A comprehensive study on civil war: models and real cases
The history of ethnic civil war consists of ethnic fragmentation appeared along the societal path to globalization. Over time, human enabled a comprehensive study of variables and motives in attempt to theorize a historical pattern of civil war. Two important models, one constructed by Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler, and the other by James Fearon and David Laitin, provided hypothesis of the causes of civil war based on social, economic and political measurements. However, as Horowitz states, “a bloody phenomenon cannot be explained by a bloodless theory”, civil conflict can never be concluded to a certain pattern; despite the general ...view middle of the document...
A large population density also directs to less individual share of resources, and a highly dispersed population incurs regional fractionalization. Rwanda, which underwent two civil wars in 1963 and 1990, has one of the highest population densities in Africa.
On the other hand, Fearon and Laitin concentrated on state capacity in building their model to predict the risk of war. They concluded civil war as the consequence of a weak central government; variables that measure state capacity, particularly instability, poverty and population, were selected in the process. Political instability reflects a government’s inability in counterinsurgency; poverty demonstrates its failure to provide welfare to the people; and a large population adds challenges to the overall balance and management of different regions. During the economic breakdown in Yugoslavia, facing public calls for urgent economic reform, the Communist government “blocked promising reform initiatives” in order to maintain the monopoly control of the government and the country’s industries. The mediocre Yugoslavian government failed to pull the nation out from poverty, which eventually led to the collapse of the Republic.
Overall, both the CH model and the FL model highlight the interactive patterns between the independent variables and the risk of war, and thus support their hypothesis of the civil war mechanism. Nonetheless, although both models provide certain degree of prediction to the risk of war, neither applies to the reality perfectly.
First of all, hypothesis proposed by both models are broad representation of a generalized war case. The process neglects regional specific factors that are idiosyncratic to each nation. For instance, the Collier model predicts that a high dependency on natural resources may increase the chance of war. However, there are peaceful countries such as Saudi Arabia, Guyana, Oman and Trinidad and Tobago, which hold high values of primary dependence. On the other hand, although the United Kingdom had a high GDP per capita, it still faced the conflict in Northern Ireland in 1971. What such broad generalization of war motives avoids is a comprehensive understanding of atypical circumstances. Factors such as natural disasters and political corruption also remain untouched in the model.
Before the Bosnian economic breakdown, a $500 million financial scandal was disclosed at a Bosnian agricultural enterprise. Despite the many reasons that led to the economic crisis, the scandal revealed the conduct of unlawful procedures in the government, which may have been the cause of a fragile national economy. In the CH and FL model, the measurement of GDP and its growth rate reflects whether a nation has a poor or strong economy, and how the risk of war fluctuates accordingly, whereas it’s difficult to measure the cause of economic quagmires, such as the degree of government corruption.
Similarly, when chance events such as natural disasters occur, the regional...