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The background information on the civilization is here

In my world , where the entire "human" race is united, the age of colonization is under way, with certain clans making lots of headway.( Clans being the equivalent of mobile states without set geographic boundaries , much like the tribes in early Israel , but being able to uproot themselves , and move when needed) One clan , the Masimari , have substantial colonies in the "new world" , and have become discontent with the discourse of politics , and having to be subject to the laws of the primary government. ( asking themselves question like " are we not good enough to govern ourselves independently/" and "under what obligations are we to follow their laws?") They are now seriously considering seceding from the the union.

( The situation can be likened to the E.U. existing in the 16 and 17 hundreds [ with a power relationship with it component countries being between that of the modern E.U. and the U.S.] and Britain, with a growing sense of nationalism due to its colonial territory gains in the new world , attempted to exist the E.U. [ the difference in military power between the government and state is comparable to that of The U.S. and modern U.K. )

The main government does not what to start an armed conflict against the Masimari due to the fear that the clan will always remember this occasion with bitterness for generations , putting a permanent strain on their relationship.

My question is , In such a situation , is there any way that a central government with kind of authoritative control could subdue a rebelling state without armed force?

"The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting" - Sun Tzu

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    $\begingroup$ Tap their water with Ecstacy! $\endgroup$ – OldBunny2800 Mar 13 '16 at 1:02
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Divide and rule.

Use propaganda to undermine the authority of the Masimari leaders and get their own people to revolt against them. Placing some agent provocateurs to convince powerful people under the Masimari leadership to raise their flag in revolt can also help. Do it well, and the Masimari will soon have their own internal putschists and secessionists to deal with and no resources left to take actions against your government.

When that happens, support the internal threats with the resources from the main government. When the rebels are easier to deal with than the Masimari, give them all they need so they can reach their goal to replace or weaken the Masimari leadership. When they are just as bad, give them just enough stuff to keep the revolution going perpetually to prevent either from winning and becoming a threat to you. When the rebels are even worse to deal with, offer the Masimari help with fixing the problem (which you created in the first place) in exchange for their loyalty.

The end-result will be that the Masimari realm will splinter into several sub-factions which hate each other more than they hate the main government. Consider to officially recognize the more reasonable ones as new, independent clans just to piss off the others. But even without the governments approval they will be de-facto independent clans. The individual clans will be far less powerful than the unified Masimari clan was, which makes them easier to control. And they will continue being a threat to each other, so they will keep each other in check and prevent any of them from growing too powerful.

Depending on how your world works, it might be possible to reach this goal with political intrigue alone and without any bloodshed at all (ok, maybe one or two political assassinations), just with a hand full of casualties from street riots and terrorist attacks, or lead to full-scale war between the sub-factions. But in none of these scenarios a single government soldier will have to fire a single shot.

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Convince them that continued membership in the larger union is good for them.

There is a tendency to take the good of such an arrangement for granted and to focus on the bad. As Monty Python put it, "what have the Romans done for us?" In space, that could be finding that their airlock hatches fit to docking collars all over the solar system, that they don't need visa or work permits when they travel, that in case of accident their medical insurance is valid abroad, and countless other details.

If they "opt out" of funding general infrastructure with their taxes, why should they be free to use it? There are many good reasons why a marginalized, non-taxpaying minority should still be allowed to use general infrastructure, like the hassle of installing toll booths on all highways, but good will will be lost of they don't want to pay rather than can't pay.

The central government could be accused of scare tactics when they say that all benefits would be lost immediately, but without union membership they can't count on being consulted about the next edition of the airlocks standard. The rest of the system might simply upgrade to a new version.

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    $\begingroup$ The original "What have the Romans ever done for us?" scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian. It's not easy to incite a revolt when people's life under the "evil oppressor" is better than it was before. $\endgroup$ – Philipp Mar 12 '16 at 9:40
  • $\begingroup$ Although it isn't set in space , ( that's sorta why I added the link ) , perfect perfect perfect! $\endgroup$ – user15036 Mar 13 '16 at 0:25
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Yes, there is a way for them to do it. No I cannot tell you what it is.

