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Warlike and Peaceful Societies

Agner Fog

5. Economic Determinants of Conflict and Fear

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5.1. Fear is profitable: The economy of the mass media

1We have learned that the regality of a society depends on the perceived level of collective danger. Now we will look deeper into the factors that shape people’s perception of their surrounding world as either safe or full of dangers. If we can identify the most important factors that make people perceive their world as dangerous or safe then we may be able to predict whether a society will move in the regal or kungic direction.

2A very obvious factor is the mass media. People can directly observe only what happens in their immediate vicinity. They have to rely mainly on the mass media for information about the political processes in their country, social problems, international conflicts, and almost everything else that happens in society at large.

  • 1 Bryant and Oliver (2009), Iyengar and Kinder (2010)

3Before we look at the factors that influence the contents of the mass media, we will look at the theories of how the mass media influence people’s opinions. We need to incorporate the scientific disciplines of media effects theory and social cognition theory in order to understand how the mass media affect people’s perception of their social world. The mass media affect their audience in several different ways, including:1

  • Selection: for example, selective reporting of good or bad news about a particular subject, or preferential treatment of opinions for or against a controversial issue.
  • Agenda setting: telling people what topics are important and what issues to think or be concerned about.
  • Framing: telling people how to look at a particular issue. For example, nuclear power may be framed either in terms of (1) technological progress, (2) environmental hazards, or (3) a strategy for making the energy supply independent of oil from unstable foreign countries.
  • Priming: making particular aspects of a phenomenon salient, for example, the criteria by which a politician is evaluated.
  • Cultivation: the long-term effect of repeated exposure to similar stories.
  • 2 Dimaggio (1997), Graber (1993, chapter 8)
  • 3 Schetsche (2000, p. 109)
  • 4 Abelson (1981)
  • 5 Nersessian (2003)

4The effects of framing and priming can be further explained in terms of social cognition theory: in modern society, people are bombarded with such a large amount of complex information that it is impossible to digest it all. We have to economize the use of our cognitive brain capacity. We do this by fitting new information that we receive into existing mental structures or models. Such a mental structure or model is variously called a cognitive schema,2 interpretive frame,3 social script,4 or paradigm.5 For example, if news media report a home robbery, readers or viewers will immediately activate their cognitive schema for a home robbery. This schema includes a catalogue of objects that are typically involved, such as a house, stolen goods, weapons, vehicle, etc. and the roles of people involved, such as robber, victim, police, and witness. The cognitive schema also includes information about the supposed actions, motives, and emotions associated with each of these roles. The reader will easily understand what happened, even if some information is missing in the news report. Information that does not fit into the schema is likely to be ignored. The priming effect may influence which schema is activated for a particular story when more than one fitting schema is available.

  • 6 Tewksbury et al. (2000)

5If people read or hear a story about a new phenomenon for which they have no appropriate cognitive schema, they may either: (1) lose interest and ignore the story; (2) apply a less appropriate schema and thereby misunderstand the story; or (3) build a new cognitive schema. The last reaction requires a lot of mental effort and is therefore less common. We will expect the framing effect to be particularly strong and possibly long-lasting in this situation, but this is an under-researched area.6

  • 7 Rosen (2005, chapter 2)

6A person’s world view is based on cognitive schemas (also called schemata), shaped by the mass media and by other information sources. People with different world views and different cognitive schemas are very likely to disagree on political issues. Cognitive schemas also influence the decision of political leaders about war and peace.7

  • 8 Shoemaker and Reese (2014), Wahl-Jorgensen and Hanitzsch (2009, p. 59), Ericson, Baranek and Chan (...)

7With these theories in place, we will now look at the factors that influence the contents of the mass media. Scholars of media studies have listed a number of influential factors that determine the contents of the media:8

  • journalists
  • editors
  • media owners
  • information sources
  • audience preferences
  • advertisers
  • technology
  • economic constraints
  • economic market forces
  • 9 Meyer (2004)
  • 10 Fuller (2010, p. 71)
  • 11 McManus (2009)

8We need not go into detail about all these factors here, but the economic factors are particularly important. Commercial mass media in our modern society operate in a very competitive market. The media compete not only for readers or viewers but also for advertisers. In the view of many economists, the primary business of a commercial TV station is not selling news to its viewers, but selling the eyeballs of the viewers to the advertisers.9 The competition in the advertising market forces TV stations to produce entertaining programmes that appeal to the broadest possible audience in order to get as many viewers as possible to watch the commercials. The media appeal to our emotions to such a degree that the competition between the media has been called an emotional arms race.10 The result is trivialization and a blurring of the boundaries between news, entertainment, and advertisement. Controversial and complicated issues are avoided, while emotionally touching topics such as sex, violence, and danger get maximum coverage.11

  • 12 McManus (2009)
  • 13 McManus (2009), Gunther and Mugham (2000, chapter 12)

9Most economists believe that free competition in the media market is a guarantee that the most diverse range of topics, interests, and opinions is covered.12 However, many studies contradict this. The media shape the cognitive schemas of their audience. Once these cognitive schemas are formed, the audience will be less receptive to messages that do not fit into the already formed schemas. People prefer to hear uniform opinions rather than a diversity of opinions.13

  • 14 Berry and Waldfogel (1999, 2001)
  • 15 McManus (1995), Picard (2004)

10The unrestrained competition has another unintended consequence: It gives the media fewer resources to produce quality content. In a monopoly situation where a country has only a single TV station, this station will have plenty of resources for investigative journalism and for producing a diversity of programmes of high quality. But if there are many commercial TV stations competing for the same advertising money, then there will be less money for each TV station to spend on the production of programmes, and consequently it will be unable to produce the same level of quality as in a less competitive market. This is a consequence of the fact that the fixed costs are high while the variable costs are virtually zero. The costs of producing a TV programme are the same whether there is one viewer or a million viewers.14 With few resources for investigative journalism, political news broadcasts are often reduced to an uncritical relaying of statements from leading politicians.15

  • 16 Fuller (2010, chapter 7), Picard (2004), Esser (1999)

11The consequences of the fierce competition in the media market include: trivialization and tabloidization; more entertainment and less information; more gossip, celebrity scandals, sex, violence, crime, and disaster; less controversy, and less detailed analysis of complicated problems; and more focus on persons and less focus on principles and issues.16

  • 17 Baek and Wojcieszak (2009), Bennett and Iyengar (2008)

12This trivialization leads to a dumbing-down of the audience. People who have been fed this kind of news all their lives will lack the cognitive schemas necessary for understanding complicated issues, and they will be less likely to pay attention to alternative information sources that provide detailed discussion of complicated issues.17

  • 18 Fuller (2010, chapter 6), Shoemaker (1996)
  • 19 Glassner (1999)
  • 20 Altheide (2014), Glassner (1999)
  • 21 Goode and Ben-Yehuda (2009), Altheide (1995, p. 97; 2002, p. 196)

13Humans have an innate tendency to pay attention to danger because this has always been important for survival. This tendency makes us pay attention to all kinds of media stories about violence, crime, deviance, and disaster.18 The news media in a competitive market take advantage of this human tendency by presenting an extraordinary amount of bad news. Fear is profitable. Dramatic stories about crime and disaster make people buy the newspaper or watch the TV news. If nothing bad is happening then the media may even report people’s fear of bad things that might happen. The intense media focus on fearprovoking stories has created a ‘culture of fear’, as Barry Glassner calls it.19 All too often, the media make us afraid of the wrong things. Minor dangers are hysterically blown out of proportions, while much more serious dangers in society go largely unnoticed.20 The exaggerated fears often lead to moral panics, unnecessary precautions, poor legislation, and ‘gonzo justice’.21

