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Tuesday, February 25, 2003

# Posted 10:55 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

NATION BUILDING AND ETHNIC VIOLENCE: Will postwar Iraq descend into a maelstrom of ethnic, communal religious violence? Looking for answers, I came across this article by Ted Gurr, a professor at the University of Maryland.

According to Gurr, ethnic warfare across the globe was a rising trend in the last decades of the Cold War. While the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia both saw multiple ethnic conflicts break out in the last years of their existence, even more ethnic conflicts emerged in southern hemisphere nations unaffected by the Eastern European revolution.

While these outbreaks of violence led numerous pundits to declare that ethnic warfare would be the dominant security issue in the post-Cold War era, the fact is that old conflicts are settling down while fewer new ones are emerging. One trend that bodes well for postwar Iraq is that "The new democracies of Europe, Asia, and Latin America were especially likely to protect and promote minority rights."

If you think about it, that conclusion seems almost self-evident. The ethnic conflicts in Kosovo, Sudan and East Timor were responses to the brutal repression ordered by authoritarian governments. The Chechen conflicts fits into this framework as well, since Russia's democratic facade did not influence its behavior toward the Caucasus.

Well, that's the good news for today. Don't expect much more.

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