The belief in historical inevitability is a dangerous mistake, and it leads to passivity. Human history does not just happen; it is made. 


- There have been wars amongst the great powers for 60 percent of the years since 1500. Nine of these wars were general or world wars involving nearly all the great powers. Though not the most prevalent, these are by far the most devastating wars and have the strongest effects on the international system. The twentieth century has seen over 250 wars, including two world wars and a cold war, with more dead than in all previous wars over the past two millennia. If we divide today's wars into the three categories of great power, regional ( possibly including terrorism and the use of weapons of mass destruction), and internal wars, the first is the least likely, but still the most important. We are presently after the equivalent of a major great power war" the Cold War. The turmoil of the post-Cold War transition will continue for a time. 

Wars destructiveness

- Unprecedented scientific advances are putting more powerful weapons than ever before in the hands of men.

- As we progress from the seventeenth century to the present, world wars destructiveness has increaseduntil anihilation is a real possibility.  A world war is becoming more likely to be instant mass suicide. To survive, human beings must learn self-restraint and less destructive means of resolving conflict (see No longer a Chicken Game ).

- The essence of war will not change. What will change will be the kinds of actors and the weapons available to them. Intelligence analysis and human judgments will fail to detect all dangers in an ever-changing world.

End of the Cold War

- Major powers have been adjusting to the end of the Cold War and changes in their status and relationships. One of those trends is the general reduction of the strategic stakes for the great powers, which no longer must see the outcome of every local conflict as a potential gain or loss in a broader East-West competition. For the first time in centuries, there is neither war nor imminent threat of war between major powers (the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, and China). But  unless preventive action is taken over the next 10-20 years, we may see renewed armed confrontation between the most heavily armed nations (the USA, Russia, and China).

- The victory of Americanism over Soviet communism has involved an unprecedented concentration and centralization of Western power in the hands of the US and its closest allies of the smaller "West" of the Cold War era.


- Globalization is declaring its price and the price is called unpredictability and vulnerability. Unipolar systems are, as past experience shows, either unstable or hegemonic. Increasing interdependence means more conflict, not less. 

- Globalization and economic interdependence will continue to complicate international relations, and the economic dimension of national security will become increasingly vital. Fundamental economic interests-access to markets and resources, sustained growth, and protectionist impulses-may well be the "security" issues of the future. 

Power transitions

- The national interest is the most powerful political concept in the world today. It is the principal criterion on which political leaders -- heads of government and ministerial colleagues -- make their decisions. 

- Without any objective guiding concept and any objective higher authority, the outcome of efforts to "harmonize the actions of nations" is an imperfect product, reflecting the differentiated power structure between nation-states as disparate as China and Tuvalu and the vagaries of political and diplomatic winds at any one time.

- Power is a fact of international life and military force in turn remains a key component of it. Power transitions can lead to preemptive strikes by declining powers against their rising competitors, or to aggression by rising powers who feel their role in the system is lagging behind their military prowess. There is a strong consensus that we are in a period of rapid power transitions. There is considerable debate over the direction and magnitude of these transitions.
- There is always the risk, especially in transitional periods, that rapid changes in the distribution of power can trigger conflict. China and Russia-both great powers and both undergoing enormous change are key to a stable international system. Long-term strategies are needed to manage the challenges implicit in shifting great power relationships, especially the challenge of engaging China and Russia.

Of all the leading powers, only the United States had a diverse and deep range of power resources across all the key dimensions of power, including military power, economic power, and soft power, the broad appeal of cultural, ideological, and institutional factors.  Power is distributed in a complex three-dimensional pattern. Military power is largely unipolar, with the United States the only country with both intercontinental nuclear weapons and large, modern air, naval, and ground forces capable of deploying around the globe. Economic power is tripolar, with the United States, Europe, and Japan representing two-thirds of world product, and China's growth may make economic power quadripolar at the turn of the century.

 The emergence or strengthening of significant global economic actors will cause realignments of economic power... If China's recent growth rates continue, it will become the world's second largest economy soon after the turn of the century. Even if China does not increase its defense budget as a percentage of its GDP currently about 4 to 5 percent of GDP according to most estimates the sheer magnitude of its growing GNP ensures that China will have impressive military capabilities. [By 2025, India will be more populous than China.]

-  The United States will be both absolutely and relatively stronger than any other state or combination of states. Although a global competitor to the United States is unlikely to arise over the next 25 years, emerging powers-either singly or in coalition-will increasingly constrain U.S. options regionally and limit its strategic influence. States, terrorists, and other disaffected groups will acquire weapons of mass destruction and mass disruption, and some will use them.  

The West in effect is using international institutions, military power and economic resources to run the world in ways that will maintain Western predominance, protect Western interests and promote Western political and economic values. That at least is the way in which non-Westerners see the new world, and there is a significant element of truth in their view. (Huntington 1993)

Sources of modern conflicts 

- Technological, social, and political change have made the sources of modern conflicts very different from those of the past.

- Foreign crises will be replete with atrocities and the deliberate terrorizing of civilian populations. Interstate wars will occur over the next 25 years, but most violence will erupt from conflicts internal to current territorial states.

- The domain of conflict is moving from earth into space and even into cyberspace [Space will become a critical and competitive military environment.]

- Energy will continue to have major strategic significance... and the location of all key fossil fuel deposits will retain geopolitical. [Policy Implications ? ]

Rising powers have fewer incentives for territorial aggression than they have had throughout most of history because the route to prestige, power, and economic success in the modern era lies in high technology production and human capital.

Economic instruments have grown slightly in importance relative to military ones. Nor do countries aspire to increase their economic production by taking over neighboring software or service industries in the same way that past aggressors coveted agricultural land or raw materials deposits.

Though the chance of war between great powers is less now than at any other time in the 20th century, the price of a mistake at this level would be high. The West inherited a structure of constructive political and economic relations among North America, Western Europe, and Japan, buttressed by security alliances with the United States at the center.
Probability of war

Will the 21st century be even more bloody than the 20th century? A number of critical factors increase the probability of war: poverty linked to unequal access to political power, economic decline, lack of democracy, vicious identity politics in heterogenous states and the struggle to control economic resources, bad governance with high levels of corruption; and the continuing climate of impunity for war criminals.[ Policy Implications ? ]
- Today's world is divided more or less between a zone of democratic peace and a zone of chronic trouble. Will many members of the former world fall away into the latter, or will many members of the latter find their way into the former? And what will be the relationship between the parts of such a divided world? Can a zone of prosperity and relative tranquility remain isolated from the pain, the heartbreak, the refugees, and possibly the diseases of the zone of hardship and turmoil? 

