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This article draws on the model of the contest success function to explain how geographic factors can cause some civil conflicts to last longer than others. The terrain, geographic location and the natural resource endowment of a place interact with the fighting capacity of the rebels to influence the duration of conflicts.
Precisely dated information on historical events and geography shows that conflicts are more likely to last longer if they happen at locations such as major government strongholds, regions rich in natural resources and along national and international borders. Conflicts also tend to take shorter periods when rebels have a high military capacity. Dominating and maintaining a civil war is determined by the distance that an army has to travel in order to project power, the fighting prowess of the rebels and the geographical conditions of the site of war.
The article begins with a discussion on how the geography of a site influenced the early civil wars. Next, it develops formal models that interrogate how geographical factors, mainly the location, influence the war. These facts are used to come up with a hypothesis. The data from the models are then used to present empirical result analysis of civil conflicts that happened between 1947 and 2003. The authors of the article then conclude it with the results derived from the models.
Since time in memorial, the geographical condition of a region has been used as an important determinant of the art of war. A country’s geography determines its state’s behavior and strategy towards a civil war. Areas with rough terrain and porous borderlines affect the method and duration of civil wars. Porous borderlines provide safe havens for the rebels while foreign markets might give them the upper hand in the war (Buhaug, Gates, and Lujala 544-569).
The natural resources and general wealth of a country influence the balance of power between rebels and the state. Consequently, this determines how the troops are to be deployed in the battle. This affects the nature and the duration of the war. A territory’s geographic aspects determine the strategic plans of the troop’s commanders. Some may decide to either defend or capture a portion of the region for various reasons. The groups that have inferior military may use rough terrains as positions of defense. Different geographical aspects provide different logistic and communication advantages and disadvantages.
The models created in the article provide evidence that links geographical location to the duration of a civil conflict. Conflicts along the peripheries tend to last longer than those happening deep into the region. This could be due to the fact that many states handle events happening in distant parts less critically because they possess less political affiliation and wealth. Many states also lack the ability to project sufficient authority over the regions on the periphery.
The assessment of the natural resource and wealth provides a robust connection with the civic conflict duration and rebel capability. Valuable resources such as diamonds, oil, and drugs such as opium and coca have been used to fund conflicts. They also serve as tools of motivating and sustaining the opposition. This, however, varies depending on the locality and the economic behavior concerning such resources. For instance, several wars have lasted longer due to the fight for minerals and oil.
Buhaug, Halvard, Scott Gates, and PaiviLujala.”Geography, rebel capability, and the duration of civil conflict.” Journal of Conflict Resolution. 53. (2009): 544-569. Print.