The point of force is to be able to exert your will over someone else. If you are seeking to subdue a rebellion without force, then you must do so without exerting your will over them. This means you are going to need them to want to work with you.

What you're looking for is a win-win scenario. To create one of those, you have to be aware of what they actually want. Quite often there is a subtle difference between the wording describing what they want and what they really want. It's the subtle distinction between a robber wanting your money, and said robber simply wanting money and being willing to use force to get it.

The approach may also involve a back and forth effort where both parties slowly sharpen their understanding of what they want. You may have to interact a little to maneuver into a better position to observe them. Since you mentioned Sun Tzu, think of the interaction as yin and yang. When you are yin, you are being receptive to their ideas and guiding their actions in a way that doens't hurt you. Then, when the time is right, you become yang, and expand outward towards them. With great sensitivity to the particulars of their state (potentially down to the whiskey preference of their President), you will be able to reach outward without ruffling any feathers (no force). Now, in a stronger position, you resume yin once again, and let them feel like they're gaining. Eventually, both parties feel it is beneficial to continue going back and forth, and at that moment the rebellion is no more.

The less force you want to use in this process, the more your approach must be custom tailored to that particular interaction. If you want "no force," you will need more detail than a stack exchange question can possibly include. That's a side effect of StackExchange being a Q&A site, which offers one question and one answer. The answers you seek would be in the form Q&A&Q&A&Q&A&Q&A&Q&A&Q&A&Q&A&Q&A... back and forth, resolving little details and nuances until the path to end the rebellion is clear.

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If they depend on interactions with other members of the union for anything, then economic and political sanctions can work. We see this in the world today when groups of nations (EU, UN, NATO, etc) want to take action against some nation they disapprove of (Iran, North Korea, etc). If your independence-minded tribe wants to be able to sell its goods to members of your union, or buy goods from members of your union, what happens to them if they can't complete the transaction? If they are truly self-sufficient then this approach won't work, but few are truly self-sufficient.

If it comes to armed conflict, there are direct and indirect approaches. Before sending their invading army they might try to box the tribe in via blockades. In the US in the 19th century, when the southern states seceded from the union the northern states used naval blockades to block their ports. If anybody tries to run the blockade then you've got a conflict on your hands -- a blockade you're not prepared to enforce is no blockade at all -- but sometimes intimidation suffices.

But if you're avoiding armed conflict because of concerns about the tribe resenting the union, I'm not sure there's anything you can do. Whether a conflict involves bullets, threats, or economic woes, the party on the receiving end is going to be unhappy. But perhaps in your world there is a particular stigma about physical violence, in which case non-violent sanctions could work.

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If we're speaking of authoritarian solutions, perhaps do what Putin did in Chechnya. Putin achieved relative peace and stability in Chechnya, not by continuing a strategy of overt military enforcement, but by giving autonomy to a local warlord they could trust to take care of their rivals. The situation doesn't need to be violent for this to work, the regime just needs to be sure "their guy" on the ground is in control, and so they can give them clandestine support: weapons, intelligence, money, and free reign over the locals. This will put visible distance between the regime and what's happening on the ground whilst ensuring indirect government control.

You however could take it to either extreme. Kill them with kindness; give them so many grants and subsidies that the people enjoy their cosy position and refuse to break away when given the choice. Alternatively you could do secret genocide. Apartheid South Africa's NBC weapons program developed a vaccine which was meant to sterilise their black population under the guise of a new healthcare drive. If you can conducted the operation fast enough and comprehensively enough, by the time they realise something is wrong it's too late. There will be riots and disorder, but it won't matter long term.

Maybe some combination of the three? Begin generous subsidies, quietly back a local, and as part of the benefits package roll out a new healthcare program that in part sterilises the population... and frame one of the target population's rivals as having sabotaged their fertility, not the regime.

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