  • 22 Signorielli (1990)
  • 23 Signorielli (1990), Hetherington and Suhay (2011), Reith (1999)

14The effect of receiving a constantly high dose of crime and violence from television has been called the mean world syndrome.22 Heavy TV viewers come to perceive the world as a gloomy and dangerous place. Fearful people take drastic measures to protect themselves and their children—measures that are out of touch with the objective risk. As predicted by regality theory, fearful people become authoritarian and easy victims of political manipulation.23

  • 24 Altheide (2014, p. 122), Iyengar (1996)

15The person-centered framing of issues makes people blame social problems on individuals rather than on political principles or social and economic structures.24 We see the effects of person-centered framing in several areas:

  • Crime stories focus on perpetrators and victims. They focus more on violent crime and less on property crime. They report individual cases rather than statistics. Crime is blamed on moral defects in the perpetrator rather than on structural causes. The political consequence of this type of crime reporting is more prisons and fewer preventive measures,25 even though most experts agree that crime prevention is more effective than punishment.26
  • Political news focuses more on the personalities and strategies of politicians and less on issues and ideologies. This makes voters cynical and disinterested.27
  • Social problems are blamed on individuals who are seen as responsible rather than on the underlying social or economic structures. This lack of focus on root causes undermines society’s problem-solving capacity.28
  • International conflicts are blamed on the ‘evil’ leaders of enemy states rather than on political and economic structures. This has led to many attempts to solve international conflicts by removing foreign leaders and governments by force. Such coups and assassinations have often exacerbated the problems by leading to chaos and by making the conflict zones even more regal than they already were.
  • 29 Fog (2013)

16All in all, the implacable dependence of the commercial mass media on economic market forces has led to a framing and public perception of social problems that is superficial and out of touch with the root causes. At the national level, this has in many cases led to a very punitive and inefficient strategy against crime. At the international level, it has led to chaos, escalation of conflicts, and general regalization. Among the unintended consequences of market forces is that the mass media make people perceive the world as more dangerous than it is. This ‘mean world syndrome’ makes the whole culture more regal. Mass media competition is thus a root cause of one of the most important—and also most neglected—forces of regalization in our modern age. These media effects are seen most strongly in countries that have a very competitive media market and where non-commercial news media have a very low market share.29

17This situation may change as the internet is radically changing the media landscape these years. It has become so cheap to disseminate information that even small political groups and grassroots organizations can afford to have their own website, blog, Facebook page, or Twitter account. Several states and governments are financing non-commercial news media with a worldwide target audience. Some of these media purvey partisan views and propaganda, while others are dedicated to presenting a diversity of opinions. However, in many countries it is still not possible to receive non-commercial local news of high quality.

18The alternative or non-commercial news media are slow to penetrate the market. People do not easily switch to watching a new and unfamiliar kind of information source. They have to get used to different formats and learn new cognitive schemas before they can appreciate the less sensation-seeking alternative news media.

19But social media also make a contribution here. A message from even the most obscure source can be spread all over the world in a matter of days through Facebook and other social media if people find it sufficiently interesting. This mechanism makes it very difficult for governments and powerful elites to cover up serious wrongdoing and scandals.

  • 30 Tyler (2011), Berger (2013)

20Messages are disseminated through social media according to the laws of memetics. The study of memetics tells us that messages are particularly likely to be spread through social media if they are interesting, important, easy to understand, and emotionally touching.30 The social media can be regarded as a new ‘marketplace of ideas’ no less competitive than the commercial mass media, but controlled by different mechanisms of competition with different criteria. The theory of memetics tells us that a message can spread equally fast whether it is true or false, as long as no proof or disproof is immediately available. People soon realize that messages on social media are not always reliable unless it can be verified that they come from a trustworthy source. This weakens the role of social media as an information source.

  • 31 Bennett and Iyengar (2008)

21The media landscape is changing fast and we have yet to see which way it is pushing our culture and world views. Different people follow different media, and the internet has niches for virtually any kind of special interest. The diversity of media also means a diversity of cognitive schemas and opinions. People who follow different media will have different cognitive schemas and therefore different interpretations of political events. We can predict that this will lead to a wider diversity of political opinions and ideas.31

22The commercial media are shaped by anonymous market forces, and social media are shaped by the equally uncontrollable forces of memetic competition. The whole media landscape can be seen as a headless monster that nobody is able to control. Which way is this headless monster taking our culture and our world view? The answer is anybody’s guess.

5.2. Economic booms and busts

  • 32 Gat (2006, p. 587)

23A stable economy is important for people’s existential security. This makes us predict that economic stability and security will stimulate a kungic climate, while an unstable economy or crisis will have a regal psychological effect. In fact, conflict studies have found a strong connection between affluence, peace, and democracy.32

  • 33 Fritsche, Jonas and Kessler (2011), Inglehart and Welzel (2005, p. 161), Rickert (1998)

24People want to strengthen their nation or their social group when they experience a collective threat, and several studies show that economic crises can have such a psychological effect, just like other collective threats.33 The regal effect is strongest if the crisis is perceived as a collective threat. There is little or no regal effect if a bad economy is perceived as an individual problem. This does not mean that individual insecurity is inconsequential, but the consequences of individual insecurity are better explained by biological r/K theory (see chapter 3.3) than by regality theory (see chapter 2.2).

  • 34 Galbraith (2012), Turchin (2012)

25Economic insecurity and poverty mean poor living conditions and higher mortality. The r/K theory predicts that this will lead to higher fertility, which in turn may lead to overpopulation, epidemics, and war. Economic insecurity also means poor education, which may lead to youth crime, conflicts, and political radicalization. It is well-known that economic inequality can lead to political instability.34

26A good, stable economy, on the other hand, will foster a more K-like strategy involving good education, which promotes the demographic transition (see chapter 3.4). These phenomena have obvious effects on regality. We can therefore expect that individual economic insecurity leads to a number of social problems which may lead to regality, while collective economic insecurity also leads to regality directly without these intermediate steps.

27Here, we will first look at some of the mechanisms that cause economic instability. After this, we will look at historical examples of economic booms and busts and discuss their psychological consequences.

Some theories of economic instability

28Economic activity in society goes up and down due to many factors, both endogenous and exogenous. High economic activity involves high employment, consumer optimism, and high consumer spending, while an economic downturn involves unemployment and less consumption.

29Fluctuations in wages, public spending, interest rates, inflation, credit, savings, investment, and speculative bubbles are all factors that complicate the equation. Consumers and investors react to changes in the market, but the effects of these reactions are delayed, and the delays can cause fluctuations. Markets are also influenced by many external factors, such as varying crop yields, changes in international markets, shortage of natural resources, technological changes, national and international political changes, and violent conflicts.

30These fluctuations in economic activity are traditionally called business cycles, but in reality they are random fluctuations with no predictable time periods. It may be argued that, if the fluctuations were predictable, then people would speculate against them and the effect of such speculation would cancel out any predictable changes. There are many different theories of business cycles—too many to review here—where the different theories have their main focus on different factors.

31While these short-term fluctuations appear to be relatively small and random, there are various mechanisms that may explain major longterm effects and more dramatic changes. In chapter 4.2, we saw how the dynamics of empires in agrarian societies can lead to state bankruptcy and political collapse with periods of a hundred years or more.

