Identifying Potential Ethnic Conflict: Application of a Process Model

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Thomas S. Szayna
Rand, 2000 - Technology & Engineering - 329 pages
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Intrastate communitarian strife, often dubbed ethnic conflict, has gained much attention in the aftermath of the Cold War. Certainly, intrastate conflict has been by far the dominant form of strife in the world in the 1990s. This report outlines a model for anticipating the occurrence of communitarian and ethnic conflict. The model is not a mechanistic tool, but a process-based heuristic device with a threefold purpose: (1) to orderthe analyst's thinking about the logic and dynamics of potential ethnically based violence and to aid in defining the information-collection requirements of such an analysis; (2) to provide a general conceptual framework about how ethnic grievances form and group mobilization occurs and how these could lead to violence under certain conditions; and (3) to assist the intelligence community with the long-range assessment of possible ethnic strife. The theoretical model explains how the potential for strife should be understood; how the potential for strife is transformed, through mobilization, into a likelihood of strife; and how extant state capacities interact through a process of strategic bargaining withmobilized groups to produce, under certain conditions, varying degrees of strife. Use of the model is demonstrated through its application to four case studies, two retrospective (Yugoslavia and South Africa) and two prospective (Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia).

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About the author (2000)

Thomas S. Szayna (M.A., International Relations, Claremont Graduate School) is the associate director of the Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program, Arroyo Center at RAND. His research focus includes strategic planning, NATO, and military force structure.

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