Internal communal conflicts

- The most likely and prevalent future conflicts will be internal communal conflicts over competing identities, territorial claims, and political institutionsCommunal conflicts, which will be a major issue on the international agenda into the 21st century.[ Policy Implications ? ]

- Conflict per se is probably an ineradicable feature of human life. The mere existence of desire and the non-uniformity of desires would seem to indicate the permanence of conflict in a situation where resources and potential outcomes are in limited supply. [ Policy Implications ? ]

- Most of the world's conflicts occur in regions where the neighboring states and regional organizations have the fewest resources to deal with them.[ Policy Implications ? ]

- New wars are often described as internal or civil wars, or as "low-intensity conflict", although most of them involve a myriad of transnational connections. They are increasingly privatized as a result of the growth of organized crime and paramilitary groups. They are best understood in the context of intensifying globalization, as reflected in the presence of international reporters, military advisors, diaspora volunteers, NGOs, and international institutions. They are financed through plunder, the black market, or external assistance.

- A category of states susceptible to communal conflicts includes so-called failed states, which refers in this context to states that either have never had a strong central government, or whose moderately strong central government has been undermined by economic or political developments [ Policy Implications ? ]  By definition, in such states power is contested and political and economic problems provide opportunities for ethnic scapegoating.

- If internal competition result in gross imbalance in the allocation of resources and some ethnic, clan, religious, regionalist and nationalist groups begin to fear for their future and physical safety, a series of dangerous and difficult to resolve strategic dilemmas arise that contain within them the potential for tremendous violence.

- More often than not the common underlying basic factor is the issue of insecurity itself, prompted by the perceived threat of starvation or the prospect of exclusion and fragility through the diminishing access to resources. Some non-renewable resources will disappear forever and even some renewable resources such as drinkable water will become dangerously limited [ Policy Implications ? ]. Erosion and desertification will compel entire populations to move from the areas they inhabit today.

- Another very important change taking place since World War II, is the percentage of civilians, particularly those who are most innocent and most vulnerable to death caused by the ravages of war, older people, children, women, die at a rate of eight or nine to one compared to soldiers at the battle front.

- As a matter of historical record, States have always intervened, overtly or covertly, in the internal conflicts of their neighbours if they see in them a threat to their own security[ Policy Implications ? ]. Their object was always so to manage" the conflict as to secure an outcome favorable to their own interests. Promoting revolution and unrest in a rival state has been a time-honored practice in foreign policy.

Teritorial integrity

- Less than ten percent of the 170 states in today's world are ethnically homogenous. Only half have one ethnic group that accounts for as much as 75 percent of their population. Africa, in particular, is a continent of a thousand ethnic and linguistic groups squeezed into some forty-odd states.[ Policy Implications ? ]

- The incompatibility between the principle of teritorial integrity and that of self-determination was left unresolved, and there was no attempt to create a tribunal to deal with individual cases. Instead, it was left to 'state practice'. That was not a good recipe for world peace.[ Policy Implications ? ]

Decisions about intervention

Creation of sufficient political will to do something about crisis situations remains the most critical factor.[ Policy Implications ? ] 

- Decisions about intervention in communal conflicts pose difficult issues of national interest assessment, morality, ability to respond, leadership, public understanding and support, and ultimately the structure of the international system.

- Whose money and whose kids" is ultimately the key issue in the international and national debates that occur every time resources or forces are needed to respond to conflict.

- For violent communal conflicts deemed not to be a threat to national interests, international intervention by individual states or a coalition, or by the United Nations with its current limited capabilities and resources, will be difficult to generate.[ Policy Implications ? ]

The dialectic between moral obligation and prudential raison d'etat is likely to continue. One problem area is the faltering political will of major countries to address a plethora of confusing international problems, seen in several ways: emergency expenditures eating up development funds within declining foreign assistance budgets, skeptical publics, querulousness toward the UN, and the denial of reality and lack of foresight exhibited by political leadership generally.

- The framework for peacekeeping is set by the distribution of power in the Security Council, which in form still reflected the world as it was half a century ago. 

- The United Nations which is fundamentally no more than a group of nations whose capacity to act effectively is dependent on the will and resources provided by its members. It will continue to be difficult to generate effective intervention by individual states, a coalition, or the United Nations for dealing with violent communal conflicts deemed not to be a threat to national interests.

Evolution of the concepts 

-  The proliferation of internal conflicts and complex emergencies have led to an important evolution of the concepts of development and security and the relationship between them. Previously, they tended to be more narrowly defined and treated as largely separate realms. Now, as we perceive them more broadly we also are inclined to recognize their close interaction, that they are in fact interwoven. Development is now understood less exclusively as a technical matter isolated from other conditions and events in societies which need it and more as an organic part of security, political, social, humanitarian and environmental matters.[ Policy Implications ? ]

New actors 

 Besides the traditional players - the nation state and the international organizations - the global stage is becoming ever more crowded, the "script" more complex and diversified, and the instruments for action more varied. The combination of all makes the "concert of nations" more cacophonous and concertation, if not consensus, ever more demanding if not outright impossible. The number of actors, issues and means has substantially increased. The break-up of the three more or less artificial "federations (the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia) is largely responsible for adding some twenty new-old states to the international community; the OSCE alone has grown from 35 to presently 53 members. 

Soft power

  With major wars - or war in general - becoming a less and less promising or at least useful option for foreign policy, states look for other means to pursue their interests. We thus note a clear shift from "hard", what is now called "soft power". 

War without dead soldiers

The philosophy underlying such an assumption, namely "war without dead soldiers", is, even from a humanitarian point of view, questionable in general, and for a superpower in particular. It leads to a slippery road. It conveys the idea that war can be turned into hardly more than a technical enterprise, available only to the technologically most advanced countries.

