State Collapse and Ethnic Violence: Toward a Predictive Model


© 1996 Pauline H. Baker and John A. Ausink

From Parameters, Spring 1996, pp. 19-31.. 

A central assumption of several strategic assessments of the post-Cold War period is that wars involving state collapse and ethnic violence are of low priority for American foreign policy. As a National Defense University (NDU) report stated, conflicts involving troubled states are "likely to be most prevalent but least threatening to US interests."[1] It advised the military to prepare, in descending order of importance, for (1) "the emergence in the next one or two decades of a military peer competitor from among the major powers," (2) "major regional conflicts with rogue states," (3) "quasi-police missions in order to meet transnational threats" stemming from illegal immigration, narcotics shipments, and western forest fires, and--lastly--(4) "engaging selectively in troubled states," a mission which the military "may prefer to minimize."[2]

Actual US military engagements since the end of the Cold War expose the fallacy of this premise. Even the NDU report noted that "the hard reality . . . is that failed states are becoming more common, and the US public often insists on intervention in the face of massive humanitarian disasters."[3] Leslie H. Gelb went so far as to assert that "teacup wars," as he termed them, are the "core problem of post-Cold War politics."[4] His assessment seems closer to the mark, given the incidence of such conflicts and the number of military operations they have required.

Of the 31 major armed conflicts that raged in the world in 1994, all were internal in origin (though some, such as Nagorno-Karabakh and Bosnia-Herzegovina have had interstate implications).[5] And in the five years following the end of Desert Storm, the US military conducted 27 overseas operations stemming from ethnic wars or state collapse, ranging in scale from a noncombat evacuation in Sierra Leone in May 1992 to Operation Restore Democracy in Haiti in September 1994.[6] President Clinton's decision in 1995 to send 20,000 US troops to Bosnia is merely the latest such engagement.

Policy responses nonetheless continue to be based on the assumption (or hope) that the last intervention will be the final one. Policymakers either ignore or put off dealing seriously with looming crises until the carnage mounts, regional stability is threatened, and they can no longer stand aside. There have been few systematic attempts to develop a generic framework and methodology that enables reasonably accurate assessments of future crises and identifies strategies to thwart or contain them.[7] This virtually guarantees that when the United States does intervene, it will do so under the most dangerous and costly circumstances.

An early warning and evaluation system is needed to assess crises that are likely to result in state collapse, ethnic warfare, and complex humanitarian emergencies--in short, crises that may require international intervention. Such a system would enable policymakers to minimize military involvement by taking preventive action early and to better prepare for the mission if a military role is ultimately required.

This article is a first step in that direction. It lays out a predictive model that may be used by analysts and policymakers in several ways. First, the model provides a dynamic conceptual framework to compare various conflicts at different stages of violence or conflict resolution. Second, the framework presents a way for analysts to conduct a longitudinal analysis of any single conflict, so it can be monitored and evaluated from the root causes to likely outcome. Third, the model suggests ten indicators of state collapse in ethnically divided societies that can be used for early warning. Although they are not meant to be a complete or definitive list, they represent leading variables that have appeared frequently in the past and are present in many current crises. Further testing and modification of these indicators would be the next step in the elaboration of this model.

Fourth, the model provides an overview of the potential role of the international community at different points in a conflict, highlighting the importance of preventive action before a crisis reaches catastrophic proportions. As a state-centered approach to ethnic conflict, it provides a roadmap that may be used by different actors and interagency representatives to better coordinate their activities. Implicit in the model, for example, is an "exit strategy" for external actors if military intervention is called for. It is based not on an arbitrary date for withdrawal (usually determined by an assessment of how long it will take to complete specific military tasks), but rather on accomplishing a broader, but still limited, mission: the establishment of the "immutable core" of a functioning state.[8] We maintain that the autonomy of four key state institutions (the military, the police, the civil service, and the judicial system) is a precondition for sustainable security, that is, for a collapsed state to have the internal capacity to solve its own problems peacefully without a foreign administrative or military presence. By autonomy, we mean that state institutions cannot be controlled by, or be seen to be operating in the interest of, competing parties or factions.

