How the Nation-State Made Modern Conflict
Foreign Affairs, 7 November 2014
To explain recent conflicts in countries such as Syria or Sudan, observers have been quick to point their fingers at proximate causes specific to our times: the power vacuum created by the end of the Cold War offered opportunities for rebels to fill the void; the recent globalization of trade flooded the developing world with cheap arms; rising global consumer demand generated new struggles over oil and minerals; jihadist groups spread using networks of fighters trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Yet such explanations miss a bigger picture. If we extend the time horizon beyond the Cold War to include the entire modern period — from the American and French revolutions to today — we can see repeating patterns of war and conflict. These patterns are related to the formation and development of independent nation-states.
Phi Beta Iota: We are increasingly of the view that Foreign Affairs, long the mouthpiece of the Eastern Establishment, has become retarded. These people don’t do analysis, they pontificate along narrow lines. The causes of revolution are straight-forward — they center around whether or not governance achieves legitimacy by providing for the public interest, and that generally means an avoiding of any concentration or wealth and the attendant exclusion of too large a portion of the public. Below are just three references the author of the above article has clearly not read. There are many more.