A new divide between "war capables" and "war incapables" could induce the latter, i.e. the poorer and technologically less advanced countries, to look for alternatives. These can be found with those weapons that are within reach technically and more affordable financially. Chemical and biological weapons are amongst them.


Over the past 80 years there have emerged literally thousands of research institutes, non-governmental organisations, university courses and web sites that focus upon conflict prevention and resolution over a range of issues and on many different levels of analysis. 

Still unresolved classical debates, including the inherent nature of man, the structural nature of violence, and the pursuit of power as a dominant determinant of conflict. Politicians, members of the diplomatic community, academics, non-governmental agencies and church groups, have all developed their own theories about social conflict[ Policy Implications ? ]

Realism versus idealisme

Foreign policy can be approached from these two different standpoints of realism and idealism,  reflecting on the one hand the struggle for power, on the other the search for international order(...). Is the security of states should be increasingly law-based, collective, and institutionalized or left to the vagaries of the balance of power?  

One perspective is an acceptance of the inevitability of conflict, violence and lust for power. The human race is seen as a catalogue of divergent, dichotomous, and competitive groups doomed to perpetrate endless acts of violence upon itself. A second perspective, more closely associated with the ideology of idealism and held largely by multilateral and non-governmental organisations as well as by a select group of scholars, diplomats and practitioners, is much more positive, rejecting, as it does, the notion of inherent aggression and embracing the concept that humanity can create conditions of peace and stability. The philosophy underlying this particular set of principles has inspired a broad range of innovative peacekeeping and conflict resolution approaches and methodologies(...). Whilst important achievements have been accomplished, the overall track record is uneven (... ) But conflict is on the rise throughout the world and the impotence of international organisations to reverse this trend is glaringly apparent.

The realist tradition in foreign policy is certainly the most visible, the most enduring tradition. Historically, it is the way that states have behaved. And this is still mainly the way that governments reason and plan (...) The absence of a governing authority outside the sovereign state created an anarchy resembling "the state of nature," which underlies the still prevalent skepticism about the very possibility of international law.
The moral approach, asserting the primacy of justice, law and right, the belief that there is some overarching standard beyond national interest by which foreign policy can and should be judged, may be of growing influence. [ Policy Implications ? ]

The growth of international ethical norms : It has been expressed and formalised in treaties, multilateral or bilateral, and eventually, more ambitiously, extended to the creation of international institutions, the League of Nations, then the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, the Declaration of Human Rights and so on... And governmental organisations have been supplemented by a great network of non-governmental organisations. All these have in their various ways filled the middle ground between realists and utopians...

States are no longer the sole subjects of international law and the impermeability of states, the doctrine that what a state does within its own frontiers is strictly its own business, is being eroded..
And side by side with the new internationalism, we have a growing reluctance on the part of the great powers, particularly America (...) For the U.S., to protect widespread interests and exercise such authority is more important than to uphold treaties or other constraining obligations, although some writers on international relations have started to emphasize the importance of normative reputation to the successful exercise of the hegemonic role (...). All this means that a foreign policy of a purely amoral, Machiavellian variety, the kind of policy the press in their more imaginative moments love to attribute to governments, would not be practicable even if there were ministers and officials sufficiently irresponsible to try to apply it.

There are important trends present, as well. The growing complexity and interdependence of international life push toward the establishment of regulatory frameworks. A growing number of organisations, foundations, institutions, and individuals embrace a more positive world view regarding social conflict. They assert that violence is not necessarily an inescapable result of human interaction. 

There can be no global security in any of its dimensions without the ascendancy of the rule of law worldwide.[ Policy Implications ? ] 

Planetary interest

Loyalty to a world community is not yet powerful enough to override patriotic national concerns. Today, the core re-framing challenge is testing the capacity of international law to deal satisfactorily with the increasingly prominent global village features of world order. 

The two concepts of the "planetary interest" and the "legitimate national interest" are also closely aligned with a new concept emerging in customary international law, namely the "international public interest".  It will take an intellectual effort, to make a change of perspective in relation to the social organisation of the world. This involves transferring the notional centre of gravity of international society from the level of the state system to the level of humanity, from the level of the separate national territories to the level of the whole Earth. So long as international society lacks any conception of the public interest of international society as a whole, its social process will remain vestigial and primitive." Thus the need for a new concept terms the "international public interest".

The Greater Near East

World Oil scarcity

The Greater Near East is the site of the world's largest supply of fossil fuels and a place where several ambitious powers actively seek regional hegemony. The Greater Near East is appreciated in the West as a region of great importance but also great trouble.[ Policy Implications ? ]
Japan, Europe, India, China, and most of developing East Asia will remain heavily dependent on oil and natural gas from this region. Chinese dependence on both Persian Gulf and Caspian Basin oil and gas will grow sharply (...). Extra-regional influences might alter the course of regional engagement for the worse. Such forces, consisting mainly of the United States, Russia, Japan, China, Turkey, and the EU, might engage in sharp competition over regional energy resources and political loyalties, leading local states to act recklessly and violently.

Water resources

There is a specific cause for concern in the coming conflicts over water resources. Such conflicts are particularly likely between Turkey on the one hand and Syria and Iraq on the other, and also potentially among Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. [ Policy Implications ? ]

Number of wars

The number of wars, small and not-so-small, that even reasonably sanguine analysts may justifiably expect to see in this region over the next 25 years is large.[ Policy Implications ? ] Avoiding major warfare and the occasional violent regime collapse will not be easy over the next 25 years. There are many pitfalls along the way.  More than one major regional war will probably occur, causing a deterioration of the general regional security environment, and making it more difficult for any power or combination of powers to moderate political enmities and minimize local arms races... Episodic social unrest, religious violence, and ethnic conflict could characterize the domestic conditions of several states in the region.

Military spending

The Greater Near East will remain heavily armed, and could be the region where the majority of  new nuclear states emerge. Iran and Iraq are real possibilities. Other states, too, such as Egypt, Syria, Libya, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Morocco are keeping their options open, even while remaining parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Prospects also exist for states and terrorist groups in the region to acquire chemical and biological weapons.

