Any of you who follow my posts know that I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. Which brings to mind a topic in civil war research: economics.
Politics and economics are intimately related. And when conflict strikes a country, economics have a significant impact. There is quite a bit of research that suggests economically robust countries handle internal conflict more effectively, and are less likely to experience civil war, than their poorer counterparts.
But what about the flip side of that equation?
If a country – even one with a robust economy – experiences conflict for an extended period of time, their economy is bound to suffer. If your home is a war zone, will you still be reporting to your job as a postal worker? Grocery store clerk? Businessperson? Or will you consider the risk to your home and family more important, and emigrate?
True accounts from conflict scenarios show individuals exhibiting both behaviors. The economy changes during internal conflict, but not necessarily across the entire country. Economic impacts can affect the way that insurgent groups are perceived within a country, as well.
During the Mexican revolution, Protestants provided stipends to converts. Protestantism spread like wildfire – a result of many factors, but in part influenced by the economic support that converts received. The revolution was a religious one, and the Protestants aligned with the liberals; the liberals eventually won, and Protestants were viewed favorably for several years, until Carranza came to power.
Economic grievances can aggravate conflicts, and provide fuel to the fires of conflict. In some countries, small guerilla groups use this in their favor. FARC, for example, is thought to have provided education, healthcare, and economic support to rural Colombians, hence increasing their influence and reach.
Taxing without representation was a primary grievance in the American war for independence.
Knowing the importance of a healthy economy to state stability, is it reasonable to assume that the increased economic instability that results from internal political conflict can also lead to a great propensity for civil war? Is prolonged political violence within key economic centers of a country a notable factor in civil war onset? How do economic sanctions affect a country experiencing internal conflict?
How do those questions relate to current events?
Just a little food for thought…
I’ll be back in about a week – my day job is providing a bit more work than I can comfortably manage at the moment…