The Involuntary Extinction of States: An Examination of the Destruction of States though the Application of Military Force by Foreign Powers since the Second World War

Edward Heath Robinson
The Journal of Military Geography 2011 1: pp. 17–29
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Political theorists often consider how states are created, but how they come to be extinguished is considered far less often. The purpose of this paper is to examine under what circumstances a state can be extinguished through the application of military force by another state. Five case studies since World War II are used in this analysis: 1) the successful extinction of Hyderabad by India c. 1948–1949, 2) the successful extinction of the Republic of Vietnam in 1976 following the fall of Saigon in 1975, 3) the attempted destruction of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990, 4) the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, and 5) the 2003 invasion of Iraq, both led by the United States. Cases 4 and 5 are included because neither state was extinguished despite military defeat and occupation by foreign powers. Why not? Drawing from the case studies, several factors that might contribute to the extinction of a state are identified and explored: the defeat of its conventional military forces, the use of proxy forces in the conflict, the removal of the government, the presence of insurgent forces, the continuation of hostilities, the intentions of the aggressor state, and the recognition of the extinction by the international community.