Arab-Israeli conflict 
The last stages of the Arab-Israeli conflict could finally be set to rest with an agreement that creates a semi-independent Palestinian state. Peace would not be warm, and not all Palestinians or Israelis would be reconciled to the compromises involved


The total figure for the military spending of the United States during the period between 1940 and 1996-approximately 18700 bn dollars, 5,500 bn of which was for nuclear weapons and the comparable costs for the former Soviet Union during the same period, it is clear that the full century cost would aggregate well beyond 60,000 bn dollars [ More than 800 bn dollars spent annually on war preparations, dominating government and civilian priorities, wasting money and resources, and subverting the world's scientific talents ]

 Proliferation:  Nuclear, Smart weapons technology, Biological, and Chemical ... 

A range of new weapon technologies opens new ways and changed the character of warfare. Chemical and biological weapons are widely considered to be the terror weapons in future conflicts [ Policy Implications ? ] . Smart weapons technology has had exponential growth both in quantity and quality.  

The nuclear non-proliferation regime has suffered major blows as a result of clandestine nuclear weapon programmes. The objective of nuclear non-proliferation is not helped by the fact that the nuclear weapon states continue to insist that those weapons in their hands enhance security, while in the hands of others they are a threat to world peace ...

A decision by the United States to proceed with its controversial national missile defence system (NMD) could trigger a huge build-up of nuclear arms by China and Russia and increase nuclear proliferation on the Indian subcontinent.

Recent US proliferation analyses have tended to converge on a figure of at least 20 to 25 countries that have or may be developing nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, or their missile delivery systems. The double event of multiple nuclear tests by India and Pakistan reminded the world that the Pandora box of nuclear proliferation is still open... One may not be surprised if the number of Asian nuclear powers rises to eight by 2020 with North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan joining the Asian nuclear club.

Some 35,000 nuclear weapons remain in the arsenals of the nuclear powers, with thousands still deployed on hair-trigger alert.

Advances in biotechnology are increasing the potential threat posed by biological weapons, while negotiations on a verification regime for the Biological Weapons Convention are being unnecessarily prolonged. Incidents of terrorism with chemical and biological weapons are unlikely to occur, but governments cannot ignore the threat and must develop balanced policies in order to avoid a climate in which hoaxes become as efficient for terrorists as the actual use of chemical and biological weapons [Biological Weapons: Malignant Biology ]

Nuclear energy production and Chemical has unsolved wastes disposal problems.

Air Force

The 21st century Air Force which will be enabled will hardly be similar to the Air Force of today. The changes will be as profound as those experienced by the Army in moving from horse to tank or by the Navy in converting from sail to steam. 

There will be a mix of inhabited and uninhabited aircraft. Explosive weapons will be substantially more accurate than those of today, and explosive effectiveness per unit mass will be higher by at least a factor of ten than those of today. The use of "information munitions" in offensive operations will become an essential component of warfare. The future Force will, eventually, contain space, ground, and airborne weapons that can project photon energy, kinetic energy and information against space and ground assets.[ The goal of precision mapping should be to equip each aircraft and planning system with a map of the entire world to one meter accuracy...]

Today, the rise of long-range engagements and precision weaponry means that smaller-in fact, minute-numbers of highly trained specialists actually operate weapons. One after another, major powers have abandoned conscription...

Small arms
Yet there is still no global non-proliferation regime to limit their spread.
Much of the cold war's small arms surplus finished up in the world's most dangerous conflict zones and, as the number of weapons in circulation increased, their price declined, making access to them ever easier even in the poorest countries. In parts of Africa in the mid-1990s, for example, deadly assault rifles could be bought for the price of a chicken or a bag of maize. [ Policy Implications ? ] 

Military spending
Military expenditure increased in many regions during 1999. This came after a long period of declining military spending that largely coincided with the post-cold war period. Total world military expenditure increased by 2.1% in real terms in 1999 and amounted to roughly $780 billion. [Global military spending has declined from $1.2 trillion in 1985 ]. This is almost one-third less than in 1990, but represents 2.6% of world GNP. The rise in military expenditure in 1999 is primarily the result of increases in major spender countries, including the USA, France, Russia and China.
The total value of world arms production reached an estimated $ 200 billion. These figures reflect only major weapon systems. Most wars, however, are fought with light arms or small arms. Some 500 million military-type small arms are believed to be in circulation worldwide .

At $305 billion, the U.S. military budget  is more than five times larger than that of Russia, the second largest spender. It is more than twenty-two times as large as the combined spending of the seven countries traditionally identified by the Pentagon as adversaries (Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria). The United States and its close allies spend more than the rest of the world combined, accounting for 63% of all military spending. Together they spend over thirty times more than the seven "rogue" states.
China, asserts the need modestly to increase its military capability in light of what it calls the further development of hegemonism and power politics: a clear reference to the US.

Arms transfers

Two-thirds of the weapons were sold to developing nations. [ Policy Implications ? ] 
 Many of  weapons accumulated during of the Cold War were transferred, either free or at a reduced price, to third countries.[ Policy Implications ? ] Such spill-over effect of arms reduction finds its prolongation in the excessive and almost unlimited arms sales to many regions of the world.

The US increased its share of the world market to 49.1% in 1999, compared with 47.6% a year earlier. The UK was the second-largest exporter with 18.7% of the market and France was third with 12.4%.
The generally dominant position of the USA is reflected in its position as the major arms supplier, accounting in 1995-99 for almost as much as all other suppliers combined. Like McDonald's and Coca-Cola, American arms have penetrated the world market.

On the basis of government and industry reports, SIPRI estimated the global financial value of the international arms trade in 1998 to be in the range of $35-$49 billion. In 1999 six of the main recipients of weapons from the major suppliers were involved in major armed conflicts .

Rough estimates for 1996 show that the 10 largest arms-producing countries in the world accounted for almost 90% of world arms production (excluding China). 
The arms sales of the top 100 arms-producing companies in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and developing countries (excluding China), at $156 billion in 1997, represented more than three-quarters of total world arms production.

Analysing Conflicts

Motivation [Competition for resources ]

Conflict is inherent to the human condition and can be a powerful catalyst for change and progress. Violent conflict, however, is fundamentally destructive in nature even when it changes the status quo for the better.