  • 35 Acemoglu and Robinson (2012, p. 80)
  • 36 Acemoglu and Robinson (2012, p. 81)

32A further explanation of the rise of despotic empires and kleptocratic regimes is provided in the theory developed by economist Daron Acemoglu and political scientist James Robinson.35 Political and economic institutions can be either inclusive or extractive, according to their theory. Inclusive institutions are institutions that give rights and protection to all members of a society, which is typical for a democracy. Extractive institutions are institutions that extract income and wealth from common people to serve the interests of a small elite. Extractive political institutions can facilitate the consolidation of extractive economic institutions, and vice versa. This positive feedback creates a Matthew effect that tends to stabilize such institutions and make them quite durable, as discussed in chapter 4.1. The opposite situation is seen when inclusive political and economic institutions mutually consolidate each other to create a democratic society that makes individual entrepreneurship attractive and generates a thriving economy.36

  • 37 Bauman and Bordoni (2014, chapter 1)
  • 38 Vitali, Glattfelder and Battiston (2011)
  • 39 Credit Suisse (2015), Oxfam (2017)

33The situation in most Western democracies today is that economic institutions and market forces are gaining more and more de facto power and influence, while the options available to politicians are limited by economic constraints. The nation state has lost much of its autonomy and territorial sovereignty to globalized economic market forces. Economic power is also becoming increasingly impersonal and anonymous.37 There is no longer any identifiable king or government who controls the economy. Instead, economic influence is concentrated around a group of major international banks who own shares in each other.38 The banks are formally controlled by their shareholders, but when these shareholders are other banks, and so on, it is hard to claim that any identifiable persons are in control at the top of the economic pyramid. It looks like the economy is controlled, to a large degree, by the impersonal market forces. The banks are required to maximize the returns on investment for their shareholders. This means that they are extractive economic institutions. We are facing the paradoxical situation today that Western society is based on inclusive political institutions (democracy) but extractive economic institutions (banks). The gradual shift in power from inclusive political institutions to extractive economic institutions is part of the reason why economic inequality is now growing fast nationally as well as internationally despite a political desire for more equality. A few extremely rich people now own as much as the poorest half of the world’s population.39 This growing inequality is likely to cause both political and economic instability.

  • 40 Buzbee (2003), Zodrow (2010), Duanmu (2014), Verschueren (2015), OECD (1998)

34The inequality and instability is driven to a large degree by globalization. Free trade across borders has led to widespread competition between countries for attracting industries and cheap labor. Many countries use low corporate tax rates, poor working conditions, and poor environmental regulation as methods for attracting profitable industries in this so-called race to the bottom.40

  • 41 Werner (2014), McLeay, Radia and Thomas (2014)

35Another important reason why severe economic crises and collapses continue to happen is the inherent instability of the money system. Most countries have a fractional reserve banking system that allows banks to provide loans for more than they hold in reserves. This process sets electronic money in circulation that is not backed by any material wealth. Most of the money in circulation in the world today originates from debt to private banks.41 As this debt accumulates interest, there is much more debt in the world than there is money in circulation, as shown in table 5.


US$ trillion

Coins and banknotes (M0)


Narrow money (M1 = M0 + checkable deposits)


Broad money (M2 = M1 + savings, time deposits, and money market accounts)


All debt (government and private)


Derivatives (estimated)


  • 42 Data sources: Desjardins (2015), Dobbs, Lund, Woetzel and Matafchieva (2015), CIA, “The World Fact (...)

Table 5. World money supply and debt in 2014.42

  • 43 Zarlenga (2002)
  • 44 Benes and Kumhof (2012), Mellor (2010)

36As this debt is repaid with money originating from new debt, the total debt keeps spiraling and there is no realistic chance that it can ever be repaid with the available money. The inevitable consequence is that somebody will be unable to pay their debt, even if nobody is culpable. It may be individuals who default on their debts and lose everything they own, or it may be companies, banks, or entire countries that go bankrupt. This unfortunate flaw in our money system has remained in obscurity for centuries,43 but today it is widely discussed among economists and political organizations.44

  • 45 Perez (2002, 2010)

37Economists have proposed many different explanations of long economic cycles (or Kondratiev cycles). A particularly useful explanation is Carlota Perez’s theory of technological revolutions.45 Important technological breakthroughs such as the industrial revolution or electronic information technology can start a boom of investment, development, and economic growth. As new technology matures and the market for new products begins to saturate, capital investments begin to move from material wealth to paper wealth in the form of complex financial products. Those products generate a virtual growth that becomes more and more decoupled from the real economy. Such a decoupling of paper wealth from the real economy is evident in the amount of derivatives in table 5.

  • 46 Perez (2002, 2010)

38The boom ends when one or more asset bubbles collapse and the political need for regulating the wayward financial market becomes obvious. Some of the excess capital that was accumulated during the period of rapid growth is likely to be invested in new inventions that may start the next technological revolution. The whole cycle may take half a century or more.46

  • 47 Bezemer and Hudson (2016)

39Most of the money in circulation originates from bank credit, as explained above. Today, only a small part of this bank credit is invested in new production equipment or other things that could benefit the real economy. Instead, most of the credit is used for changing the ownership of existing assets, such as real estate, factories, and intellectual rights. This process inflates asset prices. Housing costs are increased by inflated real estate prices, while the costs of production are increased by the inflated prices of the means of production. The consequence is that an increasing amount of money is extracted from the real economy and into the financial economy, where it serves to enrich a small financial elite. The result is rising inequality, instability, and insecurity. We have seen many examples of severe austerity, poverty, and destitution when asset bubbles burst and the spiraling debt can no longer be repaid.47

  • 48 Reinhart and Rogoff (2009)

40We have now looked at some—perhaps unorthodox—theories that seek to explain economic instability. It must be emphasized that there are many other theories of economic booms and busts. Whether one subscribes to one theory or another, it is a historical fact that economic crises, crashes, and collapses occur from time to time, and that economists and politicians have been remarkably bad at predicting them.48

Booms and busts in the twentieth century

41World War II was a characteristic example of the connection between economic crisis and regality. The Great Depression of the 1930s was one of the worst economic crises in modern history, and many historians believe that this crisis played an important role in the outbreak of the war. Other factors that contributed to the war are discussed in chapter 6.4.

42However, an economic crisis does not necessarily lead to regality and conflict. It depends on whether it is perceived as a collective threat or an individual threat. It also depends on whether the threat is perceived as coming from an external enemy. It is remarkable that the 2008 financial crisis had little or no regal effect, while the Great Depression had a dramatic effect. The difference between these two crises requires an explanation. The earlier crisis was worse, but this is not the whole explanation for their remarkably different effects. How people perceive a crisis is important for its psychological effect. Many banks were bailed out by national governments in the 2008 crisis. Even though this was a controversial move, it gave the population an impression that the governments were in control of the situation. The bank runs in the 1930s, on the other hand, gave an impression of chaos with nobody in control. Many people lost their savings. A large surplus of poor and unemployed young people served as fuel for the war (see chapter 6.4).

43An important question in relation to regality theory is who is blamed for a crisis. If a crisis is blamed on foreign enemies or on general misfortune, then people will seek protection in collective action and desire to strengthen the government and the state. In other words, a regal reaction. But a crisis that is blamed on one’s own leaders may have the opposite effect, namely a kungic rebellion against leaders perceived as incompetent and despotic.

  • 49 Bauman and Bordoni (2014, chapter 1)

44In Germany in the 1930s, the massive propaganda of the Nazi regime blamed the crisis on Jews and other foreigners and there was hardly space for any counter-propaganda. The 2008 crisis, in contrast, was mostly blamed on ‘greedy bankers’ and inept political regulation. In other words, the latter crisis was blamed on an internal elite. A kungic reaction against the political and economic elite was seen in 2011 in the form of street protests in southern Europe and in the Occupy Wall Street movement, which was a protest against plutocracy.49

45Between the two busts there was a boom. In the 1960s, we experienced extraordinary prosperity and economic growth. The climate of existential safety led to fast cultural changes in the kungic direction, epitomized by the student protests in 1968 and the ‘Flower Power’ movement. The kungic trends were particularly strong in Northern Europe. The Nordic countries had made it through the war in a relatively benign way compared to other European countries. Their strong traditions of social welfare were further developed into what is known as the Nordic welfare state with a strong social safety net, free education, and free universal healthcare. The existential security that the welfare state provided to all members of society had a strong kungic effect. It is no coincidence that the Nordic countries have a strong reputation as peace brokers. Despite their small size, the Scandinavian countries have been among the avant-gardes with respect to social security, sexual liberation, women’s liberation, and environment protection. However, the Nordic welfare state is now being undermined by globalization and the race to the bottom.