State-building is at the heart of peace-building in collapsed states. This is not the same thing, however, as nation-building, a more expansive goal which involves rehabilitating an economy and reestablishing a civil society. These goals should be the primary responsibility of the reconstituted state, not of foreign intermediaries, who may, however, provide aid and assistance.

Nor is the state-centered approach to be confused with a statist approach, which views conflict in terms of hierarchical power struggles. To the contrary, this model emphasizes the relationship between the state and society. As a state fails--that is, as it loses control, legitimacy, and cohesion--society becomes factionalized. People cling to familiar or historic identities that are left intact or that are consciously revived. It is through such bonds--based on ethnicity, religion, origin, language, class, clan, or caste--that people seek security and attempt to advance their interests as the center dissolves. Ample opportunities are created in this kind of environment for ethnopoliticians to play on group fears and loyalties, using nationalism as a means of pursuing power. To break such a cycle, the institutional basis of the state must be reconstituted.

Clarifying Concepts

Definitional disorder and conceptual ambiguity typify the study of ethnic conflict and state collapse. Some precise definitions are therefore in order at the outset of this discussion.

First, we conceive of ethnic conflict broadly as disputes based on group identity, whether defined by language, race, religion, ethnic origin, caste, class, clan, or some combination of these. Second, we do not believe that ethnic conflict is inevitable in plural societies; people do not fight simply because they carry certain labels. Those labels carry meanings or connotations that vary in different settings and at different times, depending upon the context. For example, a person in Bosnia might have identified himself or herself in 1990 as a Bosnian, Muslim (Croat or Serb), Slav, or Yugoslav. That identity, however, may change with time and place and, in conflict situations, may even slip beyond a person's own control. Facing Croat or Serb militiamen in 1996, for example, a person formerly identified as a Bosnian may be designated as a Muslim by opposing forces. Like it or not, that person must deal with the reality of that designation.

Third, we take no fixed position in the scholarly debate on whether ethnic conflict is "primordial" or "instrumental," that is, whether it is endemic to a society or people, or a product of elite manipulation. Each case must be evaluated on its own merits. There might be "ancient tribal loyalties," to use an old cliché, that are rooted, say, in imperial or colonial histories that predispose a society toward conflict. And there might be more recent or "controllable" factors, such as demographic pressures, unequal resource allocations, discriminatory government policies, and irresponsible political elites who "play the ethnic card." What is important for this discussion is to underscore the fluidity and diversity of ethnic conflict, a feature that makes prediction all the more difficult.

Finally, our notion of a state requires some clarification. We define a state as a political entity that has legal jurisdiction and physical control over a defined territory, the authority to make collective decisions for a permanent population, a monopoly on the legitimate use of force, and a government that interacts or has the capacity to interact in formal relations with other such entities.[9] Institutionally, the core of a modern state consists of the armed forces, a domestic police force, a civil service or professional bureaucracy, and a system of law and justice. A state must also have a moral basis or legitimacy, a key factor in generating public loyalty and support. A modern state is not necessarily a democracy, but it must perform minimum functions for the public (providing for domestic tranquility, establishing and enforcing laws, protecting citizens, offering services such as education) and it must maintain social cohesion. Hence, from this perspective, a collapsing state is one that is losing legitimacy, maintains few functioning state institutions, offers few or no public services, and is unable to contain, or deliberately inspires, social fragmentation.[10] If it collapses, the state also will lose physical control over its territory, forfeit the authority to make collective decisions for the national population, no longer have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force, and not be able to interact in formal relations with other states as a fully functioning member of the international community.

How does ethnic conflict strengthen or weaken a state? Contrary to the popular perception, which views ethnic conflict as a cause of state collapse, we agree with those who argue that the process often works the other way around: state collapse causes ethnic conflict.[11] Ethnic nationalism, in short, is a pathology of the state. The process by which this occurs, as indicated above, starts with deterioration of the center. This leads to factionalization as societal loyalties shift from the state to more traditional communities that are closer to the people and that offer psychic comfort and physical protection. Unless the process is reversed, it may result in communal violence, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. The further a state disintegrates, the more potential there is for ethnic conflict to spread.