Both individuals and leaders of collectivities always have choices about the courses of action they undertake, and the decision to engage in conflict (of which violent conflict is a small sub-set) is taken on the grounds that given the available strategic options in relation to goals and resources the conflict/violent conflict option is the perceived best means. [ Policy Implications ? ] 

 In all societies there are groups with grievances, real or imagined, willing to resort to violence in the pursuit of their objectives.

Violent conflict has diverse roots, including competition over resources, territory, political control or social status. And increasingly it is taking place within, rather than between, states.
Wars have become more economic in motive and strategy as ideology and nationalism have diminished [ Policy Implications ? ].

State weakness is a necessary precondition for violent ethnic conflict to erupt. 

By itself, ethnicity is not a cause of violent conflict. Most ethnic groups, most of the time, pursue their interests peacefully through established political channels [ Policy Implications ? ] . But when linked with acute social uncertainty and, indeed, fear of what the future might bring, ethnicity emerges as one of the major fault lines along which societies fracture.

Ethnic conflict is caused by the "
fear of the future, lived through the past." Fear of the future can take many forms : fear assimilation into a dominant culture, fear for their physical safety and survival.. When such fears of physical insecurity emerge, violence can and often does erupt... [ Policy Implications ? ]

Human behavior
20 years ago researchers learned that one aspect of this shared behavior is the proclivity of adult male chimps to attack, maim and kill other adult male chimpanzees whom they discover near their territory. Like gangsters during Prohibition or bounty hunters in the Wild West, male chimpanzees will organize raiding parties to seek out isolated members of other chimpanzee bands and then move in for the kill.

 In ways that eerily suggest human behavior, life for male chimpanzees is a continual jockeying for status and power(...) Aggressive genetic strategies acquired over millions of years are slow to fade away.

The real "causall" question  is not why so many young males act so violently. The real causal question is how so many cultures manage through initiation, intimidation, sublimation, bribery, education, work, and superstition to stop them and divert their energy elsewhere. [ Policy Implications ? ]

Treating violence as normal, and not as a disease, might in fact help us, paradoxically, to control it better in the end.

More scarcity... more conflicts

Environmental scarcity [ population growth, unequal resource access, decrease in quality and quantity of renewable resources ]
"In coming decades, the world will probably see a steady increase in the incidence of conflict that is caused, at least in part, by environmental scarcity." 

Developing countries are likely to be affected sooner and more severely than developed countries, because they are much more dependent on environmental goods and services for their economic well-being, they often lack resources to buffer themselves from scarcities, their economic and political institutions tend to be fragile and riven with discord, and they are probably less able to apprehend, prevent, or adapt to environmental problems [ Policy Implications ? ].

 In coming decades, environmental scarcity could plausibly produce five types of violent conflict: 1) disputes arising from local environmental degradation (dam construction, logging, factory emissions); 2) ethnic clashes arising from population migration and social cleavages; 3) civil strife that affects economic productivity; 4) scarcity-induced interstate war (e.g., over water); 5) North-South conflicts over global environmental problems (global warming, declining fishstocks, biodiversity threats) [ Policy Implications ? ].

In the 21st century, more and more armed conflicts in geopolitically important regions may feature the "water weapon" being used as a strategic instrument of wartime coercion, thus fostering new types of military tactics, targets, and operational concepts.... 

Competition for scarce resources typically lies at the heart of ethnic conflict. Property rights, jobs, scholarships, educational admissions, language rights, government contracts, and development allocations all confer particular benefits on individuals and groups. Whether finite in supply or not, all such resources are scarce and, thus, objects ofcompetition and occasionally struggle between individuals and, when organized, groups.[ Policy Implications ? ]

Politics matter, in turn, because governments control access to scarce resources and the future income streams that flow from them. Individuals and groups that possess political power can often gain privileged access to these resources and, thus, increase their welfare. Because it sets the terms of competition between groups, the state itself becomes an object of group competition [ Policy Implications ? ].

Politics under conditions of extreme scarcity contributes to a win/lose mentality in which ethnic representatives seek favorable inclusion in the state-even domination-in order to avoid the risks of marginalization. Diminishing resources increase competition between groups as they struggle to attain their goals(...) Substantive competition over land and other resources combined with symbolic hurts from past humiliations and denials of group status to contribute to highly destructive outcomes.

Civil wars are more often fuelled by rebel groups competing with national governments for control of diamonds, coffee, and other valuable primary commodities, rather than by political, ethnic, or religious differences.  [ Policy Implications ? ]

Civil wars create economic opportunities for a minority of actors even as they destroy them for the majority. 

Danger of civil war 

The higher is the level of per capita income, the lower is the risk of violent conflict (...) In the past fifteen years, about fifteen of the world's twenty poorest countries have experienced violent conflict. About half of the world's low income countries are either engaged in conflict or are in the process of transition from conflict.

In the 1990s about seventy million of the world's poor have been displaced from their homes as a result of conflict. In Africa, alone, about one-third of the countries have produced refugees.
Multiple ethnic groups

If the society is composed of multiple ethnic groups one of which constitutes a majority - `ethnic dominance' - the risk is increased  . Controlling for ethnic dominance, the less heterogeneous is the society in respect of ethnicity and religion, the higher is its risk of conflict. Geography also affects the risk of conflict. The more geographically dispersed is the population, and the more mountainous the terrain, the higher is the risk of conflict. The briefer is the period since the previous conflict, the higher is the risk of renewed conflict.

Societies in which the largest ethnic group has between 45% and 80% of the population have around double the risk of conflict of other societies. Presumably, this is because such societies have both the power and the incentive to exploit their minorities [ Policy Implications ? ].

Violent conflict occurs "when an ethnic bloc may be sufficient in size to permanently exclude others from the exercise of power."
The danger of civil war arises when the society is polarised into two groups. Polarised societies have around a 50 % higher probability of civil war than either homogeneous or highly fractionalised societies.  [ Policy Implications ? ]

Pattern of grievances
`Bad' or deteriorating policies most obviously might intensify grievance, but even good, or improving policies, by limiting the opportunities of powerful groups to extract rents, might heighten some grievances [ Policy Implications ? ].

Opportunities for natural resource predation cause conflict, and that the grievances which this generates induce diasporas to finance further conflict.
Conflict is often due not to the defensive security needs of ethnic groups but rather to the "predatory" goals of their leaders [ Policy Implications ? ].

