In Rebel Politics, David Brenner pursues the question of a seeming anomaly. The literature on security studies and small-scale conflicts oversimplifies armed anti-government groups as monolithic actors with a unified strategy against the state groups to lend them easily to Euro-centric, reductionist, macro-level quantitative analysis. Armed rebels (Brenner eschews the use of “insurgent” as misleading and “revolutionary” as insufficient) become viewed as monolithic actors following a unified strategy against a similarly monolithic state. How can we explain, then, why in the early 2010s one rebel movement, the Karen National Union (KNU), undertook negotiations with the Myanmar government at the same time that another, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), abandoned negotiations and returned to armed struggle? Brenner looks for these answers in the internal politics on nonstate armed groups, which takes us into new territory as conventional literature on civil wars, Brenner asserts, has not looked for answers here (p....

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