A predictive model should therefore be based not only on evidence of rising communal hostility, but on wider patterns of state decay and of societal trends that foment decay. This is particularly important in societies that lack the institutional infrastructure or leadership to cope with crises. Unfortunately, quantitatively based indicators of state decay are undeveloped and, in any case, would probably be unreliable in disintegrating states. Hence, one must look at the full array of social, economic, military, and political manifestations, taking into account the particular historical, cultural, and idiosyncratic factors of societies at risk. We posit ten indicators that appear frequently in collapsing states, not all of which have to be present for impending collapse. However, the more that apply, the more likely it is that the country will be at risk.

The prediction of ethnic conflict will never be as precise as, say, weather forecasting, which has the technological capability to identify hurricanes and other natural disasters with a high degree of accuracy. Nor will predictions of ethnic conflict be able to rely as much on statistical evidence as, say, economic forecasts that warn of recessions based on widely accepted leading economic indicators. Rather, the prediction of ethnic conflict may be likened to the process of medical diagnosis of diseases for which there exists no conclusive physical test.[12] In such cases, physicians make a positive diagnosis based on the appearance of clusters of known symptoms, some of which are verifiable through testing, some merely observable. In similar fashion, this model postulates a cluster of leading societal indicators of state decay.

The Conceptual Framework

A diagram of the conceptual framework that lies at the heart of this analysis is depicted in Figure 1, below. It consists of five stages for tracking a conflict, with the potential role of the international community at each stage indicated at the bottom. 

 Figure 1. Conceptual Framework.

The process begins in Stage 1, with an analysis of the root causes of ethnic conflict, including the historical background, socio-economic composition, and environment that predispose a society toward fragmentation. Stage 2 addresses recent trends or precipitating events that lead from fragmentation to friction, such as discriminatory government policies, collapsed empires, coups d'etat, or political assassinations. Preventive action would be most effective if it were taken at this stage or before.

At this critical point, a society is poised to go in one of two directions as it enters Stage 3, the transition, which can occur violently or nonviolently. Catastrophic conflict may be averted by negotiations, state reforms, and power-sharing; this nonviolent track is represented by the lower horizontal branch of the diagram. A violent track would likely lead to full-scale conflict, secession, ethnic cleansing, or state disintegration, which is represented by the upper horizontal branch. Either way, at this stage, state transformation is underway. When the international community becomes involved militarily, this is the phase in which it typically occurs.

In Stage 4, the state is transformed: it has moved toward disorder or a new political order. If there is a violent transformation, it may result in military victory, ethnic domination, warlordism, or on-going conflict (as in Somalia). If there is a nonviolent transformation, it may result in elections, peaceful partition, conflict resolution, and new state structures (as in South Africa).

Stage 5 represents the outcome, a phase that is depicted by a continuum bounded at one end by chaos, and at the other by constitutionalism. Obviously, there are several intermediate authoritarian or democratic outcomes, such as military rule, a one-party state, or a representative federal system. But this is not the end of the process. A country could move up and down the continuum, until it reaches equilibrium. Or it could revert to an earlier stage, if the peace is too fragile and the institutional core is too weak to sustain it.

This model provides a way to monitor a conflict as it hovers between war and peace. A crisis may be "rescued" by preventive diplomacy, as Bosnia was, for example, when the Dayton agreements were concluded; the conflict moved from the violent to the nonviolent track of Stage 3. As of this writing, Bosnia must still transit peacefully through Stages 4 and 5 to achieve sustainable security. Alternatively, a country might "backslide" from a nonviolent to a violent track, as Angola did, for instance, after the 1992 UN election results were rejected by rebel forces and the war resumed. Angola moved back again to a fragile peace in 1995.

Indicators of State Collapse

Perhaps no part of a predictive model is more vulnerable to challenge than the indicators it relies upon for forecasting. Yet the attempt to define a critical mass of factors that can usefully be applied for threat assessment never ceases. There is a wide variety of approaches to this attempt, depending upon the scope and purpose of the effort.

