Explaining Civil War
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Explaining Civil War

A Rational Choice Approach

Syed Mansoob Murshed

This book explores the pre-conditions for conflict in terms of growth failure and critically appraises the greed and grievance theories common to conflict literature. It is argued that various institutional mechanisms of restraint that can be labeled the ‘social contract’ are crucial for violent conflict avoidance. The reasons underpinning the instability of treaties ending civil wars, post-conflict reconstruction issues, liberal peace theory, and how globalization and conflict relate are also examined.
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Chapter 7: The Liberal Peace and Globalization

Syed Mansoob Murshed


BACKGROUND One factor that remains to be considered as a contributor to violent internal conflict is economic globalization. This relates mainly to the recent expansion in international trade and financial flows, and the various controversial policies adopted to facilitate these in developing countries, such as trade liberalization, deregulation, privatization and an increased market orientation. As has been indicated in Chapter 1, civil war has nowadays become the dominant form of conflict, but there are also other forms of organized violent protest as described by Gurr (1970) related to relative deprivation, and routine violence (Tadjoeddin and Murshed, 2007), where globalization and policies promoting it may play an important role. In contemporary political science the term liberal peace is employed to explain the absence of fatal conflict between democratic nations that are also economically interdependent.2 Leaders of states that share common values, or are mutually interdependent do not choose the strategy of war to settle their differences. In particular, economic interdependence makes it rational not to choose war, because of the opportunity costs of lost trade. These views stand in sharp contrast to the purely realist school in political science, which argues that mutual dependence and overlapping values do not by themselves guarantee the absence of war in the absence of other political factors precluding the strategy of war, such as the internal political dominance of the war party over the peace party. As long ago as 1835, the English thinker Richard Cobden declared ‘commerce is the grand panacea’, by which he...

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