Civil Wars: The Fights That Do Not Want to End
Which raises some questions: How long do most civil wars last? What is a civil war, anyway? And how, finally, are they ended?
According to Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations, a civil war is one fought within a society, but there are two kinds. In one, rebels seek to take over a region (as in Sri Lanka); in the other, they aim to control the whole state (like the FARC in Colombia). But as Mr. Boot points out, the distinction has been contentious throughout history because inclusion in the first category depends on whether you think the society is a single entity — not the point of view of rebels seeking to carve out an independent territory.
“If you had asked the Confederates in the American Civil War, that’s not what they called it,” Mr. Boot said. “For them it was a war of Northern aggression. They saw themselves as an independent state being assaulted by another independent state.”
But if you accept the general definition of a civil war as one fought within internationally recognized borders, then throughout history civil conflicts have tended to outlast international wars by a factor of about 20, according to Paul Collier, a professor at Oxford University and author of “Wars, Guns and Votes.”
comments powered by Disqus
John D. Beatty - 5/27/2009
Why do we need to make a distinction between "civil" wars and any other kind of garden variety sanctioned killing? Has anyone ever heard a corpse complain about how it got cold?
Academia needs not distinction between this kind of conflict and that when the only difference is scale and intensity. The American Civil War, I could argue, was an extension of Celt vs Angle struggles that have gone on for millennia, with a few other elements thrown in. We don't really need to declare this one kind of war and another some other kind. We don't have to waste our time.
- South Dakota drops history as a high school requirement
- The Forgotten History Of 'Violent Displacement' That Helped Create The National Parks
- Gospel of Jesus’ Wife May Be Authentic, New Tests Suggest
- Architect Sought for Obama’s Presidential Library Complex
- 2016 election's leading candidates have strong Jewish family ties
- Ron Radosh plans to defend Warren Harding in a new book
- Historians tackle America’s mass incarceration problem
- Report: Russian studies in crisis
- Ken Burns: Donald Trump’s birtherism — a “politer way of saying the ‘N-word'” — proves America isn’t remotely “post-racial”
- Medievalist calls on historians to welcome pop culture