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Is conflict driven by environmental scarcities or an abundance of natural resources? For quite some time, this question has generated a lively academic debate. The…
Is conflict driven by environmental scarcities or an abundance of natural resources? For quite some time, this question has generated a lively academic debate. The theoretical literature and empirical evidence it offers are inconclusive. On the one hand, authors such as Homer-Dixon (1994) have emphasized the importance of resource scarcities in explaining conflict. On the other hand, scholars such as Collier and Hoeffler (1998) have tried to link conflict with a relative abundance of natural resources. We believe that the failure to provide a coherent explanation upon which rigorous predictions can be based is due to the neglect of institutions in understanding resource use. What we will try to highlight here is the importance of institutional settings to explain this apparent paradox.
This chapter intends to explore once more the vexing question of the relationship between environment and conflict and the role certain emotions like fear play in it…
This chapter intends to explore once more the vexing question of the relationship between environment and conflict and the role certain emotions like fear play in it. Given the fact that the empirical evidence about this relation is ambiguous, it suggests that the link between the two issues only makes sense and works whenever institutional factors such as the clear definition and enforcement of property rights are absent or weak within or across societies. The empirical cases of Rwanda and Nepal are used to illustrate this relationship. After a discussion of the data problems that the case raises, simulations of the conflict and the genocide of 1994 in Rwanda and of the Maoist uprising in Nepal are proposed. The simulation model accounts quite well for the conflict and genocide evolution in Rwanda and for the casualties of the uprising in Nepal.
Decisions to initiate conflict often have an irrevocable character. They tend to transform the status quo in ways that it is often foreseen only with difficulty…
Decisions to initiate conflict often have an irrevocable character. They tend to transform the status quo in ways that it is often foreseen only with difficulty beforehand, and this change is then mostly impossible to undo. The sentence attributed to Colin Powell talking to President Bush about the Iraq War, “You break it, you own it,” illustrates the issue quite well. Closely linked to irrevocability is the issue of conflict costs. The uncertainty about conflicts and wars is due not only to the identity of the eventual winner but also to the costs inflicted upon the parties including the victorious ones. Often, prospective losers such as Napoleon and Hitler were initial winners who were in the end defeated by an accumulation of war costs they could not master.11There is some evidence that Napoleon, and then Hitler, were driven by increasing needs to absorb more and more territories. Clearly, Napoleon sold Louisiana to Jefferson to replenish his war chest and Hitler pillaged the central banks of conquered countries to support German military expenses. It is mostly the sunk costs associated with war that account for the irrevocability problem. Unfortunately, the literature on the formal analysis of war has not dealt with this matter, representing instead conflict as involving fixed costs or fixed cost expectancies at the onset. Additional cost estimates that should be taken by a decision-maker due to possible failures or irreversibility of actions are not considered. This is nowhere more evident than in the so-called bargaining model of conflict and war, whose numerous sometimes hidden assumptions have to be discussed and analyzed. The goal of this paper is to show that irrevocable decisions add to the cost of making them. Belligerent parties often have a tendency to minimize these especially, and this is an interesting twist of the analysis of irrevocable decision-making, if estimations of the gains of war are made on the basis of risk neutral expected utility calculations. The latter consideration leads me then to formulate alternative theories of war and conflict under the assumption of rationality.
Seifudein Adem is research associate professor of Political Science in Binghamton University, New York, NY, USA, and President-Emeritus of the New York State African Studies Association. Before coming to the United States, Dr. Adem taught Political Science in the University of Tsukuba (Japan) and Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia). Seifudein Adem is the author of, among other books, Japan: A Model and a Partner (Brill, 2006).
Purpose – This chapter provides one aspect of the organizational side of the biology and politics enterprise.Design/methodology/approach – This chapter…
Purpose – This chapter provides one aspect of the organizational side of the biology and politics enterprise.
Design/methodology/approach – This chapter provides a historical description of two organizations that help to structure the “business” of biology and politics: The International Political Science Association’s (IPSA) Research Committee #12 and the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences (APLS).
Findings – Research Committee #12 had its origins in the early 1970s, whereas APLS came about in the later 1970s. The discussion of these two organizations gives the reader a better sense of the twin enterprises. In the process of discussing APLS, the chapter also outlines the contributions of its professional journal, Politics and the Life Sciences.
Originality/value – Seldom has there been a detailed discussion of these two organizations in one place.