The Department of Defense, for example, created a Master Instability Indicators List/Matrix to predict the threat of low-intensity conflict. Intended to be a single-source tool for the evaluation of low-intensity conflict for strategic, operational, and tactical military planners, it lists 547 indicators based primarily on intelligence sources. For example, the first indicator is "informants fail to pass accurate information," while the last is "families of sponsor [government] officials leave the country."[13] Collectively, these indicators are used to create a blank matrix into which real-world data are fed to obtain a snapshot assessment of any single conflict zone. It is meant to be of particular value to the combat commander in the field, but is less useful as a predictive tool to forecast the likelihood of a future collapsed state.

Another effort was the CIA's worldwide assessment of critical humanitarian emergencies likely to occur over a 12-month period as a result of manmade and natural events.[14] This study made no attempt to define universal indicators. Instead, it conducted a region-by-region and country-by-country survey at one point in time. While both the DOD and the CIA studies marshal useful data, neither provides a generic framework applicable for a longer time frame which can be used by a broad array of policymakers, analysts, and military planners. Nor do many other frameworks focus specifically on the problem of state collapse that may compel international intervention.

As suggested earlier, a systematic attempt to explore the full range of indicators would be more extensive than that presented here. Further research is needed to differentiate long- and short-term indicators, to develop a taxonomy of failing states, and to explain in greater detail the connections between the indicators, state behavior, and intergroup relations. However, the following indicators may serve as a useful starting point of analysis:[15]

Demographic pressures refer not only to population density and food self-sufficiency, but to ethnic location (spatial distribution of ethnic groups and the relationship between settlement patterns and other forms of human and physical activity), territory (groups' attachment to land), and environment (the relationship between ethnic groups and their physical settings). These factors often shape intergroup perceptions, competition, and conflict.[16] In pre-civil-war Bosnia, for example, a growing number of people had identified themselves as "Bosnian" on census and survey forms in the years following World War II, associating their sense of a multicultural society with a territory that was internationally recognized after the collapse of Yugoslavia. Yet other groups who lived in Bosnia clung to boundaries that were ethnically exclusive. This caused conflict among the rival groups on what effectively constitutes a state. Other examples of ethnically-based territorial claims which grew over the years as a result of demographic factors are those of the Palestinians and the Kurds.

Massive refugee movements that create cycles of human disasters and further intensify demographic pressures may spiral into regional crises. Refugees may increase population density and cause environmental degradation, land competition, disease, food shortages, and lack of clean water, generating conflict and violence across borders. This can be seen in several war-torn regions from the Middle East to the Horn of Africa. A contemporary illustration is the Great Lakes region of Central Africa in which five countries (Zaire, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and Tanzania) are affected by the two million refugees who were displaced in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Failure to resolve this crisis has contributed to fears of ethnic reprisals, renewed bloodletting, and continuing turmoil. Though the roots of conflict are deep, the immediate problem stems from armed Hutu extremists who participated in the genocidal killings and who are determined to return to power. Using the refugee camps as their bases, they have the potential not only to further destabilize Rwanda, their principal target, but, in varying degrees, the surrounding countries as well.

Uneven economic development along ethnic lines is a recurring factor contributing to ethnic nationalism. In Nigeria, for example, the advanced educational and economic status of the Ibos (which was a legacy of colonialism and of post-independence economic policies) was not commensurate with their political power; this was a root cause of communal conflict. A 1966 coup d'etat led by Ibo military officers was the precipitating event that triggered pogroms against Ibo civilians living in northern towns. These killings led to the 1967-70 Biafran War of secession. The degree to which ethnic inequalities can be the basis for ethno-nationalist mobilization has not been sufficiently recognized by local elites pursuing modernization or stabilization programs or by international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which play a major role in promoting economic restructuring. In divided societies, the effects of economic policies on intergroup relations need to be taken more into account.