Young people-laborforce

Young people in several poor countries are now being socialized in social systems created by war. These systems give rise to greater poverty and inequality, which in turn increase crime and violence. As a result, we have witnessed the tripling of homicides in Sub-Saharan Africa in the 1980s and during the 1990s we saw an explosion of civil wars, during which civilian war-related deaths as a percentage of all war-related deaths increased to 90% .

As with the government, in recruiting its laborforce the rebel organization presumably faces costs which are related to per capita income in the society.

Since the beginning of the decade, there has been a spectacular increase in mercenary operations in all continents. This trend is the result of a sizeable growth in available manpower, following the end of the Cold War and of apartheid. Simultaneously, the collapse of a number of states, in Africa and elsewhere, has caused a virtual explosion in demand for mercenary expertise, either from political leaders, or from organisations, from corporations, charities or, in some cases, the mafia, which want to work - at any price - in these zones of high instability.[ Policy Implications ? ]

Civil war requires a large rebel organization, and such an enterprise needs revenue both to purchase arms and to meet a payroll [ Policy Implications ? ]
The warlord strategy is made possible by a convergence of internal and international factors. Internally, the cost of running a war in Africa has plummeted. The continent is flooded with cheap small arms from the arsenals of Cold War clients, supplemented by discounted exports from the former Soviet bloc. In conditions of extreme poverty, any organization that offers regular meals can easily recruit men or kidnap children as fighters. Internationally, warlords can thrive with little military discipline, using drugged child soldiers, and committing random violence, only because they have little reason to fear ever facing an organized military force. [ Policy Implications ? ]

Societies differ in the opportunities they provide for rebel financing. Extortion of primary commodity exporters is an important source of rebel revenue and abundant case study evidence supports this assumption [ Policy Implications ? ].

Depuis la fin de la guerre froide, les groupes politiques armés ont perdus à la fois leurs soutients idéologiques et logistiques et doivent maintenant trouver des modes de financement autonomes, ce qui les amène de plus en plus à croiser des groupes criminels.

War and money: this dangerous twosome are not only at the root of much suffering, their intricate relationship can also be a source of regeneration. The impact of business in war zones [ Policy Implications ? ], the arrival of the new war economies and the emergence of a competitive sea of humanitarian actors are just some of the developments currently shaping the humanitarian response to armed conflicts.

Les liens entre les auteurs-bénéficaires de la violence et les différents secteurs du système économique mondial existe. L'or du Maniéma, les diamants de Kisangani, ou de la vallée de la Kwango en Angola, ainsi que ceux des zones rebelles en Sierra Leone transitent par des circuits mondiaux qui ont leurs acheteurs jusque dans les coins les plus reculés d'Afrique.[ Policy Implications ? ].

There are several routes by which aid can affect the risk of conflict, but the most direct one is that aid augments the government budget.[ Policy Implications ? ] While most aid is linked to specific projects, many of these projects would otherwise have been funded out of government revenue and so release that revenue for other government priorities, a phenomenon termed `fungibility'. A large empirical literature has established that fungibility is substantial, and that a reasonable approximation is that aid simply relaxes the government budget constraint.

If the face of war is determined primarily by the political-military strategies chosen by warriors, then other international inputs can be understood as contributing to the context for that strategic choice. Humanitarianism structured the context within which warriors selected their strategies. [ Policy Implications ? ]
Foreign aid typically supplied a large proportion of the government resources available to maintain political support.

All classes of potential interveners-superpower, former colonial power, or regional power-when acting for humanitarian goals rather than national interests, lack either the political determination or the military capacity to accomplish the task. 

Violence terroriste et terreur étatique 

À cette logique de l'auto-reproduction en-soi et pour-soi de la violence au service des nouveaux seigneurs de la guerre, correspond celle des États eux-même qui ont modifié leur façon de recourir à la violence, de sorte qu'il est difficile de distinguer la violence terroriste de la terreur étatique... Les États font de plus en plus appel à des mercenaires, comme en témoigne le succès d'entreprises comme Military Professionals.[ Policy Implications ? ] 

In the realm of low-intensity conflict, there are also reasons to expect more urban conflict in the future [ Policy Implications ? ]
The squalid living conditions that exist in the rings of slums that now surround many large Third World cities are becoming a fairly permanent condition. These areas are where many of the recent migrants live, and their desperate straits could prove to be fertile ground for radical and revolutionary groups that seek new recruits in their battle against the existing regime.

External actors  [ Secrets wars, Money, Corruption ]

USA [ Secrets wars] [ covert operations ]

 James Doolittle explaining in a secret 1954 report to President Eisenhower why CIA covert operations were needed and what they entailed. "Hitherto acceptable norms of human conduct do not apply," Doolittle wrote. "If the United States is to survive, long-standing American concepts of 'fair play' must be reconsidered. We must develop effective espionage and counterespionage services and must learn to subvert, sabotage and destroy our enemies by more clever, more sophisticated, and more effective methods than those used against us. It may become necessary that the American people be made acquainted with, understand and support this fundamentally repugnant philosophy."
While Eisenhower and later presidents did implement the first part of Doolittle's recommendation -- ordering covert actions around the world -- they finessed the latter. Rather than explain the choices to the American people, U.S. leaders dropped a cloak of state secrecy around "this fundamentally repugnant philosophy." 
[ Policy Implications ? ] 

Technique of destabilization :[ The enemy of my enemy is my friend ]
 You have a target: a government that you don't like. You pick a country you're going to go after. The reasons are quite whimsical. We go after a country for a while, and if it doesn't work, sometimes we wind up being friends with them. They pick a government. They target them. They send the CIA in with its resources and its activists: hiring people, hiring agents to tear apart the social and economic fabric of the country. It's a technique for putting pressure on the government, hoping they can make the government come to the U.S.'s terms, or that the government will collapse altogether and they can engineer a coup d'etat, and have the thing wind up with their own choice of people in power. 

Secrets and democracy [ Policy Implications ? ] 
If there are always going to be secrets, then power is always going to reside with the people who keep the secrets. Secrets are antithetical to democracy.  Until the agency fully declassifies the history of its bloody activities, the real danger will remain the secrecy and impunity of its covert conduct -- past, present and future.