5.3. Greed or grievance: Economic theories of civil war

  • 50 Collier and Hoeffler (1998, 2004)

46In the late 1990’s, a group of economists at the World Bank and the University of Oxford set out to investigate whether economic factors could explain civil wars. They found that the risk of civil war was correlated with various economic variables, while the relationship between the onset of civil war and ethnic diversity was non-significant or non-monotonic.50 The economists interpreted these findings as an indication that insurgent leaders were motivated by economic profit rather than by grievances such as ethnic discrimination.

  • 51 Collier, Hoeffler and Sambanis (2005), Collier, Hoeffler, and Rohner (2009)
  • 52 Fearon and Laitin (2003)

47A later modification of this theory focused more on opportunities and less on greed. The revised theory claims that predictions whether there will be conflict or peace cannot be based on the presence of grievances because grievances can be found (or invented) everywhere. The distinguishing factors that determine whether an insurgency breaks out or not are the economic and other factors that make insurgency financially and militarily feasible. The study portrays rebel leaders as sadistic predators and their followers as irrational.51 A group of political scientists at Stanford University made similar findings, supporting the theory that civil wars depend on economic factors rather than on grievances.52

  • 53 Cramer (2002), Cederman, Gleditch and Buhaug (2013, chapter 2), Keen (2012, chapter 2)
  • 54 Collier and Hoeffler (1998)
  • 55 Collier and Hoeffler (2004)

48These publications sparked a long debate about whether insurgents were motivated by greed or by grievance. Critics argued that the economic studies had no relevant measures of grievances other than some very broad measures of ethnic diversity and income distribution.53 In the initial study, the economists actually found a correlation between civil war and ethno-linguistic fractionalization, but they used this variable as an indicator of transaction costs rather than possible ethnic discrimination.54 Similarly, the economists used the size of an ethnic diaspora as a measure of external economic support but ignored the alternative explanation that the size of the diaspora might indicate the number of people who fled because of ethnic discrimination or other grievances.55

  • 56 De Soysa and Neumayer (2007), Weinstein (2005)
  • 57 Ballentine and Sherman (2003, p. 267)
  • 58 Ballentine and Sherman (2003, p. 259), Collier and Sambanis (2005)

49The distinction between greed and grievance may be an oversimplification, and some studies have found mixed results for the influence of resource wealth on civil wars.56 It appears that lucrative economic resources have more influence on the duration of armed conflicts than on their onset.57 Case studies of a number of individual conflicts have revealed more complex causal mechanisms that defy the distinction between political and economic motives for conflict.58

  • 59 Keen (2012)

50The publications that explain insurgencies in terms of economic factors rather than grievances are widely cited and quite influential despite their admitted methodological weaknesses and poor data. Perhaps the popularity of the ‘greed’ explanation is due to the fact that it is politically convenient. It legitimizes the continued repression of ethnic minorities by making their grievances irrelevant and by portraying insurgents as greedy, irresponsible, and irrational.59

  • 60 Cederman, Gleditch and Buhaug (2013, p. 206), Cederman, Wimmer and Min (2010), Buhaug (2006)
  • 61 Cederman, Gleditch and Buhaug (2013, chapter 4)
  • 62 Goldstone et al. (2010)

51A different group of conflict researchers collected more detailed and reliable data related to the grievances of ethnic groups. They found strong evidence that the onset of civil war is related to grievances such as economic inequality and political exclusion of ethnic groups.60 Such conflicts are particularly frequent in sub-Saharan Africa, where the boundaries of former colonies are not aligned with cultural and ethnic boundaries.61 Another group of political scientists found that the regime type and degree of democracy is the most important determinant of conflict, while economic conditions, geography, and demography are less important.62

  • 63 Cederman, Gleditch and Buhaug (2013, chapter 8)
  • 64 Collier and Hoeffler (2004), Cederman, Gleditch and Buhaug (2013, p. 189)

52It is useful to distinguish between factors that influence the onset of civil wars and factors that influence their duration. Conflict researchers have found that strong rebel groups who can pose a credible challenge to the government tend to fight shorter wars and are more likely to see an outcome favorable to them, while weak and peripheral groups with strong grievances but little power are likely to see long and intractable conflicts. Negotiated settlements are unlikely in the highly asymmetric conflicts between a state power and an excluded minority group.63 There is general agreement among scientists that external support or intervention tends to lengthen intranational conflicts.64

53Part of the disagreement in the greed-versus-grievance debate stems from different interpretations of the data. For example, conflicts are more frequent in areas rich in oil, minerals, or other valuable resources. This may be interpreted as greed when the insurgency is financed by these resources, or as grievance when the insurgents protest against the government’s exploitation of resources in a territory that they perceive as theirs.

  • 65 Regan and Norton (2005)
  • 66 Acemoglu and Robinson (2005)

54Just as it is misguided to ignore grievances as a cause of insurgencies, it would be equally misguided to ignore the economic and other factors that make insurgency possible and feasible. Violent insurgencies cannot take place if the potential rebels have insufficient funding sources or insufficient access to weapons, no matter how strong their grievances.65 On the other side of the conflict, the interest of a powerful elite to suppress democratic rebellion or to support anti-democratic coups is often based on strong economic motivations.66

  • 67 DeRouen (2014, chapter 4), Collier, Hoeffler and Rohner (2009), Fearon and Laitin (2003), Hegre an (...)

55Civil wars are more likely to break out when the state is weak, when the insurgents are strong and well financed, and when they have an ample supply of young recruits. A mountainous terrain also seems to be favorable to insurgents.67

  • 68 Besançon (2005)
  • 69 Lechler (2015), Collier and Hoeffler (2004), Cincotta, Engelman and Anastasion (2003, chapter 2), (...)

56There are inconsistent findings on the influence of education on conflicts. One study finds that ethnic conflicts are more likely when people have money but no education, while class conflicts and revolutions are more likely when people are educated but poor.68 Education is a resource that can help rebels organize, build alliances, analyze political dynamics, and make propaganda, while lack of access to education can contribute to the grievances that motivate people for conflict. Education is associated with advancement of the demographic transition, lower population growth, and higher welfare—all factors that promote peace.69

  • 70 Keen (2012)
  • 71 Copeland (2015, chapter 8)

57Finally, we should not ignore the influence of third parties who profit from a conflict70 or depend on the export of critical resources from the conflict area.71 In chapter 4.3, we saw that economic factors and access to critical resources are often the root causes of symmetric wars. The same factors may be decisive in asymmetric wars, especially as motivating factors for the strong part in the conflict. This is further discussed in chapter 5.4.

5.4. The resource curse

58Natural resources are becoming increasingly scarce and expensive as a consequence of the insatiable demand for growth in the modern economic system. Many third world countries have rich occurrences of natural resources in high demand such as oil, minerals, and fertile land. Paradoxically, these valuable resources have often turned out to be a curse rather than a blessing because they give rise to conflicts and corruption rather than enriching the country.

59In chapter 3.1, we saw how a concentration of resources in small defendable patches leads to contest competition and a higher level of conflict. This still applies in the modern world even though the conflicts are no longer over food patches but over oil wells and mineral mines.

