This research finds that an insurgency’s ability to levy taxes on a population is decisive in building legitimacy and financing operations against the established government. However, predatory taxation, or over-taxation, that results in nominal return on investment for the population is decisive in degrading support for the insurgency. This research argues for a greater understanding of economic influencers in insurgency, especially as it relates to expanding the body of applicable knowledge and concepts available to policymakers and practitioners.
|School:||The George Washington University|
|Department:||Security Policy Studies|
|School Location:||United States -- District of Columbia|
|Source:||MAI 55/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||International Relations, Military studies|
|Keywords:||Counterinsurgency, Insurgency, Irregular warfare, Taxation|
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