In many respects, we now live in a society that is only formally democratic [ Policy Implications ? ], as the great mass of citizens have minimal say on the major public issues of the day, and such issues are scarcely debated at all in any meaningful sense in the electoral arena, (...) In our society, corporations and the wealthy enjoy a power every bit as immense as that assumed to have been enjoyed by the lords and royalty of feudal times [ Policy Implications ? ].

In the old Middle Ages, the process was more straightforward. The serfs were kept illiterate and the secrets were kept by a small circle of courtiers. Today, the methods must be more subtle. Real information must be degraded by mixing in propaganda and disinformation, so many people have no idea who to trust and what to believe.

Business interests
National interventionist policies tend to reflect competing business interests[ Policy Implications ? ] within and between nations, even as politicians pretend that strategic interests are paramount.

America has interests in Africa, and has pursued them with a variety of military activities over the past decade. What is much less clear is whether or not the military ventures articulate well with each other, or harmonize with the diplomatic, economic and informational instruments of America's regional policy. Not readily apparent to the average American is the large degree to which the United States uses its military establishment to pursue its African interests.[ Policy Implications ? ] 
Current U.S. law allows the distribution to selected foreign countries of some materiel declared excess to U.S. military requirements. ... The material is provided free of cost or at very nominal cost (...). It is not difficult for Africans to suspect that the U.S. simply is "dumping" unwanted materiel at their expense [ Policy Implications ? ] .

Since 1996 have a significant number of states been drawn into interstate warfare-initiated, ironically, by some of America's best friends in the region, the "New Leaders" of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, and Uganda.


The predominant strategies of internal conflict have shifted from military coup in the 1960s [Between 1965 and 1970, there were 50 coups across the continent ], to protracted war in the 1970s and 1980s, to warlordism in the 1990s(....) [ Policy Implications ? ] Conflicts during the Cold War, characterised by ideological oppositions and the support of the major blocs, were succeeded by many forms of guerrilla warfare, to a greater extent taking place between Africans after the withdrawal of the major powers. 

Expansion and splitting up of conflicts in Africa
In 2000, 20% of the African population and 14 countries are involved in war. Africa's risk of civil war has increased in recent years. It is almost 50% higher in 1980-98 as compared to the entire period (40 years) [Policy Implications ? ]. Wars in Africa are on average relatively short and they tend to be among the bloodiest. They are therefore the most intense civil wars in terms of casualties per unit of time.

 Almost every low income country shares at least one border with a country in conflict if it is not embroiled in its own conflict. Forty four percent of the states ranked in the bottom half of the HDI in 1999 experienced war on their territories during the previous decade, while only 15 percent of states listed in the top half of the HDI had been so afflicted.

 Instability has come in a variety of forms: intrastate crises; state failures and protracted civil wars. All of these types of conflict may well continue through the first part of the 21st century. Together with rising domestic crime in many states and the increasing prevalence of transnational problems such as narcotics and money laundering, they clearly pose serious security challenges to all African states. 

The increase in the numbers of conflict zones in Africa is also the result of the resurgence of ethnic, religious or nationalist identities, the failure of legally constituted states and collapsing sovereignties, the interference of regional and international powers and a globalisation of international criminal organisations [Policy Implications ? ] Guerrilla wars depend on external support, preying on external production or assistance or on the capture of natural resources.

Analysts thus see a trend in which the willingness and energy to fight in civil wars are much more prominently linked to immediate economic goals[ Policy Implications ? ] , even though the discourse of political grievance prevails.

New actors 

In the unpredictable political milieu engendered by the end of the Cold War, several highly skilled military specialists were made redundant and disengaged unto an unsuspecting free market(... ) The growing importance of private security companies (PSC) and their role in the conflicts of the developing world are steadily becoming central to contemporary analyses of transformed mercenaries in African conflicts(...) Mercenaries are attracted to Africa's depressingly large market for violence [ Policy Implications ? ]. Gradually, mercenaries have moved from the periphery of international politics into the corporate boardroom, and have almost attained legal status.

 The market for skilled private soldiers is still strong. And while the clients include ruthless dictators, morally depraved rebels and drug cartels, they also include legitimate sovereign states, respected multinational corporations, humanitarian NGOs and even Western embassies.

Africa has the military capability to sustain endless wars, but lacks the military capability to end them.


The idea that the enemy of my enemy is my friend has a long history in Africa as regimes often offer support and sanctuary to armed groups fighting an unfriendly neighbour.
As the African security environment has evolved, some African states have broken with the tradition of eschewing direct intervention in their neighbours' affairs. While bloody disputes over colonially drawn borders have been less frequent than might have been expected, such conflicts have taken place and have recently grown in frequency and scale. ..

By the autumn of 1998, a number of African states were involved in the DRC conflict in one way or the other. The result has been Africa's first "great war." But it may not be the last. History may show that the DRC was the first of many conflicts arising from the emergence of a new, post-Cold War geostrategic configuration in Africa. The Congo conflict, which now involves more than eight African countries, has become Africa's own `First World War'. It clearly holds the potential of plunging that entire sub-region into a war.

The weakening of respect for the existing territorial state system in sub-Saharan Africa could trigger civil wars in as many as half a dozen African states. 
Ethnic diversity
Africa (especially Sub-Saharan Africa) includes the most ethnically diverse countries than any other region in the world. Paradoxically, Africa's high degree of ethnic diversity, which is widely blamed for causing violent conflict, is a source of safety for the most heterogeneous countries.[ Policy Implications ? ]

While urbanization strains the capacity of government to deliver services, it can also be a crucial element in the building of national identity. When people leave their regions, they leave the pull of clan and tribal authority behind as well. While tribal groups tend to live in certain districts of cities, in time they tend to mix together far more thoroughly than is possible in rural areas. ..

Nature of political power
The nature of political power in many African States, together with the real and perceived consequences of capturing and maintaining power, is a key source of conflict across the continent. It is frequently the case that political victory assumes a `winner-takes-all' form with respect to wealth and resources, patronage, and the prestige and prerogatives of office [ Policy Implications ? ].