A legacy of vengeance-seeking group grievance or group paranoia underlies many conflicts, with aggrieved groups often invoking unresolved injustices that may date back centuries. Such grievances can be carried across generations, as seen in the Serb attempt to stem the tide of Islam in Europe, a mission that goes back 600 years to the defeat of the Serbs by the Turks at Kosovo. Judge Richard Goldstone, chief prosecutor of the international war crimes tribunal in the Hague, argues that bringing alleged criminals to justice in regions where there has been a history of massive human rights abuses and atrocities is "the only way to stop the spiral of violence," because one of the tools used by leaders to spur their followers to commit atrocities is the belief that crimes perpetrated earlier had gone unavenged.[17] But such grievances need not go back centuries; they can go back decades or years. Hutu-Tutsi divisions are rooted in pre-colonial history, for example, and colonial policies worsened them. But large-scale communal violence did not erupt in Rwanda until the 1960s. Continuing into the 1990s, it culminated in genocide in 1994. Hutu extremists now are determined to avenge their overthrow by the Tutsi-led government, while the government is equally determined to bring the Hutu killers to justice.

Criminalization or delegitimization of the state are indicators of growing importance, especially in regions in transition. They refer not merely to the increase in common crime or to the spate of scandals that emerge as democracy replaces authoritarian rule, but rather to massive and endemic corruption or profiteering by ruling elites, who often resist popular demands for transparency, accountability, and political representation in order to reap personal gain. When the Russian people see government officials and organized crime as the principal beneficiaries of privatization, or when the Nigerian people see the military get rich from public oil revenues, they then withdraw their support from what is, in their eyes, a predatory state. The 1995 Russian elections, which favored communists and nationalists, suggest that the post-Soviet state has yet to achieve legitimacy among a large segment of the Russian population. Similarly, the call by Nigerian dissidents for international economic sanctions against military rule is confirmation of the loss of popular legitimacy.

Sharp and severe economic distress is a common indicator of political instability. The survival of weak states is often contingent on the ability of ruling elites to manage the economy and to improve the standard of living of the people. Progressive economic deterioration has undermined political stability in Mexico (with the fall of the peso), Nigeria (with the collapse of the naira), and Russia (with an unpopular austerity program). Quantitative data may be available in some cases to chart economic decline, but many failing states have parallel economies, illicit transactions, and unreported expenditures that are not documented in open sources. Hence, any serious evaluation of economic distress in collapsing societies must take into account the nature and scope of the hidden economy, including diverted public assets, drug money, and illegal capital flight from seemingly legitimate commercial transactions.

Massive, chronic, and sustained human flight refers not only to refugees, the most identifiable human index of internal conflict, but to a broader pattern of people on the move: a "brain drain;" a middle-class exodus; the flight of skilled professionals, intellectuals, artists, and technicians; and the emigration of economically productive segments of the population, such as entrepreneurs, businesspeople, artisans, and traders. The steady loss of a society's most resourceful and talented citizens is a sure sign of state decay.

Progressive deterioration or elimination of public services is a symptom not merely of poor governance, but, increasingly, of no governance. We refer here not only to encrusted or inflated bureaucracies, but to a disappearance of that part of the state apparatus that serves the people. In Zaire, for example, Crawford Young noted that the state has "all but vanished. . . . Those segments of the state realm crucial to its survival and minimal reproduction--the security agencies, the presidential staff, the central bank, the diplomatic cadre--continue to operate," but basic public services are at their lowest levels or nonexistent.[18] In Young's view, the state has lost "probity, competence, and credibility."[19] Zaire illustrates how a collapsed state may drift into dissolution without widespread violence. In the short term, this may get the international community off the hook since there is no immediate humanitarian crisis. Nonetheless, failure to deal with such a case could merely postpone a far more serious crisis, breeding conditions for subsequent widespread regional disruption.

Suspension of the rule of law is a standard indicator of dictatorial or authoritarian rule; it is also a leading indicator of failing states. Taken alone, the suspension of the rule of law does not presage state collapse. But it is particularly significant in societies in which there have been popular expectations of democratic change (Algeria), or in which democratic institutions have been undermined (Nigeria) or suppressed (China). Moreover, adherence to the rule of law is an important measure of the viability and durability of newly constituted states in post-conflict situations.

