Civil war

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A civil war is a war between organized groups within a single nation state,[1] or, less commonly, between two nations created from a formerly-united nation state.[2] The aim of one side may be to take control of the nation or a region, to achieve independence for a region, or to change government policies.[1] It is high-intensity conflict, often involving regular armed forces, that is sustained, organized and large-scale. Civil wars result in large numbers of casualties and the consumption of large resources.[3]

Civil wars after WWII

Civil wars since the end of World War II have lasted on average just over four years, a dramatic rise from the one-and-a-half year average of the 1900-1944 period. While the rate of emergence of new civil wars has been relatively steady since the mid-1800s, the increasing length of those wars resulted in increasing numbers of wars ongoing at any one time. For example, there were no more than five civil wars underway simultaneously in the first half of the twentieth century, while over 20 concurrent civil wars were occurring at the end of the Cold War, before a significant decrease as conflicts strongly associated with the superpower rivalry came to an end. Since 1945, civil wars have resulted in the deaths of over 25 million people, as well as the forced displacement of millions more. Civil wars have further resulted in economic collapse; Burma (Myanmar), Uganda and Angola are examples of nations that were considered to have promising futures before being engulfed in civil wars.[4]

Civil wars increased after WWII due to Communist support of numerous revolutionary movements in order to spread Communism and Western responses to this. The fall of Communism was followed by a period of fewer civil wars. However, more recently there has been an increase of civil wars in Muslim countries.[5] In several cases these occurred after attempted "regime changes" and the "Arab Spring".

According to Patrick M. Regan in his book Civil Wars and Foreign Powers (2000), about two thirds of the 138 intrastate conflicts between the end of World War II and 2000 saw international intervention.

Democracy, civil wars, and "regime changes"

Partially democratic regimes have the most civil wars.[6]

Thus, a "regime change" from an authoritarian regime to a partially democratic regime increases the risk of civil wars in the country. This likely especially if the country has a high ethnic heterogeneity and with ethnic conflicts having been suppressed during the authoritarian regime. See also Ethnic heterogeneity: Ethnic conflicts.

Implementing a "fully" democratic regime instead of a "partially" democratic regime may be difficult if average country IQ is low. The 2009 book Limits to democratization stated that "all nations do not have equal chances to establish and maintain democratic systems. A central conclusion is that it is probably never possible to achieve the same level and quality of democracy in all countries of the world".[7]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 James Fearon, "Iraq's Civil War" in Foreign Affairs, March/April 2007. For further discussion on civil war classification, see the section "Definition".
  2. Nations, Markets, and War: Modern History and the American Civil War | Book Reviews, "Two nations [within the U.S.] developed because of slavery." October 2006. Retrieved July 2009.
  3. Ann Hironaka, Neverending Wars: The International Community, Weak States, and the Perpetuation of Civil War, Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Mass., 2005, p. 3, ISBN 0674015320
  4. Hironaka (2005), pp. 1-2, 4-5
  5. Walter, B. F. (2017). The New New Civil Wars. Annual Review of Political Science, (0).
  6. Hegre, H. (2001, March). Toward a democratic civil peace? Democracy, political change, and civil war, 1816–1992. In American Political Science Association (Vol. 95, No. 01, pp. 33-48). Cambridge University Press.
  7. Tatu Vanhanen. (2009) The Limits of Democratization: Climate, Intelligence, and Resource Distribution. Atlanta, GA: Washington Summit Publishers.