Water scarcity
A zone of relative water scarcity with major security issues is the Nile River region in northeastern Africa [ Policy Implications ? ]
Natural resource exports

Africa is highly dependent on natural resource exports, which may be looted by rebels to sustain their rebellion (...).[ Policy Implications ? ] 

Recruits for rebellion
The fact that young men in Africa are very poor and not educated substantially increases the risk of civil conflict. Globally, young males are the best recruits for rebellion, and if they have little to lose they are more likely to enlist..

AIDS epidemic 

 High crime levels in several African countries and the continent's numerous conflicts will worsen in coming years as the AIDS epidemic leaves a trail of poverty-stricken orphans in its wake. From a crime and security point of view, AIDS is seen as a huge concern in the future. It will contribute significantly to crime levels because you will have wave after wave of orphaned kids who will be vulnerable to abuse or who may have to turn to crime to survive

An army of orphans will not only lead to high crime levels: it may well spark a proliferation of child soldiers and roving gangs, leading to the collapse of state structures and pushing several African countries into Somalia-style anarchy.

The severe social and economic impact of infectious diseases is likely to intensify the struggle for political power to control scarce state resources. The relationship between disease and political instability is indirect but real. A wide-ranging study on the causes of state instability (as revolutionary wars, ethnic wars, genocides, and disruptive regime transitions) suggests that infant mortality and dramatic declines in life expectancy correlates strongly with political instability, particularly in countries that already have achieved a measure of democracy. [ Policy Implications ? ] 

African defence budgets
The pattern of state failure followed by outside intervention is likely to cause wild fluctuations in African defence budgets unless some effective method for regional conflict resolution and peacekeeping emerges. Military expenditure in Africa has been increasing since 1997 after a relatively long period of decline. The costs and methods of financing armed conflict vary but usually involve legal or illegal appropriation of national resources outside the official defence budget.[ Policy Implications ? ]

Sub-Saharan Africa Military expenditure in Africa has been increasing since 1997, primarily because of the armed conflicts in the region.  An effort to curb the illegal trade in diamonds, a major source of income for some rebel groups particularly in Sierra Leone and Angola, is being led by Western governments. This is unlikely to have a short-term impact on the flow of cheap small arms, but it could significantly influence the calculations of leaders [ Policy Implications ? ]  of armed groups who profit most from the diamond trade. 

Conflict prevention organisations 
Networks of conflict prevention organisations have recently sprung up in large numbers in Africa.[ Policy Implications ? ] 
More external and internal funds are going toward management and resolution of conflicts, emergency relief and reconstruction instead of toward sustainable development programs that is one of the surest ways to build a solid foundation for long-term peace in a society as well as between societies.

Pessimistic futures
The overall challenges for Africa are clearly daunting. Looking out to 2025, a number of pessimistic futures are not difficult to envision. Things might not come together, but fly further apart. Such adverse outcomes would, of course, represent an enormous waste of Africa's human and natural resources. 

It is not at all clear whether sub-Saharan Africa's future will turn out to be bright or tenebrous. It could well be mixed, with some states achieving their goals of peace, prosperity, and cultural renaissance, while others descend into the pit of bad government and social decay.

Former colonial power - French political culture and African policy

Bonds of a simultaneously economic, monetary, military, linguistic nature, testify to an intense and almost fused relation between France and Africa. Some see in it the manifestation of a neo-colonialism with theoretical foundations drawing upon the imperialist model. Others see in it the illustration of the realism that governs any international relations. Yet others insist on the often private and personalised nature of the bonds instituted between the metropolis and its old colonies: the relation between state and state would fade in the face of patrimonial logic whose famous networks would constitute the cornerstone [ Policy Implications ? ] (...) Africa is the guarantor of France's standing in the world (...) Being a quasi-vital necessity to ensure France's rank,  Africa is at the same time absent from considerations and thinking related to French foreign policy.
Through a range of means, such as the CFA franc, military agreements, and others, France installed a mechanism of shared sovereignty [ Policy Implications ? ]  which, in many ways, can be analysed as a questioning of the independence of states. "Africa is the only continent where with five hundred men France can claim to make History." 

France is returned to the second rank, together with seven or eight states which certainly have considerable resources to affirm themselves, but cannot compete with the US, the only one that has all the constituent factors of power at its disposal.

France's utilitarian African policy was obliged to support new emerging markets that correspond with possible future power centres. In this respect, South Africa represents the most promising actor, with Nigeria offering fewer guarantees because of the divisions which affect its internal political system. In terms of comparative advantages, Francophone Africa does not seem the most attractive, as it is not the best equipped in terms of demographics and economic dynamics. The setting-up of a `priority zone of solidarity' makes this break official by extending the French system to the whole of Africa.

Regional power- African military involvement in the affairs of neighbouring states 

Since independence, the world has seen the legitimisation of African military involvement in the affairs of neighbouring states, either through the transfer of arms, support or acquiescence to neighbouring dissidents, direct invasion or raids. While the academic discourse is dominated by the repetition of the fallacy that conflict in Africa has become more intrastate than interstate in character, the opposite is true. On a continent characterised by soft and unclear borders within which state control often does not extend beyond the end of urban sprawl, military and political interference in the affairs of neighbouring countries is often the norm [ Policy Implications ? ].

Corporate-military business ventures in neighbouring countries have been created for the financial benefit of military officers and other cronies of state leaders, rendering the military apparatus a commercial asset.[ Policy Implications ? ] This new trend of privatising state security can be termed military commercialism whereby military mandates have been altered to suit the financial criteria of generals and their politician business partners.

The creation of a beneficial triangular relationship between a weak sovereign, mining companies and a highly armed PMC is apparently no longer the domain of the private sector. Increasingly, formal commercial ventures through troop deployment to a country such as the DRC suggests that African states are seeking viable business opportunities through external deployment, much like the previous involvement of Executive Outcomes in countries such as Angola and Sierra Leone.[ Policy Implications ? ]

 With the African security crisis far from over and an increasing reliance on African responses to the continent's problems, it must be questioned whether this is a new trend for relatively stronger states competing over the resources of their fragmented neighbours.[ Policy Implications ? ] A dangerous trend develops when the soldiers are conducting the exploitation at the behest of despotic sovereigns attempting to strengthen or sustain their regimes and feed their systems of patronage.[ Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo ]

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