Unit 4D: Relevant revision notes

Some relevant revision notes for conflict, war and terrorism

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Unit 4D: Relevant revision notes
What are the main causes of war in the modern
According to Walter Fritz, beyond survival and emotion there are other
subjective reasons for war including:
The belief that the war will be beneficial to society in the long run
Errors of appreciation of the political, economic and social situation of a
country's own society and of the adversary
Accidents in which a critical situation gets out of hand
A fight over resources
The Centre for War and Peace Research in Uppsala, Sweden, issued a report
that stated that most armed conflict today occurs within a country's own
borders, whereas in years past most wars were fought between different
Also according to the report poverty was the major cause of about 80% of
today's wars. Poorer countries were found to be 3 times at greater risk of war
than richer countries. Indeed throughout the decade of the 1990s most wars
were fought by countries with severe economic problems (e.g. Somalia and
Ethnicity was also a factor but it is only when ethnicity is tied to poverty that
war often results. In richer countries ethnic divides are more easily breached
without violence and war
Thalif Deen characterises UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's beliefs on the
causes of war as follows: Although Annan acknowledges that poverty does
play a role in many contemporary standoffs, he would like us to shift our focus
to the lack of equality and power many domestic social groups face in the
world today as "it is this [inequality], rather than poverty, that seems to be
the critical factor" (Annan) in war.
According to Annan, inequality "tends to be reflected in unequal access to
political power that too often forecloses paths to peaceful change"
According to Annan "the upsurge of ethnic cleansing in the 1990s provides
stark evidence of the appalling human costs that this vicious exploitation of
identity politics can generate."
According to Steven Strauss "clearly resources are another reason that
countries go to war". The example he gives is the Gulf War, stating that "it is
common knowledge that the first Golf War was a war over oil, and who would
control it. The United States was loathe to cede that power to Saddam
However Strauss continues to say that "fighting over resources is a relatively
rare reason for countries to go to war. As in the case of the Gulf War, it is the

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When the USSR collapsed in1990 many of the conflicts that were subdued
during the Cold War came to life. Many of these conflicts, for example Kashmir
and Chechnya were caused by ethnic nationalism.
Many present day conflicts have religion as an underlying cause. For example
the War on Terror was caused by Muslim extremists carrying out acts of
terrorism, mainly on the 11th of September 2001, when they attacked the
World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.…read more

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Cultural/Perceptual factors (patters of cultural discrimination; problematic
group histories)
Is conflict more prevalent in the modern world?
During the Cold War the prevailing cause of conflict was the clash between
communist and capitalist ideologies.
The threat of nuclear warfare is claimed to have kept all other conflicts under
wraps, but it did not fix the problems underlying potential conflicts.…read more

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It is not meaningful now because the two are so interlinked - civil war can lead
to interstate war, and interstate war can lead to civil war (Iraq now)
It is even more meaningful now because of the continued persistence of the
UN and international community to differentiate between inter-state wars (like
the US in Iraq) for security reasons, and the lack of intervention for
humanitarian reasons in civil wars.…read more

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Nigeria and South Africa do have the ability and the will to project some
stabilising force beyond their borders but it is limited.
In recent years there has been an increasing demand for UN involvement in
peacekeeping and also the nature and demands of peacekeeping have become
increasingly more complex
UN peacekeeping missions have faced a number of problems, in places like
Somalia, and many have questioned whether the UN is up to the task.…read more

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Is national interest involved?
By authorisation of the Security Council ­ Chapter IIV of the UN Charter ­
"action with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of peace and acts of
aggression" ­ can be extended to human rights violations and breaches of rules
on WMD etc
The Security Council authorised or approved regime change on two occasions ­
Sierra Leone and Haiti.…read more

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After initial reluctance Clinton was persuaded to get behind military
intervention in the Bosnian conflict and the US played an important
part in bringing about an end to the inter-ethnic slaughter
More recently the US played a key role in taking action against the
Serbs in Kosovo
In both cases it could be argued that the US was vital in helping
restore peace to the heart of Europe not least because the
Europeans themselves were unable to deal effectively with these
problems without them
2.…read more

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Australia rather than the USA led the military intervention and in the
new `nation building' process direct US involvement has been
In the case of UN supported interventions in world conflicts obviously these
cannot take place without US support given the workings of the Security
It would seem that only with the direct involvement of the US military forces
could a degree of peace and stability be brought about in the former
Yugoslavia, much to the embarrassment of many eastern European states
It…read more

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Support for different levels of WMD development and control varies nationally
and internationally.
Until 1998 the declared nuclear powers were the permanent members of the
Security Council (USA, UK, Russia, France and China), but now after carrying
out a series of nuclear tests India, Pakistan and Israel have joined the list.
However there are opaque nuclear states that are widely believed to have
nuclear programmes including Iran and North Korea.…read more

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What has been done to combat the proliferation of
In the post-Cold War period there is greater concern about nuclear
proliferation. "the spread of nuclear weapons themselves and the technology
and knowledge required to build them" (J. Spear and F. Robertson-Snape)
"Reflecting the power positions of the nuclear weapons states ... horizontal
proliferation always received much greater attention" (J. Spear and F.
Robertson-Snape) For example the Nuclear Non-proliferation *Treaty of 1968
placed great emphasis on horizontal proliferation, barely mentioning vertical
proliferation at all.…read more



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