  • 72 Mehlum, Moene and Torvik (2006)

60An important economic study at the Peace Research Institute Oslo has found that many resource-rich countries are poorly developed because of the way the rents from the resources are spent. Entrepreneurs often use the profit from resource extraction in a way that economists call ‘unproductive rent extraction’ or ‘grabbing’, rather than productive activities that benefit the country. Countries with weak government institutions are more ‘grabber friendly’ as these economists express it. The grabbing entrepreneurs spend a significant part of their profit on supporting a corrupt and grabber-friendly government that allows them to export most of the profit out of the country rather than benefiting local industry. Countries with strong and transparent government institutions, on the other hand, are able to avert the resource curse and use their resources in a way that benefits local industry and the country’s economy.72

  • 73 Ross (2012), Carmody (2011)
  • 74 Jacur, Bonfati and Seatzu (2015)

61Oil is no doubt the number one cause of resource curse problems today, but other important resources such as food, water, land, timber, and minerals are also frequent sources of conflict.73 International investors actively buy land and mining rights, for example, in order to secure their future access to resources that are expected to become scarce.74

  • 75 Hiatt (2007, chapter 1), Looney (2012, chapters 3, 6, 12, 14 and 24)
  • 76 Ross (2012, chapter 2)
  • 77 Turse (2015)

62Extractive industries have little or no interest in establishing democracy. The voters in a democratic country will want to distribute the wealth produced by extraction of natural resources to purposes that benefit the country’s population, while a dictatorial government can be manipulated or bribed by transnational companies to allow large amounts of wealth to be exported. There is plenty of evidence that foreign actors have secretly supported or promoted undemocratic forces in resource-rich countries although they purportedly support democracy.75 For example, the coup in Iran in 1953 that brought the Shah to power was led by US and British secret services in order to reverse Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh’s nationalization of oil.76 Even today, the USA is stepping up military operations in almost all African countries in order to defend its security interests.77 By doing this, the USA may inadvertently be impeding progress and supporting kleptocratic and grabber-friendly regimes.

  • 78 Carmody (2011, chapter 6)
  • 79 Carmody (2011, chapter 6), Keen (2012, chapter 2)
  • 80 Auty (2012)

63The resource curse can be a serious impediment to economic development. For example, the Republic of Niger currently has the lowest development index of all countries in the world despite—or rather because of—a rich export of uranium and oil. Frequent conflicts over the valuable resources have destabilized the country, which has seen four coups and several coup attempts since its independence in 1960.78 A similar fate has befallen the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which holds more than half of the world’s reserves of the mineral coltan that is important for the electronics industry.79 The poor development of resource-rich countries can be explained by a combination of vicious circles involving both political, social and economic effects. The rent from oil extraction, mining, or other extractive industries benefits a small elite but produces few jobs for the local population. The elite have an interest in shaping policy to secure their own advantageous position by investing in security rather than in the development of other productive sectors. A surplus of labor and subsidized unproductive employment leads to poor development and delayed demographic transition.80

  • 81 Ross (2012, chapter 5), Peck and Chayes (2015, p. 6), le Billon (2004)

64Rich resources can lead to conflicts between national and foreign actors, and between different foreign actors such as the USA, Europe, and China, who compete for access to the resources of third world countries. There are also frequent conflicts between insurgents and a government that squanders wealth rather than spending it for the benefit of the people. Secession conflicts can arise when different groups compete for resource wealth that is concentrated in a particular part of a country. For example, a conflict over oil resources in Sudan led to a split of the country in 2011, and the conflict continues.81

  • 82 Ross (2012, chapter 1)
  • 83 Le Billon (2004), Wilson, S. (2013)
  • 84 Ross (2012, chapter 1), Clarke (2015)

65Rich resources can often fuel and escalate conflicts that may have started for reasons unrelated to the resources. Governments of resourcerich countries are likely to use their riches to finance military operations in internal as well as external conflicts, but resource wealth may also end up in the hands of insurgents, so that both parties in a civil war are financing their operations from the same resource.82 There are several ways in which insurgents can use resources as a means of financing their operations. Resources that are easy to loot and smuggle are particularly useful for insurgents, as we have seen with diamonds in Sierra Leone.83 The lawlessness and chaos in a civil war makes it possible for guerillas to profit from the production of drugs and other illegal trade. Finally, insurgents can profit from an existing industry by stealing the product and by extortion. Oil extraction and mining in remote areas are particularly vulnerable to extortion because of the large sunk costs that are invested in the industry and because the industry cannot easily be moved to another place.84

  • 85 Ross (2012, chapter 1)
  • 86 Peck and Chayes (2015)
  • 87 Ross (2012, chapter 2)

66After World War II, the global oil market was dominated by a cartel of oil companies, commonly known as the Seven Sisters. The behavior of the Seven Sisters became so intolerable that, in the 1970s, most oil-rich countries nationalized their oil production. However, government institutions in many of these countries were not strong enough to handle the windfall of new wealth accountably. The lack of oversight enabled autocrats to consolidate their power by increasing spending, lowering taxes, buying the loyalty of the armed forces, and concealing their own corruption and incompetence.85 Many of the oil-rich countries also used their new wealth to finance wars and conflicts.86 Oil prices are quite volatile because the market is inelastic, and extreme price fluctuations have caused political instability.87

  • 88 Ross (2012, chapter 2)

67When the economy of a country is dominated by a single sector, other sectors are likely to suffer. This is known as the Dutch disease. The high income from oil production leads to an increase in the real exchange rate of the oil-rich countries. This makes other sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing less profitable. The export of other products goes down and the import of food and other products outcompetes much of the domestic production. The result is lack of investment in other sectors, lack of development, unemployment, economic inequality, and further political instability.88

  • 89 Ross (2012, chapter 4)

68The low demand for labor in these countries has consequences for the role of women in society. While men may find jobs in the construction industry, there are fewer jobs in export-oriented industries, such as textile production, which typically hire more women. Statistically, women who work at home have more children than women who make a career outside of the home. This leads to higher population growth and less economic development, whereby the demographic transition is thwarted. The patriarchal values of countries in the Middle East have often been explained with reference to Islam, but statistical studies show that oil production explains the low status of women better than does religion.89

  • 90 Hiatt (2007, chapters 1, 9, 11 and 12), Shiva (2013, p. 31), Babb (2005), Hudes (2009), Münkler (2 (...)

69Resource conflicts are not always fought by violent means. International actors often use more subtle economic weapons to gain access to valuable resources. A quite common strategy used by the international extractive industry is to control resource-rich countries by imposing unpayable debt on them. The countries are offered large infrastructure projects to be financed through loans from international banks, the World Bank, or the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Most of the borrowed money goes to international contractors rather than to local businesses. The profits from the finished projects are invariably less than estimated and insufficient to service the debt. Unable to pay back the debt, the countries are required to implement so-called structural adjustment reforms as a condition for debt relief. The structural adjustment reforms include privatization and deregulation of industry as well as lowering of taxes and trade barriers. These reforms are supposed to improve the economy of the country by attracting foreign investment, but often the paradoxical consequence of these reforms has been to allow international companies to expand the extractive industry that benefits mostly foreign investors and suppresses or outcompetes local industry.90

70The economic mechanisms that lead developing countries into growing debt are poorly understood by contemporary politicians. The common system of fractional reserve banking creates more debt than money, as explained in chapter 5.2. Private banks earn rents simply because most of the money in circulation originates from debt. The privileged status of the US dollar as a reserve currency and the role of the dollar in international trade increase the demand for dollars and allow American banks to extract rent from the international circulation of dollars. Of particular importance is the fact that the international oil trade is based on US dollars. This so-called petrodollar system gives the dollar a privileged status and generates rent for US banks at the cost of oil-producing countries and oil consumers.

