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International System and Internal Conflict: The End of the Cold War Effect

Tuesday June 17, 2008, at 14:00
Aula 4 - IBEI
Research seminar
Almost two decades after the end of the Cold War, its effect on conflict remains hotly debated with arguments covering the entire range from increase to reduction of civil wars. We provide a theoretical account by stressing the contribution of the Cold War to the technology of insurgency. We then test this argument by disaggregating civil wars based on the warfare that characterizes them. We find that the end of the Cold War had a substantively important and statistically significant, but diverging, effect on the incidence of these different types of civil wars: irregular wars declined significantly, whereas conventional wars and symmetric non-conventional wars experienced a substantial increase. This effect is regionally specific, suggesting that the end of the Cold War effect was channeled through the joint military capacity of states and rebels. Where this joint military capacity favored the technology of irregular war, as in Latin America and Asia, the Cold War was associated with a significant decline in civil wars. Where this relative military capacity did not favor irregular war, as in Eurasia and Africa, the Cold War was associated with a swelling in civil war onsets. We argue that these contradictory effects help explain the present divergence of opinion and argue in favor of more disaggregated research designs