Imagine living in a country that has a history of rebellions and state-organized authoritarianism for decades with continuous forms of violence and impunity. How do combatants prepare for a war they’re not mobilized for?
Observers have interpreted Chad’s experience with rebellion as a history of questionable ethics and internal chaos. Marielle Debos, an associate professor in Political Science at the Université Paris Nanterre and member of the Institute for Social Sciences of Politics (ISP), describes how Living by the Gun in Chad is a tolerable form of a daily profession and political articulation. The book comprises into three sections which is the establishment of professionalism of combatants through violence and weapons, the armed political leaders, and the analysis of uncertainty and conflicts with the government and dictatorship of the developing country.
Chad’s history is occupied with violence. Starting from the wars fought among its precolonial kingdoms to France’s pacification campaigns etc. Chad’s recent history has been plagued by interminable political violence. Since the country’s independence in 1960, violence has been molding Chadian occupants. In the 1980s this ex-French colony fell victim to ethnic rife, religious rivalry, weak institutions, and political corruptions. Many of political-military regimes attempted to conquer state power. In 1990, the current regime ultimately prevailed through violence and didn’t end until 2010. While the root causes of violence have not diminished, the government has used different strategies to defeat the rebellious groups. The primary tool at the disposition of the state was sheer military force. However, military dimension of power is not always enough to achieve victory. Diplomacy and economy have also played a conclusive role. This paper will show that the Chadian government will not preserve a lasting peace if appropriate measures are not implemented to fully integrate these ex-rebels into the social fabric.
Debos evaluate the long-term professionalism of combatants through weapons from external actors and also the use of rebellion as a political advancement. She identifies how violence in Chad display the historical norm, rather than exception, “in the grip of a political field that has never excluded war” (43). In her intuitive book, Debos argues that prevalent violence has stimulated a culture that has normalized and promoted armed violence, even in times of peace. For Chadian boys, learning how to use guns are calculated as job training. Debos provides powerful verification that commitments and grievances motivate Chad’s soldiers less than their need to make a living.
How can we change the history of violence and impunity in Chad? In my opinion, the United States and allies can leverage diplomacy and economic affairs to persuade President Deby for the enhancement of democracy, good governance, reconciliation and enact comprehensive conflict termination process, which will defuse rebels grievances. In relation to the National Conference in 1993, another conference can be held reshape the Constitution, the armed forces, electoral process, and to change the social commitment between the citizens and the state. The military’s “illegal practices and general blurring of status”, which have increased under Chadian president Idriss Déby, “pervaded the whole social body…This mode of army management, which consisted in following other rules than those established by law and regulations, had many advantages”.
Among these “other rules” in Chadian society are those that govern the practices of impunity among a certain class of political actors. Impunity and social mobility, Debos argues, represent the primary means for the reproduction of the hierarchies produced by war and the governance of insecurity. “No legal or moral punishment is inflicted on those who circumvent the law,” she writes. “But you really need social capital if you are to rewrite it at will. Power relations mark the code of fraud…Each participant invents tactics to live and do business in this uncertain and risky world. But while such tactics belong to a repertoire of resistance, they do not allow people to overturn power relations”. In contrast to other works before this one, Debos argues that, in Chad, the state is neither weak nor absent. Rather, it has been informalized: a symbiosis exists between the official and the unofficial state – and its exercise reproduces a permanent inter-war in the country.