  • 91 The background for the war in Iraq is further discussed in chapter 6.3
  • 92 Clark (2005), Klare (2012), Scott (2003)

71Some analysts believe that the American desire to uphold the petrodollar system has played an important role in conflicts with oil-producing countries. For example, the seemingly groundless war against Iraq and its leader Saddam Hussein makes more sense when we know that Hussein decided prior to the war to switch to euros as the currency for the country’s oil exports.91 In the same vein, analysts suspect that the US-led wars against Libya and Syria, and the tensions with Iran and Russia, are connected with attempts to control the oil market and the desire of these countries to trade oil in currencies other than the dollar.92 It must be emphasized, though, that this is an unproven theory and that both sides in a conflict are likely to spread deceptive propaganda.

5.5. Example: Proxy war in Afghanistan

72Now we will look at the history of Afghanistan and discuss how a long series of conflicts and proxy wars has made this one of the most regal countries in the world.

  • 93 Barfield (2010, chapter 1)

73The landlocked country of Afghanistan is rugged with high mountains and sparse vegetation. It has a typically continental climate with extreme variations in temperature. People have lived for several thousand years as herding nomads and farmers in this area. Many villages are concentrated at plateaus and along rivers where irrigation of the fields makes high agricultural production possible.93

74The geography of the country makes violent conflicts likely. The fertile, irrigable spots of land are likely to be coveted, and warriors are able to travel far with few obstacles. Until the introduction of modern technology, however, the sizes of traveling armies were limited by the poor roads and the sparsity of food. The influences of environmental factors on the level of conflicts in a geographic area are discussed in chapter 3.1 and chapter 7.

  • 94 Barfield (2010, chapters 2 and 4), Rashid (2002, p. 7)

75Afghanistan has a strategically important position in Central Asia. Historically, the Silk Road and other important trade routes have gone through this area. Afghanistan has often been called ‘the graveyard of empires’. Throughout more than a thousand years, the area has been a border zone of one empire after another that tried to conquer the land from all directions. The shifting empires were unable to fully control the land, however, with its many autonomous villages separated by large areas of infertile land.94

  • 95 Abbas (2014, p. 23)
  • 96 Barber (2008, p. 44)

76In the mid-eighteenth century, the area gave rise to its own empire, the Durrani Empire, with its capital in Kandahar. The Durrani dynasty ruled for almost a century until a series of wars with Great Britain that started in 1839.95 The present-day Afghanistan became independent in 1919 after the Third Anglo-Afghan war.96

  • 97 Rashid (2002, p. 13), Abbas (2014, p. 32), Nojumi (2002, p. 197)

77Starting in 1956, Afghanistan developed increasingly strong ties with the Soviet Union. The country received large amounts of economic and military aid from the Soviets. A communist government was established in 1978 after two violent coups. The anti-religious ideology of the communists was very far from the traditions of the deeply religious Islamic population, and soon a revolt against the government started in the town of Herat. Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan in 1979 to crush the rebellion. This became the start of a series of civil wars. Millions of Afghans fled the country during the following years. A large part of them ended up in refugee camps in Pakistan.97

  • 98 Abbas (2014, p. 54), Nojumi (2002, p. 83), Murshed (2006, p. 33), Abbas (2005, p. 110)

78A growing resistance movement of Islamic warriors, known as the Mujahideen, received billions of dollars in aid as well as training and weapons from the USA, China, Saudi Arabia, and several other states. Most of this aid was channeled through Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, which played a major role in the conflict.98

  • 99 Rashid (2002, p. 19, 129), Nojumi (2002, p. 95), Abbas (2005)

79Thousands of radical Muslims from forty-three Islamic countries joined the Mujahideen guerillas to support the fight against the ungodly communists. The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) actively supported the recruitment of Muslims for the Mujahideen because they did not want to see the Soviet empire expanding. The war lasted until 1989, when Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev ordered a withdrawal of Soviet forces. A million Afghans had been killed and six million had become refugees.99

  • 100 Rashid (2002, p. 21), Abbas (2014, p. 55), Murshed (2006, p. 39)

80The Afghan infrastructure was totally demolished by the long war. Roads, fields, livestock, and irrigation canals had been bombed by the Russians to destroy the villages where the Mujahideen guerillas were hiding. The Mujahideen were poorly educated and hardly able to govern a state. Chaos, lawlessness, and banditry prevailed. Large parts of the country were controlled by local warlords who had got hold of the many weapons left from the war.100

  • 101 Rashid (2002, p. 21), Abbas (2014, p. 62), Murshed (2006, p. 42), Richardson, L. (2006, p. 89)
  • 102 Murshed (2006, p. 49)

81A group of leaders in local religious schools—the so-called madrassas—took action against the lack of security and started to punish warlords and bandits for stealing, raping, and bullying the population. This became the start of the Taliban movement. The Taliban quickly became popular because they established order and security in the lawless country. Local military commandos switched sides and brought weapons with them to the Taliban. The movement grew as returning refugees joined them. The Taliban interpreted their success as a sign that it was God’s will that they should prevail, and within a few years they controlled large parts of the country. The Taliban finally captured the capital Kabul in 1996 and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which ruled almost ninety percent of the country. They received support from Pakistan, and from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.101 The northern part of Afghanistan was still under Russian influence and against the Taliban. The Northern Alliance was formed in 1997 to fight against the Taliban. It received support from Russia, Iran, and India.102

  • 103 Rashid (2002, p. 204), Abbas (2014), Nojumi (2002, p. 168), Murshed (2006)

82The Taliban rule was based on their own extremely strict interpretation of Sharia law. Women were not allowed to work outside the home and were required to cover their faces in public. Girls were not allowed to go to school. Music, dancing, and games were banned. Music tapes, videos, and televisions were destroyed. The strict religious discipline that had enabled the Taliban to establish order in the lawless country came at a high price. The Taliban were vigilante militias with a religious education, but they were not educated for governing a country and they made many mistakes. In 1998, they killed ten Iranian diplomats, and this forced Iran to go into conflict with the Taliban.103

  • 104 Abbas (2005, p. 100)
  • 105 Butt (2012), Bird and Marshall (2011, p. 167)

83Many of the people who joined the Taliban were young Afghan refugees who had grown up in refugee camps in Pakistan. The only education they had been able to get was in the madrassas. Pakistan’s ruler Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, who had come to power by a military coup in 1977, supported the expansion of the network of conservative madrassas in his country. Zia was not a religious extremist himself, but he supported the conservative religious forces for strategic reasons. He probably understood that a deeply religious population would be less likely to demand democracy than a more secular population.104 The madrassa students were recruited from deeply religious people, poor refugees, and orphans. The education in the madrassas was aimed at religious work rather than trade or other occupations. Whether the madrassa leaders realized it or not, they were educating loyal cannon fodder for the civil wars in Afghanistan, Kashmir, and elsewhere.105

  • 106 Rashid (2002, p. 131), Abbas (2014, p. 73)

84The Taliban attracted Islamic extremists from many countries, and the areas under Taliban control became a sanctuary for radical international Islamist groups. One of those Islamists who sought protection under Taliban was Osama bin Laden. In 1989, bin Laden became the leader of al-Qaeda—an Islamist network, mainly Salafist, which was fighting for a caliphate and against Western interference in the Islamic countries. Al-Qaeda fought along with the Taliban in the Afghan civil war, but they also had a more international focus. Allegations that the CIA supported bin Laden cannot be confirmed, but the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had recruited bin Laden, and the CIA supported the ISI as well as the Taliban.106

  • 107 Rashid (2002, p. 134)

