The Myth of Ethnic Warfare-KING
•Russia devolved sovereignty to Tatarstan, one of the federation's constituent
republics, without any violence. So successful was the process, in fact, that the
"Tatar model" is now touted as a template for how Russia's relations with its other
ethnic minorities should work.
•The former Yugoslavia and six in the former Soviet Union -- is more likely to be
considered by historians to be part of one process: the wars of communist succession.
•all sprang from a range of disparate causes: the collapse of federations, the end of
authoritarianism, the re-emergence of old quarrels, the meddling of outside powers,
political demagoguery, and -- a major catalyst of organized violence everywhere --
plain old thuggery.
•Kaufman assays four possible explanations. One is the ancient hatreds view, the idea
that some of these ethnic groups have been at each other's throats for centuries and
thus conflicts between them are likely to continue.
• A second answer is based on the power of unscrupulous and manipulative
politicians who profit from communal rivalries.
•A third looks to economics, arguing that contests over resources can quickly turn
poor communities against perceived exploiters and rich ones against freeloaders.
•And a fourth answer is based on what scholars call a security dilemma.
•Very few convinced nationalists actually go so far as to exterminate their neighbours.
•Maniacal leaders clearly play an important role in civil wars, but simply saying so
does not explain why some end up as powerful demagogues while others simply rant
•Economic grievances and security dilemmas can also push groups toward violence,
but such explanations predict far more conflict than actually occurs in the world.
•Kaufman's solution to this conundrum is to focus on what he calls the "symbolic
politics" of conflicts -- that is, how existing beliefs about neighboring ethnic groups
are used to justify violence, and how these beliefs then seem to be confirmed once
violence breaks out
•Kaufman argues that each of these wars displayed three conditions essential for
•First, in each case politicians used a pre-existing reservoir of myths about rival
ethnic populations to mobilize the public along cultural lines.
•Second, in every instance particular ethnic groups feared being swamped --
economically, politically, and demographically -- by other groups.
•And third, in each of these wars the communities involved had plenty of time to
mobilize and shore up their own security before their neighbours got the upper hand.