Security apparatus operating as a "state within a state" is an indicator that can appear in many forms: a praetorian guard can be created to protect isolated and unpopular rulers, "private" militias can be set up to distance repressive governments from culpability in killing campaigns, or officially sanctioned "hit squads" can be developed to terrorize political opponents. In military regimes, the security forces themselves often reflect the social divisions of their societies; the "state within a state" then often becomes an "army within an army" that serves the interest of the dominant military clique.


During the Cold War, both communism and capitalism underestimated the force of ethnicity, each sustaining its own myth about how their systems would erode ethnic bonds. Capitalism presumed that modern economic development--through education, urbanization, and the formation of a middle class--would bring people together and make them more alike. A modern person, it was thought, would naturally shed his ethnic or "tribal" identity. Marxism, by comparison, maintained that ethnicity would be replaced by allegiance to a higher utopian ideal, a stateless society in which there would be full equality. If there were no class divisions, it was thought, there would be no need for group rivalry. Thus, a fundamental tenet of both ideologies was the assumption that economic change would lead to ethnic harmony.

We now know that things are not so simple, that ethnic conflicts are on the rise, and that economic factors can either strengthen or erode ethnic ties. We do not know precisely how or when that may occur, but we need to learn fast.

Ted Robert Gurr has estimated that in the 1980s there were 233 sizable groups in the world that "were targets of discrimination or were organized for political assertiveness or both. Most larger countries have at least one such ethnic group. . . . Taken together the groups involved more than 900 million people, or one sixth of the world's population."[20] In 1993, The New York Times listed 48 states, ranging from Bosnia to Brazil, in which ethnic conflicts are a source of political conflict.[21] "We can't afford to careen from crisis to crisis," Secretary of State Warren Christopher has observed. "We must have a new diplomacy that can anticipate and prevent crises, like those in Iraq and Bosnia and Somalia, rather than simply manage them."[22] Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was bolder in his prognosis, asserting that "the defining mode of conflict in the era ahead is ethnic conflict. It promises to be savage. Get ready for 50 new countries in the world in the next 50 years. Most of them will be born in bloodshed."[23]

This article does not purport to recommend where the United States or other external actors should intervene in this picture of worldwide turmoil. Nor does it address the question of political will, an essential requirement for an effective American foreign policy. What this analysis does offer is a conceptual framework and methodology for early warning and monitoring, and a suggested intervention strategy, should the United States decide to intervene, that focuses on the importance of preventive action and state-building. This represents an intermediate position between doing nothing and doing everything. We admittedly have a long way to go to bring order out of chaos, but we can now at least begin to bring some order to the way in which we think about that process.


1. Strategic Assessment 1995: U.S. Security Challenges in Transition, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense Univ., Ft. McNair, Washington, D.C., p. 4.

2. Ibid., p. 13.

3. Ibid.

4. Leslie H. Gelb, Foreign Affairs, 73 (November-December 1994).

5. SIPRI YEARBOOK 1995 (Stockholm: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 1995), Highlights, Armed Conflicts and Regional Security, p. 1.

6. Strategic Assessment 1995, pp.14-15. The inventory of military operations covered the period March 1991 to October 1994.

7. See "The Greening of U.S. Diplomacy: Focus on Ecology," The New York Times, 9 October 1995, p A6, for a discussion of new factors that intelligence officials are being asked to look at to assess national security threats--such as rainfall and water table levels, infant mortality rates, high population growth and density, the spread of the Sahara Desert, inflation rates and trade deficits, and ability to absorb youth into the labor markets--as predictors of government collapse, famine, or ethnic strife. For a geographical approach, see The Challenge of Ethnic Conflict to National and International Order in the 1990s: Geographic Perspectives, an unclassified CIA conference report, RTT 95-10039, October 1995.