85Al-Qaeda was linked to the first terror bombing of the World Trade Center in New York in 1993 and was actively involved in the bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. The USA switched sides when they discovered that the anti-Russian forces they had so generously supported and armed were also anti-American. US forces bombed targets in Afghanistan and Sudan in retaliation and started a hunt for bin Laden.107

  • 108 Rashid (2002), Abbas (2014, p. 117), Murshed (2006, p. 294), Bird and Marshall (2011, p. 111)

86The terror attacks against New York and Washington on 11 September 2001 were a turning point for Afghanistan. The US administration immediately named al-Qaeda and bin Laden as the culprits behind these dramatic terror attacks. The USA demanded that the Taliban expel al-Qaeda and extradite bin Laden. The Taliban refused to comply with these demands until they had received evidence that al-Qaeda was responsible for the terror attacks. They were not satisfied with the weak evidence provided. Less than a month after the terror attacks, the USA went to war with Afghanistan, with the aim of removing the Taliban from power, destroying al-Qaeda, and hunting down bin Laden. Rebuilding the nation had low priority. A coalition led by the USA and NATO fought for thirteen years in Afghanistan. The coalition forces withdrew in 2014, but conflicts continued. The chaos and insecurity that had led to the formation of the Taliban twenty years earlier plagued the country once more, and the Taliban has grown again, though they do not rule the country.108

  • 109 Abbas (2014, p. 166, 201)

87The introduction of drones has changed the way of fighting. The USA focuses more on drone-killing leading members of Taliban and al-Qaeda and less on the reasons why these organizations exist. The death toll may be smaller in a drone war than in other kinds of war, but there are still many civilian casualties. Drone strikes are frightening to the general population because they are seen as an uncontrollable external force that kills randomly without warning. The US drone strikes have led to increased recruitment for the Taliban, and we can conclude that this new military technology has a regalizing effect comparable to other ways of fighting.109

  • 110 Scott (2003, p. 31), Peters, G. (2011)
  • 111 Risen (2006, p. 154), Scott (2003)

88Both the Northern Alliance and the Taliban have relied heavily on drug production as a funding source. There is a strong symbiosis between guerillas and drug producers. The guerillas need the drug money, and the producers need the guerillas for protection and smuggling. As a consequence of this self-sustaining cycle, Afghanistan has become the world’s largest producer of heroin and hashish, with hundreds of drug laboratories.110 It appears that the USA did nothing to stop this booming drug industry.111

  • 112 Rashid (2002, p. 160)

89Another factor in the conflict was the large unused resources of oil and minerals in Central Asia. There was intense competition between two oil companies, the US-based Unocal and the Argentinian Bridas, for permission to build a gas pipeline through Afghanistan. Access to the oil resources was an important focus for the US involvement in the conflict prior to 2001.112

90Afghanistan has been the battleground for many simultaneous conflicts within this period: a contest between the two superpowers USA and the Soviet Union; a conflict over oil and other natural resources; conflicts between the many ethnic groups in the country; the illegal drugs trade; conflicts between Muslims and anti-religious communists, Sunni and Shia Muslims, moderate Sufis and the more fundamentalist Salafists and Wahhabis; conflicts between Iran and Pakistan; and a central focus in the USA’s global war on terror. At the same time, Afghanistan has been a training ground for fighters in the conflict between Pakistan and India over Kashmir as well as for al-Qaeda’s fight against US dominance in the Middle East.

  • 113 Giustozzi (2012)

91These conflicts have been fought to a large extent by local militias with poor education but with large amounts of external support from each of their sponsor. All warring parties used local militias as proxies because local knowledge of the rugged terrain was essential for military success. Arming local militias whose loyalty could change was a dangerous strategy.113 The USA, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and several other countries have supported the Taliban with billions of dollars as well as with weapons, training, and logistics. Russia, Iran, and India have supported the Northern Alliance on the other side. Everyone supported their local proxies based on the dubious logic that my enemy’s enemy is my friend. The external support has enabled these impoverished tribespeople to fight on a much larger scale then they would have been able to do otherwise. The casualties, the number of refugees, and the destruction of infrastructure have been much higher than any ‘natural’ conflict would bring without external support. This is why the regal effect of this conflict has been so high and why Afghanistan under the Taliban was one of the most regal societies we have seen in modern times.

  • 114 Abbas (2005, p. 112)

92Regal influences from neighbor countries also played a significant role. The political climate in Pakistan had been radicalized by the conflict with India over Kashmir and East Pakistan—now Bangladesh—while Zia-ul-Haq actively supported radical Islamic groups for strategic reasons.114 At the same time, the Islamic revolution in Iran and the war with Iraq had given Iran strict religious rule. Pakistan and Iran both contributed to the conflict in Afghanistan by supporting their chosen sides.

  • 115 Rashid (2002), Baily (2015)
  • 116 Rashid (2002, p. 76), Abbas (2014, p. 71)

93The extreme regality of the Taliban showed itself in many ways. The Taliban gained momentum initially by punishing rape, homosexuality, and other sexual crimes. Culprits were publicly punished and often killed and hanged in the streets for everybody to see. The regality was also reflected in cultural life, as predicted by our theory. Music, dance, paintings, and most games were banned, but all this returned quickly when the Taliban was removed from power.115 Ancient pieces of art from before the Islamic period were destroyed in the National Museum in Kabul. International condemnation was universal when the Taliban destroyed two giant Buddha statues from the sixth century.116

94A very conspicuous sign of regality was the seclusion and complete veiling of women under the Taliban. Before the Taliban rule, there was a diversity of opinions about the liberation of women and whether they should be veiled. Women were free to go with or without the veil, and some even wore miniskirts when this was in fashion in the 1960s and 70s (compare figures 9 and 10).

  • 117 Rahimi (1986), Iversen and Stray (1985)

95The majority of women lived in villages where veiling was incompatible with the hard work. Rich women in the cities carried a veil as a status symbol to show that they did not have to work hard. Many women put on the veil during the war with the Russians as a symbol of their cultural difference from the Russians. But under the Taliban there was no choice. Women had to cover themselves completely, including the face.117

  • 118 Abbas (2005, p. 13), Barfield (2010, chapter 5), Rashid (2002)
  • 119 Mumford (2013, p. 98), Anderson (2016, chapters 2 and 11)

96Many commentators have described the Taliban as a Frankenstein’s monster. After US support had helped them come to power, the Taliban and its associated organization al-Qaeda became bitter enemies of the USA.118 The US administration and the CIA have not learned from their mistakes in Afghanistan. They are doing the same thing in Syria right now. The USA and its allies have supported opposition groups in Syria in an attempt to topple President Bashar al-Assad, while Russia supports Assad.119 Opposition groups became powerful with US support, only to grow into one of the most brutal and feared ‘terrorist organizations’, variously known as Islamic State, ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh. There are presently many rumors about who is supporting whom in Syria but little reliable evidence. It is too early to write the history books as events are still unfolding, but we can already see the signs of a new proxy war between the USA and Russia in Syria.

