Explaining outcomes of asymmetric conflicts revisited: the Arauco War


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This article evaluates two theories that seek to explain the outcomes of asymmetric conflicts. It uses evidence from a case study of the Arauco War (1536-1883). The war resulted, unlike most other instances of European colonization, in the victory of the weaker side. The first theory argues that in asymmetrical warfare, opponents choose between direct (conventional) and indirect (guerrilla) approaches; the stronger side is more likely to win same-approach interactions, while the weaker side is more likely to prevail in different-approach interactions. The second theory advances the claim that when armies become mechanized, they gather less intelligence from the ground, and are therefore less likely to solve the information problem - te- lling combatants apart from noncombatants. The analysis of the Arauco War shows the limitations of the first theory: the stronger side can easily win some different-approach (indirect- direct) interactions, while the weaker can win same-approach (indirect-indirect) ones. The study lends support to the second theory, especially once it is generalized to include cultural differences as factors that exacerbate the identification problem.

Como citar: DISI PAVLIC, Rodolfo. Explaining outcomes of asymmetric conflicts revisited: the Arauco War. Estud. int. (Santiago, en línea) [online]. 2018, vol.50, n.189, pp.97-119. ISSN 0719-3769.