8. There is no universally accepted definition of a state. For a fuller discussion, see Stephen J. Del Rosso, Jr., "The Insecure State: Reflections on `the State' and `Security' in a Changing World," Daedalus, 124 (Spring 1995). The notion of establishing an "immutable core" of a state is not meant to suggest that peace is automatic with the reconstitution of basic state institutions. Obviously, mending a failed state requires more than institution-building; among other things, there must also be some way to settle historic grievances, a process of reconciliation, justice, political legitimacy, economic recovery, and the establishment of a civic society. Our point is simply that external actors frequently take on these tasks themselves, without focusing on the more fundamental question of how to help collapsed states help themselves. Though well-intentioned, if there is no feeling of "ownership" by the local people, such efforts are likely to unravel when intervening forces withdraw.

9. For further discussion, see Gidon Gottlieb, Nation Against State: A New Approach to Ethnic Conflicts and the Decline of Sovereignty (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1993).

10. See I. William Zartman, ed., Collapsed States (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1995) for further discussion of the concept of collapsed states.

11. The prevailing view, seen in the media and in many policy discussions, is that state collapse is a consequence of ethnic conflict. The actual sequence, we argue, is often reversed. In other words, we look at the issue as one in which the state is both a cause of ethnic conflict and the basis of a potential strategy for resolving or managing it.

12. The authors are aware of other government attempts to create a predictive model, but these are classified.

13. LIC Instability Indicators Study, Army-Air Force Center for Low Intensity Conflict, Langley Air Force Base, Va., June 1992, pp. X-1 to X-24.

14. Global Humanitarian Emergencies, 1995, report released in January 1995 by the United States Mission to the United Nations, ECOSOC section of the US Mission.

15. An example of a country that illustrates this model is Nigeria. Of the ten indicators, at least nine apply. The most populous country in sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria is a country of approximately 100 million, consisting of roughly 250 language groups. Three large groupings predominate: the Hausa-Fulani, the Ibos, and the Yoruba, collectively constituting 60 percent of the population. The south (including the Ibos and Yorubas) is more economically advanced than the north. Group grievances exist all around: the Yorubas resent the fact that a native son reputed to have won the 1993 election has been jailed; the Ibos were the principal victims of the 1967-70 civil war, continue to lack political power, and live in the most densely populated part of the country; the Muslim Hausa-Fulani resent the economic and educational advancement of the south. However, among the most aggrieved groups are the Ogoni people, a small minority located in the oil-rich southeast who have been agitating for their rights. An increasingly repressive and rapacious military junta has lost legitimacy by stealing billions in public revenue, suspending democratic institutions, driving the economy into insolvency, executing political activists, and clamping down on political dissent. There is a steady pattern of capital and human flight, deterioration of public services, a replacement of the rule of law by military decrees, and a security apparatus around General Sani Abacha that acts as a "state within a state," or, in this case, as "an army within an army."

16. The Challenge of Ethnic Conflict to National and International Order in the 1990s: Geographic Perspectives, p. 9.

17. "Atrocities Leave Thirst for Vengeance in Balkans," The Washington Post, 18 December 1995, p. A17. "Every meeting I have in that region begins with a history lesson," Judge Goldstone stated. "If you're lucky they go back to the Second World War, but sometimes you begin in the 14th century. I see the tribunal as a way to begin a necessary process of healing. Now, the tribunal is not some sort of panacea, but I know of no other way of doing it."

18. Crawford Young, "Zaire: the Shattered Illusion of the Integral State," Journal of Modern African Studies, 32 (June 1994), 247-63.

19. Ibid., p. 263.

20. Ted Robert Gurr and Barbara Harff, Ethnic Conflict in World Politics (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1994), p. 5.

21. "As Ethnic Wars Multiply, U.S. Strives for a Policy," The New York Times, 7 February 1993, p. 1.

22. Ibid.

23. Ibid.

Dr. Pauline H. Baker is President of the Fund for Peace, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., and she teaches at Georgetown University. Lieutenant Colonel John A. Ausink, USAF, is a National Defense Fellow at Georgetown University. Both are associates with the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy in Georgetown's School of Foreign Service. 

Reviewed 27 August 1997. Please send comments or corrections to