Figure 9. Students at the Higher Teachers’College, Kabul, Afghanistan, 1967. Before the war, the religious dress code was not always observed. Photo by William (Bill) F. Podlich, 1967.120

Figure 10. Afghan women wait outside a USAID-supported health care clinic, Afghanistan, 2003. The increased regality is clearly reflected in the women’s dress. Photo by Nitin Madhav, 2003.121


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2 Dimaggio (1997), Graber (1993, chapter 8)

3 Schetsche (2000, p. 109)

4 Abelson (1981)

5 Nersessian (2003)

6 Tewksbury et al. (2000)

7 Rosen (2005, chapter 2)

8 Shoemaker and Reese (2014), Wahl-Jorgensen and Hanitzsch (2009, p. 59), Ericson, Baranek and Chan (1989)

9 Meyer (2004)

10 Fuller (2010, p. 71)

11 McManus (2009)

12 McManus (2009)

13 McManus (2009), Gunther and Mugham (2000, chapter 12)

14 Berry and Waldfogel (1999, 2001)

15 McManus (1995), Picard (2004)

16 Fuller (2010, chapter 7), Picard (2004), Esser (1999)

17 Baek and Wojcieszak (2009), Bennett and Iyengar (2008)

18 Fuller (2010, chapter 6), Shoemaker (1996)

19 Glassner (1999)

20 Altheide (2014), Glassner (1999)

21 Goode and Ben-Yehuda (2009), Altheide (1995, p. 97; 2002, p. 196)

22 Signorielli (1990)

23 Signorielli (1990), Hetherington and Suhay (2011), Reith (1999)

24 Altheide (2014, p. 122), Iyengar (1996)

25 Altheide (2002; 2014, p. 144)

26 Welsh and Pfeffer (2013)

27 Capella and Jamieson (1997)

28 McManus (2009), Fuller (2010, chapter 7)

29 Fog (2013)

30 Tyler (2011), Berger (2013)

31 Bennett and Iyengar (2008)

32 Gat (2006, p. 587)

33 Fritsche, Jonas and Kessler (2011), Inglehart and Welzel (2005, p. 161), Rickert (1998)

34 Galbraith (2012), Turchin (2012)

35 Acemoglu and Robinson (2012, p. 80)

36 Acemoglu and Robinson (2012, p. 81)

37 Bauman and Bordoni (2014, chapter 1)

38 Vitali, Glattfelder and Battiston (2011)

39 Credit Suisse (2015), Oxfam (2017)

40 Buzbee (2003), Zodrow (2010), Duanmu (2014), Verschueren (2015), OECD (1998)

41 Werner (2014), McLeay, Radia and Thomas (2014)

42 Data sources: Desjardins (2015), Dobbs, Lund, Woetzel and Matafchieva (2015), CIA, “The World Factbook” (2016),

43 Zarlenga (2002)

44 Benes and Kumhof (2012), Mellor (2010)

45 Perez (2002, 2010)

46 Perez (2002, 2010)

47 Bezemer and Hudson (2016)

48 Reinhart and Rogoff (2009)

49 Bauman and Bordoni (2014, chapter 1)

50 Collier and Hoeffler (1998, 2004)

51 Collier, Hoeffler and Sambanis (2005), Collier, Hoeffler, and Rohner (2009)

52 Fearon and Laitin (2003)

53 Cramer (2002), Cederman, Gleditch and Buhaug (2013, chapter 2), Keen (2012, chapter 2)

54 Collier and Hoeffler (1998)

55 Collier and Hoeffler (2004)

56 De Soysa and Neumayer (2007), Weinstein (2005)

57 Ballentine and Sherman (2003, p. 267)

58 Ballentine and Sherman (2003, p. 259), Collier and Sambanis (2005)

59 Keen (2012)

60 Cederman, Gleditch and Buhaug (2013, p. 206), Cederman, Wimmer and Min (2010), Buhaug (2006)

61 Cederman, Gleditch and Buhaug (2013, chapter 4)

62 Goldstone et al. (2010)

63 Cederman, Gleditch and Buhaug (2013, chapter 8)

64 Collier and Hoeffler (2004), Cederman, Gleditch and Buhaug (2013, p. 189)

65 Regan and Norton (2005)

66 Acemoglu and Robinson (2005)

67 DeRouen (2014, chapter 4), Collier, Hoeffler and Rohner (2009), Fearon and Laitin (2003), Hegre and Sambanis (2006), Buhaug and Lujala (2005)

68 Besançon (2005)

69 Lechler (2015), Collier and Hoeffler (2004), Cincotta, Engelman and Anastasion (2003, chapter 2), Hegre et al. (2013), Sambanis (2005)

70 Keen (2012)

71 Copeland (2015, chapter 8)

72 Mehlum, Moene and Torvik (2006)

73 Ross (2012), Carmody (2011)

74 Jacur, Bonfati and Seatzu (2015)

75 Hiatt (2007, chapter 1), Looney (2012, chapters 3, 6, 12, 14 and 24)

76 Ross (2012, chapter 2)

77 Turse (2015)

78 Carmody (2011, chapter 6)

79 Carmody (2011, chapter 6), Keen (2012, chapter 2)

80 Auty (2012)

81 Ross (2012, chapter 5), Peck and Chayes (2015, p. 6), le Billon (2004)

82 Ross (2012, chapter 1)

83 Le Billon (2004), Wilson, S. (2013)

84 Ross (2012, chapter 1), Clarke (2015)

85 Ross (2012, chapter 1)

86 Peck and Chayes (2015)

87 Ross (2012, chapter 2)

88 Ross (2012, chapter 2)

89 Ross (2012, chapter 4)

90 Hiatt (2007, chapters 1, 9, 11 and 12), Shiva (2013, p. 31), Babb (2005), Hudes (2009), Münkler (2005, p. 89)

91 The background for the war in Iraq is further discussed in chapter 6.3

92 Clark (2005), Klare (2012), Scott (2003)

93 Barfield (2010, chapter 1)

94 Barfield (2010, chapters 2 and 4), Rashid (2002, p. 7)

95 Abbas (2014, p. 23)

96 Barber (2008, p. 44)

97 Rashid (2002, p. 13), Abbas (2014, p. 32), Nojumi (2002, p. 197)

98 Abbas (2014, p. 54), Nojumi (2002, p. 83), Murshed (2006, p. 33), Abbas (2005, p. 110)

99 Rashid (2002, p. 19, 129), Nojumi (2002, p. 95), Abbas (2005)

100 Rashid (2002, p. 21), Abbas (2014, p. 55), Murshed (2006, p. 39)

101 Rashid (2002, p. 21), Abbas (2014, p. 62), Murshed (2006, p. 42), Richardson, L. (2006, p. 89)

102 Murshed (2006, p. 49)

103 Rashid (2002, p. 204), Abbas (2014), Nojumi (2002, p. 168), Murshed (2006)

104 Abbas (2005, p. 100)

105 Butt (2012), Bird and Marshall (2011, p. 167)

106 Rashid (2002, p. 131), Abbas (2014, p. 73)

107 Rashid (2002, p. 134)

108 Rashid (2002), Abbas (2014, p. 117), Murshed (2006, p. 294), Bird and Marshall (2011, p. 111)

109 Abbas (2014, p. 166, 201)

110 Scott (2003, p. 31), Peters, G. (2011)

111 Risen (2006, p. 154), Scott (2003)

112 Rashid (2002, p. 160)

113 Giustozzi (2012)

114 Abbas (2005, p. 112)

115 Rashid (2002), Baily (2015)

116 Rashid (2002, p. 76), Abbas (2014, p. 71)

117 Rahimi (1986), Iversen and Stray (1985)

118 Abbas (2005, p. 13), Barfield (2010, chapter 5), Rashid (2002)

119 Mumford (2013, p. 98), Anderson (2016, chapters 2 and 11)

120 All rights reserved, reproduced with permission,

121 Public domain,

Table des illustrations

Légende Figure 9. Students at the Higher Teachers’College, Kabul, Afghanistan, 1967. Before the war, the religious dress code was not always observed. Photo by William (Bill) F. Podlich, 1967.120
Fichier image/jpeg, 123k
Légende Figure 10. Afghan women wait outside a USAID-supported health care clinic, Afghanistan, 2003. The increased regality is clearly reflected in the women’s dress. Photo by Nitin Madhav, 2003.121
Fichier image/jpeg, 121k


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