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Individual Factors Motivating People to Join Organized Violent Movements

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US Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States

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A guerilla-style opponent is one of the toughest missions conventional military forces will ever face. Political violence is difficult to stop in any country. These conflicts last years, sometimes decades. This is the case in Colombia, where the government has been fighting Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia Ejrcito del Pueblo FARC-EP since 1965 in Peru, where the government has been fighting Sendero Luminoso since 1980 and in Mexico, where the government has been trying to defeat the Ejrcito Zapatista de Liberacin Nacional since 1994. Why are these movements so difficult to quell Is it because of the governments inability to design suitable defeat mechanisms Is there failure to understand what motivates people to join an organized violent movement OVM This study addresses this problem by focusing on identifying the individual motivational factors causing people to join an OVM using a qualitative multiple-case study comparative analysis. This investigation analyzes a plethora of literature placing special emphasis on documented interviews of former combatants to extrapolate the true reason why they chose to fight.

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